Monday, June 30, 2008

Music Monday - Living Room Idol

This week's column takes a look at a wonderful combination of two things I already love on their own... Karaoke and Video Games!! And not just any video games, but my beloved Nintendo Wii! (you know, the one I stood in line for at 5:00 in the morning back in November of 2006... yeah that one...) It also adds to the mix, the American Idol experience, something to kick the Karaoke game up a few notches! Here's how we were introduced, and subsequently hooked, on this game...

Saturday night, my niece Alicia and her husband Daniel came over for an evening of fun with the Brinkerhoffs! Along with themselves, they brought one of their new favorite pastimes:

Cindy and I hadn't played this game yet, but read about it on Alicia's blog and were very eager to try it out. After a few warmup rounds, it was time for a 4 way American Idol Tournament! I had done very well on my warmups, so the group decided I had to play on the "hard" setting to even the playing field.


At the end of round one, I thought I was going to be just fine with that arrangement! I had sung "Copacabana" and nailed it! Simon said that he hated the song, but that I made him love the performance. Paula (who I think was drunk) blabbed on about how I'm a natural performer, blah, blah, blah, and Randy called me a Dawg who Brought It, Yo. Ummm, Thanks Mr. Jackson! The girls did really well that round too, but poor Daniel was told by Simon that he "invented notes that had never been sung in music before..." But round one didn't have any eliminations so we all went on to round two.


By now I was feeling pretty comfortable in the game... I decided to tackle the Phil Collins classic, "In the Air Tonight." BAD. SONG. CHOICE. Not that I couldn't sing it, but without warning, it started IN THE @#^%#$ MIDDLE OF THE SONG!!! I'm all poised to sing a nice, gentle "I can feel it..." and suddenly the words on screen are "Well I remember..." Took me a couple lines to transition to that part of the song, but then I did ok. At the end, Randy said that I started off weak, but brought it together at the end yo, dawg. Simon & Paula said it was a bad song choice... I agree! What I didn't expect was that it would be my LAST song choice! I was eliminated in round two!!

I was playing as Scott, by the way. To help understand the situation, Soo Ling = Daniel, Angela = Alicia, and Sammy = Cindy.


It turned out to be an all girls final, because in round three, Soo Ling Daniel joined me on the couch to watch the final showdown... it was JUST like Fantasia vs. Diana in season three! WOW! The DRAAAAAAMA!!


Okay, so we settled in for the Girl vs Girl smackdown. Angela Alicia was up first, and she did pretty good. All the judges were impressed!

Finally, Sammy Cindy got to give it her best shot, and didn't just do well... She nailed every single note in the song, earning a DIAMOND rating! What's more, she did it on what I had hoped would be MY signature song....

Still, since Angela Alicia had done very well in all the prior rounds, it was really hard to guess who would come out on top. And we'll find out.... Right after this word from Coca-Cola! Oh wait, no, that's one way that the game is better than the show, you don't get Seacrest building up the tension just to cut away to a commercial... We got the results right away, and the winner was...

Representing the home team, the winner and June 28, 2008 American Idol, it's...

WOOOOOOOO!!! (the crowd goes wild)
I'm still kinda miffed about getting cut so early in the game, but I'm working hard to improve my chances for next time. How, you ask? Since the game was brought over by visitors??

Oh, don't you worry, dear readers... We are now the proud owners of our OWN copy of Karaoke Revolution American Idol!! And we'll welcome any challengers who want to take on the CHAMPION!! (...and her husband...)

Saturday, June 28, 2008


This little slice of heaven we live in is called Fircrest... And as you might expect, Fircrest has lots and lots (and yes, lots) of fir trees. When we bought our house, it had at least ten fir trees in the yard! We had three or four of them taken down a couple years ago - got lucky, and the city decided they were too close to power lines... FREE JOB! Those were trees we simply WANTED to have taken down. As you can see in the picture above, we now have (well, had) a tree we NEEDED to have taken down. And talk about making us appreciate the free job the city did for us!

That tree on the left is dead. The one on the right was in the process of dying. It looks exactly like the other one did a year ago. So we decided it was time to just get both of them taken down, and enjoy the added sunshine in our backyard.

I love the way they take these big trees down... While it's fun to imagine it being like in the cartoons where they just whack at the bottom with an axe and yell "TIMBERRRRRR," in real life, they climb the tree, cutting off all the branches as they go.

Once they have all the branches off, the guy with the saw is up at the top of the tree, and he just starts cutting off foot-long sections of trunk and dropping them to the ground.

We had them leave the trunks about 10 feet tall, because another Fircrest tradition is having bears carved out of your tree trunks. We'll be wanting to get that done some time in the future, so we planned ahead.

So this morning as I look out over our backyard, it's got ruts ... divots ... gaping troughs all over (the contract says they'll repair and reseed our yard!) and it looks like a cub scout woodcutting project is about to happen.

No cub scouts though... There's a guy up the street who sells firewood by the box to help pay for his ailing mother's care, and Cindy offered him free access to our wood. He'll be taking a truckload a day until it's gone, so maybe by October we'll have our backyard back! Already the increased sun exposure is making it a better-than-ever place to be!

However, the trees were so tall (about 150 feet each) that there is sawdust EVERYWHERE - front yard, neighbor's yard, our roof, and ALL OVER OUR BRAND NEW VAN!


Friday, June 27, 2008


Last night's dinner...

Shrimp Kabobs sprinkled with garlic salt, lemon pepper, and brushed with this...

That's a new All Natural steak/grilling sauce from Australia... SO GOOD!! This particular flavor is "Barrier Reef Lemon, Lime & Chili" and it made for some incredibly tasty shrimp!! Just be aware, should you want to sample this adventurous grilling assistant, that because it is (A) All Natural, and (B) Imported, it is likely to be (C) Crazy Expensive. (we got free samples of four flavors, but I'll probably be tempted to buy it again even taking A, B and C into consideration!)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kidz say the darndest things!

This week the Puddle Jumpers Joined the "Presidents Physical Fitness Challenge." In order to earn the award the kids (and I) have to be active every day for six weeks. I doubt I could keep all the kids motivated for six weeks BUT I did decide to give them a good start on it. My hope is that they will continue to write down and become aware of their activities and return the form to me in order to earn the big award. So this week we have stayed active. Tuesday we walked to the bowling alley for a quick game - well not so quick a game, there were 10 of us! Yesterday we hit the local Lazer Tag and giant ball pit party place for some pizza and fun, and today we had "Relay Thursday." Relay Thursday was a total blast and in my opinion the best day of the week (probably because we didn't have to walk anywhere). We did hula hoop relays, balloon relays and of course... pie eating contest! I know, it's not really a relay but who can resist the opportunity to watch 10 kids eat whipped cream as if their lives depended on the outcome... certainly not me. And of course, it was a hit! We had rematch after rematch until we ran out of whipped cream! (unfortunately, I was too busy whipping up pies, and forgot to grab the camera!)

My favorite part of the week though was and always is the times when I get to chat with the kids. When they talk to me about whatever is on their minds. I have one little girl in particular who says the darnedest things, and she was the highlight of this week's chats. So as we were walking to Odyssey 1 yesterday (that is the lazer tag place) she was doing math. That's right, math... second grade math... she was calculating my age and determined that in two years I would be 40. I agreed with her that indeed I would. I then asked her what she thought I should do to celebrate my 40th birthday? She without hesitation said "buy your kids presents, of course". ummmm, what?? Why would I do that, I ask?

"Because kids like presents!"

Oh, I should have known. After several hours of play and pizza eating we were walking home to go swimming. The sun had come out, and it had warmed up to a blistering 70 degrees. Needless to say, the kids were "baking, melting, dying" from the intense heat. They were all walking single file along the fence line to use the 12 inches of shade that was sticking out. Well my sweet little Camryn stops, looks around and declares "I am going to walk in Mrs. Cindy's shadow, it's BIGGER!"

Yikes, ummm thanks Cam, I am glad I could help you cool off! :) I cracked up not only because it was true but I was really impressed with her wisdom and trouble shooting skillz.

That's Camryn right up front & center, showing that she also has mad posing skillz!

Nothin' But Love Here

Not long ago, I was in the kitchen making dinner while Cindy and the kids were watching TV in the living room.

An ad came on for some reality show focusing on people's extravagant 40th birthday parties. Our girls often talked about watching the ridiculous "Sweet 16" parties on a similar show, and it struck me as slightly beyond pathetic that now the 40-something crowd was trying to claim that market as their own.

So I spoke up...

I hollered from the kitchen, "Oh PLEASE!! Is that another show for old people?"

To which my loving, caring, life-giving wife immediately, without skipping a beat said...

"Hey guys, Mikey's turning 40 this year!"


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fitness & Food in the Summertime

We've suddenly entered my favorite time of year, not only for the sunshine and warm temperatures, but for the abundance of my favorite foods that are so widely available during the summer!

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I am living as an under-200 pounder for the first time since the early '90s... Summer has traditionally been a hard time for me to stick with my program, what with all the BBQs, Picnics, food on the run, Ice Cream (ohhh, the ice cream!), Farmer's Markets, etc... But this year I seem to have a good routine going, at least during the work week where it's easier to stay disciplined by only eating the food I bring from home.

It still requires dedication and willpower, as the office is well stocked with popcorn, pretzels, candy, pop, etc... And my well-meaning co-workers love to point out that popcorn and pretzels are "healthier" snacks. Sure, they're healthier than deep fried butter, but they're still largely empty carbs that not only detract from my greater goals, they seem to prime the pump of my appetite and jumpstart the cravings monster. So I TRY to avoid them, knowing that a single pretzel will launch a thousand excuses to go back to the break room for another single pretzel...

So to help combat that whole cycle, I bring in several truly healthy snacks each day.

What foods help me stay on track?

First, for breakfast, I've gotten totally hooked on...

Cascade Fresh Fat Free Yogurt! This is the only yogurt I've found that is fat free, but DOESN'T have artificial sweeteners in it. (well, maybe some of the expensive organics do that too...) I absolutely DO NOT do artificial sweeteners. It's party that they taste horrible... And they do - if you think they don't, you've just been dulled to their nastiness! And it's partly because artificial sweeteners have a really, really bad track record of causing health problems. Why would I want to ingest something that I hate the taste of, and that may be doing evil things to my body? I wouldn't, and I don't. This yogurt is sweetened by fruit juice. It's made in small batches locally, and is cultured right in the cup. The taste is very different from the mainstream yogurts with their High Fructose Corn Syrup induced over-sweet flavor. You really need to get the berry flavors in this line to best enjoy it, as the other flavors are quite tart. But now that I've been eating this for breakfast for the past few months, I had a Yoplait over the weekend and it tasted really artificial... This morning I picked up another week's worth of my Cascade Fresh on the way to work! If you can find it at a store near you, I highly recommend it!

This morning, I started to feel hungry around 10:00, so I broke out my first snack of the day:

A White-Flesh Peach! In my last food post, I mentioned how much I hate orange juice. (love oranges, just hate orange juice. go figure.) Well, peaches were never really a fruit that I cared for very much. But the new white flesh variety is one of my favorite tastes of summer! Their cousins, the white-flesh nectarine go hand in hand in that category. I guess I just don't like the taste of Orange, so I'm glad they found a way to breed that pesky color out!

There's another relatively newcomer to the "stone-fruit" family that I am absolutely in love with...

The Pluot! Half plum, half apricot, 100% delicious! There are several varieties out there, but the "Dinosaur Egg" is my favorite. This is another thing that if you haven't tried, when you see it at the store, buy one! Better yet, buy a whole bunch, and if you don't like them, I'll finish 'em for ya!

But there's one summertime staple that I love even more than all of the above:

I'm pretty sure I could live on melons, as long as I added a few bites of meat along the way for protein! This time of year, I try to keep some Honeydew, Cantaloupe and Watermelon cut and ready at all times! If there's a more perfect food in nature, I'm pretty sure I'd disagree with that verdict.

Finally, if I want something other than water to drink, there's the Cashew Juice I mentioned last time, and there's also this, from the same company.

Coconut water sounds kind of strange when you first hear it... But it is an incredibly light, refreshing beverage with few calories, no added sugar, and lots of natural electrolytes, to help do whatever it is that electrolytes do. All I care about is that it tastes great and I can feel good about drinking it!

With these weapons in my corner, the war on summertime dieting doesn't stand much of a chance! And if I'm good Monday through Wednesday, I can still afford to run up to the Farmer's Market on Thursday for a Teriyaki Steak Sandwich! Mmmmmmmm....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Music Monday - Setting Guilty Pleasures Free

There's no disputing that the music we listen to early in life gently guides (and in some cases, strictly dictates) what we like to listen to later... I am definitely in the "gently guides" category, the people who still refuse to admit that the beatles broke up are in the latter.

Probably my earliest memories are from kindergarten. I was in the morning class, and after school, I would rush home as fast as I could, and while Mom would make my lunch, I'd be laying on the floor in front of our big console stereo, listening to records.
One in particular that I remember listening to over and over and over was "Standing on the Corner, Watchin' All the Girls Go By" by the Four Lads. Over and over and over... I was pretty much limited to the records my parents had in their collection, and the few Disney or Sesame Street themed ones they'd bought me.

Not much later than that though, my sisters started bringing their own music into the house, and I was exposed to Billy Joel, Elton John and Barry Manilow. The records changed, my devotion to just lay there and listen didn't. I can remember one time when my sister Susan had joined the Columbia House Record Club (against Mom's wishes, of course) and got a cassette of Steely Dan's "Can't Buy A Thrill". I commandeered the tape recorder and played "Reelin' In The Years" and "Do It Again" until I got yelled at to move on to other songs...

A trip with my uncle Richard from the Tri-Cities home to Des Moines introduced me to Fleetwood Mac, and a trip with him to the OK95 radio studios in Kennewick solidified my love for ELO... An afternoon listening to the radio and playing board games with my cousin Annette during the country crossover period of the early '80s locked in Johnny Lee's "Lookin' for Love" as a good timey classic...

If you read my earlier post about the new wave of the '80s, you'll recognize that my tastes shifted away from these mainstream early favorites. But they never actually left - just moved to the back of my consciousness. I'm sure that the quality of songwriting and musical craftsmanship I fell in love with as a child set the standard for what I personally considered "good" in my later years. It's why there always seemed to be songs that would fly up the charts and get everyone excited about them, but I'd be left totally flat, saying "it's just not a good song!"

As I hit my 30s, I discovered the joy of nostalgia. Pulling out an old K-Tel album from a box that hadn't seen daylight in 15 years was such a great feeling! I began seeking out those old songs again, and since I worked at AEI Music (if you missed that part of the story, click here) I had a pretty easy time collecting all my old favorites and making my own nostalgic CD library. Again, I differentiated myself from other 30-somethings enjoying their musical flashbacks, by fiercely clinging to new, cutting edge music as well... I was probably the only Dance & Trance Mixing DJ on Seattle Radio that listened to soft rock hits of the '80s on the way to the studio!

I was still riding that dual-wave of nostalgia and cutting edge when Cindy and I finally got DSL. I'd had several people telling me that I had to try out Napster... I knew what it was, but wasn't about to even start messing with it while on dial up. Would have been WAY too frustrating!! But with a then-unthinkably fast connection blazing through our apartment, I fired up Napster and did a few tentative searches... And as anyone who was using it back then can attest, it was hard to look for something that WASN'T available! That first night of playing around with it, after I'd gotten a few childhood classics, I called Cindy in, and showed her how easy it was to find things...

...and we both called in sick to work the next day, and spent the entire day at the computer, playing "Stump the Napster!" It was so fun... Since she grew up between California and Arizona, there were different regional hits than I knew, so certain songs that I may have either missed completely, or only somewhat recalled, she would light up and instantly remember every word. At the time, she was making a blanket for Kaylee, and she sat there chocheting, singing, laughing, remembering... before we knew it, it was time to pick the kids up from school!

Today, we still have a few CDs marked "Memory Lane" that are made up of songs from that day... And the songs on them crack me up - I would have never believed that I'd willingly - intentionally, even - listen to Helen Reddy or Anne Murray, but having the new memory of shared re-discovery added to the nostalgia of my own childhood, slips them up to the dignified category of All Time Favorites!

Oh, and even more than just having CDs, I have thoroughly embraced my love for Barry Manilow. So much so that four years ago (almost exactly - June 2004) I did a whirlwind trip with a friend from church who also openly loves Manilow... Barry was doing a one-night-only concert at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. My friend Dave got tickets... And invited me to go with him! We flew out on a Saturday morning, spent the day in Vegas, rode the NY, NY roller coaster, watched Smarty Jones fail to win the triple crown, snuck into the Mandalay Bay to see the stage as it was still being prepped for the show, and then experienced an amazing two hour concert. After the show, we tried (unsuccessfully) to sneak into a private meet-and-greet with Barry, eventually gave up, walked around Vegas some more, and finally crashed in the airport until our Sunday morning flight back home. Well, Dave crashed in the airport. I couldn't. You may recall that I can't sleep when there's music playing, because I just can't NOT listen to it... and there was music playing all night long in the terminal... So I was up all night, didn't sleep on the plane, got home, went and bought a car, got back home, said "wow, I can't believe I'm not tired!" then finally sat down, and crashed harder than I've ever crashed before... All for a Barry Manilow concert!!

I used to refer to these classics as guilty pleasures... But now I'm not even ashamed of them! I call 'em "Mellow Gold" and I'll happily play "Sweet Caroline" or "Looks Like We Made It" along with whatever is currently hot and new, with my head held high!

How about you?? What guilty pleasures have you been hiding? Set them free! Embrace the nostalgic goodness of it all!! It's not only okay, it's GOOD!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Vacation For All!

As you can clearly see, Tyler is very excited to finally be out of school!! He was the last of the kdis to get out, with his release time yesterday coming about two hours later than Ellysa's did.

Tyler will be heading into 5th grade next year, but he certainly doesn't want to think about that now... he just wants to think about the next 2+ months of swimming, playing, swimming, more playing, and more swimming!

Last night was also his final baseball game of the year. Naturally, I didn't have a camera with me, so I commissioned an artist's rendition so you can all see him at the plate...
(click image for full detail)

He had a great game, going 2 for 2 with a single and a triple that he tried to stretch into a home run... Unfortunately he got out at the plate, but he did knock in 2 RBI in the process!

So now all of our kids are out for the summer, we have a new car, and we surprised the kids with season passes to Wild Waves! Guess where we spent the afternoon and evening???


We have been tagged by our BlogBuddy Jan, who has asked to see our blogging setup!

Here's a closeup of our main house computer... Our baby NON-FEMALE kitty Jasper loves to settle down in front of the monitor... and chase the mouse pointer... and generally make a nuisance of himself!

Backing up a bit, here's the whole desk...

Seen here is the desk, a hand-me-down from my sister Karen many years ago... Keyboard, Monitor, Mouse, Laser Printer, Inkjet All-in-One, Puddle Jumpers Business Cards, Cindy's Purse, "Ms Cindy's File Box," some pics of our kids and various other family members, a clock, and it's all topped off with a nice picture of Jesus, to at least TRY to remind us to practice responsible blogging!

Of course this is just the main blogging area... Probably 1/3 of my posts are written here:

Yep... I blog from the bedroom too... Something about the Mickey Mouse pillowcases just seems to awaken my writing muse... or something...

So there you have OUR blogging setups... How about you??


Well that didn't take long...

Both of use were already feeling doubt about buying a 13 year old car, especially as we mapped out where all the kids would sit, and realized we still wouldn't have any space for stuff.

So what we really needed was a van that had more room than our current one. Kinda like our old one did... And since it was a Grand Caravan, we thought we'd look in that direction.

The last Grand Caravan we had was a 1994... In the 14 years since it was made, the Chrysler engineers have gone into overdrive with the innovation and new features, culminating in the total redesign for the 2008 model.

We are now the very proud owners of a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan!

We scored a superb deal on it - it's officially "Used", has just over 7,000 miles on it, but we talked the dealer into restoring the original "lifetime power train warranty" that it came with. They also tossed in five years of oil changes! But the real treasures of this van are on the inside... It's got the "swivel & go" seating, as well as "sto 'n' go" so we have lots of storage in the floor, and the middle seats can swivel around to face the back seats... and there's a table that you can pop in so they have a place to play cards, games, etc.

And it's got a dual DVD system, 2 screens, 2 sets of auxiliary inputs... and the stereo has a 20GB hard drive you can load all your music on so you don't need to have CDs rattling around the car! This is by far the feature I'm most excited about! It'll even rip CDs to the hard drive right there in the car... but it also has a USB port so I can load up music from our media server that's already got its title and artist information entered...

There is no doubt.

It is time for a road trip!

Decisions, Decisions...

For the past five years and 60,000 miles, our trusty little Sedona has carried our family anywhere we've wanted to go! Out to Orcas Island, Down to Disneyland, Over to the Tri-Cities, it's done it all... And all without any complaints at all. Quite a workhorse, this little Kia.

But while IT hasn't made any complaints, I've had a couple... When we first bought it, I knew that if we had any complaints, they would deal with the length of the van. The Grand Caravan we had previously was a good 18" longer than this one, and that space is sorely missed, especially as the kids get bigger!

These days, not only have the kids gotten bigger, but their legs have gotten longer, and the size of their stuff has grown as well. We need our rooftop carrier just to take a simple overnight trip! Although we really like not having a car payment, there's definitely a desire for more vehicular space.

And then, two weeks ago, Cindy asked me if I'd noticed the car parked across the street with a for sale sign in the window. Switching to this car would kinda be like last summer when we traded in our truck for our sexy Sebring. The "other" car has leather interior, all kinds of options, nice custom chrome wheels, and is all around luxurious. It also seats one more passenger, which will really be helpful in another week when Chelsey comes to live with us. Upon researching info on this car, I discovered that although it has a bigger, more powerful engine than the van, it gets considerably better mileage! And finally, the average private party sale price for our van is in the same neighborhood as the asking price on the other car.

Sounds pretty cool, huh? Just wait 'til you see it!

Yep, it's a station wagon - a 1995 Buick Roadmaster, to be precise! Now, I know that they have long carried a stigma of "not cool", but if you look at current trends, wagons are coming back in a big way, baby! One of my favorite cars on the roads right now is the Dodge Magnum, which is 100% Muscle-Wagon. All of these new "crossover" SUVs look more like station wagons than suburbans... Heck, even the suburban itself is like a truck version of a station wagon!

Furthermore, I've always loved station wagons. In high school I had a 1966 Chevy Bel-Air Wagon that was my favorite car! It seated 9 semi-comfortably, and was the ultimate car to drive my friends around in. We went to drive in movies where we paid by the carful, we went on weekend getaways, it was all good times. Then one night I got rear ended by a drunk driver in a 1967 Chevy Pickup.

Although that pretty much ended the Bel-Air's life, I managed to drive away from the accident that totalled the truck that hit me... And I definitely love a car that can take that kind of impact and still drive away under its own power.

Even more shocking to me was that Cindy likes the Roadmaster too! In fact, if you were paying attention earlier, SHE was the one who brought to my attention that it was available!

Two nights ago, we got a chance to drive it... Oh man I forgot how much I love driving a full size, rear wheel drive Big Ol' American Car! And how much I love the sound of a deep, throaty V8 engine growling under the hood...

Oh, that engine? Same one they put in the 1995 Corvette. Yeah. It's got some spunk! And yet still gets better mileage than the v6 in our van.

So now our decision making process is sorting out things like the fact that our van still has another 5 years or 40,000 miles of warranty coverage, while the Roadmaster has 91,000 miles (VERY low - 7,000 per year) and no warranty. According to numerous reports, that car will go several hundred thousand miles if you just give it routine maintenance... Still, the security blanket of a warranty is nice to have. Also, Cindy felt like in order to reach the pedals, she had to have the seat uncomfortably close to the steering wheel. She would be the daily driver, so I'm giving that a lot of consideration.

There we go... Some good points, some bad points, kinda works out to a wash. The prevailing plus is the additional seating, which is kind of a big deal.

Maybe this weekend we'll load up all the kids in it for a trial run... and then maybe we'll make an actual decision on the subject...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Off to High School!

Last night Ellysa had her 9th Grade Celebration to mark the end of her time in Junior High School. Hard to believe she'll be a sohpomore up at the high school next year, but you can't stop time marching on! (you may WANT to, but you can't. we've tried. and failed. so trust us.)

She still gets a little smirky when she notices I've got the camera on her... Moments later she was standing to be recognized for making the school's Honor Roll!

After the awards and celebration ceremony, she and her best friend Karisa went to the formal end of the year dance, then to a sleepover at Karisa's house. Today was a couple of generally meaningless hours at school, followed by the long awaited start of summer vacation!

...oh crap, she's turning 15 and a half in a few weeks... which means summer will include *gasp* dri-dri-dri-dri-.......driv-driv..... Responsible Automobile Operation Instruction.

Wish us luck!! And Wish HER luck in High School!

Why Wait When You Can Make Your Own?

We're well into day two of the woot-off, and I'm still optimistic that I'll score my 3rd bag o' crap!

In the meantime, my sister Janice and her kids decided not to wait for it, and made their own, inspired by my most recent haul, where the "bag" was replaced with a Woot! Bucket!

Her kids, Mitch & Miranda made their own Woot! Bucket, and Woot! T-Shirts, and are definitely Wooting it up in Pasco!

By the way, if you haven't heard the official Woot-Off Song, it's an absolute classic!! The kinda of song that sticks in your mind... Click here to check it out!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer is here!

The first week of summer vacation is here!
Well a partial week, but I filled it so full that it is only Thursday night (day two) and I am pooped, exhausted and I am sure, quite stinky :) We have one more very full day tomorrow and then just ten more weeks to go... um mm, lets not focus on that right now.

Today I took my Puddle Jumpers on a walk to the Tacoma Nature Center. Yeah, seriously, we walked a round trip of 4.5 miles plus the one hour hike we enjoyed during our "Wetland Wonders class" .

It was a beautiful day and the kids did really good on the long walk, no complaints, other then my Audrey who is 6 and really, really had to go... on the way home. She wasn't up for a trip to the bushes so we booked it to the local espresso shop and fortunately made it in time (it was questionable if we were gonna make it). There truly is no bigger urgency then when a child needs to use the restroom and you are in the middle of no-where!

We had so much fun touching animal pelts, inspecting skat (poop) for berries, fur and bones (makes you wish you could have been there too, huh?) We also walked the trails and found a Red Breasted Robin, a squirrel, several ducks, birds of prey and a couple of lazy turtles sunning themselves.

Oh and we couldn't leave out the countless GIANT ant hills, I am talking HUGE three to four feet tall ant hills!

We also were able to get plankton from the Snake Lake (wetland) and look at the organisms under the microscopes.

The kids had fun, learned something new and I got some much needed exercise and sun. Tomorrow we head to the local bird sanctuary to look at birds and play in tree houses and tire swings. Can you guess this weeks theme?
Tonight I will rest , I am gonna need it!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The Woot Overlords have smiled on us, and kicked off a Woot-Off half an hour ago!

This is everyone's chance to score a Bag o' Crap and partake in the excitement that goes along with that!!

If you're new here, or just plain don't have a clue what I'm talking about, click here, here and here to get up to speed.

For help monitoring the festivities of the Woot Off, you should download and run the Wootalyzer, available here.

Go score some deals, and good luck on getting some crap!!

(in most Woot-Offs, the Random Crap doesn't appear until the end, which is USUALLY in the mid-afternoon of the 2nd day. But sometimes it's only one day, and sometimes they go longer. Set the options on Wootalyzer to log you in to buy one in advance, and create your Woot account NOW, because if you wait, you will miss out on the crap.)