Daddy Says… Christmas Stroll

Every year, our town has a “Christmas Stroll”.  They close down the main street through the center of town, and various merchants and local organizations put out tables with free goodies for the kids.  There are some that have items for sale as well, and most of them benefit local groups like the Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts or the Lions club.

It only lasts a few hours, but it’s always a popular event and is always pretty busy. It seems most of the town shows up and walks up & down the street, saying hi to friends, old & new.

The kids look forward to it every year, and they were pretty excited when we discovered that the stroll was this weekend.

The kids with Frosty!

We stopped into a local bank and the kids each had a Santa hat made with their names on them.  It was only $2 for each hat, but they really thought they were great!

The Professor & Princess waiting for their hats.

This year it was pretty cold, so we didn’t spend a lot of time outside, but we did make our way up and down the street once, had a cookie & a cup of hot chocolate and stopped into a local church for a bowl of some delicious soup!

All in all, it was a fun time and really kicked off the Christmas season for us!

Daddy Says… Upside Down Fire

One night last week I was stumbling around the internet on Stumbleupon, and found a method for starting fires I had never heard of.  The Upside Down Fire Method.  It turned everything I had known about starting a fire upside down – literally!

I had been taught that to get a fire going, you needed to build a small fire out of paper & kindling, and then add in larger & larger pieces of wood until you had a really good blaze going.  As it turns out, there is a much more efficient method.

You start out by building a base of large logs – making sure there is no space between them.  From there, keep building higher using consecutively smaller pieces.  Again, with each layer, try to keep the wood touching as you go.  Finally set some paper on the top with some small kindling or some of those fire starter sticks.

Light the paper and watch it burn!  As the small kindling catches, it drops embers onto the layer below, igniting that layer as well – and so on down the line. Which is why it’s important not to have any gaps between the wood, so the embers rest on the wood, smoldering and igniting the next layer.  Once you’ve got the top layer lit, it just keeps burning it’s way downward and you don’t even have to mess with or poke around with the fire at all.

It also burns very hot & very cleanly, with minimal smoke.  The paper and kindling burning on top preps the chimney flue allowing the smoke to flow easily up and out.  There’s no backdraft of smoke into the house, which is great!

I’ll be trying this method out on our next camping trip.

Daddy Says… Mummy’s House

Mummy really enjoys watching those home design shows on HGTV.  One of her favorites is “Sarah’s House” featuring the designs of Sarah Richardson. Each season Sarah takes an old home and completely renovates it and makes it into a fully upgraded, beautiful home.  So, I guess I have her to thank (at least in part) for this weekend’s extended trip to Home Depot!

Granted, we have been hunting for a new dishwasher for a while, and we had plans to go this weekend and pick one out – but once Mummy realized we had a few extra dollars to spend in order to fulfill a special coupon deal we had, her affinity for Sarah’s home improvements came out and suddenly we were shopping to finish off renovating our kitchen.

When we bought our house, almost 5 years ago now, the kitchen was a disaster!  We’ve put a lot of work into it since then and slowly it has been becoming a kitchen we can be proud of.  It does still have some finishing touches to be done, and that’s largely what we spent our time and money on at Home Depot.

In addition, we actually did find a dishwasher!  We’ve arranged for delivery and should have it next weekend. We’re looking forward to being able to stop washing so many dishes by hand!

Our new dishwasher!

 

I’ll be the first to admit that doing the work of home improvement is not my favorite thing to do, but I have to say that it’s a pretty good feeling once a project is complete and you can really see how much a little work has improved things. Mummy and I have a bit more work to finish off our kitchen, but before long, it will be an incredible room – miles away from where it started.

And then… on to the rest of the house!

Daddy Says… Rock the Vote

Today I did my civic duty and voted in the state election as well as the national Presidential election.  I’ve always felt it was important to take part in the process and vote in every election, and this one was no different.

Today however, I didn’t vote alone – the Little Professor & Mighty Princess came along.  When talking with them before we went, I found out that the Professor wanted Abraham Lincoln to be President and the Princess wanted George Washington.  I couldn’t argue with either choice, but I did have to explain that they simply weren’t an option this time…

They were pretty impressed that we vote at the same school where they play soccer.  After a minor setback at the sign in desk – I had neglected to complete my town census, so I was dropped from the rolls and had to be added back in – we picked up our ballot and found ourselves a booth.

I explained the process to the kids, and showed them the ballot while we filled out our choices.  I answered questions about the various candidates and gave some information about their positions and they impressed me by making a lot of the same choices I had.  Though, I think there were more questions about the uncontested positions, than the others.

“Why is there no-one else listed?” “What if we don’t like what that person does?”

I also explained the various ballot questions we were voting on and let them come to their own conclusions on each.  Again, they impressed me by reaching the same decisions I had. Overall, they were pretty impressed with the process and yet surprised at how quickly it was over. As we were leaving the Princess asked “so, did we win?”.

Daddy Says… A Long Time Ago…

Big news today – Lucasfilm is being acquired by the Disney Corporation for an incredible 4.05 Billion dollars! And to top it off, they are already announcing plans for 3 more Star Wars movies!  Episode 7 is expected to be released in 2015, with Episodes 8 & 9 to follow in the coming years.  This is pretty staggering news considering George Lucas always said he would not be doing any more Star Wars films.  And as he explained today, he won’t be doing them – though of course, he will be involved and has already begun the story treatments for 7, 8 & 9.

George Lucas is passing the baton to Kathleen Kennedy, co founder of Amblin Entertainment with Steven Spielberg and Gary Marshall and producer of several movies including E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Jurassic Park and the Sixth Sense.

The more I think about today’s announcement, the more excited I am about the possibilities!   There are a lot of really great stories already written by some very talented individuals telling the further stories and adventures of the Skywalker family and the Jedi Order. Though, I’m sure the new President of Lucasfilm is likely to take things in her own direction – with George Lucas standing by “as her Yoda” as she quipped in an interview today.

Just this weekend the Professor, the Princess and I were all watching “A New Hope”.  It was the Mighty Princess’s first time seeing a full length Star Wars movie and she really loved it!  She had seen some of the Clone Wars episodes, and of course she is a Jedi Padawan herself – but this was the first time she was able to see Princess Leia in action.  After the movie ended, the two of them were off to play Star Wars up in their room and there was a lot of “You be Luke, I’ll be Leia” talk going on.  It’ll be a lot of fun to share the news with them both! The series was a big part of my childhood and I’ve been a fan ever since and I love that I get to share the experience with the kids as well!

Daddy Says… In a Pickle

The morning after the wedding, Mummy & I got up and decided to get ourselves a nice breakfast with some good coffee.  We tried the coffee provided in the hotel room, but that was terrible, so we headed downstairs to see what the hotel had for breakfast.  They had a buffet going, but it just didn’t seem like what we wanted.  Neither of us were really too hungry, and we were kind of hoping for something we could bring back up to the room.  Besides the thought of a big bin full of scrambled eggs, warmed up frozen potatoes & some limp bacon just didn’t seem too appealing.

My brother and his lovely bride had put together a little welcome basket with a few of their favorite things, as well as a list of local recommendations for those out of town guests who were going to be attending the wedding. On the list was a little Breakfast/Lunch place just down the street in Waltham called “In a Pickle“. I had heard someone mention it the night before at the reception, and they seemed to like it as well, so we decided to give it a shot.  At the very least the coffee had to be better than what was brewed upstairs!

We took the drive, found a spot to park and walked over to the place.  We could tell right away it must be good, because there were a few small groups of people outside waiting for a table! It’s just a small little place with about 8 tables and a short lunch counter.  We decided to see if we could just grab a couple of breakfast sandwiches and coffees to go.  We made our way inside, and had a look over the menu – it was pretty impressive!  There were some really good sounding meals, like the Coconut Banana French Toast, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pancakes, Loaded Belgian Waffles & all sorts of Omelets.

Since we were looking to just get a quick breakfast and head back to the hotel, we just ordered a couple of Bacon, Egg & Cheese sandwiches with a side of Homefries & a couple of Coffees.  While we waited out front for our order, my brother and his wife came walking along for breakfast as well!  We talked for a few minutes, thanked them for the recommendation, picked up our order and headed back to eat.

The breakfast was great!  The sandwiches were perfect – fresh eggs, cheese & thick crispy bacon on whole wheat bread with homefries made from real chunks of potatoes, seared on the grill with some nice seasoning. And the coffee was excellent – fresh, hot and delicious. It was exactly what we wanted. The perfect way to wrap up our overnight stay.

We’ve decided we’ll head back there another time with the kids and wait for a table.  They have all sorts of cool stuff we’d like to try, as well as things we know the kids will love. All in all “In a Pickle” is one of those hidden gems that only locals really ever seem to know about, where the people obviously enjoy making great food in a fun environment.

Daddy Says… Sleepover

Once a year Nana J takes the kids for a sleepover at her place.  They always really look forward to it, and this week was their time.  Mummy and I dropped them off in the morning with a small suitcase, a couple of stuffed animals and a lot of smiles.

They spent the day going to playgrounds and having fun, then after soccer practice they apparently stayed up late watching movies!

Today they went to Imagination Island, and spent the day playing on indoor climbers and Jumpy houses.  Lastly, they went to Friendly’s restaurant and had dinner, complete with make your own sundaes and face painting!

Nana J knows how to show those kids a good time!  But I know they were happy to be home too.  The professor rushed in to give the Milk Monkey a big hug, and the Princess just wanted to spend some time with Mummy.  As much fun as they have when they are away, it’s good to know that they really love being home too.

Daddy Says… Dance Machine

If there’s one thing the Milk Monkey loves to do – it’s dance.  He can be in the middle of just about anything, but when the music comes on, it captures his attention immediately.  In fact, “The Wiggles” is one of our go to shows when the little guy is grumpy because they have so much music and it always gets him going.

Mummy took the below video at the Imageworks interactive play area in Epcot.

He can be an adventurous little one sometimes, climbing over and escaping from his play area.  He also loves to play and have fun with his big brother and sister.  But more than anything – he loves to dance.

Daddy says… Busy Days

Just a quick update tonight to let everyone know what’s going on.  We’re still in Canada and will be here for a little bit longer.  Mummy has been keeping busy helping her Mom recover from an unexpected surgery.  She’s also been assisting her Grandmother with Doctor visits etc while her Mom is out of commission.

The kids are enjoying it, they get to spend lots of time with their Canadian relatives.  The Milk Monkey has been having a lot of fun in particular.  The way Nana L’s place is set up, we just have to put a gate to keep him off the stairs, and one to keep him out of the kitchen – otherwise, he has the run of the downstairs.  He spends his time running around, playing with everything he can get his hands on and being cute for his Grandparents.

Nana L is recovering well and getting stronger everyday, which is great!  We figure if all goes well, we’ll head back to the states over the weekend.