Tuesday, December 20, 2011

49. Read 10 books for fun

Who knew this one would go so fast.  When I wrote my first list I would have thought reading 10 books was a completely unreachable goal.  Now, I am enjoying reading.
You can see what I have read in this post.  I haven't been doing a book report for each book I read.  I just keep tabs on the left of the blog and then update the post. Besides my mom I know no one is really interested to have an updated book review on each book I finish.  Enjoy!

21 goals down!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

103. Try to understand the game of cricket

In my classroom I have a lot of boys who are fans of the game cricket. When the weather was nicer I remember hearing some of them asking each other if they wanted to get together after school to play.  I have been interested in the game for awhile and have tried to talk with them about some of the rules and how the game is played, but I can not for the life of me figure it out.  I challenge anyone out there to read this article about a recent test match (a term I have picked up this year) and make any sense out of it.  I had one of my students read it with me and try to explain it, but it was really difficult to get any of it.  I am thinking that I am going to have to find a complete idiots guide or something like it to learn a little more.  The game seems interesting.  I try to compare it to baseball, but the similarities are so few. There are just so many terms and numbers that I have no connection to. 
I have been invited out to watch a match in the spring.  One of my students' Dad is part of a club in Naperville and he was more than willing to have me out to see how it goes.  I think I might take him up on that.

Monday, December 5, 2011

10. Write Charlie a song

Tonight I got to sing Charlie his new song. Just about every night we sing with the kids and we end the singing with the songs that I wrote for Hannah and Maddie.  Charlie loves to sing those songs to the girls.  He truly loves them!  Sometimes we will hear Charlie singing those songs over the monitor.  I didn't want to write him a song right away because in order to write a song like this I needed to learn his personality more.  I started writing this about 5 weeks ago and tried on and off.  Finally it is finished.

This song is just like the girls' song as it is to the tune of the ABC song.

Charlie, Charlie, you funny boy
Your thoughtful caring ways we enjoy
Trucks and balls you could play all day
Your big blue eyes light up your face
You tease and joke and love to play
You make us laugh throughout the day

Charlie was excited.  I say give it a week or two and all three kids will have it down.

20 goals down!

Monday, November 14, 2011

61. Watch all of the Harry Potter movies

Last spring I read all of the Harry Potter books.  Over the summer I watched the first 7 Harry Potter movies. I had wanted to see the last movie at the theater but I didn't have the heart to ask Melissa to give up a precious date night to watch a movie that she didn't have much any connection to. It turned out to be the right choice.  Friday was the release date of the DVD, and Melissa and I got to watch it together.  Melissa was a trooper watching with me and trying to keep up with what was happening throughout the movie.
I was sad after finishing the books, but I have been revived with my finding of the Percy Jackson Series that has plenty of similarities to Harry Potter.  I have read the first five books of that series. There are a couple more books to read from that series that I am sure that I will get to in the next year.
Who knew books could be exciting and interesting?

19 goals down!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

68. Watch 5 movies that I watched growing up

This is one of those sad to admit it publicly posts.  Casey came over last week and we watched the movie Surf Ninjas.  Who wouldn't love a movie that has this as one of the opening scenes?

It was work to find the movie. I was amazed it ever went to DVD.  Netflix doesn't have it for streaming and our library didn't either.  I finally tracked it down at the Arlington Heights library and requested it through interlibrary loan (what a deal!).

We kept with tradition and had some hot-air popcorn along with our own cartons of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Casey summed up the movie by saying that it was a good thing it was only an hour and twenty some minutes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

59. Make canned applesauce for the winter

Making applesauce is something that I got a desire to do from the Hartman family.  Sue made some fantastic applesauce and it always on hand in the freezer ready to go.  Melissa and I have made it in the past, but it always seems that we eat it so fast and there just isn't enough so I wanted to try to make enough to last for a long time.  This goal pushed me to want to make a lot of it.

This is what 80+ pounds of apples look like. It doesn't look very impressive, but there was no way I was going to take them out of the bag for a picture.
We quartered the apples then put them into a pot to soften them up.

After softening up the apples we put them into the food mill.  I stood at that thing for a very long time.  As you can see in the background, I turned the TV so I could watch the football games as I did it.  It made the time go a lot faster.

Here's a close up of the action.  This is when everything still looked clean.  Things got pretty messy toward the end! 

Here's the reward from all of our hard work.  We made 36 jars.

While the process for making the applesauce is kind of long, it is so worth it.  We have already said that we need to ration the applesauce that we have.  I think we could go through a can every 3 days and not get too sick of it.  It is nice having applesauce containing just apples and our own added ingredients.  It makes side dishes at meals a lot easier.

18 goals down!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

69. Make behind the garage usable space

About a month after I began working on my goals I thought this goal was one that I was going to have to find a way to wildcard.  Behind the garage has always been usable space.  We have used it as a wasteland for all of our yard scraps.  It was also an eyesore and a waste of quite a big area of land.

Here is a before picture:

My Dad decided that instead of watching for prices to come down on fire pits, that he was just going to get me one for my birthday.   After some thinking we decided that there was no other place to put it than behind the garage.  I decided to start clearing out some of that dirt to begin leveling the area.

Here is the progress I made in just a few hours of work.  It hadn't rained in weeks so everything was dry and light. (sorry about the picture quality, the camera couldn't decide between sun and shade)

 We had spent a lot of time looking for bricks in the past but could never find a great price on craigslist.  The same day we decided to do this project Melissa found a listing for 400 bricks for $20.  The guy selling the bricks couldn't count and actually had about 1100 bricks there.  He just wanted to get rid of them so he was happy for me to take them.  Four trips later here is what we had to work with!

How is this for a low cost steam roller!  I went back and forth about a hundred times and it worked great!

This is what exhaustion looks like.  After I had cleared a pretty big space we decided to widen the area.  That may have been the most tiring job of the whole project.

 A lot happened between the last picture and this one.  I am sad to admit that I don't have any pictures of Ryan or my Dad working on this project.  Without them I am pretty sure the bricks would still be stacked behind the garage and not in place.  We laid most of the bricks in one night.  Ryan and I laid bricks and my dad walked back and forth delivering bricks where needed.  We called it a night at about 11 pm. 

This picture doesn't do justice to the amount of "dust" that came up when I was cutting the bricks. I am pretty sure that in 30 years I will still be finding brick dust on some of my tools.  It really was a mess!  I used a concrete blade and put the bricks into the vice.  It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Messy, but not too difficult. 

 Sweeping sand into the spaces between the bricks.

The girls were able to have their birthday party outside with dinner on the new patio.

 We had the area done in time for the movie night, but it wasn't totally done at that point.  I mulched the back area (where the fire is), put in a path to go around the back side of the garage, and permanently put in the railroad ties around the bricks.

 We had a group of guys over to watch the Bears/Lions game.  The game didn't turn out so great, but the group that was together was a bunch of fun.  I can't wait until next spring/summer to have more people over to watch movies and games.

I am soooooo glad we did this project. After it was done I think we ate dinner outside for an entire week.  We cooked a number of those meals over the fire too. It was quite a bit of work, but all together it cost just over $100!  Behind the garage went from a wasteland to a really nice area.  I am 100% sure that this job would not have been done without having it on my list.

17 goals down!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

68. Watch 5 movies that I watched growing up

The other night I watched Last Action Hero on Netflix. I stumbled upon it while browsing the selection and knew it was the perfect movie to fit into the category of movies I remember from being a kid.  I only watched this movie 2 or 3 times growing up but it is definitely one that I remember from when I was younger.  I remember staying overnight with Matt at a friend's house and watching Arnold Schwarzenegger on Jay Leno or some late night talk show the night before the movie was released.  We talked about going to see the movie and were pumped to see the noon showing (or something near there).  We made sure that our friend's mom dropped us off early because it was the day of the release and was going to be the first showing of the movie and we wanted to make sure we could get a ticket for the premier.  After arriving early we found that it was us and about four other people who wanted to see the movie.  It turns out not too many others saw it either. 
After watching it again I don't think it was too bad.  It has a decent story line. 
Next up, I put in an inter-library loan request out for Surf Ninjas.  There are so many things in that movie I can not wait to make fun of again.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

5. Take Maddie out on 5 dates

Maddie and I got to go out to Oberweis last week.  We both had a good time.  She sure is getting big!

Friday, September 16, 2011

38. Find a new doctor and get a physical

I got a physical yesterday. It wasn't the best day to do it for me health wise.  I opened a box of kleenex in the morning and threw the box away before lunch time because it was empty.  My allergies were out of control.  I also had a headache. As I say, it wasn't the best day to get checked out.
Unfortunately the physical wasn't a very good one.  My appointment was at 4:20 but I didn't see the doctor until 5:05. I sat in a room by myself waiting for most of that time. 

I read everything in that room.  I read the posters twice.  I was so bored!

When I finally met with the doctor we talked mostly about my headaches and my allergies and he seemed to think they were pretty closely linked.  He may be right.  I'm hoping that my new routine with medicines will do the trick.  He also gave me a prescription for a steriod that might help too.  I sure hope so.  These last three weeks have been rough. I am really wanting to find out what I need to do to have a regular day without having to consult more medications and endless kleenex.  Hopefully this does the trick.
While it wasn't the most thorough of physicals, it was still a physical.
16 goals down!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

45. Host a movie night outside

After thinking about doing this for awhile we finally got around to having friends over for a movie night last night. 

We made popcorn.

Melissa did a great job setting everything up.

The kids enjoyed playing on the swing set as we waited for it to get dark.  I climbed up 20 ft. on the tree to hang a light.  It lights up the swing set perfectly. 

The kids enjoyed it so much. We watched Toy Story 3. They are already asking when we are going to do it again.  I had such a great time.  I want to do it again soon too.

 I built a frame on one of our fences and used a canvas drop cloth as our screen. I don't know what the diagonal measurement but it was about 8 feet wide by about 6 feet high. It worked out well.

I'm ready to do it again. Maybe October 10th or 16th to watch the Chicago Bears' night games.  We shall see...

15 goals down!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Update on going without cable TV

We have made it a little over 2 months now without having Cable Television.  It hasn't been terribly bad.  We have used the library for movies and tv series' that we hadn't watched in the past.  The library has been great because everything that we get from there is free.  My brother Matt clued me into putting requests on books and movies and I have been using it pretty faithfully ever since.
For our normal viewing of shows we bought the Roku box and we pay for Hulu and Netflix service which is around $8 a month for each of them. 
For netflix we are able to stream tv shows and movies to our TV.  Most of their stuff that they have is older.  If it is on DVD, then there is a chance that Netflix has it.
Hulu is a little different.  They have old TV shows (Quantum Leap, Hill Street Blues, and older), but they also have up to date shows that play each week.  They update within a day of the show being on and allow you to watch it pretty soon after it is broadcast.  We haven't had our regular shows start to see how this will impact our viewing.  I will update later to give the thumbs up or down on that one.
Through Hulu and Netflix we get tons of shows and movies that supplement what we used to watch in the past.  It has been fun to see old shows (Inspector Gadget, Fraggle Rock...) that I used to watch when I was little.  The kids don't appreciate those shows like I did when I was little.  Maybe some day they will come along.
For live television we have an antenna in the attic that gets CBS, FOX, NBC, ABC, WGN, PBS and a few more channels.  That will allow us to watch shows coming up in the fall live if we choose.  I will be able to watch most NFL games and follow along with my fantasy team.
All in all, I would say that it hasn't been too bad making the switch.  We still do miss watching some of our cable shows, but I am in the process of ordering a cable to attach our computer to our TV.  After we get that hooked up we should be able to get just about everything that we were missing.
I had thought about doing this for months/years before we actually did it.  I am glad I put it on my list so I would be motivated to actually give it a try.  Time will tell if we really have gotten rid of our monthly cable bill.

Friday, August 26, 2011

88. Tour Wrigley Field

Melissa surprised me with a trip into Chicago on Saturday to tour Wrigley Field.  I have been there plenty of times, but I was really excited to go and see some of the places normal people aren't allowed into.  We made it to our 10:30 starting time for the tour and started walking up the ramps to the upper deck.  We saw the press box and where the TV and radio announcers sit and watch the games from.  After that we had a seat in the upper deck and heard about some of the history of Wrigley Field.  It was during this time that the 10% chance of rain that was predected turned into a torrential downpour.  It was a crazy storm and felt even more weird watching it from under cover.  We even saw a skyscraper get hit by lightning.  Sadly, we had to wait out the storm in the upper deck and missed out on a lot of the other parts of the tour.  No locker room or trip out on the field for us.
I did have a good time.  It was fun being in the stadium at a time when others weren't allowed.
Afterward Melissa and I went to The Cubby Bear for Lunch.  This was definitely a good day!

Here is a before picture when we got to the upper deck.

Here is an after picture

We got to see Tony Campana and Starlin Castro take batting practice in the cage under the right field bleachers.

And to finish the day I got a delicious ice cream "cake" to finish off the day of celebration.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

96. Go Fishing

I don't remember the last time I went fishing.  I am going to guess it could be close to 20 years ago.  It's been awhile.

While we were in North Carolina we took a turn at going fishing.  It didn't go great.  We caught no fish.  The minnows were nipping at our bait, but that was about it.

 Charlie enjoyed looking in the water for the little fish.
 Josh saved the day by spotting crabs that were within reach of the nets.  We grabbed 3 of them out of the water.  Catching them involved sliding your head through the slats on the deck and reaching down into the water.  At one point I thought I was stuck.  But at least our fishing time wasn't a complete failure.
 This is before when the kids still thought the crabs were pets or something to play with.
 Josh butchering the crabs.  There wasn't much to eat, but we did get a taste.

I still want to go fishing and actually catch a fish, but I am counting this one done.

13 goals down!

93. Visit an ocean

We made it!

Last week we went to Topsail Island, NC with Melissa's family.  We had a great time.  Maddie loved playing in the sand and collecting shells.  Hannah enjoyed making sand castles and playing in the water.  Charlie just liked being around people.

 Maddie collected shells the entire week.


 Hannah wrote her name in the sand.  She was so proud.  It took several tries because the waves kept coming up and ruining her writing.

After driving for 11 hours we had to see the ocean.  Maddie got right to work collecting shells. 
Here we are looking through the houses to see the ocean when we arrived.

Thanks Moore family for a great week!

12 goals down!

Monday, July 25, 2011

47. Take someone to give their first blood donation

This goal was fairly easy.  If I wanted to do it 5 more times I would guess that I could do it.  Any time someone finds out that I give blood regularly they say that they should do it too.  I put this goal down to get me motivated to invite people to come along with me.  Today Ryan came along with me for his first donation.  While Ryan had volunteered for a blood drive when he was in college or high school, he has never given. He said the reason he wants to go most is because he wants to know what type of blood he has. Whatever it takes I guess. He did have some queezy thoughts about giving, but got over it and did a great job.  Someone in need will be very happy that he made it out.

Ryan getting his second drink before he even gave blood!
I think that I am a magnet for special days at the blood bank.  I have been to Twilight day, Harry Potter day, and today it was Parrot Head day.  That meant that when we walked in we were greeted with a lobby that was more full than I have ever seen before.

Its tough to discreetly get a picture of a room full of people.
There were 14 people filling out paper work or waiting to go back to give blood.  Ryan asked how many normally are in the lobby when they don't have promotional days.  The answer is that it is about 12 or 13 less.  Here is why:

Check out that loot!  Here's the run down of what we got on our visit:
  • Drinks served while waiting to be screened.
  • Free t-shirt that I will probably only wear to do yard work.
  • Oberweis gift card for a free quart of ice cream.
  • Cheeseburger from Culver's.
  • Nonalcoholic margaritas after donating.
  • All the snacks we could want while waiting to be discharged.  I drank a Coke, and ate a bag of Sun Chips, a bag of Cheez-its and a brownie.
  • Lastly, because it was Ryan's first visit, we both got to cash in on the bring a friend promotion.  Ryan and I will both be getting $25 American Express gift cards in the mail.

I had to let Ryan know that this is not a typical visit.  Normally you just get the snacks and maybe will get lucky with a gift card to Oberweis.

I'm glad Ryan went with me.  Hopefully we can go again.  Having someone with you is a lot more fun than going alone.  I'm eligible to go again any day after September 19th.  Is anyone interested in going?

11 goals done!

Friday, July 22, 2011

77. Volunteer with an organization in Aurora

Last night Melissa and I had a chance to go over to Hesed House to help with dinner.  Hesed House is a homeless shelter that provides meals and "beds" for the homeless of Aurora.  Our church has one night a month to serve and friends of ours have been going there for awhile and encouraged us to go and help.
When we got there we helped prepare dinner. We cut a bunch of veggies and ran food back and forth to the serving line. 

As dinner was being served I was up in the men's dormatory to help check people in and show them their beds for the night.  The room that the men slept in was a big open room that had nothing but small matresses on the floor.  For the beds, imagine matresses that are on beds at a campground then go one step below that. There wasn't much padding in them. There were 90 beds on the floor.  I was amazed that many guys just came in, got their bedding and went to sleep. It was 7:45 at night but I guess after a long day of wandering around town laying in a bed in front of a fan could be what they had been thinking about the entire day.  The men were very meticulous about their beds.  They tucked everything in and made everything look as neat and clean as we would at home when company is coming over.  This was their space and they were proud of it.

I had a good time.  My eyes were opened.  I drive by Hesed House often, but have never been inside the doors.  There are some crazy people in there, but for the most part it is a big group of people that are looking for a break and are struggling to figure out how to manage their lives.  I definitely want to go back and help again. Thanks Mom for watching the kids so we could go out.

10 goals down!