Friday, April 29, 2011

53. Make wood toys for the kids is Done!

I finally got my last toy finished up for the kids.
This one is modeled after a toy my dad made us when we were little.  It is a little duck push toy.

 I'm no professional paint job, but it was the best I could do.  I haven't added little rubber flaps for the feet yet because I haven't found a good enough rubber.

The girls have really enjoyed pushing them around!

I am so thankful for the ability to know how to create toys for the kids like this. (Thanks Dad!) I hope that I can continue to make things for them as they grow up.

Here is a reminder of the other projects I had for the kids:
Race Cars
Piggy Banks round 1 and round 2

Another goal down!

88. Meet all the neighbors on my block

This goal falls into the category of: Things that should have happened years ago.  I don't have the personality to naturally approach people. I know if I didn't put this on the list there is no way that I would have tried to approach my neighbors.  Sadly, that's how I am.  If they don't approach me, I just smile and waive and hope they will make the first move.

I put this goal on the list because when I wrote my list I had still only met a few people who lived in our immediate area.  We have plenty of friends in the neighborhood, but the ones that live closest I didn't know.  Of the 6 houses on the block, I only knew the people in 2 of them.

Today I took Charlie out for a walk to the hardware store and on the way home I saw the guy who lives on the corner out in his driveway.  I decided to go up his driveway and say hello.  Unfortunately, that was about all we could say.

Right after leaving their house, I turned the corner and saw the other couple hanging out in the backyard. They waived so I took that as a cue to go say hello.  They've lived there for four years and this was the first time I have talked with them.  Pretty sad.  They seemed really nice. They are both police officers in a neighboring town.

Hopefully this will bring on more conversation rather than just waiving on Monday nights when we both are taking the garbage out.

Another goal down!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

13. Do 100 sit-ups w/o taking a break

This one has been a long time coming.
I decided as I was on the intermission between the 3rd period and overtime of the Blackhawks game that I would get this goal done.  There have been plenty of times where i have been on a role and could have finished it, but I either get fatigued and just don't feel like pushing to 100, get mentally tired and just give up, or just get tired of counting.
I remember when I started and could only get 26.  I've definitely come a long way.
Another goal down!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

47. Go out on a date with Melissa every other month

Tonight Melissa and I had the good fortune of having my dad and his wife Lynda come over to watch the kids so we could go out to dinner.  We haven't gone out on a week night for as long as I can remember.  It was a nice break for the week.  In our family tradition, we went to Red Robin to get a free birthday burger for Melissa.  Their burgers are so good.
After dinner we did some shopping and then ended the night with hot fudge sundaes. It was a good night.
It is funny that this goal started and ended with trips to Red Robin.  I only wish more of the ones in the middle could have been too. Their creative burgers are toward the top of my list of really good burgers.
Another goal down!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

102. Shake hands and talk with a Nobel Laureate

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to evaluate presentations from students at the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA).  It is their version of Extreme Makeover Science Fair Edition. Topics that I got to hear presented on were:
The Profitability of Private Equity
Determining Heat Load of Infrared Laser Radiation through Direct and Side-Firing Optical Fibers
Chest CT Imaging Findings in Patients with Localized Sarcoma
I even saw a presentation given by one of my former students from my first year of teaching on understanding the formation of Toroidal-Spiral particles. 
It was amazing research that they have high school students doing.  I had a really good time there seeing what kids are capable of doing.

During our time walking the halls one of the people I was with pointed out Dr. Leon Lederman who is a Nobel winning physicist. He and Einstein definitely had the same barber.  He wasn't breaking any stereotypes about brilliant scientists.  I told one of my friends I was with that I was going to go over and say hello.  Before making this list I probably would have just looked at him across the room and thought it was neat to be in the same room as him.  I decided that I was going to go over and say hello.  As I got over to him I said hello, shook his hand and surprisingly our conversation was in the area of sports (thank God!).  He's a big sports fan and we had all just seen a presentation on baseball statistics and how certain stats influence winning percentages.  We only talked for 2 minutes but I was really happy that I made the decision to walk across the room to say hello.

It wasn't a goal of mine, but I was proud that I was able to do it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

53. Make wood toys for the kids

 I finished putting together the cars for the kids.  Just in time for Easter baskets!

I began with a scrap piece of a 4 x 4.  I cut it down to be 2 1/2 x 2 1/2.  After having it cut down, I just used the band saw and belt sander to get it down to size.

Here's an look at what it started at and then what it looked like after cutting it down and sanding it.

 Here is the finished product.

Melissa did a great job painting up the drivers.  I can't wait for the kids to open up their Easter baskets.   This was such a fun project.

I am adding the cars to the piggy banks that I made the kids last summer.  Here is a reminder of what those looked like.

I have one more wood project to put together until I can consider this one done.  I have it all cut out, I just need to paint them up and it will be done.  Tomorrow I am going to pick up the colors that I need and get started on getting it all together.  Maybe it will even be done by Easter too!  We will see.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

82. Make fudge with grandma

"When you're making fudge, you're making fudge!"

I got to spend an evening with my grandma last night.  I have no idea when the last time that happened that it was just the two of us (if ever!).  The purpose for my trip was to be able to make a batch of fudge with my grandma.  For as long as I can remember, the holidays involved a big plate of fudge made by my grandma.  There was always a tray with nuts and some without.  I don't think I even want to know how many pounds of sugar I have consumed over my lifetime from eating her fudge.  It is so good.

When I asked her about her secret recipe, she told me that there was no secret to it.  She was in fact correct.  When she pulled out the book with the recipe, it was just a regular Betty Crocker cookbook from decades ago.  Here's what Betty says you need for the recipe:

4 cups of Sugar
2 sticks of butter
14.5 oz can of evaporated milk
12 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 pint of marshmallow fluff
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of chopped walnuts

That's it!  No secret ingredient at all!  (But, a lot of sugar!)

The first thing you need to do is bring the sugar, butter and evaporated milk to a low boil (234º).  That is apparently super important.  It can't get hotter but it can't be even a degree lower.  As the temp is going up you need to be constantly stirring the mixture to make sure the sugar and butter don't caramelize.  It was work just to stay focused on the mixture.  And as Grandma said many times, and my mom told me as well.  You can't multitask when you are making fudge.  I have heard the line from both of them, "When you're making fudge, you're making fudge!"  That is it.  It was true, you can't do anything else but mix and chat.

After you get the mixture up to the magical 234º, you turn off the burner and mix in the chocolate chips.  At this point I said it was getting somewhat difficult to mix.  Grandma told me it hadn't even gotten close.  She was right, after mixing in the chocolate, we put the marshmallow fluff in.  That was tough.  At this point we also added the vanilla.

After I mixed for about five agonizing minutes of mixing with a spatula Grandma brought out the hand mixer and quickly blended the mixture together.  I'm not sure if that could have been used earlier, but it sure would have come in handy.

After about 3 minutes being mixed it was ready to be put into the greased up pans.  I put half of the mixture into one pan, then stirred some chopped walnuts into the remaining mixture and poured it into the other greased pan.

That was it.  No secret recipe, no secret technique.  All we did was follow the directions that a Betty Crocker cookbook laid out a number of decades ago.

I had a really good time. 

Here is the reward for completing this goal.

Another yummy goal down!

71. Go to the dentist every six months

I went today for my fifth and last time to complete this goal.

Nothing else needs to be said about this.

Another goal done!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

60. Take the train

The original intent for this goal was to take the train on a vacation somewhere.  There is just not enough time (or money) to make that happen.  I figure taking the train toward Chicago for about 25 minutes would satisfy it instead.  The kids loved it!  Melissa did a write-up about what we did on our trip.

I'm counting this goal as done!

95. Vote

I voted today.  It's a good habit to be in.  Our ballot didn't have too many high profile positions.  We voted for aldermen positions, school board positions and on a referendum the park district was asking for.  I didn't have to do too much reading to learn about who was running because there weren't too many people.  This was by far the easiest to prepare for.

Another one down!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Commuting just got a whole lot easier!

I got a new bike! 

For the purposes that I use my bike, my mountain bike just wasn't cutting it.  I had my goal of riding to school 10 times.  I have done the ten and probably 20 more.  I plan on adding even more to that as this school year winds down.  My mountain bike wasn't super practical for running errands around town.  Last summer I would hook up the trailer to the bike and pull the girls around town to run errands.  They loved it, but it was making me work a lot harder than I needed to.  This bike should make things easier for me.

Next week looks like perfect bike riding weather.  I can't wait!