Celebrating Labor Day

Labor Day, like Memorial Day, has always meant one thing here in Texas; swimming and grilling at Papa’s house. We decided to celebrate Zander’s birthday today, since the whole family was able to make it. We will have a small family party on Wednesday, his actual birthday, but we ended up giving him his main present today. For the past few months, he has insisted he wants the blue remote control car, even though his mom insists he has enough remote control cars. He and I know there is no such thing as enough remote control cars. Mindy made him a cool construction themed birthday cake.

Pokemon Go

I thought that one good way to get my daughter out of the house more would be to try Pokemon Go. So far, Zoe has risen to the occasion, though it is challenging finding time to go out wandering the neighborhood with my work schedule. However, I am not going to give up trying. Plus, it gives me something to do while walking the dog.

Driving the Speed Limit

I have always been one to believe in driving legally. The only area where I have been a bit flexible is the speed limit on highways. A month our so ago, as a result of the rising costs of auto insurance, I signed up for State Farm’s Drive Safe and Save program. It uses an app on our phones to track our driving habits. Previously, my drive to and from work involved driving as quickly as safely possible interspersed with periods of driving slowly in heavy traffic. With the addition of big brother, I switched to driving the speed limit the entire way. I am also a proponent of cruise control. Between going the speed limit and heavy use of cruise control, I managed to get my best gas mileage yet. And, it only added about 5 minutes to my commute each way. I consider it a fair trade.

Mowing Lawns

Even though I usually complain about the need to do it, I actually do enjoy having a freshly mowed (mown?) lawn. Those who know me know that I prefer to do a job using the proper tools. I have always liked Toro (thanks, Jason) for their lawn mowers and Stihl for other lawn equipment. The last time I owned a house, I purchased a nice Toro mower and a nice Stihl string trimmer. However, since we knew we were moving from that house into an apartment building in Chicago, I ended up getting rid of both of those lovely pieces of equipment when we moved. As a result, when we purchased a house again last year, I went out and picked up another, similar pair. I even added a Stihl leaf blower, replacing the electric one I left behind. Having good tools to do a job makes doing it that much nicer. I even occasionally get the hankering to help some of the people in my neighborhood who, for whatever reason, haven’t taken care of their lawns for the past few weeks. I don’t know the right protocol for something like that, but maybe one day I will get a chance to meet them and can broach the subject.

Cool parking

On Saturday, we needed to get out of the house, so we decided to make a visit to Nebraska Furniture Mart. It was about a 30 minute drive from our place, but traffic wasn’t too bad. Due to the temperature, we decided to park in the parking garage. It was there that I saw something I hadn’t seen before. They had sensors over every parking spot, with lights that showed you which spots were taken, free, or reserved for the handicapped. No more circling the parking garage looking for a spot. You could easily see, from a distance, any open spot:

Definitely something I want to see in more parking garages. Oh, and they had lots of furniture, too!

Rain gutters

One of the things that annoys me about my house is the lack of rain gutters on the entire roof. It seems, based on my observations made while walking the dog, that the builders in my neighborhood only put gutters where there are exits from each house. Aside from just being cheap, I really don’t understand the logic in that approach. Yes, it is nice to avoid a waterfall by my front and back doors, but a waterfall around the rest of my house is not good for the yard. One of these days it will be a high enough priority for me to spend the money to fix it, but it is an annoyance that I really shouldn’t have to deal with.

Popcorn

My dietary weakness is, you guessed it, popcorn. I cannot sit through a movie without a bag of popcorn. Whether at the theater or at home, popcorn is my kryptonite. Of course, I do prefer to pop my own, and never from a pre-packaged bag (I have popped my own in a brown paper bag, however). I have burned through two air poppers in the past couple of years, and I am currently using a Lekue microwave popcorn popper. So far, it has worked out well, with no signs of burning up.

For the past 21 months, I have been avoiding sugar and processed foods. Popcorn is a whole grain, and I use that fact to justify eating it. While I do generally avoid dairy, I like real butter on my popcorn. I try to limit myself to having it only a couple of times per week, but I accept the fact that I am only human. I have managed to keep my weight consistent for the past 8 months, in spite of my regular popcorn consumption.

Eating out with kids

My preference when eating out is a place with salad…and salad bars are even better. Of course, my wife doesn’t believe me, but the last two times I took one of my kids to lunch, they asked to go to Golden Corral. I am pretty sure it isn’t the salad bar they care about…but the chocolate fountain is definitely a hit.

Walking the dog

Porch in full shade
Sidewalk in full sun
Street in full sun

My dog (actually my wife had her first, but she loves me more now) is a big fan of walks. Even in the DFW summer heat, she has to have her daily walk. After seeing FaceBook posts about the hot ground and potential damage to dog feet, I decided to take some measurements myself. These were taken on a 100 degree day. The pics are of my front porch in full shade, the sidewalk in front of our house, and the road in front of our house. It definitely makes me pay more attention to where my dog spends her time while out walking.