Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Camp Jost's 2007 season ends today

Glimpse into the tent
Originally uploaded by stepol

Not content with just a week or two out camping with the Scouts, the boys setup a big tent in the backyard every summer and sleep out in it almost every night. They call it Camp Jost and it's their personal haven for the summer. And quite a luxurious one at that.

They run an extension cord out from the house to power lights and a fan (there might have been a TV out there at one point). In July they had a hammock and twin bed in there with various tables and chairs. However, there was a remodeling in August that replaced those with a queen-sized air mattress and inflatable sofa (please don't ask me why we have these things ... we just do). Think tour companies invented glamping? These boys pioneered it.

Well we're headed to Sunset Beach tonight (yay!) which means that the Camp Jost season must come to an end (aw!). The boys packed everything up this morning but were in good spirits for two reasons. One was that we're going to the beach through Labor Day which is always a good thing. The second is that when they come back they can put their creative energies into constructing what has been dubed "The Party Room." That would be the room that was until recently occupied by a certain girl who has moved on to new digs in Williamsburg.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

$70 for crayons?!?

No, not really ... but close.

polMom was being a nice sister and trying to take advantage of a sale from OfficeMax that offered boxes of crayons for a penny a piece which is a great deal because they're normally 99 cents a box. She thought she'd get a bunch for her sister the teacher to use but she didn't inform me until we got in that it was limited to three boxes per person. She handed three each to both of the boys and handed three to me but I balked. I said it felt like we were cheating the system (everyone reading this already knows this will come back to haunt me). She just rolled her eyes, took the three boxes herself, and headed to the checkout.

I proceeded to wander around the store with the warm cloak of self-righteousness tightly wrapped around me. I grabbed some padded CD mailers I thought I might be able to use which looked like they were a good price. After wandering around for a bit, OlderSon came up with an HP DVD840i Lightscribe DVD+RW drive in his hands that had been marked down to $40. I knew we had to have it.

We had just sent CollegeGirl off to school with a brand new laptop that had a Lightscribe DVD burner. For the brief period it sat in the house I thought of all the creative things we could do with it (none of which I will actually follow through on) like making DVDs for family members.

So, we bought the DVD drive for $40. Of course we had to get the expensive Lightscribe CD-Rs or what was the point of the drive. A set of ten (with jewel cases) was another $12. And the mailers that looked like they were $5 turned out to be actually $7.50.

And I forgot to get the three boxes of crayons when I checked out. Bad move.

polMom totaled up the costs on the way home. Cost for my stuff that we didn't come for: $70. Cost for her and the boys for what they did come for: 9 cents.

But the DVD drive is very cool!

9 ... er ... 8 Survival Tips for College Freshman

eyeRblog >> 9 Survival Tips for College Freshman

eyeRmonkey has some great advice for all you freshman out there (and you know who you are) that he's culled from his experiences at the University of Oregon. His #1 tip? Be more outgoing the first week as it will define the rest of your year:

"I feel like this is the most important piece of advice I could offer, but I also know it's the hardest thing to control. During the first week, be more outgoing that you normally would. Over the first couple days, meet and talk to every person in the dorm for at least a couple minutes. The best way to develop a community is to do everything as a group for the first week."

I can't imagine anyone much more outgoing their our own CollegeGirl so maybe she can focus on the other ones. Also, for some reason he left off item #5 but I'm pretty sure it was something about the importance of contacting your parents on a regular basis.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Emotional doughnuts

After the movie last night, we also had to stop at Krispy Kreme on the way home so the boys could watch the doughnuts being made. I don't think we'd ever have to buy any except we'd feel guilty standing in the store for 40 minutes and not actually get any. The boys would happily watch the process for an hour and walk out empty-handed.

The only problem is that I think I have the only kids (and wife) that become emotionally attached to pieces of fried dough. They'll watch the newly extruded pieces of dough enter the proofing chamber and proceed to adopt them as they work their way through the doughnut life cycle. They watch them ride their little shelves up and down as they rise to the proper dimensions. They cheer as the shelf tips the rings of dough into the hot oil. They get down low so they can watch the important flipping process. They experience deep anxiety as the cooked pastries have to travel under the eye of the Krispy Kreme worker who checks to ensure there are no defects. We have seen many a doughnut, even those with just the slightest imperfections, quickly snatched off the line, crushed, and mercilessly tossed onto the end of the conveyor belt where they slowly drop off into the doughy abyss of a plastic garbage bin. However, for those lucky enough to survive, they are treated to a coating of hot glaze and a home in an official Krispy Kreme box.

It doesn't seem to bother them that even the ones that are saved will just be eaten by someone. OlderSon told me "that's their job" so I guess it's more a matter of allowing the doughnut to achieve its life's goal. The only rule is that we can't eat one of the adopted doughnuts because that would be cannibalism or something. It's all very strange but I end up with doughnuts at the end of the evening so it's all worth it.

Evan Almighty at the Byrd

The Byrd
Originally uploaded by moonshinerr

After attending an Eagle ceremony for one of the Scouts in our troop we decided to spend part of our evening last night at one of favorite Richmond landmarks: the Byrd Theatre. The theater opened in 1928 and has amazingly managed to survive practically unaltered for almost 80 years. Today, it shows second-run movies for only $1.99 so we try and go down whenever a family-friendly movie is playing during the 7:15 slot.

Normally we'd try and go on Saturday night because that's when Bob Gulledge plays the mighty Wurlitzer organ that rises up out of the orchestra pit. I think we'd pay $2 a piece just to watch Bob play even without the movie. There's many a time we got polMom to go see a movie she was ambivalent about because of that Wurlitzer. However, we were at the Braves game Saturday night with the troop so we came to the organless Sunday showing instead.

Both of the boys thought the movie was funny and polMom liked the family-firendly message (she said it even redeemed Steve Carell in her mind a bit). I thought it was worth $2 ... everything is better when played at the Byrd. I think the movie could have been a lot funnier as what few jokes there were fell pretty flat. The kids loved the slapstick stuff that went on during the ark construction but I really wanted something more substantial to happen. But again, a nice evening out for about 20 bucks.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

CollegeGirl moves in at W&M

Moving in
Originally uploaded by stepol

Well, we're officially college parents now. On Friday we helped to move CollegeGirl into her dorm at William & Mary. Taking two cars was definitely the way to go as we only had to navigate the one car with all the gear up to the dorm. That was a trick in itself as we had to thwart the evil roadblocking antics of the guy we now call MeanOldPoliceDude who tried to get us to unload our stuff at the furthest point from the dorm. After he moved on, we just loaded the car back up and drove right down to the dorm. So fie on you MeanOldPoliceDude!

I have to say that the dorm rooms in the Botetourt complex seem a bit small. Fortunately, mom and daughter had meticulously planned and had six different floor plans to choose from. When her roommate arrived they chose a plan and we quickly unbunked the beds and rearranged the room. The plans ended up getting shared up and down the hall as others arranged their rooms. We even had other moms and daughters coming in to check out the ultra-efficient closet organization.

We hung around until just after 1pm when CG had to go to her hall meeting. We passed on the President's welcome ceremony in order to turn in forms at Student Health and pay yet another fee at Blow Hall. We then took the boys to Pirece's Pit Barbeque for a great lunch. Afterwards, we decided it would be nice to pick up some drinks and snacks for CG so we headed to Williamsburg's only Ukrops. In the same shopping center was a Rue 21 store which is one of CG's favorites so polMom ran in and bought her a shirt with owl prints.

We hoped we could sneak back in to the dorm and drop the stuff off. The dorm was unlocked so we quietly went up the stairs and met CG at the top of the landing. You could see the "I thought you people were gone" look in her eyes but we explained we came bearing gifts and she grudgingly went back and let us into her room. We quickly dropped the stuff off and skedaddled back to Richmond.

Everyone asks if it was an emotional scene or hard to let her go but we've become so used to her being gone so much (teaching at Cub Camp, week-long kayaking trips, THIMUN, etc.) that it really hasn't sunk in yet. During the summer we saw her for brief periods about once a week so I'm sure we'll start missing those moments in the weeks ahead. Hopefully she'll manage to find a spare moment or two during the week to drop us an email or phone call ... or blog.

Why the blog?

About ten years ago you could draw a circle with a 15 mile diameter and almost our entire immediate family would be living inside it. Since then the family has moved 10s, 100s, and even 1000s of miles away. Yesterday we helped to move our first child into her college dorm which brought home the feeling of the family dispersing. I thought this blog might be a way to harness the technology of the Web 2.0 world to try and allow the family to remain virtually close when we can't be physically close. We'll see how well it works.

"The happiness of the domestic fireside is the first boon of Heaven; and it is well it is so, since it is that which is the lot of the mass of mankind." ~Thomas Jefferson, 1813