Tuesday, April 25, 2017

From The Ground Up, Not Including The Ground

People worry about automation taking our jobs. But as great as Hazel is (and she is GREAT!), she is pretty limited to, ya know, the floor. So, good ole manpower still has a place at AmigoNet HQ.

I'm not sure whether Naomi & Danielle consider that a good thing or a bad one.  "Yay, allowance!" "Ugh, chores!"

(have I mentioned that Hazel never complains?)

Anyway, eager employees or not, N&D's contract was up for renewal. And I'm happy to say, all parties have come to an agreement on an extension which contains new chore assignments, raises for both and does not include sweeping, to wit, no conflict of interest with Hazel.

Official copies on file with HR.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Unicorn Sighting

They really do exist...the elusive unicorn! I saw it with my own eyes. Naomi did too.

Ok, ok, so it was all the Starbucks hype. And yes, I fell for it. I wanted to try it. In my defense, I didn't go out of my way to seek it out. We happened to be at Target on Saturday, and they happened to have some left (the unicorn was only supposed to be available Wednesday - Friday). Lucky us!

In case you missed all the advertising and marketing, it was a magical pink drink that starts off sweet and slowly turns purple and tart. The magic is clearly in the tangy blue crystals on top of the mango creme frappucino. Naomi and I enjoyed sharing the 410 calories and 59 grams of sugar! We don't do that very often, so it was a fun treat!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Each school year, all the grade levels perform for the parents during the monthly PTA meeting. They start the school year with the 5th graders and work their way down through each grade level. Danielle and her fellow first graders finally had their night. She earned the role as Pigley, the pig -- a character with a name! (She's standing in the pig section, front row, far left, with a jean skirt on. Also seen on the left mic and doing the ring-around-the-rosie at the end!)

I'm not exactly sure how the teachers decide which kids get the speaking parts (there were not try-outs or call for volunteers), but we were excited that she was one of the lucky ones this time!

It was neat that her piggy partner happened to be one of her best buddies, too!

I wasn't very fond of the noses though!

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Legend of the Smith Easter Eggs

In case you hadn't noticed...tradition is a big thing around AmigoNet. We enjoy re-living the best events year after year and building memories. The annual Smith Family Egg Decorating contest was apparently in it's 9th year this past weekend! (Past events documented here: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2009.) The tenth anniversary next year is gonna have to be BIG!

The egg judges have mastered their duties and take their responsibility very seriously year after year! The categories are re-created each year, with the favorites always being included. I guess if we wanted to be more efficient, we could enter them online and re-use that data each year, but I guess that would eliminate the fun of having to come up with 36+ categories ("C'mon, we've got just 5 more to go!")

The contestants eagerly receive their winning titles with enthusiasm!

I must say, every year the entries get more and more creative! The "most cracked" category is a tough one to win. Participants are allowed only one egg for this category (we have to limited the number of overly cracked eggs!) Naomi put a different spin on her entry, and actually won "most creative" instead!

Easter morning, another tradition bigger than just us, included the usual early morning egg hunt! Danielle was instructed to wait until at least 7am before waking anyone up. She clearly got confused when her clock read "6:37". She claims: it had a 7 in it!

As far as we know, all eggs have been found. We're never completely sure if Naomi and Danielle have discovered all the sneaky spots that the Easter bunny might use! The Easter Bunny really should leave an egg count to help us know!

It was a big stash this year! Thanks Easter Bunny!

Funny side note: While visiting Great Grandpa Easter afternoon, the topic of Easter eggs came up and he mentioned that he didn't understand why there were Easter bunnies and eggs on Easter. He said he had googled it and learned that it was the Lutherans that had introduced that concept many years ago. He, being a Lutheran himself for many years, decided he didn't have much more to say about it!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Eggs Galore!

Our neighborhood does a fabulous job with kid events throughout the year, and the annual Easter egg "hunt" is no exception. It's so big, THE Easter bunny even makes an appearance!

A new addition this year was a face painter, which Danielle still loves very much! (Naomi opted out.) Danielle requested: "Something fancy, and can you please surprise me?" Best friend Annabelle selected a matching design.

The word "hunt" is probably not the best description for this event, as it is more of an Easter egg grab out in the middle of the park where the eggs have exploded all over the grass. There are about 2 thousands eggs for each of the four different age groups!

We hung with our neighbor friends, and had all four age groups covered. The kids worked together to help each other unload their overflowing stash of eggs.

Even after doing this for the last 10 years, we still use our little baskets and the kids have to unload them before heading back out for more!

Naomi opted for the alternative bag to get back out faster!

We're now officially ready for the rest of our annual Easter activities with family!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

5th Grade Journey: Animals, Bones and Caverns

Did you hear? I won the lottery!

The 5th grade field trip volunteer lottery!

Every year, the 5th-graders at Morningside go on an all-day (ie. 6am - 9pm) field trip to Waco and beyond. It's a very popular outing for parent chaperons, as it is the last big hurrah before the end of the protective bubble of elementary school! There is only enough space on the buses for 10 chaperones, so they have a random drawing. I wasn't sure Naomi would want me to be there, as I tend to embarrass her these days, but turns out she WANTED me to put my name in. Well, it must have been my lucky day!

After meeting at the school at 6:00 am, and departing around 6:45 am, we headed south to Waco. After an hour and a half on the bus learning about recycling and composting with worms, we arrived at our first stop, the Cameron Park Zoo.

The overall theme of the trip was educational, and focused on the 5 ecological regions that run along the Brazos River. While educational in nature, Naomi simply enjoyed spending a day outside of school with friends!

The second stop was not quite as exciting as the live zoo animals. Mammoth National Monument had some interesting bones and stories, but was not very interactive. (And the kids were really hungry and ready for pizza lunch on the bus!)

The ultimate and coolest destination was Inner Space Caverns

And now for the absolute favorite part of the whole trip: mining for gems at Inner Space Cavern! Every kid was given a bag of sand, which they slowly dumped into the sifter in flowing water to reveal a handful of gems!

The whole trip was very well run and went off without a hitch! I enjoyed my time with the "coral" group, and especially enjoyed my fun day out with Naomi!

Monday, April 10, 2017


Ya might've read recently that Jenny & I just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary. Kind of a big deal. Big enough in fact that we decided to adopt a new member of the family.

Introducing... Hazel!

This beautiful bundle of joy came into our world on April 4th @ 5:15pm. Mom, Dad & sisters are doing great. (Dog is a little freaked out.)

"She" is a Roomba iRobot 860, and wow does she work hard! From the moment we plugged her in, she was ready to get to it. Every day since, she wakes up at 9:00am and does her thing for about an hour before returning to bed with her bin full of dirt and dog hair.

And while the idea behind automation is that she can work without supervision, it's actually kinda mesmerizing to watch her. It's not at all like you or I would vacuum. Rather than systematically working her way across the floor in straight lines, she just kinda wanders. She'll head one way until she bumps into something, and then turn a seemingly random direction and head off again. That said, she does seem to know the difference between walls, which she will run alongside, and furniture legs, which she will navigate around.

Here she is at work...

So all that randomness seems like she'd miss alot of spots, right? Well, she does! On any given day, she prolly only covers about 75% of the downstairs floor. But that's ok because remember, she works every day. So, whatever she misses today, she gets tomorrow. No problem.

So far, she's been great: works for free, without complaint (unless she gets stuck), and manages to keep up with the daily dose of dirt and dog hair. She's a keeper!

If only getting N&D to do their chores were so easy...