Sunday, October 28, 2012

Huge Sand Table

One thing that Christopher loves is playing with sand (and water!) but the little kid sand table we had wasn't cutting it any more. He couldn't stand up with it and couldn't get the big Tonka trucks in it either.

So we started looking around for a bigger sand table. Unfortunately most, if not all, sand tables are aimed at little kids so what was available wasn't going to meet our needs.

While looking online I came across a website about fire fighters building huge tables with layouts of canyons, valleys etc where there were fires. Looking at them, they looked like picnic tables with tops on them. Bingo. Ferb, I know what we're doing today.

Started with a trip to Home Depot. Found out the new van isn't as long inside as the old one, so we had to tie the lift gate down to get the 10' lumber home.

Using designs from online for a picnic table, I built one. Then put a piece of 4x6 3/4" plywood on top and boxed it in. Viola, the biggest sand table I've ever seen. So far 200+ lbs of sand and it is fine.





In hindsight I would have bought a table and added the plywood and box instead of building it from scratch. The cost of the wood (plus 5 hours of my time!) was almost as much as buying one off craigslist.
Next we sand it, router the corners and stain it (probably in the Spring). Oh and try to find a cover that won't get me in trouble with the HOA.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Hey 50 Cent, this is what an autistic child looks like

Some of the responses are more eloquent, but here's mine:

(not sure what this is about? Go here or here)

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Cigna rejecting ABA as 'experimental' same day as US Govt says it isn't

I've been working with our insurance provider for a couple of years to get Christopher's ABA therapy covered. They finally decided last month that they wouldn't cover it. Official statement:

As we discussed, ABA is not covered under the plan for any indication because it is considered experimental, investigational or unproven.

Same day as the rejection, the US Government decided that ABA is NOT experimental and  is medical:

Autism Speaks hailed today’s announcement by the federal government, the nation’s largest employer, that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the most widely used behavioral intervention used to treat autism, is a “medical” therapy that qualifies for health insurance coverage, rather than an “educational” service.

So I'm going to talk to Cigna about changing their view, since the Government disagrees with them!


Autism Votes:



Friday, April 06, 2012

Fenced in the backyard

Yesterday we had a fence installed in our backyard. Not a big deal to most people, but something I swore I would never do. 

About 12 years ago a number of my neighbors had 'privacy' fences installed that totally hid their backyard and whatever their kids were doing. A few really needed it since they had no coverage to prevent everyone looking in their back windows, but I didn't like the others.

Why? 12 years ago my kids were 5 and 2 and always outside on our swings, riding bikes or walking. And they were always looking for someone to play with. Lots of times a 'walk' ended within a few minutes with them playing in someones backyard. Likewise many times kids would see mine in our backyard and come running.
With the 6ft privacy fences, you never knew if the kids were out playing nor could they see if mine were. You'd occasionally hear giggles and laughs but it was hard to tell if someone was outside. (Also at that time most of the kids had younger siblings or themselves took naps, so ringing the doorbell mid-afternoon was discouraged.)

So why did we get one? Well, Christopher has inherited my adventure gene, you know the one that ignores directions from parents to stay in the yard and he likes to go wherever he damn well pleases. Which is dangerous since he doesn't grasp the concept of traffic (and more than a few of our neighbors and guests drive WAY too fast.) He's also learned the 'drop all my weight to the ground and mommy can't pick me up' trick. Doesn't work on me but he'll do it to Deb when she catches up with him. So we need to keep him contained, at least long enough for us to get to him if he wants to wander.

Instead of getting the privacy fence, we went with a 5 ft picket fence that you can see right through, but is high enough Christopher can't climb it before we catch him.

The dog isn't thrilled. In fact Deb thinks she is pissed at us. Yes, we're getting teenager attitude from the dog. 
Christopher is a little confused but thinks it is cool. We'll see in a few days when the tried to take off and can't how he feels.



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Letter to my first Capri

(recently on the Internet there is a meme for auto enthusiasts to write a letter to their first car. Here in mine.)

To my first car, wherever you are now.

It was a fun, strange ride wasn't it? From my mom of all people bringing you to my attention to parking you on the grass at mom's when we moved to Georgia 5 years later.

I remember my mom coming home from getting gas in her fake-wood panel Ford LTD station wagon telling me she'd seen a car she thought I'd like. As a 16 y/o boy having your mom tell you she found a car that she thinks you'd like, I wasn't holding out much hope for what she found. Well, I was wrong. This was before the Internet, so I hadn't heard of a Mercury Capri before. But I was hooked.

Louie and I went to look at you and did a full inspection. Found a few things wrong but nothing that couldn't be fixed. I led my Dad negotiate the price and John and I went to pick you up (I didn't know how to drive stick yet.) I immediately washed and started compounding you, removing years of neglect on the paint.

As luck would have it, I couldn't drive you for a few days, mainly because it was Deb's 16th Birthday (you remember her right?) I distinctly remember pointing to you in the driveway when her mom picked me up for Deb's birthday party. (Deb has commented she didn't know that you'd be a rival for my affection for the next 5 years.)

As John taught me to drive a stick we spun the tires more than a few times getting the hang of it. I remember coming out of the parking lot at Danbury High School squealing up the hill! From there I never looked back. I think I put 100,000 miles on you in those 5 years.
As the owner of an 'unusual' car, I got pretty defensive when people called you a Mustang. Heck, even Deb got to the point where she's say 'It's not a Mustang!' when someone called you one.

Had to do a few minor repairs (including replacing the rusted doors!) but with a set of Kelly Charger tires on chrome mag wheels and black louvers you were pretty damn sweet!

We made it through Senior year of High School, a prom and that crazy summer. Deb and I would sit for hours in you talking (mostly :) Had to leave you behind when I went to UMASS that fall, but that didn't last long. 2+ hour rides to/from Amherst racked up the miles, but you were a blast to drive, even with the anemic 2.3L. Your propensity to fishtail in the snow made the rides to campus rather interesting, but still fun.

Even today Deb tells stories about calling the house to see if I was there (before cellphones) and my mom telling her I was outside working on you (usually the weekly wash and wax before we went out.)

The next stage in our relationship involved the engine transplant. Looking back (and lugging a few 2.3L Turbo engines around recently) I don't know how I got that motor home in your backseat. With a slightly peppier engine you were a lot of fun to drive. Still not sure how we made it down to that shop to fix the brakes after the transplant, but everything ended up okay, right?

And drive we did in the summer of 1989 to Houston TX. From entering Mississippi after a tornado (my first experience with the dead calm after such a storm) to driving around Houston with Connecticut plates and getting more than a few 'Yankee' comments, to the Hurricane that dumped 10 inches of rain in an hour and I was stupid enough to drive home in. To giving me a piece of home as I got lonely and tried to figure out what Deb and my relationship meant.

Our first introduction to 'Southern Summer' made it painfully clear to me that I needed A/C in my next car, which meant you probably wouldn't be with me much longer. We did make the most of that summer, going to a drag racing track a couple of times (yeah, 15-flat was fast in the 80's) and that crazy 24-hour drive back to CT with Pat. Including Pat watching the Ferrari blow past us like we were standing still even though we were well above the speed limit. (oh and I still want to know what happened to your passenger window ...)

When I got the offer to move to Georgia, I knew you weren't coming with me without A/C. From what I understand some of my cousins drove you until my Uncle Billy sold you to parties unknown.

Just so you know, I didn't give up on owning another Capri. Took a lot longer than I expected but I'm working on restoring one right now.

Oh and I'm going to try to get a custom tag you'd find funny: 'NO STANG'.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lego Mini-figs as party favors!

Christopher's 6th birthday party is tomorrow and we are going to have a Lego theme. A few months ago Deb and I had the great idea, give each kid a Mini-fig as a party favor. We found a nice, cheap box of figures and ordered it, thinking it would take a few minutes to separate them.

Well, not quite. None of the figures were assembled NOR WERE THEY EVEN PACKAGED TOGETHER.

All the boy heads were in one package, the girls in another and the bodies and legs in all five. Oops, this is going to take a while!

Dr. Frankenstein?

An hour and thirty minutes later, all assembled and packaged together.

Despite being a pain, I'm sure they will be a hit with the kids.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Christopher doing the Chicken Dance

I'm still not sure why they did this at school tonight, but he had a lot of fun:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Scavenger hunt!

Courtney has been asking for a scavenger hunt for her birthday for years, but being a January baby the weather really hasn't cooperated. This year was different.

First thing to know, this isn't a scavenger hunt like when we were younger (I was teenager in the 80's.) We don't need to collect things. Instead give each team a digital camera with a removable media card and require a picture of everything. This REALLY makes the things to look for much more interesting. (For example, a picture of two of team members in someone's bathtub!)

I started the task of building the list by asking on Facebook for some ideas. My cousin Randy came through with a ton of ideas, many of which I stole. (being 13/14 year olds the various ideas of listing different beers, foods, liquor bottles that they had to bring back was shot down. Fun idea though ...)

The rules were pretty easy:
- the teams could not go to the house of anyone who was playing (with one exception I'll talk about later)
- the teams could not call anyone for help
- the teams could not use any siblings or parents for the items to be found (with one exception below)
- no more than 15 items from any one house so as not to annoy the neighbors
- had to stay in the neighborhood

When thinking about items, I thought (and drove around and looked) at what our neighbors had and what I knew the parents of the kids attending the party had (just to be difficult). So I had things like a stone crocodile that one neighbor has in their yard and a very specific set of vinyl records that I knew the parents of an attendee had, just to mess with the girls.

Off they went and an hour and half later came back with pictures of lots of things, several of which I didn't expect them to find. All the neighbors they went to were cool and very helpful. Each team even got one Dad (different for each team too!) to put on a dress for the 50 points! (no pictures I promised!)

The girls were very creative in their interpretation of the rules, which was what I was hoping for. For example on item was 'a picture of the team on a rock wall'. I knew of 1 rock wall (built from rocks) in the neighborhood, but the girls instead found a climbing wall which they call a rock wall. The best though was the item of 'TV Rabbit Ears Antenna' which the girls found a pair of fuzzy rabbit ears and held it over the big screen TV. I couldn't argue with that one!

The only thing I didn't do which I planned on was the 15 minute special. The idea was 15 minutes before the time was up, call each team leader and tell them they would get 50 points if they brought back someone's mother to our house. Since they couldn't get their own, it would be interesting to see who would agree. (I still remember my brother Patrick's story of one of his scavenger hunts and finding a friend's mother in the back of the van, so this is a twist on that idea) Next time I'll do something similar.

So here is the list we used. Oh, and the one exception mentioned above, we have some die-hard LSU fans in the neighborhood and they would get 50 points if they got a picture of one of them with some Alabama fan stuff. One of their daughters' was at the party so we had to relax the rules. Also note that this was January 2012 so Alabama had just won the national title. Change those items as necessary if you use this list.

(I asked the girls if this was fun or was I being a dork, all said it was fun so I guess I'm 'cool' for a couple of hours now.)

5 points each

Everyone except 1 person on a rock wall
Everyone except 1 person at a swing set (DO NOT GO ON THE SLIDES - in case they collapse with 5 girls on it!)
The number 17
Picture with a non-sibling in Kindergarten to College (so 5 pt for a Kindergarten, 5 for a 6th grader etc.) 5 points for each year, one per year only
A 2011 Calendar
Chocolate Money
Brown Sugar
Black licorice
Wind Chimes
R2-D2, C3PO
VHS tape of a Disney animated movie (1 per group only)
Photo with a HS Athlete

10 points each

dog, cat, horse, monkey, parakeet, zebra finch, owl, turtle, iguana, giraffe, hippo, any snake, any other reptile
Dinosaur, griffin, centaur, unicorn, dragon, orc, elf
Green car, yellow car, any year Camaro, any year Firebird
Red door, Red or Pink wall, Green interior wall
Pink or purple polka dots on anything besides clothes or a notebook
Bald man
Man with a pony tail
The number 42 (+20 if it references the meaning of life)
A yellow flower, a pink flower, a purple flower
Yearbook from the 1980’s or 1990’s
Someone’s aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, nephew, grandmother, grandfather
A 2010 Calendar
A January 2013 Calendar
Something from My Little Pony, Star Trek or Power Puff Girls
Stone alligator
An adult female with a football helmet on
A fully clothed Barbie doll
A fully clothed GI Joe
A red tricycle
A Louisville Slugger
Flowers made out of soap
Life sized picture of any person/character
two person bicycle

20 points each

Car being repaired/restored
Any house Harry Potter tie or scarf
Bald woman
Globe or map with the Soviet Union
Anything that celebrates the Alabama Football national title
Anything that celebrates an NFL Superbowl win. (+10 points if the Giants)
Anything that celebrates an NCAA Basketball national title
Yearbook from the 1970’s
Team member in a tree
Team members (minus photographer) in a Gazebo
Someone’s great-grandfather or great-grandmother
A non-Curtin in a Giants shirt, a non-Lukasik in a Cowboy’s shirt, a non-Smith/Stagg in an LSU shirt
An album (vinyl) (+5 points if it is Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash  or Def Leopard)
Something from Ren and Stimpy (cartoon)
TV Antenna Rabbit Ears
Two team members in someone’s bath tub
Speed limit sign
Stop sign NOT on the road
License plate from a non-Georgia state (1 per state only) (+10 if non-US)
Silver dollar
$100 bill

50 points each
Mr Smith wearing something from Alabama (Abbey’s team can do this one too)
An adult male in a dress
Betamax tape
8 track tape