Sunday, May 26, 2013

I hope this water is clean.

The new house has flood irrigation in the back.  For those not from Phoenix, it's a cheap way of watering your lawn and all the farms in Phoenix (yes... we actually grow things here in the desert.)  The water collects behind dams in the mountains north of Phoenix, and then runs throughout a system of canals through the whole city.  The farms use it to flood entire fields for water, and some of the houses do as well.  At your designated time, you go back and open the valve to flood your yard.  Sometimes this might be 3 in the morning.  But today it was 2:30 in the afternoon, which the kids were very happy for.
Levi opens the valve.
Nothin' better than a full speed race through canal water.
At the old house, the kids would play in the park at the end of the street after it rained.  The water would wash 6 months of dirt, oil, dog pee, and whatever else collected on the street into the drainage area in the park.  And then our kids would go play in it.  This has got to be at least a little bit cleaner.
Banjo loves it because the birds all come to pick off the cockroaches that go scurrying for high ground.  And then Banjo tries to pick off the birds.  She hasn't succeeded... yet.
Maybe next time Banjo.
Then they rinse off the canal water in the pool.  They should sleep good tonight!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Celebrating 2 Years With You In Our Lives!

Two years ago on April 26, we had Sophie in our arms forever.
Ella was instantly smitten.
Good Bye, Toukoul!
Sisters at last!
While we were still in Ethiopia, the crying began. (Or, you could look at it as she was always crying from the time we met.)
 Welcome home.  May 1, 2011
 And the next two years of our lives have been filled with the sweet sound of Sophie crying.
 About anything.
 And everything.
 And louder, still if her point was not made.
 Any reason.
 No matter what,
she was heard.

 There has also been much joy!
We love you so very much Sophie Joy Tufah!  We thank God for you every day and the amazing way He has woven you into our lives. We love you.  All of you.  Your sassy walk, your infectious giggle, your enthusiasm when someone returns even if gone for only a moment, your singing voice that is often heard when you think no one is listening, your glorious smiles, your outrageous dance moves, your amazing curls, and the joy that continues to rise up.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Right in the 'ol bucket

Ohhh, my poor children.  I saw this commercial at the restaurant at lunch today... and unfortunately thought of myself.  And I won't even be passing them down a Volkswagen, so they really are getting hosed.  But hey, at least I don't wander around the house in my briefs...

Friday, January 4, 2013

This was my childhood.

Ohhhhh, I laughed at this.  This happened all the time at our house growing up.  I am sure my good buddy Jonathan can testify, having had many a sleepover at my house.   Sorry about that man...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

PADT Pumpkin Launch 2012

The last few years at work we've had a tradition of destroying more pumpkins than we carve for Halloween.  I think I've somehow been designated the unofficial master of ceremonies (not sure how that happened.)  And after the disappointment of last year's attempt, I was determined to put a little more thought into it this year.  So as has also become tradition, I didn't start preparing until the weekend before.

A trip to Davis Salvage, some last minute welding by Campbell Enterprises (check out what they normally build!), a paint job, and I had a new pumpkin mortar.  New on the left, old on the right.

After a few back parking lot tests, we had a new and fairly reliable detonation system.  Still used 2 liter bottles, but instead of the traditional try ice, we came up with a nitrogen system.  Fitting in the cap, and a nitrogen bottle from the lab capable of several hundred psi does the trick.  Turns out that a 2 liter can withstand about 150 psi before failing.  It also means we can preload everything, bottle and projectile, and then add pressure, so no more worries about losing appendages for some fun at work.
I also came up with a few non-traditional projectiles.  Carving down pumpkins to fit nicely in the barrel has always been annoying, imperfect, and time consuming.  So this year I found some inflatable balls that fit perfectly in the barrel.  I filled several with varying masses of water.  A few were filled completely and frozen solid.  I attempted to build a few acorn squash with expanding foam sabot (not very successful.)  I also built up a giant foam bullet to carry a camera.  After we completely destroyed one of my kid's digital cameras in it, we opted not to put the more expenisve GoPro in there.
Set up in the parking lot at work.

Melting one of the ice balls to get it to drop into the barrel.

Video of the launches.


Sitting by our little fire chiminea the other night, I got the brilliant idea that it would be so much better with some forced air feeding the fire.  So a few nights later...

Drilled a few holes.

Attach a section of flexible ventilation tubing.

Hook up the old blower from the now defunct water slide.

And presto... instant roaring fire!

The downside appears to be that it shoots flaming coals 10 feet from the fire.  The addition of a throttling valve a few nights later solved that problem.  It worked fantastic over Christmas.  I went from pile of wood to coals for roasting dogs and marshmallows in approximately 5 minutes.

We also performed another fire first over Christmas, at least for our house.  Grandpa has had a sort of tradition of cooking a turkey in a trash can.  And since they came to our house for Christmas, we had to pull it off here.

Making preparations to the can and building a turkey stand.

Inserting the bird, stuffed with fresh herbs from the garden.

Levi doing the honors.

Burned down to a nice glowing heap of coals.

Checking the temp on the bird.  Just right, and the legs were falling off.

I'm not sure a cell phone picture really makes the turkey look all that delicious... but it was!