Sunday, October 26, 2008

Beating the Streets

Oh my aching feet! Ryan and I spent over 2 hours this afternoon peddling Cub Scout popcorn at Safeway with our den. Then we went out around the neighborhood for another almost 2 hours. I just added up his order sheet and he's at almost $500. This doesn't count online orders from family members or his share of the sales from the storefront booth. A few more people should be ordering locally (including me!) so I think he's going to do super awesome this year! He would love to win the Nintendo DS2 but I doubt we'll make it to $2300 in sales before November 10! He worked hard but steady and didn't get discouraged so that was good. I had forgotten how long and exhausting door to door sales can be. It has been many years since I sold Girl Scout cookies, after all.

And because all of this popcorn peddling didn't make me or my feet tired enough... After dinner I made 8 half-pints of caramel apple jam and a pint of applesauce. That's what happens when you leave Grandma F alone with a giant bag of apples and a knife! She prepped them so I had to finish them off. That's the second batch of apples from our apple-picking adventure. Last time I made apple crisp and a quart of applesauce. Another couple days and I'll do the last batch. Maybe some more apple crisp...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Show Down at the Scout Corral

Ah, my poor neglected blog... nothing has been blog-worthy of late it seems.

This may not be either but my email connection is having issues at the moment and I haven't worked up the energy to hit the shower yet so I'll go ahead anyway.

Cub Scouts vs. Brownies
Ah the differences are many, as has been brought to my attention several times the last couple of weeks. Let's review...

*Cub Scouts- the program is spelled out with little variation. To earn X rank badge, you must earn X requirements. And make sure you are done by February or else.

*Brownies - a book with MANY pages. Within the many pages, many try-it badges covering a wide range of subjects. Choose whichever ones you want. Do as many or as few as you wish.

*Cub Scouts - one boy is set as the denner for a meeting and is in charge

*Brownies - have a kaper chart set up with each girl taking a turn completing each of the various jobs that need to be done in any given meeting - teamwork!

*Cub Scout camping - very loosey goosey affair. Cubs can't even go without their families. And the dens can't even go without the rest of the pack. So that means each camping event involves approximately 200 people and 50 tents and 50 cars. Oh and one port-a-potty. And yes, it ends up as gross as it sounds by the end of the weekend.

*Brownies - each troop may go camping whenever it wishes. And girls are not required to be accompanied by an adult. It is up to the leaders to decide what works best for the group. And they have things like safety circles around the fire and hand-washing stations. And the girls actually participate in the cooking as opposed to emerging from the woods in time to stuff their faces then run off again as soon as they are done.


So we survived the Cub Scout Family Campout last night... were warm enough while we were sleeping but froze our tails off once we emerged this morning. We all got to go fishing yesterday afternoon. We didn't catch anything (not surprising!) but a great first time fishing for all of us (the kids and I). I even baited the hook with a worm! Did you know worms bleed when cut?! I didn't. Of course I never really thought about it before either. Ryan got to shoot at archery this morning and got one arrow into the yellow (near the center). He didn't get breakfast (was doing archery and then ran off into the woods with his friends and then it was too late) but we stopped at McD's on the way home.

And now the car is unloaded and we are all thawing out nicely. Next time we'll pack gloves and hats!

Friday, October 03, 2008

How NOT to Fix a Toilet

In a few entertaining steps...

When we got back from Big Trip 3, we found that the toilet in the green bathroom, the new low-flow toilet that Ron and his dad installed over Christmas break, was leaking around the bottom. I consulted Ron long-distance in Afghanistan via pictures and Skype. Sounds like we just need a new wax ring. Okay, no problem. I'll call a plumber if I can't do it myself. And then I promptly warned all the kids not to use that toilet anymore because it was broken. Immediately after that, I got busy doing about a million other things that were much more important than fixing the toilet. After all, we have 3 others in the house. If it ends up not getting fixed before he gets back, no big deal.

Fast forward about a month and a half. I'm about to have a long-term houseguest and it's time to fix the problem. I was about to call the plumber when I thought to myself, why not look it up online first. Maybe it's not that hard and I can just do it myself.

So I googled it... and this is what I found. How to Replace a Toilet's Wax Ring. That doesn't sound too hard. I especially liked step 12 - To seal the ring, sit on toilet and rock in all directions. No problem! I emailed my buddy Shani to see if she felt up to the challenge. After all, step 8 warns that toilets are heavy and often require two people to lift them. She replies that her Friday morning is wide open and what better to do than fix the toilet. Look at us - two capable women taking charge and taking care of things.

Or not.

Let's see how it all went down, shall we?

1. Find the brand and model number of the toilet, if possible. This sometimes is stamped on the rim of the toilet near the tank or on the bottom side of the tank. If you can't find the information, proceed to step 3.
Yeah, I don't really need to do that. I'll just go to the store and buy a ring.

2. Take your information with you to a local hardware store or plumbing supply house to purchase a replacement wax ring.
See, here I am at the store, buying a ring. Regular ring or extra thick? Well it says that the extra thick ring compensates for pipes that are below floor level. Hmmm... Probably just the regular one will do for starters.

3. Turn off the water to the toilet at the water supply shutoff. This is usually found on the wall or floor near the toilet. If there is no localized shutoff, use the main water shutoff for the structure.
Piece of cake. Water is Off.

4. Flush the toilet a couple of times to drain most of the water.
Flush once then head down to the basement to gather the necessary wrenches and rags for the job. Once I get down there, I hear a loud dripping sound in the basement shower. Oh look - there is a 6 inch crack in the ceiling (below the toilet above) dripping lots of big drips of water. Crap! This is definitely a problem. At this point I realize that there is no way I am going to be able to fix the leaky toilet problem on my own. Not now that it is a leaky floor/ceiling problem also!

4a. This one isn't online... Shani and I decide that the plumber will have to lift the toilet off anyway to fix the ring and to see what else is wrong. So as long as we're here, we might as well lift it off and take a peek. Ha Ha Ha. Easier said than done. Rather than flushing again to drain yet more water through the floor/ceiling, we bail. First with plastic kids cups from restaurant (I think those two will go into the recycling bin next week!) and then with a turkey baster to get the last of it. Toilet bowls hold a lot more water than it looks like they are holding! Does anyone want to come over for turkey dinner on Thanksgiving?!?

5. Disconnect the water supply tube from the bottom of the toilet, using a large pair of adjustable pliers. (Have a bucket and towels ready as some water may drain from the tank.)
Initial upright attempts show me that I'm going to have to get down and dirty to do this job. So I'm on my back, lying under the toilet tank, big wrench in hand, attempting to disconnect the water supply tube. The tube has been sealed by some sort of silicone and it ain't budging no matter what we do. I take that back - it moved enough to let some ugly black water drain down. Thankfully the empty bowl we had in place caught most of the water. Only a couple drops got on my face and hair. I bust out the utility knife to try to break the seal so I can unscrew it. Doesn't help. At this point Shani and I give up completely. This just ain't happening. Time to call the real plumbers in.

5a. Call a plumber! (This step isn't online either!)

To celebrate our failure, we pick up Corey and Felisa from school and head to Artie's for lunch. I tell Shani I'm a little nervous about going back there in daylight hours (we usually go for a late dinner or drinks and always after dark!) after what happened two weeks ago. Lunch at Artie's and then Felisa ends up with a broken elbow at soccer practice. I had joked that it was my punishment for having such a nice lunch! And now today we have decided that it really is an Artie's Daylight Curse because as we were eating, my phone rang. It was the school nurse. Ryan had a stomachache and needed to come home. So we hurried through the rest of our lunch and picked him up on the way back home. When we got back, Ron was online so he got to hear all about it - all the latest disasters to befall us while he is away.

So now I'm just waiting to hear back from Alexis (who owns a plumbing company) on who she recommends to fix my toilet.

Maybe next time step one will be "Call the plumber!"