Day 62: Dirt, Eggplant, Grown-Up Root Beer

It was gorgeous outside this morning so the kids and I hit the back yard for a while before the heat of the day set it. Much like kids who would rather play with the packaging their toys come in more than the toys themselves, all three kids bypassed the massive playset in our yard to dig in the dirt.

Whatever. I'm glad my kids aren't afraid to get dirty.

Remember the eggplant sandwich I ate on vacation? With all due respect to greasy hamburgers and frozen pizzas everywhere, I did it myself today.

Sliced eggplant on the grill with some olive oil. A few slices of Swiss. A bit of Sriracha.


In the car today, I listened in as the kids talked about their plans for the future.
CHARLOTTE: "I'm going to be a singer. Or an artist. Or an art teacher." 
ANNA: "I want to be a construction worker." 
MASON: "Me, too." 
CHARLOTTE: "NO! You promised you would sing with me. Remember those songs we wrote?!" 
ANNA: "I can change what I want to do." 
CHARLOTTE: "I used to want to do other stuff but right now I'm just following my dreams of being a singer. We could call our band The Siblings."
I've heard their early demos. I'd buy their album.

I spent much of the afternoon and evening doing work in preparation for next week's reintroduction to the working world. Then Amy came home with this.

Oh, mama.

You know what that is? That's trouble.

The Summer of Tim continues...

Day 61: My name is Tim. And I have a problem.

My name is Tim. And I have a problem.

My problem is ... I can't resist buying cheap music.

My mother-in-law took the kids to lunch and a movie today which left me with a few hours to myself. I decided to hit up the library sale and Goodwill and maybe pick up a few new albums to listen to. Ninety minutes and sixteen CDs later, I was on my way home.

Quite a variety, really. Definitely enough to satisfy my craving for a bit.

Some decent hip-hop (Lecrae), a few from college that I couldn't pass up for a buck (Adema, Mr. Opporknockity), a few I used to have and over time have come to regret getting rid of (John Mellencamp, Stone Temple Pilots), one that I already owned but couldn't pass up knowing I'd easily find a home for it (Fresh Prince), a few that I couldn't leave behind even though they will probably see little to no action in my music-playing rotation (Spice Girls, Poi Dog Pondering, Jars of Clay).

My point here is this: I would never pay full price for any of these CDs. In fact, I wouldn't even play a quarter of the full price for any of them. But when I see stuff like this for a buck each...I'm a sucker.

But I'm not alone though. The Fresh Prince CD is already spoken for.

The Summer of Tim continues...

Day 60: A Long Day

I've got nothing today.

The first day of the last week of the Summer of Tim ... and it's been a long day.

So here's Tommy Womack.

The Summer of Tim continues...

Day 59: Breakfast Club Punches, Borat/Borax

Usually by this point in the summer, the five Lybargers in this house have had enough of each other and we're ready to get back into our school year routines. I'm dealing with these potential feelings like a champ this week as the theme for the summer continues and Amy is back at another week-long professional development training. That meant that nobody changed out of their pajamas before noon today and I think tomorrow's lunch is likely to be provided by Taco Bell.

I'm kidding.

Sort of.

I truly do love the dad duties that I have to fulfill on the day-to-day...but I sure do notice a difference when Amy's not around.

Anyway, I was running an errand tonight once the four became five again and I passed a guy on the sidewalk who I assumed was out for a jog. Then he started throwing punches...and I started laughing.

I couldn't help it. I'd seen those moves before and I knew exactly where I'd seen them.

Completing my errand, I was standing in line tonight at the hardware store up the street when I heard the kid behind me ask a question of one of the employees.
KID: "Do you guys have Borat?" 
EMPLOYEE: "Borat?" 
KID: "Yeah." 
EMPLOYEE: "You mean borax?" 
KID: "Probably."

And that, folks, is how you turn an okay day into an amazing day.

The Summer of Tim continues...

Day 58: A Birthday Lunch, BnG Chips, NIL8

Today we got together with Amy's family for lunch to celebrate the 85th birthday of one of my favorite people in this world -- her grandmother, Helen.

Earlier in the day, Amy had run to Walgreen's to pick up a birthday card and returned with an unexpected surprise for me.

Those that know me well know that biscuits and gravy are one of my many weaknesses and I've been eager to try this chips since I first learned about them a few weeks ago.

So are they any good?

Eh. Not really.

The flavor more closely resembles sour cream than biscuits and gravy. I'm glad Amy found them in this small bag before I wasted more money (and calories) on a full-sized bag of this garbage.

But whatever.

The day rounded out with an email from a guy who had contacted me a while back through my SwitchDrops site about having come across a home video he shot in 1998 of a full NIL8 show in Springfield. Of course, I was interested and then super-thrilled last night when he sent me a link to view the newly uploaded video on YouTube.


The Summer of Tim continues...

Day 57: Heart and Soul

The joys of home ownership took up a better part of the morning and the afternoon. I'll leave it at that.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out in the pool with my wife and her family doing my best to temporarily forget the joys of home ownership.

With no energy to go into any more detail than that, here are The Monkees. It's impossible to be in a crummy mood when you listen to this song.

The Summer of Tim continues...

Day 56: Trendy Pizza, Miss Bliss, Sandwich Machine Mystery

One of Amy's brothers and his family are in town for a few days so last night we went on an adults-only double-date. After dinner at some trendy new Neapolitan pizza place which was average at best, we eventually found ourselves sitting at a coffee shop doing our best to talk about anything but our kids. Around 9:30, I couldn't help but laugh when I realized that we were downtown on a Friday night talking about grocery prices while we sipped our cups of decaf.

Times change, huh?

Before hitting the coffee shop, we did stop in at one of my favorite local stores -- mostly music but a good amount of other pop culture type stuff, too. Based on the picture below, I'm still shocked that I didn't buy anything. That boxed Spider-Man game keeps whispering my name though.

I was cleaning out some files and bookmarks on my computer and came across something I forgot I had saved. Most everyone with a pulse is familiar with Saved By the Bell and of that population, a good majority are familiar with Good Morning Miss Bliss -- whether it be from its original run or (more likely) from its later evolution into early junior high prequel episodes of SBTB. But a much smaller number of people have seen what came first. If Good Morning Miss Bliss was the precursor to SBTB, the Miss Bliss pilot episode was certainly the precursor to it all. Check this out -- no Zack Morris, no Screech, no Mr. Belding.

It's pretty fascinating, really.

Last but not least, I need some help solving a mystery that popped into my head last night for the first time in a while. Back around 2003 or 2004, I had a PS2 and used to connect with a friend of mine from back home to play MVP Baseball. If one of us was unavailable to play, we had a few random opponents across the country that we'd hook up with for a game. There was one player in particular that I played against somewhat regularly -- I don't remember his name and I don't remember what area of the country he was in. What I do remember is that he always had at least one or two other people in the room when he was playing and every time he'd hit a home run, they'd all yell the same thing in celebration:


I remember asking him about it when it would happen but the otherwise-friendly opponent would always ignore the question as though it hadn't been asked. Even though it's been over ten years since this happened and I still find myself thinking "SANDWICH MACHINE" any time I see a monster homerun in a baseball game, I still have no idea what it means.

I'm offering two pieces of leftover Neapolitan pizza and a high five to anyone who can offer me a reasonable explanation.

The Summer of Tim continues...

Day 55: Beardless, Wake Up San Francisco, Ferris Club

My beard was getting a little out of control and it was time to either trim it or get rid of it. As much as I love the convenience of not shaving my entire face every day when I have a beard, I realize it is still summer time and it's probably a better idea to hold off on a heavy beard until the fall.

Plus, the gray. All of that gray!

So there's only one thing for a guy to do when he shaves his beard off. It's a requirement to do this at least once every few years. And that's this.

I tried to get Amy to go for the mustache. She wasn't having it.

We spent a pretty good chunk of the day hanging out at my in-law's while we had two house showings going on at our place.

I haven't said much about our house throughout the summer and that's because there's not been much to say. Knocking on wood as I type this, we do currently have potential buyers with some pretty serious interest. We'll see how this plays out.

With summer break winding down quickly and the new school year knocking on my door, I've been trying to think of ways to shake things up at work this year. Nothing major -- just small changes to my typical routine to make this school year seem a little different. Part of that daily routine revolves around coffee. I pour a cup every day within five minutes of arriving and tend to drink coffee throughout each morning. Having used the same coffee cup at work for a few years now, I decided it was time to retire my fading Mister Rogers' Neighborhood mug and start the year off with something new.

Some of you are familiar with Wake Up San Francisco. The rest of you are and you probably just don't realize it.

Speaking of things that are awesome, my pal Shawn from the Branded in the 80s site recently shared a video that simply blew my mind.

You've seen Fight Club? You know, Edward Norton's character is depressed and suffering from insomnia when he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) who joins him in forming the underground Fight Club. (Spoiler Alert!) Late in the film, viewers realize that Norton's character and Tyler Durden are actually the same person who has hit rock bottom and suffering from a split-personality disorder.

While there is not movie that I've seen nearly as many times as I have The Karate Kid, second place on my list of most-often-watched movies no doubt goes to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. So how about this split personality scenario: Cameron Frye (slightly depressed and nearing a meltdown in FBDO) and Ferris Bueller are one and the same!

Wait. What?

Mind. Blown.

The Summer of Tim continues...

Day 54: Rosie's, Michigan City, Full House

We left New Buffalo this morning but not before an amazing breakfast at Rosie's. I can't describe this place any better than how they've done it themselves on their menus: "There's Nothin' Like Home Cookin'!"

The place was exactly the kind of restaurant you'd expect; although we were pretty surprised that there were only six or eight other people there 9am. It's occurred to me over the past few days that the afternoons and early evenings are insanely busy in New Buffalo, but anything before 10am and after 7pm and it's like walking through any other small town in the Midwest.

Rosie's accepted cash only -- another concept we've run into a handful of times over the past few days. I can't say I fully understand the purpose of "cash only" as I can only think that it costs these businesses money in the long run. How many people (us included) carry very little cash on them and pay their ways through the day-to-day on plastic? Redamak's was cash-only which we knew going in so we were prepared. Walking into Rosie's, we opened the front door to see a small "cash only" sign and initially considered going elsewhere for breakfast rather than hunting down an ATM. Luckily for Rosie's (and our growling stomachs) there was an ATM just down the block.

Anyway, not sure what the deal with "cash only" is -- especially in a touristy town like New Buffalo. I guess I'm missing something.

On the way to get cash, I passed this planter that we had seen the day before and the kids thought was hilarious.

Leaving New Buffalo, we had made plans to stop for the morning in Michigan City, Indiana -- just a few miles up the road where some friends from back home were staying and enjoying a beach vacation of their own. Man, oh, man ... what a beautiful morning and such fun hanging out with the Raquels!

Their boys had a Handtrux digger that Mason latched on to immediately because, as he said, it turned him into Transformer. In or out of the water, he didn't take that thing off the entire time we were there.

Once we got home, it became clear that the kids had had enough and were ready to crash. This was the scene just before dinner.

The Tanners showed up at our house while we were gone so the kids spent some lazy time meeting the Full House family in the evening. Charlotte is completely hooked on this show now.

Our friend Susan would be proud. Susan's probably the biggest Full House fan in the world.

Right, Susan?

Yeah. Susan loves Full House.

Our family trip may be over...but there are still a few weeks of summer vacation ahead of us as the Summer of Tim continues...

Day 53: Redamak's, Nancy's, Shots of Root Beer

One more day near the more morning at the beach. A front moved through last night which dropped the temperature by about ten degrees and increased the winds off the lake. With a red flag flying, the water was packing a bit of a punch and washing up all sorts of "treasures" in the process. We left the beach with two pair of goggles, one pair of sunglasses, one plastic fire truck, and a dollar bill more than we had when we arrived.

After we buried Anna in the sand, we climbed up the nearby sand dune for a view over the whole beach below.

After lunch at the house we headed out to nearby Galien River County Park where Mason channeled his inner Hunter S. Thompson.

The park had a lengthy boardwalk built over a marsh leading to a platform with a view of several kayakers passing on the river below.

Then there was the canopy walkway. Oh, the canopy walkway.

I'm not a fan of heights. I can fly in airplanes and drive over tall bridges, but anywhere that I don't feel secure I quickly count myself out. You've been to the St. Louis City Museum? I hate that place and the canopy walkway overlooking the marsh and river from high above was no different.

Amy and the kids tell me that the view was nice. I'll assume that it was.

Back to the town's main street where we grabbed a snack at Nancy's -- a place with a line long enough that we assumed it was awesome. Twenty minutes later, the kids had their strawberry shake, Amy had her pretzel, and I had the understanding that Nancy's was operated by a bunch of high school kids with no rhyme or reason to their operation. Can't say I was impressed.

Before dinner, we all hit the showers to wash away a few days worth of sweat, sun screen, and general vacation stink. The kids wanted root beer and the only drinkware I could find on hand that wasn't in the dishwasher was a set of three shot glasses.

So we did shots.

Dinner at Redamak's was okay. Based on what we'd heard around town, it's a longstanding New Buffalo restaurant which has become a favorite with the out-of-town crowd.

It was about what I expected -- loud, crowded, and food served on disposable plastic plates. I again surprised myself and resisted the temptation to order a double Velveeta burger and instead opted for an egg plant sandwich.

We're headed home tomorrow where the final two weeks of the Summer of Tim will continue...

Day 52: Beach, Stray Dog, Oink

Remember that movie Ping Pong Summer that I mentioned a few weeks ago? The movie centers around a family vacation to a touristy beach city and in some ways I feel like I'm living out this movie right now. For example, the family in the film goes to the beach at the crack of dawn to beat the crowds. When we arrived at the beach this morning around 9:30, I had to laugh when there were only about ten other cars in the lot that was full the previous evening.

On my scale, as a self-proclaimed hater of crowds, fewer people means more fun! We swam, we skipped stones, we dug in the sand, and we looked for shells. At the rate the kids were collecting rocks and shells, I'm surprised there are any left out there.

Not really. There are a lot left.

We grabbed lunch at a place called the Stray Dog which came highly recommended by several friends.

I resisted the urge to have a greasy burger and a beer and went for a salad instead...and a beer. Amy had a mai tai that we're pretty sure was just a glass of rum with a little bit of grenadine for color.

Nobody slept very well last night so this afternoon was summed up with one word for all five of us: nap. I went to sleep last night around midnight and was awake by three knowing full well that I wasn't going back to sleep. So rather than catching up on some sleep on the first night of vacation, I found myself watching Starsky and Hutch in the middle of the night.

There's more and more about this rental house that is just odd. Like this awesomely creepy door-turned-art in the corner...

...or the fact that mixed in with the dozens of DVDs on hand is a promotional copy of a Quarashi video. Quarashi as an Icelandic rap/rock group I've followed for several years since their one-hit-wonder experience on MTV back in the late 90s. Just a weird and random thing to come across here.

After making dinner at the house, we walked down the street to Oink's -- an ice cream shop packed with people and hundreds of pieces of pig decor.

I had cookies and cream, Amy had lemon, Charlotte chose peach, and Anna and Mason went with the rainbow colored Superman ice cream for very different reasons. It was decent but not necessarily anything as extraordinary as you'd think based on what we paid for it.

Charlotte has been seeing me write about our trip and has decided to make note of her own thoughts while we are on vacation.

The Summer of Charlotte continues...

Day 51: Vacation

We packed up this morning and hit the road for the beaches of New Buffalo, MI. We rented a VRBO which Amy tells me stands for "Vacation Rental By Owner." A pretty cool house packed with some very interesting decorations. Lots of stuff for us to worry about the kids breaking while we are here.

The back yard at this place is amazing and the screened-in porch is even better.

We tried to get the kids to bed at a decent time so we could enjoy some peace and quiet on the porch but Mason was having none of that.

I have to admit that I'm a little creeped out by this place. While most places like this are rented year-round, this place is clearly occupied by the renter when it's not being used by touristy beach-goers. The house is very well kept...I just can't quit thinking that the owner is just hanging out behind the creepy basement door while we're here.

Straight out of Silence of the Lambs, right? If I hear one word about putting lotion in a basket I'm outta here.

Anyway, we hit the beach for a while this evening and had a deer walk through the back yard while we ate dinner.

Tomorrow I plan to get really sunburned while allowing other people on the beach to annoy me.

The Summer of Tim continues...