I haven’t seen the new Smurfs movie, nor do I intend to see it. Some reviews say it’s okay, some say it’s bad, but I don’t know of anyone who thinks it’s a great movie. Maybe if you have a couple hours to kill and some money to burn… But even then I could think of a lot of other things to do instead.

Regardless of what you think of the movie, you might be interested to know that I was talking with Gargamel and got an old family recipe from him. In the spirit of sharingness, here it is.

Recipe for Smorfs

1 graham cracker
1/2 chocolate bar
1 Smurf

Roast the Smurf lightly over an open flame, being careful not to let him catch on fire. Break the graham cracker in half. Place the chocolate on one piece of the graham cracker. Then place the Smurf on the chocolate. Finally, cover the Smurf with the remaining piece of graham cracker. Enjoy with a glass of milk.

picture of a Smurf in a smore to make a smorf

Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails.

Exodus 12:9

Flowcharts for Mealtime

Some of you may have ignored this post when you saw that the title contains the word flowchart. But that would mean that you’re not reading this, so why am I bothering to explain that?

Here are two flowcharts that document how we possibly handle things here in our family. “Things” being the two most commonly-asked questions at dinner: May I be excused? and Can I have dessert?
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Another Trip to the Beach

Warning: vacation recap ahead.

Visit last year’s recap of our trip to Maranatha for a refresher course, or to see how similar trips to Maranatha are. We want them to be similar, because kids need traditions.

Here’s a tip: if you like attention, take a 3-week-old baby to a place full of families. Everybody loves to see a newborn. I think Delta was the youngest one there, although I heard there was a 1-week-old there the next week.
That would be crazy – check out of the hospital, take a day to unpack, a day to settle in, a day to pack, and then leave on vacation.

The kids liked their programs (morning and evening each day). Beta wanted to go, but he had a fever the first two days, so he missed some of the sessions.
My wife took him to the nearby clinic, where they diagnosed a sinus infection and put him on antibiotics. Then he was good to go.

I tried a couple of new (new to me, at least) ice cream flavors at the sweet shop: Cake Batter and Royal Coconut. Cake Batter was okay, but I probably woudn’t get it again. Cake batter is inferior to cookie dough both in the baking and in ice cream. Royal Coconut, however, was delicious. It tasted like an Almond Joy (or Mounds) candy bar. I highly recommend it, unless you dislike coconut.

Now on to the photos:
Like all good vacation spots with kids’ programs, there was an opportunity for tie-dye T-shirts. Alpha was the only one of our children who wanted to participate.

picture of a child making a tie-dye T-shirt at camp

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Laptop Upgrade

My wife’s laptop is slow and sometimes uncooperative. Somewhat like a toddler. It’s time for it to be replaced. The laptop, that is, not the toddler.

And the laptop is a little heavier than the current technology, so I got her one of them fancy notebooks
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Fe Fi Fo Filter

Intro to Our Water Problems

Our water softener was hurting. It still worked, kind of. It was going through salt like normal, but the water was tasting worse and worse. Salty-ish, in fact.

My wife refused to drink the water, so we were going through dozens of cases of bottled water from Costco. It finally got to me too. When you have to spit out any water that gets in your mouth during your shower, you know something’s not right. So I talked to some people, and got referred to my local hardware store.

I filled up an empty water bottle (we had lots of those available) with our hose water (from before the softener) and took it to the store. The manager guy took it in the back to test it. It took him quite a while.

When he finally came back, he told me that he tested it twice because the numbers were off the chart and he didn’t believe the first test.

Fixing Our Water

For those who are interested: our water has an iron content of 3.5 and a hardness level of 67. I forget the units on those numbers, but I think the hardness involved grains.

The store manager said they had an iron filter that would help, but he wanted the water treatment specialist (and installer) guy to look at our system in person so he could make sure nothing else was wrong. Maybe he thought we connected the water softener backwards or something.

The water treatment guy came out and tested our water. He hadn’t believed the store manager’s results either. Sure enough, he got the same result. Our well was fine and the rest of our system was fine. It’s just the groundwater in our area is very hard. Based on his assessment, we got an iron filter from the store and he installed it.

It cost around $700, but it was well worth it.

Get it? Well worth it…

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Random Tips for Living

Tip for Fathers:

If your kids are supposed to be washing their hands, but instead you hear laughter and shouts of “Silly string! Silly string!” coming from the bathroom, you had better go check on them.

While you are walking there, use that time to compose a stern lecture on the appropriate use of foaming hand soap. Do not start composing a blog post.

Tip for Husbands:

Put the blender away fully assembled after it has been cleaned.

The next person who uses it may assume that it is ready to go and will not be happy when juice starts leaking over the base, table, and herself.

Tip for Nature Hikers:

Do not poke a turtle. If you must poke a turtle, use a stick instead of your finger.

They are not necessarily friendly, nor are they slow. Sure, they might not run very well, but they can move their necks faster than you think.

I was trying to see if I could prompt the turtle to move out of the middle of the road. He was a large turtle, too – bigger than a curling stone. I was glad I chose to poke the back of his shell, because he lunged at me as quickly as he could. He would have jumped too, if turtles could jump. He was glaring at me something fierce, and I could see that he was thinking “you’re lucky this shell is holding me back, buster…”

Tip for Managers:

If you have an employee appreciation event and you hire a DJ for a fun atmosphere, be sure to check the playlist.

I, as an employee, attended a picnic thing for employees, and the song I heard as I approached the hamburgers was “If I Had a Million Dollars”. Since the company was providing this picnic, some people could take that song as mocking. No, of course you don’t have a million dollars – that’s why you have to work here.

And if you are the CEO, do not let people see you singing along to that song.

From it Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet.

Exodus 40:31

Every Other Window

Many people follow the rule that you never buy something when it first comes out. For example, if you buy a car, don’t buy it the first year it is available. That’s when the problems get ironed out. If it’s “all-new” that means there are issues the car company hasn’t found yet. Buy that car the second or third year that it’s made.

That doesn’t seem to apply to Microsoft Windows. For one thing, no matter which version you buy, there will always be software updates and patches and such. But some versions are better than others. From what I can tell, you want to get every other version (e.g. buy one, skip one, buy, skip, etc.)

Windows 3.0 – okay
Windows 3.1 – better
Windows 95 – okay
Windows 98 – better
Windows 2000/Me – bad
Windows XP – fine
Windows Vista – bad
Windows 7 – fine
Windows 8 – ? (be wary)

I think Windows 3.1 is still my favorite.

There were artistic window frames in three rows, and window was opposite window in three ranks.

1 Kings 7:4