the weekendend

another two day respite from the trials of a work week is just about finis. Loren's upstairs in the shower, and i'm getting ready for our nightly wind-down, before an early Monday morning start. 4:30am comes early enough, to be sure, and an hour later we'll be on the road, first taking Loren back to his mom's for another week of slogging it out in school, then i'll be headed back south to rejoin the battle on the machining front.

yesterday Loren and i took it pretty easy, neither of us did a great deal. he was unsuccessful locating any of the neighbor boys to hang out with, so he came back and we played a little poker. he was a little rusty, it's been a while since we played last, and i took a bunch of his money (read: my money, lent him for the game) before we'd had our fill of cards for the afternoon. we watched Van Helsing, which i knew he'd like. it was a campy adventure/horror flick with some pretty decent special effects, and a lot of over the top scenes. entertaining, but not a serious attempt at a monster movie by any means. can't remember the name of the actor who played Dracula in it, but he was the campiest of them all, he looked like he really enjoyed putting a comic spin to the role where he could. i got a great kick out of seeing (damn i can't remember his name either!) the actor who played Faramir in The Lord of the Rings as a comical friar somewhat akin to Q of 007 lore- he did a great job. totally freaky to see him in that role. for me, he's forever typecast as one of my favorite characters from the Tolkein novel. all the actors in Helsing did their part, in a flashy low budget movie, meant to be light entertainment, and it fulfilled its mission.

Loren's creeping up on me, so i'll finish this post later.

ok i'm back. miss me? didn't think so. let's see...where did i leave off....

ah, yes. we ate lasagna (one of Loren's favorites) Saturday night. no, i didn't get all culinarily motivated and become an Italian chef extraordinaire, it was frozen lasagna from Costco- Loren's obviously not very picky about his lasagna, he loves it. i cooked it about 10 minutes longer than the directions say and it came out better for it, a lot drier than usual. next time i'll have to let it go even longer and see if it comes out even better. that's about the extent of my culinary experimentation.

i suppose this train of thought is the correct one in which to mention i tried my hand at concocting some homemade Irish cream licqueur Friday night. i conscripted Loren to help with the project, and although a little reluctant at first he got into the spirit of things soon enough. i chose a middle-of-the-road Irish whiskey for my first attempt(s), and let Loren dip his finger in it to get an idea of what we were using to make the stuff with; he liked it, though i'm sure he wouldn't have if he'd taken a whole sip. the recipe i tried for this first attempt didn't much resemble the remaining Irish cream i had in the house, so i winged it a little from there, and ended up with something much closer, and easier to make. the final ingredients used in this first batch are thus:

1 pt heavy cream
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/4 oz plain unflavored gelatin (1 envelope)
1 generous cup of Bushmill's Irish whiskey
2 tbsp chocolate syrup (mostly darkened up the mixture)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

in the end, i'd have to say this recipe is a little light on the whiskey; it could prob'ly use another 1/2 - 3/4 cup, and the gelatin seemed to detract from the whole thing, as it didn't seem to mix well. i used a whisk to beat this stuff up for awhile, and after bottling it (in an old Irish cream bottle, of course) i shook the crap out of it (Loren enjoyed his part in that also) but i think the results might have been better if it had been blended, like most of the directions for the recipes i've found call for. unfortunately i don't own a blender, so i had to make due. if it's meant to thicken it up, i think it's unnecessary, the stuff is probably thick enough on its own, and the gelatin plain old didn't work. maybe it would be different with a blender. many of the recipes i've seen also use honey, and i bought that and enough other ingredients that i could experiment with any of these recipes, so the next batch i try will likely have some honey it it too. the end product this time is certainly drinkable, but not perfect. i'm sure i'll get closer in a couple more tries.

so back to present events. today Loren and i went through his school notebook; he's still got a way to go before he gets the organization thing licked- as evidenced by the immense stack of paper we got rid of. when i'd finally reduced it to what he actually needed to hang on to, it was down to maybe half a dozen assignments in progress, an assignment planner, a math book, and some blank paper. gone now are the paper airplanes (Loren reverse-engineered a particularly complex one he found in his desk in a class and promptly recreated the design a couple times), the graded homework and quizzes from October '04 through the present, the assignments he didn't realize were in his notebook and started again, and a plethora of drawings (some of them quite good!). i traded out his ever-present Dungeons & Dragons manual for something a little less likely to distract him from his studies in his other classes (he's been bringing it to school for his reading class, but i get the feeling it's been doing double duty as a source of inspiration for the aforementioned drawings and non-school-related stuff). i've told him that for him, this quarter, there's no such thing as 'extra credit' assignments- he's to treat them all as if they're regular assignments and turn them in- i don't want to see zeros for extra credit when he's struggling with grades. i found a two page list of extra credit assignments he could do at any time for his social studies class, and as this class seems to be the only one for which his current grade is actually lower than the one he received on his last report card, i told him he's to pick any of them he wants, 1 per week, and do it. he couldn't really argue with the fact that if he's got time to draw pictures in school, study hall or not, he has time to draw the maps and/or floor plans of imaginary lands and/or castles (etc) that will qualify for extra credit in social studies. seriously, from what i can tell of the difficulty of the average assignments given him in his classes, there's no excuse for any of the students to be failing. hmmm....have to admit some of the math stuff he's working on at the moment threw me a curve ball i wasn't prepared for- it was difficult enough that i couldn't just glance at it and intuitively figure it out- but he's got a grasp on it, which means he's at least paying attention in math class. good job there, bud :)

note: since it's come to my attention that Loren's taken to reading this meandering monologue when he gets computer/internet access at school, i'll occasionally be including comments to him- WAAAAASSSSSUUUUUUUUUUP Loren?!?! hope everything's beyond khoul for you today.

this afternoon we spent some time over at the Sargents'. good times :) Ethan overheard Nichole's end of our phone conversation and that was the end of aspirations toward a nap. we played some ball in their back yard, which was fun. Ethan's got a great swing and it should serve him well should he decide to take part in tee ball this summer. Loren tried to pull the boys up some steps in their wagon but they took a backward dive. that's ok though, i nailed Cole in the face with a wiffle ball trying to pitch him one; he wasn't very happy about that, but he was a good sport. even got to have a beer with Chris. all too soon it was time to mosey homeward, and we came home and had some dinner and watched a little of the Trigun anime series lent me by my co-worker Nick. Loren's seen the show a couple times before and he likes it, so it's a hit. it's going to take a little while for us to make our way through it (5 DVDs' worth) so i hope Nick's not in too big a rush for it back. we'd have more time if it was summer, but for the moment we're making the best of our weekend time.

we put a couple more chapters of The Wishsong of Shannara behind us this evening, and that brings me up to the present- and time to go sit with my own book a bit before hitting the hay.

thanks to Loren for another great weekend. bring on the week!

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