Thursday 31 August 2006

It's for real this time

Charles starts his school career with his first bus ride to school to the first day of full kindergarten

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Wednesday 30 August 2006

Setting expectations

I was outside last evening with Alice while Mom tortured Corwin with violin practice. I tried out one of the pump rocket shooters. On the first shot I managed to get the rocket stuck in a tree. Alice made sympathetic noises while I knocked it down out the tree. The next time, I missed the tree and when the rocket landed Alice cried out “You did it Daddy!”. From then on, success was defined as “hitting the ground with the rocket”. From Alice’s point of view, Dad’s a mean shot with the rocket.

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Tuesday 29 August 2006

Petite Flower

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Riding the bus every day!

Charles went to school for the first time today. Corwin took the bus in while Mom drove Charles to school. Corwin decided he’d rather have one more day of riding the bus without Charles than riding in with Mom.

Unfortunately, we completely forgot about an pre-school meeting last night that the parents were supposed to attend, but hopefully Charles will be a good enough student to make up for our error.

Charles didn’t say much about his day, having learned omerta from Corwin. He says he had a good time and built a road. The best part of the day was riding home on the bus.

Charles has tomorrow off, and then he’s on for the rest of the school year.

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Worming her way out

[The family is traveling to soccer practice]

Mom: Alice apparently spent most of her time at daycare digging in the dirt. She was looking for worms. She doesn’t like the blue ones because they taste yucky.

Dad: [to Alice] Are the blue worms yucky?

Alice: Yes.

Dad: Then why do you eat them?

Alice: Uhhhh…they are yucky.

Dad: You eat them because they are yucky?

Alice: Yummy. They are yucky and yummy.

I am not sure if this is better than eating dirt or not. I have become more sanguine about it after spending time with Poly.

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Monday 28 August 2006

Laptop model

Perhaps there is some hope for Poly after all.

I was quite upset with her at the start of the weekend. I had bought a set of nice markers to make big work related drawings, but Charles and Alice broke down my resistance and I let them use the markers. I did, however, insist that they keep the markers in my office so I would have a chance at finding them and putting the caps back on.However, I had neglected to factor in Poly, who immediately grabbed one of the caps and chewed in to a fine dust.

On the other hand, we took her out a couple of times over the weekend without a leash and she didn’t run off. It’s possible that she’s finally associating running off with getting put back inside. One help was that Mom got a special dog frisbee which Poly liked. In any event, she lasted longer tha usual without problems.

On the third hand, Poly has decided that she’s a lap dog, as long as it’s my lap. Apparently she saw Alice climbing on Dad one too many times and thought “I should do that too”. Poly now jumps right up on my any time my lap is available (present, and not Alice-occupied, although the latter isn’t always a deterrent). Poly almost fits and it wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t put her in a position where she feels compelled to nip at my face.

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Go fourth, young man

Corwin is off to school, starting fourth grade. He was so excited about going that we only had to yell at him a a few times to get him ready (almost) on time. Jack is in his class this year, but not Josh nor Keith. They’re in the other fourth grade class. It might be that rumours from their third grade teacher caused the administration to make sure the gang was broken up.

Charles starts his first day of kindergarten tomorrow.

UPDATE: Corwin made it back home this afternoon. Jack came over as well, because his mom works until well after school lets out. They had no comment on what happened at school, although Jack claimed Corwin got in trouble and Corwin claimed Jack got in trouble. The boys did say that they had a homework assignment, to write something about themselves. I mentioned that I had a quite a bit of material about Corwin, if he wanted some help with it. The only response to this was a drawn out “Noooooooo!”.

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Sunday 27 August 2006

Brother Ship 2

Brother Ship 2 has several improvements over the previous model

  • A name — “Shippy”
  • It can shoot sand out of its engines
  • It has a lava gun in front, along with a magma generator to supply it (Mom’s still wondering where Charles learned the word “magma”). If you touch the gun, it will sting you (being hot enough to hold lava).
  • It has 45 generators for power, one of which can make gasoline to fuel the others (the ship can hold 45 pounds of gasoline). The generators are all numbered “45” to avoid confusion.
  • It can hold 99 more pounds of cargo than Brother Ship 1.
  • It has the “most powerfu gun that can be built”, powerful enough to blow up a mothership in one shot. But it doesn’t blow up brothers, because you can’t shoot it at people. It’s too powerful for that.
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Saturday 26 August 2006

Sleep over excitement

I had to go shut them down at 1 AM

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Friday 25 August 2006

The blather

Corwin is having an end of summer sleep over for some of his friends (Kyle, Keith, Jack, Josh) this evening. The oddest thing so far is that they all agreed on what kind of pizza to order for dinner.

When I picked up Alice from daycare the other day, she told me as we walked out that she missed Mommy “lots and lots”. Mom was out at some wild faculty party at the time so I tried to explain to Alice that she might not see Mom when we got home. Alice was fine with that, because “Mommy upstairs doing the work!”. Yes, Charles is still reluctant to use articles but Alice finds them a useful linguistic spice almost anywhere.

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Living la vida verde

Alice expresses her frustration at being followed everywhere by a hovering cloud of grassy doom

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Thursday 24 August 2006

The greatest planets of mice and men

I recieved word today that Pluto was no longer a planet, so I thought I would tease Corwin about it. As he came in to my office to play games on my computer, I said “Hey, Corwin, did you know that there are 8 planets in the solar system?”. Rather than disputing my assertion, he calmly replied with “Oh, they decided Pluto wasn’t a planet?”. Ouch!

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Goal of the season

Jack demonstrates how soccer is a friendly game

Soccer season has started up once again. Corwin had his first practice last Monday. We were late because we have gotten out of the habit of being particular places at specific times.

It looks like most of the team came back, except for Keith who has switched over to baseball. So it will be a gang of three instead of four.

Charles is supposed to play soccer as well, although I don’t know how well that’s going to work out, given Charles’ lack of strong interest.

The real problem, though, is having to take pictures for two different teams. I think it’s probably time Mom started helping out with that. I suppose it makes up for no swim team pictures this summer.

P.S. I showed this picture to Corwin and he thought it was Anwen on the recieving end. It’s actually Andrea, and what’s funny is that Corwin saw it close up — that’s him in the red in the lower right of the picture.

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Wednesday 23 August 2006

Technology clash

Corwin has switched back to playing HomeWorld. He’s mastering the three dimensional movement and fleet management. He can complete some of the early missions, although I am working on him to not call salvage corvettes “slah-vahj” corvettes.

What amuses me is how this interacts with Charles’ constructs. After Charles’ super plane was smashed by the evil door, he rebuilt it much blockier and discussed how much stronger it was. This was too much for Corwin, who started grilling Charles about the weapon and structure of it, based on HomeWorld, for instance “Do you think a Heavy Cruiser could break through its armor?”. Charles picked up on this and started calling his vehicle a “brother ship”, which is even better than a mother ship. It can build mother ships and, of course, Heavy Cruisers.

Corwin, being a number oriented type, started asking Charles about armor thickness in terms from the technical data guide to HomeWorld. Corwin would then come to me and scoff at Charles — “Charles says a Heavy Crusier can’t break through the armor on his brother ship, but he said it only had 5 armor! A Heavy Cruiser has 90000 armor! And it doesn’t even have ion cannons!” Then they get in to big arguments about the relative combat capabilities of HomeWorld ships and Charles’ ships. Well, not really argue so much as throw increasingly inflated claims back and forth.

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Tuesday 22 August 2006

Dad builds, Boys destroy

The end of the tower that Dad built

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Monday 21 August 2006

The child that didn't cry

Alice’s first day back seems to have gone OK. Mom took her in and managed to escape in less than an hour. Alice was in maximal clutch mode at first, but after only 30 or 40 minutes was willing to be put down. I picked her up and was told that she had been sad for a while but eventually cheered up. She was playing happily in the outside playground when I got there and walked over to me instead of rocketing, which is a good sign.

I took Charles along with me, even though he was very reluctant. I had to drag him through a couple of doors, prying his fingers off the frame. We ran in to Miss Darcy but Charles wouldn’t talk to her. It seems that Charles has moved on by trying to forget everything.

There are two “Alice”s in Alice’s class. I thought we’d picked a normal yet sufficiently unusual name to avoid that problerm (who names their girl children “Alice” anymore?). But there’s a cute little chinese girl in the class named (or called) Alice as well. I told the teacher that she could call Alice “Princess Grumpy Pants” but Alice said “no! that not me!”. I offered “petite flower” but Alice refused that as well. Later, though, while walking out, I pointed out the flower on her shirt and she decided that she was, in fact, a petite flower.

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Sunday 20 August 2006

Potty War III

Mom is conducting another campaign to get Alice potty trained. She’s been resistant, although I think Mom has worn her down to making mostly pro forma objections to the potty. Alice has been using the potty, if she is on it. Like Charles, she doesn’t seem to have any forewarning, which is odd because she frequently manages to use the potty right after sitting.

As part of this campaign, Mom is letting Alice wear underwear. Alice originally objected very strongly to this, laying naked upstairs screaming that she wanted a “die-pee!”. But now Alice likes her underwear. The only problem is that, presumably because of how diapers work, she expects to open a brand new pair of underwear everytime after she uses the potty. She sometimes claims to need to go to the potty so that she can get a new pair. Other times she’ll claim that she peed in her underwear to get changed.

It should be a fun week for Alice. No more Erica, back to daycare, and potty training.

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Saturday 19 August 2006

Fresh out of the Charles workshop

This airplane can hold a lot of stuff. For instance, it can carry 9 more than 100 pontoon boats. Or it can hold 9 more than 100 people. It runs on 9 pounds of gas a day, or 99 pounds per day if you want it to go fast. It has a special defense mechanism that causes anything shot at it to be sent back at the shooter.It also has a special built in repair mechanism that makes it repair very fast.

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Erica's gone I hear, she's drifted off to school&hellip

It was not a tearful scene as Erica departed from us yesterday. Corwin was the ony one willing to even give her a hug. Charles just refused and Alice was having too much fun burying herself under pillows and blankets on the couch. At least Erica didn’t bolt like frat boy out of a chess club. She even promised to put up a few more posts about her summer experiences (after her father ratted her out at lunch with the comment “oh, Erica has so many funny stories about the summer”).

Still, I wonder. In the last few days, Erica was taking the little ones out on the Internet, showing them things like Hamster Dance. Alice and Charles thought this was wonderful, but — Dad was in deep weeds when Erica wasn’t around and Charles needed to see it again. Whatever I typed in was wrong. I tried looking through the browser history, but by this time Charles was so upset that he started crying “not that one! the other one!” by the time I could type three characters in the address bar. It was a major league meltdown for Charles. Some sort of subtle revenge for the appalling working conditions and miniscule pay, I expect. Or perhaps she’s looking for some “consulting fees” in the future, to set up bookmarks for those websites. Probably learned that from her dad.

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Friday 18 August 2006

Autumn closing in

Today is Erica’s last day with us this summer, perhaps for forever. If things go as planned this will be her last year in school, so she could be married, with children, and living in another state by the start of next summer.

The kids, as expected, had a wonderful time with her. Alice has agreed to go off with Erica when she leaves, but would come back to visit now and then. Charles just thinks Erica should stay here. Corwin, as usual, had no comment beyond “what?”.

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Thursday 17 August 2006

I hope they don't want one for home

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Not completely useless

I need to record this for posterity. The other day, Alice was trying to put on her sandals. She insisted on putting them on the wrong feet, even when this was pointed out to her. That did not go well, leading to this conversation:

Alice: Hep me!

Dad: OK.

Alice: No daddy! Mommy help me!

Mom:[busy with some other task] Daddy can help. He can be useful, too.

There you have it! That’s an admission I won’t soon let Mom forget.

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Wednesday 16 August 2006

I shaky!

Alice reacts to Mom straightening her hair

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Talk of the house

Alice has picked up some interesting speech habits, for which I blame Charles and Erica in equal measures.

The first is “stop doing that!”. That is how she asks someone to stop, although sometimes she just says it because, as far as I can tell, she just likes saying. In an excellent diplay of genericity, she also uses it to mean “do something” by using “that” to mean “doing nothing”.

She has also started saying “thank me!” instead of “thank you!”. Not frequently, but now and then for no clear reason.

Alice sometimes doesn’t like to spoil the surprise, so rather than asking Mom to sit on the couch with her and watch Thomas, she’ll start with “Mommy get up!” which, if obeyed, leads to “go over dere!”. Alice will resolutely refuse to state what her ultimate goal is when she’s in that mood.

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Tuesday 15 August 2006

In other style news…

As in many things, Charles has his own style of running

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Shoe boy

I forgot to mention that what Corwin got on our vacation shopping trip was yet another pair of shoes. They were slip ons, so he can continue to avoid the shoe lace tieing issue. Still, Mom and I are amazed at what a shoe hound he is. Mimi had to threaten physical violence to get any of her kids to even try on new shoes.

Corwin has no apparent interest in other types of clothes beyond generic liking to have clothes on in public so there still hope for an engineering career. Maybe I should point him at The Manolo, to show him where that kind of thing can lead.

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Monday 14 August 2006

Caboose train

We visited a local train museum yesterday. They run a train over a couple miles of track on the weekends. This weekend they had a special caboose train, only one regular passenger car and 6 or 8 cabooses.

We got to be in the last of the cabooses because Charles likes to be at the end, and we scrambled into the top seats. As always Charles just seemed tolerant of the whole thing, but this morning he was talking all about it while driving around his Percy train and wanting to know when we could go again. Alice and Corwin liked it ok too.

Before and after the train, we looked at the displays in the stationary trains. They had some real signals, pictures of a round house, and a model train set running. They of course had a gift shop too where we picked up “Annie” and “Claribel” trains for the kids train set.

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Sunday 13 August 2006

Area effect

Alice is becoming ever more dependent on her band-aid fix. I find discarded wrappers all over the house now, sometimes in heaps two or three deep. I think it’s not so much that Alice is wounding herself more often (I think I can at least hold that off till she’s a teenager) but that she thinks of band-aids as topical analgesics. She keeps them on for only 5 or 10 minutes before taking them back off, their analgesic properties having expired. Just today I saw her putting one on her foot. I asked

Dad: Do you have a boo-boo there?

Alice: No. Boo-boo on my toe [points it out]

Dad: Then why are you putting the band aid on top of your foot?

Alice: [puzzled] Boo-boo on my foot.

It seems that the effect of the bandaid doesn’t depend even on direct application, just somewhere in the same area of the body.

P.S. Alice is now trying to get at the box of band-aids on the kitchen counter, mewling piteously “I need it! I need it!”

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The Thomas Twins

Mom did some shopping yesterday for non-flannel night clothes

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One of those hard to explain answers

So while we waiting for Mom to pick up some pizza, I made a remark about Charles and Alice enjoying each other’s company in their seats. Corwin then noted “Charles and Alice are about the same age. Maybe they’ll get married when they’re older”. I laughed at this, but Corwin didn’t see what was funny. I told him that it wouldn’t happen, but then he pestered me about why, exactly, it couldn’t. Luckily I managed to be evasive until Mom returned and the smell of pizza drove all thoughts of consanguinity from him. I think I will wait till Corwin is just a bit older to get specific about that.

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Saturday 12 August 2006

Extreme dental hygiene

Alice has apparently been using her brothers’ tooth brushes to brush her own teeth (how she picked up on this, given how reliable her brothers are about brushing, I have no idea). In response, Mom bought Alice her own toothbrush. Alice has been having a lot of fun with this.

As soon as Mom and Alice returned with the toothbrush, Alice started brushing with it. Mom did manage to persuade her to go in to the downstairs bathroom to do it, which I appreciated. I will find her some mornings, in the upstairs bathroom, brushing away, apparently for minutes at a time. I expect this will fade in time, until we have to hector her like we do her brothers to maintain at least a semblance of personal hygienge.

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Friday 11 August 2006

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Corwin went over to visit Jack one evening this week. Eventually they tired of him and I was sent to retrieve him. When I mentioned this to Mom, Charles asked whether Anwen was going to come over. I indicated that was unlikely, as she was over at Jack’s house, but maybe Charles could come along and give Anwen a big hug. Charles thought that was a great idea, so off we went.

I barged my way in to their house to retrieve Corwin, on behalf of Charles, not because I would ever do anything like that on my own (after all, it was For The Children™). Charles followed right behind me. As soon he was in the house, he saw the object of his desire and made a bee-line for … the box of Legos™ in the corner. As far as I could tell, Charles took no notice of Anwen at all. I can’t decide if Charles liked Anwen better at our house, better in theory than in practice, or it was all a trick to get at the Legos.

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Horse crew

Laurie, this is all your fault, somehow. Just wait till your kids are old enough to read programming language manuals! Haha, then you’ll burn, haha!

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Thursday 10 August 2006

First job

Corwin got his first paid job last night. The neighbors decided to go away for a long weekend last night and asked us to look after their dog, Arnold. At first the idea was that Arnold would stay at our house (Mom was a bit concerned about committing to four days of that when Arnold had never been in our house before). We went ahead and triedit last night but it didn’t work out. Our main concern had been Poly pestering Arnold in to a nervous breakdown, butit turned out that POset doesn’t like Arnold and doesn’t like him enough to go after him. That, we hadn’t expected. POset normally just hides when there’s something she doesn’t like in the house, not to mention that even from their first meeting, POset never messed with Poly.

Sadly, this means Arnold has to stay alone in the house. It’s probably still better than a kennel, it being a familiar house and (hopefully) Corwin will spend some time with Arnold. We’ll see how much of the effort Corwin actually does. There might well be a parent tax.

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Wednesday 09 August 2006

Earning their titles

Charles and Alice have been extra grumpy since we got back from vacation. Alice has had a major meltdown this morning because Evil Mom insisted on eating breakfast before going to sit on the couch with Alice. Before that, I heard her yell from upstairs after having a bath “I want be NAKY!”. I am not sure why Alice and Charles are so grumpy lately, but I suspect that it’s going a week without Erica.

In honor of that, here is a picture of Alice passed out on the dock at the rental house. Mom had tried going out on a float with her, but Alice insisted on trying to swim by herself. When this was prevented, she went wild and we left her to scream herself out. She must have been tired, as she only lasted about 5 minutes before passing out.

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My brother the fink

Alice has been having trouble with one of her big toes. She sliced it up badly a few weeks ago and has been re-injuring it ever since. She managed to do it again yesterday evening. It’s hard to track because we never see her injure herself, especially since she can now self-medicate. Last evening I only found about because Charles reported in that “Alice’s toe is bleeding”. Alice herself had not, as far as I could tell, noticed. We’ll see if she stays tough as she grows up. Although she will cry sometimes, other times she’ll just announce that she’s injured herself in her matter of fact tone — she flips her chair over at the rental house, smacking in to the glass door and says only “I bump my head, daddy”.

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Words of Wisdom

Babies can hold 9 pounds. 9 pounds is not very heavy. 12 pounds is heavy. 40 pounds is very heavy too. But 10 pounds is not very heavy either.

— Charles

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Tuesday 08 August 2006

Humoring Alice

One evening during the vacation, Alice entertained the parents with her newly developed knock-knock jokes. I think this is the first time I can remember Alice telling a joke. They went roughly like this:

Alice:: Knock knock!

Dad: Who’s there?

Alice: Alice!

Dad: Alice who?

Alice: Alice has red juice!

[Alice jumps up and down, laughing]

Alice: That funny knock joke! [laughs]

Dad: Are you a funny girl?

Alice: No! [laughs]

Alice’s tag line would vary and correlate closely with whatever she was doing at the time, but she always had the parents laughing heartily. She managed to try out variants on all of the parents.

At a later point, Alice was on a bar stool at the counter and was trying to get off. I turned to her and asked “Do you want Daddy to help you?”. In response, Alice slid off the chair, bonking her head, and then said “Yes!”.

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Monday 07 August 2006

Misery: Final mission wrap-up

Vacation is over and we’re getting ready for the start of the new school year. Here are my collected writings about our little adventure1:

If any of the other participants have other comments, please leave them here or on the appropriate daily post.

Finally, there are a few things I wanted to mention that didn’t fit in the day to day description.

  • Because we had two Ashlyns of roughly the same age, I initially referred to them as “Craig Jr.” and “Scott Jr.” but later settled on “A-11” and “A-10”, which caught on more.
  • We played a lot of Magic, the card game. I took along a couple of my personal decks and a lot of pre-constructed decks, which worked out well.
  • Ashlyn brought along a poker set she had recently recieved for her birthday. The kids played a bit of poker, until one of the decks got Aliced.
  • Worms Armageddon worked out well, along with bringing my small computer (regardless of what Mom says). The best feature of the game is that it’s multi-player on one computer and each turn can affect every player, so it’s much more interactive among the children than most computer games.
  • One late afternoon, Corwin and A-10 were playing Worms with the goal of killing as many worms as possible in one turn. I remarked that such a goal was “sick” and “twisted”. Ashlyn just chortled and replied “Yes, we’re very sick and twisted!” before rejoining Corwin in their virtual worm killing experiments.
  • Charles was much more interactive than normal. He was willing to give hugs to Scott and to talk with Ashlyn and Gwyneth and let them rub his head.
  • Corwin seemed to get along with the other kids as well, although this was somewhat because he was the best at Magic and Worms Armageddon. At one point, I had to force Corwin to sit between Ashlyn and Gwyneth to prevent the two of them from fighting over access to Corwin (it was fine to poke at Corwin and try to pull his arms out of their sockets, but reaching across a sister was a horrible breach of etiquette).
  • Because I had a computer there, we could look at the dailies from my camera, leaving a selection running on the screen during dinner and other gatherings at the main table. Unfortunately, due to a missing cable, I couldn’t download from A-10’s camera.
  • Cousin Ashlyn had the best place to sleep, getting a bed to herself. Ashlyn and Gwyneth slept in another bed in the same room. The boys were pushed out on to the couches and mattresses in the downstairs area. Corwin and Charles were OK with that (Corwin especially, since it meant he had to move only his arm to start watching TV when he woke up). Liam slept out with them as well, although he had a harder time of it. Cousin Bryson and Cousin Dawson slept out there once or twice, but then migrated back in to their parents rooms. Alice slept with Mom and Dad. Overall, I thought it worked out reasonably well for having 15 people in the house.
  • I played some ‘Weird Al’ Yankovich for LeAnn and Scott from the music video DVD. Oddly, the kids liked it as well, particularly Fat and The Saga Begins. I had to cut them off so that we could get on with supper.
  • I want to thank Erica, our house girl, for watching over the house and pets while we were gone. She managed to clean up almost every trace of her wild parties without structural damage to the house.

I think the vacation went very well. The number of child melt downs was significantly less than I anticipated, and the adults all got along well. We had originally been unsure that we would be able to keep the kids busy and entertained, but in the end there was too much to do, not too little. I think having lots of kids made things (overall) much more fun for them. We could have spent two weeks, if we didn’t need to keep our jobs. It will be a hard choice next year between this and the ocean.

The sun sets on the dock as we depart

1 You may notice that these are interspersed with other pictures, which I set up before we left to keep things going while I was off line.

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Halt! It's the tricycle police!

Alice takes down a perp

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Sunday 06 August 2006

Misery: Last Days

On Saturday, we spent the morning getting rid of the pests that had invaded our rental house. Both Uncle Craig and LeAnn and Scott and their families headed out around 9AM. The survivors who hadn’t been voted out of the house hung around for lunch and then Mom decided it was time for some shopping. Everyone got something at the outlet mall except for poor Dad. There was a “Paper Factory” store, but alas it turned out to be a party supply store.

In the evening we tried some swimming. Although Alice had been wearing her Dora life jacket for most of our outings (incuding the shopping expedition), she absolutely refused to wear it while swimming. Mom and Charles went down to swim while Alice cried and screamed for literally 30 minutes rather than put on the life jacket to go down to the dock. Of course, she insisted on having it put on her the minute Mom declared that we were done swimming.

Since it was our last day, Charles finally warmed up to the dock and swimming around in the lake. Mom says he’s gotten to be quite good at using the inner tube. Perhaps he will be willing to learn to swim now.

After Mom came back and rescued Alice, Corwin and I went down for a final swim, riding the wakes of the passing boats. There were a lot of boats out, with many big ones going fast generating some serious waves. It was much busier than during the week (which was good for us). The poor family next door was trying to dock their pontoon boats in those waves along with a noticeable wind.

We had a quiet evening, eating pizza on the deck near the dock. The kids were sent to bed early to get ready for departure the next morning.

On Sunday, we had an early morning with lots of packing. We managed to get on the road by 10:30. The road trip went OK, without too much “are we there yet?” questions. We got home around 5PM and released Erica from her house sitting duties. I spent the evening hooking my computers back up and finishing up this weblog stuff. Mom got some laundry fired up and watched some TV. Alice was very happy to be re-united with Big Dora.

Tomorrow we wil be back to the grind (and Erica will have the thrill of getting the kids’ view of what happened on vacation — she is much looking forward to it).

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Two Fisted Fury

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Saturday 05 August 2006


The world revolves around Corwin

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Friday 04 August 2006

Misery: Day Six

Gwyneth takes the fall

This morning we went out boating again for a couple of hours. We took everyone with us to get the boat to maximize the on board time. After some frantic searching we found the rental place, got on the boat, and let the children do some inner tubing.

After boating we went back to the house for lunch. Somehow I ended up having to go out swimming with Gwyneth and the Ashlyns (A-11 and A-10). Other than them trying to drown me, it went OK, although I wondered why I was hanging out with a gaggle of young girls in swim suits instead of say, Corwin hanging out with them with me just supervising. As you would expect, the boys were up in the house playing on the computer (Worms Armageddon, provided by Erica).

After lunch we rushed back out to the state park to take a cave tour. We were a little late but the staff managed to catch us up to the main party so we had almost the entire tour. I think the kids liked it, except Charles seemed a bit scared on the way back out of the cave. I thought it was interesting, we even saw a couple of bats.

We then headed back to the beach at the park, but I was dropped off at a coffee place with internet connectivity, to get my fix. Without me, the mood was much lightened and much fun was had swimming and fishing at the beach. Alice and Liam gave Mom a hard time, trying to sneak off in to the deeper water anytime she wasn’t looking. Mom claims this was partially because Alice had become fixated on Cousin Ashlyn and wanted to go where ever she was (which, not surprisingly, was frequently in water too deep for Alice, girl without fear).

That evening, we had the final round of glow stuff (and this time, Gwyneth asked, I didn’t force it on the kids as usual). I let Charles have the 5-minute super bright 15” glow stick, because he had been so patient during the week with not being able to partake in many of the activities. We had a lot of fun with the glow, and then everyone bedded down because the other two families were heading out in the morning.

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Still married, with children

Ah, I have finally managed to get back online, if only for an hour or two! The pace on the vacation has been even more hectic than I anticipated and this is the first time (and likely only time) I have managed to get enough personal time to get connected.

I think everyone is having a good time (despite the lack of internet connectivity). At this moment, the rest of the gang is off at a local state park beach, swimming and fishing. There’s no sand at the rental house and certain young boys react to lack of sand roughly the same way I react to being offline. Hopefully he’s getting his fix like I am getting mine.

Everyone has been getting along well, so I think it’s all worked out nicely. At some point in the future I will post the content I’ve written while offline, most likely back dating it to look real time. I have already threatened some of the children with my ability to rewrite history by posting and then waiting a few years, when memories have faded and computer text looks far more authorative. The power of the edit!

Before I post, I need to update the Cast of Characters to reference everyone, so you, my loyal reader, can keep them all straight (the Lord knows we have trouble with that and we’re here).

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Live on the tube

Corwin and Gwyneth living on the edge

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Everyone has slumps

Alice arrives at the fair

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Thursday 03 August 2006

Misery: Day Five

The kids bursting with excitement doing their favorite thing

No joy on the connectivity front. While we were driving around, though, I saw a McDonalds with wireless connectivity. There is something wrong with an area if the McDonalds are connected and the Starbucks aren’t. That’s just so twisted.

In less important news, we headed off to a state park. There was a beach there with sand in an inlet, plus fishing and horses.

When we first arrived, Charles refused to get out of the van, claiming “I hate this place”. I then pointed out that it had sand, at which point Charles was willing to take a look. It turned out I was telling the truth and Charles decided that he could spend a little bit of time working the sand in to proper form. After examining the situation, however, he decided the sidewalk lacked a proper road system with parking. Charles proceeded to build one by sweeping out the pavement with a little shovel we found.

We also saw a water snake there, although it headed back out to deep water before I could get my camera ready. We also saw some schools of minnows so thick that we originally thought they were moss covered rocks under the water.

Uncle Craig set his minions children out gathering grasshoppers for fishing. Aunt Linda caught the first one, but the kids eventually managed it as well. They caught several fish (unlike at the dock) rapidly. I could watch out from shore and see almost continuous ripples from fish looking for snacks on the surface so it seems like a good spot for fishing with young children.

Unfortunately, Charles’ road project was cut short by the need to head out for some horse related activity. In protest, Charles declared that he would have nothing to do with the horses. Mom, Scott, and I didn’t do horse things because we had to look after the young ones (Alice, Charles, and Liam). Everyone else headed off to do some trail riding.

Mom arranged for Alice to be lead around on a pony because Alice was very excited about the horse experience. There was a small trail next to the main trail head for the pony rides. Alice went around that 9 or 10 times — she wore out the horse who got balky because it was tired or just tired of the trail. Alice would have been happy to go a few more rounds.

About half way in to Alice’s horse expedition Charles, who had been sitting in a funk the whole time, started wandering around, looking extra sad. I went over to ask him what was wrong and he said “why I never get to ride horses?”. I pointed that perhaps it was because he had declared his complete lack of interest earlier and had failed to ask to ride a horse. This failed to satisfy his wounded feelings, so I paid for him to ride on the pony as well. Charles then endured the experience, as is his style, for about three laps. But it did mean we had all three kids on horses. Laurie will be so happy.

Corwin, meanwhile, was proving his natural instinct for horse riding. The report I recieved was that a biting fly nailed Corwin’s horse on the posterior, causing it to buck. Corwin hung on, impressing the rest of the group, but he did comment later that he didn’t want to be in a rodeo.

After horses, the mommies abandonded us for some sort of spa thing. Frankly, the less I know about what exactly went on the better so I didn’t inquire as to any details. Once we were rid of the mommies, we headed off for the kind of lunch daddies like, chinese buffet. We had seen one on the way to the park, so we headed back for it. Once we got there, we found a sign on the door:

Due to accident, we are closed until further notice.

This wasn’t the best news I had recieved recently but Charles thought it was very cool. We managed to find another chinese buffet which turned out to not be closed due to “accident”. This meant that the kids could get food they would eat without an endless ordering process. That’s what dads like.

Due to the mommies taking one of the cars, I sent Corwin with Uncle Craig’s family while I transported LeAnn and Scott’s crew. This meant that Liam sat next to Alice where they could poke at each other. This worked well because Alice likes to poke and Liam thought being poked by Alice was hilarious. Charles had to sit between Ashlyn and Gwyneth. I encouraged them to rub his head for luck, which they found to be great fun. They also thought it would be fun to get him chanting without realizing that if you get Charles started, he can be very hard to stop. When Gwyneth finally begged for Charles to stop repeating his phrase (which I could never quite decipher myself) I deigned to intervene and silence Charles. I was just happy that Charles had been so interactive. I was also hoping that Corwin would get some interaction time with his cousins, but naturally I recieved no debriefing on that front.

That evening, Mom popped out to Walmart with the little monkeys and bought Alice a Dora life jacket. Alice thought it was super fantastic. It would feature prominently for the rest of the vacation.

While Mom was off shopping, the rest of us finally managed to get out for some mini-golf. We picked a course that was almost completely shaded by trees in a little valley off the main road. Some of the holes were a bit short due to the constricted area, but they blended well in to the sloped sides of the valley, making for an overall nice course.

We called it an early night after dinner, because the kids were started to get a bit ragged from the hectic pace.

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Trained boy

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Wednesday 02 August 2006

Misery: Day Four

Ashlyn, Gwyneth, and Corwin play water bumper cars

To make up for Charles having such a difficult time, LeAnn and Mom took Charles off to see the Bagnell Dam, the dam that makes the lake. Charles had been asking about the dam, so it seemed fitting. That went OK except for a major Alice melt down when they left McDonalds. Charles liked it, enough that a day or two later he was still pointing out the turn to the dam whenever we drove by it.

The rest of us went off to race go-karts and water bumper cars. That was a lot of fun, if a bit pricey. Corwin tried the kiddie carts, which was OK for him, and then we let him do the large go-karts. He did very well with that, resisting the temptation to go faster than he could handle. He was still fast enough to not get lapped by the other drivers, one child and three adults. Corwin, Ashlyn, and Gwyneth then played water bumper cars which was a lot of fun for them. Everyone then headed back to the house for lunch.

After lunch we split up in to smaller groups. LeAnn and Scott (with the wrong Ashlyn) went off to shop for souveniers. The rest of us went out to race a couple of more times later in the afternoon (because it was half price for second and subsequent rides). Corwin continued to do well, gradually increasing his speed as he got a better feel for the go karts.

I raced once and in that race, Cousin Ashlyn passed me right off the start (which I wasn’t expecting). Being a mean and vindictive person, I then spent most of the rest of the race pressuring her. She was very agressive about squeeze plays and I didn’t want to bump too much, so I let her get away with it. Patience paid off, though, because near the end concern over my passing attempts caused Ashlyn to take a corner too tightly and she bumped the wall. I was close enough that this cost her the lead and I gradually opened up the distance until the end a few laps later1. Burn!

Post racing, Uncle Craig’s family (less Ashlyn) went off to play real golf. Corwin and I went back to the house to hang with the rest of the crew (including the other Ashlyn), which was something I had been looking forward to. I did try to drop by Starbucks and get an Internet fix on the way backbut it didn’t have wireless connectivity! I thought that was illegal. But Mom might let me sneak out to another place with connectivity tomorrow2.

We did some swimming in the evening, but Alice had a major meltdown on the dock. Mom wanted her to wear a life jacket while out in the deep water and sit on a float with Mom, but Alice wanted to go off swimming by herself. This eventuall lead to Alice being put back on the dock, where she cried for 5 or 10 minutes before passing out right there. We left her sleeping for about half an hour until it was time for supper.

Late in the evening we broke out the glow stuff. I handed out the light ropes and tried out the bracelets, which were reasonably successful. The ribbon and fire works blinkies were popular, although the fireworks were the clear winner there. The LED flashlights were also been popular. Most of the gang played out on the stairs but Corwin was too blasé to participate (having seen all of Dad’s lame glow stuff before, although he wasn’t too proud to borrow the blue flashlight with the glow wand extender to read late).

1 The astute reader will wonder how I could race Cousin Ashlyn if she was off shopping with LeAnn and Scott’s family. What happened was that that Ashlyn came with us to the go-karts and was then dropped off at the shopping area on the way to the golf course, cleverly optimizing her fun acquisition curve. She’s a smart yet conniving little girl.

2 Didn’t happen.

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The gripping hand

Corwin’s first solo on a big ride

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Tuesday 01 August 2006

Misery: Day Three

Today was boating day. Mom had reserved a pontoon boat from 9 to 5. We decided before we left that 8 hours would be enough for everyone to be tired of the boat. Along with the boat we got a fabric covered inner tube rigged for towing with some hand holds. We spent most of the time on the boat towing the inner tube float.

For the first run, we tried having just Dawson on the float, but he was too light and the front end would dig in to the water and swamp him (not that he would let go, even to avoid drowning under a wall of water). After that we put on two kids at a time. That worked out much better because of a better weight distribution and because the kids had turns more often. The kids thought this activity was intensely fun and were eager for more until near the end of the day when every one was getting very tired. Gwyneth was so eager that even after she barely made it back to boat with a life jacket she wanted another run (I had to downcheck her to avoid arguments about who drowned who).

We took a break for lunch because Dad got a very bad case of heat stroke from the sun, the extertion of being on the float, and chugging too much water when he got back on the boat. I stayed back at the house with Alice (who had tired of the boat) while the rest of the crew headed back out. Even Charles, who had basically just sat in the boat the entire morning, wanted some more boat time.

The remaining crew (including all the moms) tubed for a while but came back to the house around 3 for fishing and swimming (the kids wanted to swim out in the more open water). They fished off one side and swam off the other. Charles was eager to fish but the older kids found the swimming sufficiently refreshing that they decided to go out again for a last round of tubing after only a short break. Charles was crushed and in near tears went back to the house to mope. Alice, however, came back out on the boat and hung with us until the end. Even I went back out for another turn on the tube. After a bit of that it was time to take the boat back in.

To end the day, we towed Ashlyn and Corwin back to the house on the float. Then we dropped off everyone and everything from the boat except the crew for the final run. For that, Uncle Craig and I towed Cousin Ashlyn and Dawson all the way back to the marina on the float. They thought it was a wonderful trip.

Dawson was the champion rider of the day, having not fallen off all day (the only one of the kids to make that claim and the only one who rode more than once to not fall). Aunt Linda got the best air. She fell off, but only after her float bounced 1-2 feet in the air and then came down, bouncing Aunt Linda right off the float like a trampoline. She was literally flying in the air while the float zoomed out from under her. Radically cool to watch, perhaps not so fun to experience. Still, the kids thought it was an excellent experience.

I think the timing worked out well, as the children were almost tired of riding the tube. The kids were mostly tired enough that we were able to put the children to bed early. I think a 6 hour expedition might be a bit better, though.

While Uncle Craig and I were taking the boat back, everyone else was getting cleaned up. Corwin was the first to try the jacuzzi1. He freaked out because the door was open and someone out on the lake could have looked in through the trees, across the upper deck, in the master bedroom window, and through the bathroom door to see the top half of a naked Corwin. This from the boy who has to be reminded to close the door when he’s using the toilet.

Charles tried going out and casting his fishing rod again and had another meltdown because it wouldn’t work for him. At least this time I was able to teach him well enough that he got in a few good casts before it was time for supper. So at least for one brief moment all was right in Charles’ world.

We went out to a local restaurant that has a Tuesday special on chicken wings. We sat outside and the heat had broken enough that it was pleasant (much better than a 30 minute wait for an inside table — seating for 15 can be a bit challenging). It was a nice dinner. There was even a small clear area next to our table where Alice performed her “Dance of the Two Napkins” for us. Although we teased the waitress, she brought out gummi worms for the kids as an after dinner treat, making it all worthwhile for them.

1 Alice had wanted to try it until she heard me turn on the water, at which pointed she started yelling at me to turn it off. I ended up dragging her in to the shower to get her clean. Alice did not like that at all, but it beat having her hysterical the entire time the jacuzzi was filling up.

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Take the last train to Alice-ville

Alice liked the train almost as much as Charles did

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