Tuesday 31 October 2006

All Candy's Eve

The kids had a good Halloween.

We went to Corwin and Charles’ school to watch the parade of costumes and visit at the class parties. Charles said that his class mates like the goodies I provided for his class, so he was only mildly annoyed at my presence. We took Corwin home afterwards, but Charles insisted on riding the school bus back.

It was a wonderful night for trick or treat. It was cool (40°F and a bit cooler) with very little wind, no rain, and clear skies with a half moon. I dressed a bit warm and so I was toasty with a nice edge of cool. The kids didn’t complain about the termperature at all. We hit one street and a cul-de-sac (where Matt and Claire live). Then we popped down to Mara’s house, bypassing the intermediate houses. Corwin thought that was wrong, but I said I wanted to be sure to get to Mara’s house before the meltdowns started. Corwin couldn’t understand why that was a concern.

We hit Mara’s house, catching up with Mara and her sisters. As we left, Charles offered the question “when do we get to go home?”. It seems that I timed it just right. We did finish the circle of houses there and then headed back home. I offered to let Corwin go out again if he wanted, but he had compiled such a bag of loot that he decided against it. Corwin’s bag was so full he managed to literally pop it on the way back and we had to spend some time picking up his candy from the ground.

Mom said we only got 5 groups of kids to show up, and two of those were people we had asked to come over. Anticipating this, we hadn’t stocked up on candy, so there’s a chance we’ll still fit in our pants in a week.

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Candy good!

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Wagon trials

Last Sunday Mom took Corwin out shopping and I was condemned priviledged to spend time with Charles and Alice. Because they were driving me crazy it was a wonderfully nice day out, I took the two of them and Poly out for a “walk”. Now, when I write “walk” I mean that I walk and they ride in the wagon. Poly was a big help in avoiding boredom, as keeping her, her leash, and the wagon non-interlocked was a continuing challenge.

We ran in to Mara’s family and they enjoyed throwing tennis balls for Poly for a bit. Everyone wanted to pull the wagon for a bit as well and I discovered that Alice can pull the wagon with Charles in it.

On the way home, there was a major dispute about who got to drive the wagon. I finally had to intervene because Alice was crying “Charles is squishing me!”. It turned out that Charles was squishing her only by virtue of the fact that he is not infinitely compressible. Alice was pushing off her side of the wagon as hard as she could to squeeze Charles out of the front, all the while complaing of being squished. When I said that she had to share, she decided to get out and walk the rest of the way back rather than do so. Charles didn’t mind because it left him in full control.

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Monday 30 October 2006

Because simulated urban combat is what Halloween at church is all about

Luke “Corwin” Skywalker defends the rebel alliance from various monsters

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Why can't we just keep them in the closet until I am ready to play with them again?

Yesterday, Alice spontaneously asked me, “Where is Kirsten?”. Alice may be suffering from double withdrawal, as she doesn’t get to see Kirsten at soccer anymore either.

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Sunday 29 October 2006

Adventures in learning

This morning, I took Corwin downstairs and started him on the path to being a really useful child — I gave him his first instruction in making coffee. All we’d need then is a remote controlled foghorn in his room. One press and he’s off to make fresh, hot coffee for his deserving parents.

Charles training last week consisted of trying to get him to hang up his coat. He claimed he couldn’t because he didn’t know how. I tried showing him but he was remarkably inventive in ways to fail. It was like a Mr. Noodle sketch. Just getting Charles to hold the coat by the collar instead of, say, the bottom waist button, was challenging. Next time I’ll set up a video camera so at least I have a tape to sell.

Alice has been reading Ten Little Dinosaurs, a cautionary tale of youthful exuberance. I was hoping that Alice would experience some personal growth by internalizing the moral of the story. I tried to enable this by saying “No more Alice-saurs jumping on the couch!” the next time she bounced around on the couch. Sadly, this simply made it more fun for her.

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Saturday 28 October 2006

Market day

Today’s adventure was hanging outside the local Walmart, selling Cub Scout popcorn. Corwin had the afternoon shift, but we went at the start as well to help set up. The day was cool with a fierce wind, and sunny. Mom had to nag at Corwin to get him to wear a long sleeve shirt under his Cub Scout short-sleeved shirt, but he wouldn’t wear a coat or hat. After we had been there, in the cold and the wind for a while, I bought him a hat and gloves from the Walmart (which cost less then I spent on lunch). He wore them for a while, but eventually abandoned them. He didn’t complain of the cold, so I let it be. Charles liked the hat and gloves, at least.

Corwin did well, mostly behaving and holding up his “PLEASE BUY POPCORN OR I WILL HAVE TO EAT MY UNIFORM” sign for extended periods, even saying “Hello!” to passersby. Sadly, the sles were not what we hoped, but we did make a few sales.

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Friday 27 October 2006

29 is just around the corner

[Mom rudely interrupts Alice while she is playing “find the baby” on the computer]

Mom: Alice, are you a baby?

Alice: No!

Mom: How old are you?

Alice: Two!

Mom: And how old will you be on your next birthday?

Alice: [thinks deeply] Two!

Mom: You’ll be three.

Alice: Three!

Dad: How old will you be tomorrow?

Alice: Fourteen!

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Resource wars

We had our first big fight over access to Legos™ last night. Charles and Corwin started disassembling each other’s constructs in order to recycle the parts. That was easier than digging through the bin full of random parts to find the desired one. The problem is exacerbated by the boys strong desire to maintain entire fleets of vehicles, so old ones are rarely recycled. I managed to handle it in such a way as to bring both boys to tears. The proximate cause was a single piece, one which neither of them could describe, but was vitally important nonetheless. That meant that I couldn’t even look for another one myself.

On the other hand, this may make Christmas shopping much easier.

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Thursday 26 October 2006

Fashion Forward

As you can see from yesterday’s post, Alice is developing her own, strong fashion sense. She has now becomes very specific about her hairstyles, deciding on one, two, or no pony tails as it suits her mood. She wouldn’t wear plain, solid color tights the other day, insisting on more colorful ones. Her shoe preferences have re-emerged as well. I dread the day when she is as fashion concious as Mom.

P.S. She no longer likes to have her hair combed or brushed, preferring the wild child look. She also prefers to be called “Alice, Super Princess”, in a booming, announcer style voice if possible.

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Wednesday 25 October 2006

Fairies Wear Boots

All clothing and accessories chosen by Alice, Super Princess

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Not making the grade

Dad: Charles, do you have the meanest Dad in the world, or the second meanest?

Charles: Hmmmm. You are the third meanest Dad in the world.

Dad: Third?!?

Charles: Yes. [giggles] I want to play on the computer.

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I want to feel the push

This month was popcorn sales for Cub Scouts. Last weekend I forced him to go out and actually sell popcorn. After a couple of hours on Saturday and then Sunday, Corwin managed to fill his order sheet (25 orders), which was the target I had set for him. This ended up being the same total as last year, but this year he didn’t sell only to his kin. I let him fill one line with a sale to Grandma, but otherwise he had to generate real sales. We ended up covering most of the neighborhood but not all of it, so there’s room for improvement next year.

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Tuesday 24 October 2006

We're all just full of pep today

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Monday 23 October 2006

Stalk of Command

Charles gives orders to his driver

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Just the right amount

[Charles and Dad are on the couch one evening]

[Dad pokes at Charles]

Dad: Poke!

Charles: [objecting] I tired!

Dad: Then you should go to bed.

Charles: I not that tired.

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Sunday 22 October 2006

A night out

Kirsten was over last night to babysit the spawn. It apparently went OK, as she indicated that she would be willing to babysit again at some future time. We were a bit worried when we first left, as Kirsten seems to barely outweigh Poly (and there’s no way she masses as much as Corwin), but Corwin was obedient and cooperative which helped prevent any problems (the rest of the time he spent playing Homeworld 2). Alice and Charles were very happy to see Kirsten, while Corwin was happy to be left to game, so there was barely an awareness on the part of the children of our departure.

When we got home, Kirsten had Alice on the potty and was reading a book. Kirsten noted how much Alice liked that and Mom said, “oh yes, that’s why Alice likes to sit on the potty”. Sadly, I forgot to test Kirsten on her knowledge of Charles’ ship construction while taking her back to her house. She hadn’t even gotten past the front entry way before Charles was providing her a thorough debriefing on the subject.

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New and improved

Charles’ shipyard

The original shipyard

Charles wants to make clear that his version not only has running lights on the small towers along the outer hull, but they also have anti-fighter guns for better protection. Therefore his shipyard is clearly better.

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Saturday 21 October 2006

Fishy subject

Alice has been drawing quite a bit lately. This is a set of drawings she made at daycare, all in one day. They are mostly of “fish”. Big fish, little fish, just plain fish. Although later that evening, Alice made a drawing for me of a fish, a mountain, and Mommy driving.

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We need a bigger house

The house has three bathrooms. We thought this overkill when we bought it. However, this morning we managed to have a crisis because both upstairs ones were in use and Charles need to go potty. However, Mom had left some stuff on top of the toilet in the downstairs bathroom and Charles preferred to break down in tears than ask anyone to move it for him. Strong, husky Dad, though, was able to solve the problem so that we could fill all three bathrooms at the same time.

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Girl of a thousand wounds

A week or two ago Alice got a rope burn at the bottom front of her leg (we don’t know how, as usual). We didn’t think much of it, it scabbed up a bit and seemed to be healing. Alice, however, insisted that she needed a bandaid on it, which she applied herself. We were reminded of it frequently because Alice became very attached to the bandaid, keeping it on for the better part of a week, until I knocked it off taking off her pants. I had to immediately find a new bandaid for her to put on (it took some doing to convince her that a new bandiad would work as well as the old one). That one eventually came off as well, but it seems that it’s finally healed enough for Alice to not insist on covering it.

Another conversation spanning an evening and a morning —


Dad: Alice, can you say “school”?

Alice: No.

Dad: Why not?

Alice: I can’t talk


Dad: Alice, can you talk?


Dad: Why not?

Alice: I hurt my head too much.

[a few moments pass in silence]

Alice: I want to watch Thomas. That make me feel better and my head not hurt so much.

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Friday 20 October 2006

To whom it may concern

The boyen have long had a habit of requesting help by issuing generic calls of the form “Why won’t someone get me some milk?”. Alice does a little bit better, but she will frequently start a statement or request with “Mommy or Daddy” even when speaking directly to a parental unit. When not speaking directly, she drops the subject entirely and simply states “I want milk!”.

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Angst prodigy

We had our first major Charles angst moment last night. Mom took Corwin off for violin practice. Charles was very unhappy that he didn’t get to go first. He became so distraught that Mom sent him to bed. On his way up, he wailed the lament that is normally a teenage one — “why does everyone hate me?”. Fortunately, Mom turned out to be right, that Charles was very tired as he crashed out a few minutes later for the evening (thus missing violin practice entirely).

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When in Rome...

Ever the polite boy, Corwin took care to coordinate his outfit with the farm machinery style at the farm

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Thursday 19 October 2006

Number building

Charles was working on his numbers last night and decided that he was going to go much further down the number line than he ever had before. Corwin asked him how far (because, of course, things without numbers have no meaning for Corwin). Charles replied “forty nine!”.

I worked with Charles on finding the pattern of numbers. It was a bit slow through the teens and twenties but he did well in the thirties and just needed a little help to get in to the forties. Sadly, he ran out of paper at 45, so he didn’t make his goal. I don’t think he can read any of the numbers, but building them is no problem.

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Poly Betrayed

Corwin and Charles running around with another dog

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Dance video

Alice likes to move it move it.

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Wednesday 18 October 2006

Midweek Soccer Report

Today was Charles’ last soccer event of the season. Instead of a regular game, all five teams were there and they played half length games so that every team played every other team. As far as I could tell, no one scored a goal in the games in which Charles’ team was involved. Charles played well, staying with the ball and mixing it up. He played goalie for a bit and defended his goal successfully.

The day was very cloudy with a light drizzle. I didn’t even bother trying to take pictures. Naturally the team got together for a group picture. Sigh.

Charles was supposed to have a game on Monday, but it was rained out. Corwin’s soccer team had arranged to have the end of season parent vs. kids match up then, but it was raining too hard even for Corwin’s coach.

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Take your place in the driver's seat

We were driving home from soccer practice one day and Jack’s family was in the car ahead of us. I pointed this out to Corwin and noted that Jack was in the driver’s seat. Corwin was very impressed at first, but then decided that Jack’s dad must be reaching over to steer. I asked who was working the gas pedal, but Corwin refused to respond. I have tried to get Corwin to ask Jack about it, but he won’t do that either. If he did, he might find out that the car was brought over from Wales and therefore has the driver’s seat on the right. Interestingly, Corwin also hasn’t asked if he can “drive” like Jack did.

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My precious

Charles gathers his precious beans

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Forgotten but not gone

The pumpkin is now passé. Alice went to sleep with it clutched in her hands a couple of days ago, but it lays forgotten by the side of our bed now, filled with a towel and a stuffed lizard. I have decided to not say anything about it until Halloween.

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Tuesday 17 October 2006

Dot right

Charles has been practicing various letters as homework. This can be very frustrating for him, because he likes to use markers and if he makes a mistake, he wants to start over rather than just go on. Apparently to help avoid such mistakes, Charles will sometimes put a set of guide dots down first, in the shape of the letter, and then connect them. I would point out that technique is a lot more work, but it makes Charles happier to practice so I have let it go.

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For the want of a key

Alice enjoys her turn at the wheel

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Monday 16 October 2006

Farm team

Corwin and Charles emerge after the successful conclusion of their expedition
Marvin, Mom’s second cousin, commanding

Last Saturday we went out to the family farm because it was harvest time. It’s good for the kids to have some glimmer of an idea of where food actually comes from.

I think the kids had a good time. Corwin and Charles got to ride in a combine harvesting soybeans. I made sure to warn them that farming involved large and dangerous machines so perhaps they should be a bit careful. I am not sure how seriously they took that, but none of them were permanently disfigured.

Charles liked the soybeans, eventually acquiring a stalk with a number of pods on it which he kept until we got home. He also found a pile of soybeans on the ground from a previous load. Apparently someone told him joking to keep a supply in his pocket. I found out later, after we were home, and I tried to pick up Charles that he had done exactly that. The soybeans spilled out all over the floor and Charles was very upset. He was even more upset when Polynomial started eating them. We managed to save most of the soybeans, carefully putting them in a baggy for safer storage.

Corwin was fascinated by the stream of soybeans from the hopper. The combine dumps the soybeans in the hopper, which carries it over to near the elevator. The soybeans are then dumped out of the hopper into a lifter that drops them in to the top of an silo. The soybeans flow out of the hopper in a stream, like water. Corwin found that fascinating. He made Mom nervous because the soybeans flow from the hopper into a trench with a large and powerful corkscrew. It had a mesh over it, but the holes were plenty large nough to fit a Corwin hand through. Corwin didn’t tempt fate, so perhaps he will live long enough to get kicked out of the house.

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Sunday 15 October 2006

And I get to dress up too!

Alice is very excited about Halloween this year. Last year she was too young to understand, but she’s all about candy these days. I mentioned earlier this month that a day was coming up where you could ask people for candy and they would give it to you.This is naturally one of the few things that I say that has stuck in Alice’s mental landscape.

Today while out shopping Mom got a plastic pumpkin for storing candy for Alice, just like the ones the boyen have. This evening she has been carrying the pumpkin around trick or treating among the family. Charles was nice enough to put some Lego “candy” in her pumpkin, which she pretended to eat later on.

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Visual influences

Charles has been spending a lot of time watching me play Homeworld2. Not that I want to play so much, but Charles is very insistent and who am I to deny my child? Charles will even go and ask Mom “Can Daddy play a game for me?”. Just one of those sacrifices…

What I have noticed is that Charles’ Lego™ construction has been influenced by the game, and not just the nomenclature. His visual style seems different. I have an outrageous number of pictures below, click if you’re as deeply fascinated as I am.

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Saturday 14 October 2006

Weekend Soccer Report

Corwin clears the ball during a goal defense

Today was Corwin’s last game of this season. The official season runs one week longer, but every team gets one off week and Corwin’s team is off next week. Despite winning 6-0, the game didn’t seem all that one sided. The other team had a good defense and a decent offense — Corwin’s team had a number of desperate goal defenses. I was surprised that they didn’t manage to score on any of them.

It looked even more challenging right at the start. Corwin’s team had to start with only eight players. Andrea showed up a few minutes in to the game to even the sides. A few minutes later Nick had a good drive straight down the middle for a score. After that, Corwin’s team started scoring at regular intervals, building up a good lead.

Corwin managed to play despite his injury. He was feeling well enough to play a bit of offense near the end of the game.

Overall I think that team was playing near the top of their game. I saw several excellent passes, good drives down the side (a Josh specialty), and some good defense. Ali did some excellent work at clearing incoming balls by booting them right back on the other team’s side of the field.

Having looked at the pictures, it seems to me that there were two things that accounted for the lopsided score —

  • Corwin’s team was hitting from outside the box. At least three of the goals were from outside the goalie box, which is long range for this level of play. While the other team had a good defence, it wasn’t able to set up fast enough to stop shots from that far out.
  • The defense played very well. There was no shortage of pictures of close goal defenses but the team managed to save every one, even shots from inside the inner goalie box.

I managed to miss two scores, the first because I was changing batteries. The second was a kick that I was stunned got it. It arced over a mass of defenders in front of the goal. The goalie was forward, just behind the mass. It went over her and rolled, slowly, toward the goal. The goalie tried to grab it but even though she touched it, it ended up about 6 inches past the goal line.

Season Summary

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Friday 13 October 2006

Lego vs. Nikon

The mothership engages in close combat with the D70

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Bath fuzzies

Alice has lately acquired a phobia of spiders in the bathtub. I am not sure why, exactly, but she will protest taking a bath because “there spiders in bath tub!” even if we’re still downstairs and she can’t see the bathtub.

A side effect of this is that any particulate matter that ends up in the water must be purged. Given that removing exactly that kind of thing from Alice is one of the major reasons to give her a bath, this can make for some rather tedious scooping and soothing.

I had an especially fun time of it last night, because I was wearing one of my silk sweaters which, while quite nice to wear, sheds quite a bit. Of course, the shed bits would fall right in the bathtub because I was leaning over it, trying to scoop out the previously shed bits. It took me a couple of iterations before realizing this because the bits were so tiny that I needed help from Alice to spot them.

The solution, I think, is to use much larger doses of Tub Tints so she can’t see the little specks.

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Thursday 12 October 2006

Late Week Soccer Report

Charles waits to start the second half

It was a blustery day for soccer, a bit over 40°F with 10-20 MPH winds. I seem to have dressed Charles warm enough, as he didn’t complain about being cold.

The game was good. Charles had a couple of good plays where he looked like an actual soccer player. It was a tie with a final score of 0-0, mainly due to better than average defensive play (e.g., goalies who kicked the ball away or picked it up). Charles made a few runs at the goal but was stopped by massed defensive players (this was the most common fate of all of the runs, both sides had actual defense).

It looked like Charles was having a fun time. We got barely in time so he wasn’t tired out from the warmup and we had no complaints of tired legs or too much running afterwards.

Because this was a Thursday, Corwin finally was able to watch one of Charles’ games. He wasn’t overly impressed with the qaulity of play, claiming that “I could beat one of those teams all by myself”. I merely noted that this was the way Corwin played when he was in kindergarten as well, but I don’t think he believed me.

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I have got to watch what I say

Corwin was off doing his homework, leaving his Homeworld2 game running. Naturally, Charles wanted to look at the ships but Alice wanted to fiddle with the keyboard and mouse, preventing Charles from observing. I told Alice to stop doing that, but she just laughed and did it some more. She said, “that funny!”. I replied “It’s funny until Charles starts crying” and Alice managed to achieve that within seconds. Such a clever girl.

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That looks like trouble

Alice makes a friend at Charles’ soccer game

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Reserve list

Despite Dad’s advice about blisters, Corwin managed to pop a big one he had on his heel at soccer practice yesterday evening. I didn’t even notice because I was talking to the one other parent who was out in the “cold”1 and Corwin’s approach to acquiring first aid was to sit on the ground, moaning, and saying “Can’t someone get me a bandaid?” Eventually I noticed and ended up having to carry him off the field to the car for medevac.

I managed to get him home without (much) further injury. Mom made me clean it up with hydrogen peroxide. Corwin asked, before I started, “can I scream extra loud?”. What made the experience extra fun was that something went wrong for Alice just then and she started screaming. Charles had been uncooperative and loud earlier in the evening so I suggested that with just a bit of prodding, we could have all three in full voice simultaneously. Mom, oddly, wasn’t willing to sieze the experience.

We’ll see if Corwin is healed enough to play the last game, this Saturday.

1 All of these people live here, where it gets cold enough that yesterday was only “brisk”. Show some spunk, people! The coach, of course, was wearing shorts. One of the players was too but that wasn’t very pleasant when she took a hard shot of the ball to her naked and cold thighs. Youch.

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Wednesday 11 October 2006

Old fashioned fun

Mom invited Matt and Claire over on Monday to hang out with Charles. Mom then decided it would be fun for all if she treated the three of them like migrant farm workers and set them harvesting potatoes

Claire was the only one who actually found a potato

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The important issues

Driving home last night from Cub Scouts, Corwin pestered me with questions on two different subjects, jumping back and forth so quickly that I frequently wasn’t sure which one was current. These were

  • How to take care of a blister on your foot.
  • What it looked like before the Universe was created.

At one point I thought he was worried about the vacuum metastability disaster, in which a physics experiment could concievably erase the entire physical universe, but the question “what if it pops?” was actually a subject change back to the blister topic. So I managed to put off the discussion that every parent dreads (about the stability of the current space-time continuum) for a little while longer.

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Tuesday 10 October 2006

Beach babe

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If the price is right

I got a call last night and while I was trying to talk, Charles pestered me about “who is calling? who is on the phone?”. It was about buying some tickets for a Boy Scout chili supper and Charles picked up on that.

Dad: It was Jesse’s Mom who was looking to buy some Charles boys. I tolder her we might have one. How much do you think you should cost?

Charles: $28. [pause] No, I should be a lot of money — $99! Less if they have lots of Legos™. $80 if they have enough Legos™. Otherwise they need to buy a lot of Legos™ so it’s $99.

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Monday 09 October 2006

Midweek Soccer Report

Charles drives downfield

Charles had a good game this evening, with his team winning 4-3.

We got there a bit early so Charles tired himself out warming up before the game. It ended for Charles with someone side-swiping him and Dad carrying him off the field. I noticed then that he was quite hot and sweaty, which is not a normal state for Charles. After a bit of rest and some water, he was ready to go.

Charles played well, making several drives down field on purpose (as far as I could tell). He was following the ball better, although he was still a bit inactive as goalie (luckily, he only had to defend once and managed to kick the ball out of the scrum in front of the goal). Charles even scored a goal, although the light was so bad by then that I don’t have a picture of it.

Charles’ team grabbed a 3-0 lead early on. The other team managed to tie the game in the second half. Near the end of the game Charles scored the fourth goal, sealing the victory.

It was not an unalloyed victory, however, as there was a bit of a mixup with the snacks (Charles’ team stampeded over to the other team’s snack dispenser and Charles resented having to walk over to the correct one). Charles also said that he didn’t have fun because there was too much running (in a soccer game! imagine that!) and his legs got tired. My suggestion was more exercise, which didn’t improve his mood. Hopefully he will have forgotten this by the next game.

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Up a tree without a paddle

Charles was showing off his new tree climbing skill last weekend

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Sunday 08 October 2006

Attention to detail

Alice worked on this on and off for several days

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Mark of the Beat

As part of his new violin training, Charles has been working with rhythms. As part of that, Charles wrote down some of his rhythms so he could remember them better. He made sure to show me this and read it out so I understood it.

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Saturday 07 October 2006

Weekend Soccer Report

Corwin finally gets a work out

Today’s game was a major blow out, 11-0. It was actually embarrassing. The other team seemed to have a lot of payers that hadn’t played much before. For example, the coach would have to yell at the goalie “pick it up! you can use your hands!”. There were only two extra players and when the other side lost a player at half time, we loaned them one leaving only one player on both sides not in the game. For the last quarter Nick, who had been dominating the game, was sent over to the other side to even it a bit more. They still didn’t score, but they did finally manage some actual attacks on the goal. Corwin scored his ony goal of the season, Jake scored twice, and Hiley scored his first goal ever. Andrew scored at least once from outside the goalie box.

I think the other coach thought Corwin’s team was running up the score, but it was hard to not do so. Our coach eventually forbade the defenders from crossing the midfield line at all. Given the state of play, I can’t believe that he hadn’t had this problem before, but may it wasn’t neary as bad. The only team was tough was the one defeat and that was a close game. It may be that this team hasn’t or won’t play the one other good team. Or the other teams had a deeper bench to adjust the on field skill level. On the other hand, I heard one of the parents say to the other “only one more game, right? then we’re done?”

The coach made Corwin place offense, which tired him out so much that he asked to be taken out. We need to make that boy run more.

Season Summary

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Not exactly the mutant power I was hoping for when I spiked Mom's beer

We’re hanging outside, testing Poly’s new long leash. Alice and Charles are digging in one of Mom’s abandoned raised beds. Charles somehow found a potato under the dirt. I had to come look at it because Charles didn’t recognize it in the wild. He kept on digging and found a second, very small, potato a bit later.

Charles: Let’s dig for potatoes!

Alice: OK!

Charles: [to Alice] There no potatoes there!

Dad: Charles, how do you know that?

Charles: I do!

Dad: Because you have a magic potato sense?

Charles: Yes!

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Friday 06 October 2006

Boy swarm

Corwin has the gang of four (Jack, Keith, Josh) plus Josh’s brother Jake over for the afternoon because school let out early. I tried to get some pictures but Corwin has convinced them all to flee in terror at the sight of my camera.

Jack attempts to crawl away after being hit by camera fire

Once the boys spotted the candy, we had to flee the kitchen

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Yep, definitely the over achiever

Alice achieves a slack-jawed computer addiction as good as any of her brothers

Alice is now able to play on Noggin almost entirely by herself. She can do the “cick on object, drag, click to drop” operation which is what most of the Noggin games use (because full drag and drop is too difficult for the target demographic). Occasionally she needs help because she hasn’t figured out how to reset the mouse position by picking up the mouse and moving it back to to the middle of the table.

Video —

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No toy is safe for Alice

Alice managed to give herself a bloody lip last night, playing with a cardboard box. She and Charles had, for some reason, set it up on top of a short table, presumably because having it on the floor was too safe. I had already had to stop them from putting it on top of two small chairs pushed together. It didn’t take long for Alice to fall off in such a way as to cause a head injury. She is now sporting visible marks from four separate wounds on her head, which may well be a family record. Clearly an over-achiever, our little girl is.

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Thursday 05 October 2006

Another violin boy

Charles had his first violin lesson this Tuesday. He and Corwin are seeing the same teacher. The teacher had to tell Corwin to be quiet during Charles’ lesson because Corwin was offering advice and comments.

We rented a 1/10 size violin which is really teeny, tiny. Right now we are concentrating on clapping rhythms, so I don’t think the violin will see much action for a couple weeks yet. Just when I thought I had escaped “Twinkle” it is back!

On a related note, Corwin’s teacher took off the last of his fingering tapes. So now he is really just going for the fingering by sound and muscle memory. Unfortunately, I think I was using the tapes more than he was. My ear is not so sensitive, so I could look at Corwin’s fingers compared to the tape and tell if he was cheating on that low C or not.

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Gratuitous Picture of the Day

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Wednesday 04 October 2006


We bought a color laser printer earlier this week. It’s for the business and we needed one because a certain tree-hating Mom was printing enough stuff to get her exercise from hauling it up the stairs. Charles, proving his paternity once again, was very excited about us getting a new printer. He demanded to see it and made Mom print a few things on it for him so he could see it in operation.

Later, the kids played with the shipping box (which I had set aside for them). At one point Alice was in the box and Charles nearby.

Alice: Charles! Play with me in the box!

Dad: [grabs Charles] No. This is my Charles toy.

Alice: No that my Charles toy! I want to play with him!

Dad: I should put the Charles toy in the box with you?

Alice: Yes.

Later the box was destroyed because Alice wanted it to be a train and Charles wanted it to have guns like his spaceships. Charles had flown it around as a space ship until it crash landed and they both fell out. Then Alice hopped in “front”, said “I drive now!”, and turned the box in to a train. Charles manned the guns in back, but Alice doesn’t allow weapons to be mounted on her trains, leading to a destructive civil war inside the train. Afterwards, they reconciled and engaged in a joint project to colonize the basement.

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She knows what boys like

While fufilling my Alice mandated role as sofa cushion, I was also participating in the global electronic community. One website had an advertisement in the margin with this picture in it. Alice noticed it and we made crushing sounds in time to the animation for a bit — “that funny!” was Alice’s comment. She then started asking whose foot it was. She immediately decided it was a boys foot, because boys did things like step on houses to crush them. After a bit more thought, she pondered whether it was Charles’ foot but I think I managed to convince her it wasn’t any boy we knew.

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Tuesday 03 October 2006

Life is so hard

Charles’ kindergarten teacher called me today to relate an incident in the school library. The class went there to turn in old books and check out new ones. Mom had carefully packed Charles’ old book in his backpack, but when it came time to turn it in Charles couldn’t find it. The librarian, having a long line of other children, told Charles she would help him with finding it in a few minutes. Charles reacted by completely melting down in frustration.

Charles was eventually rescued by his teacher and the finding of his book. Then it turned out that his new book had some kind of mark on it and Charles became extremely concerned about it because he didn’t want to be blamed for making it. His teacher eventually persuaded him The Powers That Be would make a note of it and not blame him. He was a bit sullen for the remainder of the day (which wasn’t very long) but did participate a bit.

The teacher just wanted to let me know1. She did ask if Charles had ever exhibited this behavior at home. Hahaha. I did note that Charles was doinga bit better because of his Lego™ building. He used to completely lose it when something went wrong (e.g., dropping the construct on the floor). Now he still breaks down but usually manages to get himself back at work before too long.

The teacher was also concerned that Charles would have permanent negative feelings about the library, but that’s something I haven’t really seen much of from him. If provided with external assistance, Charles can recover very quickly and doesn’t seem to hold grudges. Hopefully he is starting to learn to do that internally.

fn. I had already asked Charles about his day and received, as usual, no information at all. After that I offered Corwin the choice of being held down so Poly could lick his face, or telling me something about his day. He preferred to be licked.

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Enjoying the last warm days

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Monday 02 October 2006

Upholding family tradition

The big excitement over the weekend was Alice wounding herself again (a month or so ago she ripped up her upper lip falling down at daycare — you can see some of the aftermath here).

We had returned from the soccer game and were hanging out while Mom was off building her social networks. I (in hindsight, foolishly) decided to use the bathroom. Just as I was getting started, I heard Alice start crying. The kids had been messing about all morning with frequent episodes of crying over nothing and Alice didn’t have the standard distress pitch, so I took the extra 10 seconds to finish.

I came out to find Alice covered in blood, sitting on the floor. She had cut herself just under her right eyebrow. Both Charles and Alice later claimed it was from falling against the chair, although Alice may have come to believe that from listening to Charles, who was eager to avoid any blame.

I could at first barely tell what was wrong, so much blood was flowing. I got Alice up on a wooden chair then got some wet clothes and bandages. I ended having to squeeze Alice’s head for two or three minutes to get the bleeding to stop. Alice was upset but, as noted, not completely terrified. She was basically calm once I was working on her, although she did complain that my pressure was hurting her (her head being a bit sore). My explanation about stopping the bleeding seems to have a made an impression because she asked about it several times later on during the day.

Once she was only bleeding a little bit I cleaned up around the wound and put a bandaid on to cover and compress the wound. I was afraid to take off her bloody shirt or even move her around. After a few minutes of sitting, I moved her over to the couch to rest more comfortably. Over the next hour I changed the bandage a couple of times and got her shirt off and cleaned most of the mess off her. Mom got home about then and gave Alice a bath to finish washing her off.

The biggest problem for the rest of the day was convincing Alice to not bounce around and jump off things as she normally does. Mentally, she was fully recovered about two hours after the initial injury. The wound had set up cleanly by the next morning, so I took off the bandage and let it air. Her eye was somewhat puffy but otherwise she showed no after effects. The only thing I notice is that when we looked at pictures in the evening, she didn’t want the picture of her sitting in the chair waiting to stabilize enough to move to the couch to be on the screen at all, even in the big list of pictures while we were looking at another picture. Otherwise, unless you noticed the small cut next to her eye you’d have no idea anything at all had happened.

I expect more of this, as head trauma is something of a family tradition. Fortunately, fast recovery is standard as well.

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Sunday 01 October 2006

It's the internet age


This way, if he complains that I didn’t wish him a happy birthday, I can trans-reverse the guilt with “why aren’t you reading my kidlog?”. Bwahahahahaha!

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Sticky business

Alice, Charles, Poly, and me were playing outside when Charles decided he need to get some sticks. Immediatley Alice wanted a stick too, but Charles gave her a “bad” stick. Alice was sad so Dad suggested that she look around on the ground and pick one of the no longer so copious sticks. Alice didn’t quite grasp the concept so Dad looked around and found a good stick for Alice. This immediately made Charles unhappy with his stick. I then looked around for stick upgrades for Charles. The first was “too brown” and the second was “too sticky” (i.e., had too many little sticks sticking out of the stick). Eventually, though, I found a suitable new and improved stick for Charles. Which Alice immediately wanted. Poly, of course, wanted to chew on all of the sticks.

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Not for re-sale

[Charles is building, Dad is annoying]

Dad: Here, I have added a special device to this ship that emits anti-Charles rays.

Charles: My ships will shoot it!

Dad: No, they like it and me so much that they will shoot at you instead.

Charles: They can’t, the guns are facing the wrong way!

Dad: What if they shoot homing missiles, that go out then circle around at you?

Charles: Ships can’t shoot missiles like that!

Dad: Not even Charles-seeking smoochie missiles?

Charles: Those are no good. They just like teddy-bears.

Dad: Hmmm. I will go get some from Mommy and find out.

Charles: They not being sold!

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