Thursday 30 November 2006

Blending in

Sometimes a Corwin is hard to find, due to its camoflauging coloration

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Wednesday 29 November 2006

Vitally important news

Charles got new shoes last week. It had been so long that his new shoes were 1½ sizes bigger than his previous ones. They are velcro closures, but Charles still has difficulty figuring out which shoe goes on which foot so he’s not yet fully autonomous in the footwear area.

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Thematic review

Some recent examples of Charles’ art.

I like the top picture because of the detail, such as all the orange dots on the two airplanes (Charles says those are windows). He has a loading ramp and a guy putting cargo on the cargo plane (note that it doesn’t have windows). That is apparently a very brave cargo loader, working as he is while bombs are falling all over the place.

The bottom picture is a more standard space battle scene. It’s interesting because it is one of the earliest pieces where Charles has shifted from numbering things “99” to using “88”. I have no idea why.

You can also see, bleeding through, an equally detailed picture on the other side of the paper. Sometimes, when Charles is in full artistic flow, he can’t wait for Dad to get him a new sheet of paper so he flips over what he has and draws on the back.

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Catalog of Sorrows, Part II

Charles has been upset by the Lego™ catalog because he naturally wants kits that are far too complex for him. His current unobtainable favorite is the large scale Star Destroyer which is rated as “16+”, meaning only children 16 or older can be expected to be able to build it. The kits which he had previously been waiting for are now passé and of little interest. I blame Corwin for making Charles in to a fan of Star Wars.

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Tuesday 28 November 2006


Corwin’s Lego™ Sense is so acute, he no longer has any need to look at the pieces to select the correct one

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Alice, Super Princess Report

  • Although Alice almost always “accidentally” drops food on the floor while she is eating, that never happens if she’s eating some form of chocolate.
  • Alice sometimes refers to herself as “Alice-y”, or adds a “-y” to other names (“Charles-y”). I suspect it’s because they call her “Alice C.” at daycare, to distinguish her from “Alice G.” who is in the same room.
  • Alice can name the main Thomas engine characters by sight.
  • When I was showing Alice pictures from the trip, she saw one with Ella in Alice’s stroller. Alice just looked at it and said “Oh…my…”.
  • While I think Alice enjoyed the museum, she did have three meltdowns there. Once in the frog room, once in a snack room, and once on the way back. She now actively runs away while screaming and crying, which is a big help in crowded public spaces. In the last meltdown, she was so upset she started crabwalking to express her distress.
  • At one point, Alice was drawing and asked about it. She said she was drawing a mother ship. Someone asked “are there baby ships?” to which Alice replied “yes” and then pointed out the little baby ships she had drawn inside the mother ship.
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Monday 27 November 2006

Cornucopian Weekend

We went to two Thanksgiving dinners this weekend.

The first dinner was at Aunt Debbie’s house. We left Thursday morning less than an hour behind schedule, which is better than average. The trip was uneventful. Anticipating what children would need after a three hour car trip, Aunt Debbie had a big bag of Legos™ ready. Corwin and Charles were so happy that they didn’t fight over them for almost half an hour. Even Alice played with them.

Alice and Corwin also liked Libby, Aunt Debbie’s miniature dog. Libby liked Corwin, but feared (with justification) the questing Alice, who called out “Libby! Doggie!” while stalking the poor dog.

We visited the local park with Cousin Dana in place of Charles, who preferred to stay behind and play with the Legos. The park was fun and on the way back, Dana was able to pass of Alice as her own child to a friend of hers we met.

We left mid-morning for our other weekend event, at a house in downtown Chicago owned by two of Mom’s friends from college, Mark and Justin. Sara was there with her Matt attachment and Ella. Sarah was there with her children Bear and Wolf. Corwin and Charles enjoyed playing with Bear and Wolf, while Alice was not initially interested in Ella.

The boys played in a tiny next door park for part of the time. The other part they read or played with some plastic army men that Sarah brought along. The army men were also a bone of contention, both for access and for interference. Corwin and Charles both spent a lot of time arranging the men in precise formations, which were inevitably destroyed by the interaction of other people, usually children. Their habit of setting up the formations in the middle of rooms, doorways, and hallways may have contributed. Both of them were reduced to tears at least once from accidental or deliberate disruption of their carefully constructed tableaus.

In the evening, all of the children also enjoyed some of my glowing trinkets before going to bed. By this time Alice and Ella were friends and they had much fun holding hands and taking running jumps on to the couch. They enjoyed hanging out together the next day as well.

In the morning Mom took some of the kids out to look at the local commuter train station, although because the train was late they didn’t actually see it (on the other hand, the house is right by the tracks so trains go by, in sight, on a regular basis — but apparently that’s not as cool as seeing the train in the station).

We then took all of the children over to the Museum of Science and Industry, which is an easy walk from the house. The kids had fun there, even though Charles had wanted to ride the commuter train instead. We looked at various exhibits until it was time for a movie about underwater volcanoes. I thought it was interesting, although neither Alice nor Ella lasted five minutes before conking out (even though it was Ella’s very first movie in a theater).

One exhibit the boys liked was the agricultural exhibit. Corwin and Charles liked the combine, with its simulated movie of harvesting crops (even though they had ridden in a real combine harvesting real crops a month ago). There was a simulated soy bean field which Alice thought was intensely fun. She spent our entire time there running around in circles and bouncing on the floor (which was some sort of rubber matting colored to look like a farm field). Corwin and Bear also spent time at some computer game, presumably agriculturally themed although my duties did not permit me to inspect it for content.

After the museum, we walked back to the house and hurriedly departed. We managed to get back in town just barely in time to pick up Polynomial from her vacation resort before it closed for the evening. We left in such a hurry that we failed to separate out Charles’ airplanes from the army men, and so they were left behind. Charles was very distraught for a while, but he had forgotten them by time for bed. Personally, I figured if we got all three kids and the dog back, we were doing OK.

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Sunday 26 November 2006

Blade Frenzy

For Charles, cutting paper is a full body experience

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Saturday 25 November 2006

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

Alice is stressed out from the presence of toys which are not being purchased for her enjoyment

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Friday 24 November 2006

Time horizon evolution

The other day I managed to drive both Alice and Charles to tears by my misuse of the new computers.

We were all in the basement where I was trying to help Corwin with a new game on his computer. Alice was using Charles’ new computer and hit a place on her website that required a plugin download. I had to fiddle around with some things to make this work. After wasting almost three entire seconds of Alice’s life when she wasn’t playing some Dora game, she collapsed in a pile of tears and then ran off for some comfort from Mom.

After Alice cleared out and I had Corwin mostly running, I fired up a game of HomeWorld because I like it and Charles likes to see it. After a bit Corwin needed some help so I stopped playing and helped him out. Charles lasted about 30 seconds (ten times as long as Alice!) before he broke down because, in his words, “You not playing HomeWorld for a long time!”. I tried to explain that I was just helping Corwin for a bit but Charles couldn’t handle my neglect and also ran off for some Mommy comfort. I was tempted to smack Corwin in the head with a blunt object to get a hat trick, but I was too busy with my resumed HomeWorld game.

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Thursday 23 November 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

That for which we are thankful —

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Wednesday 22 November 2006

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

Corwin works diligently on the school Christmas tree puzzle

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How do they survive in the wild?

It seems that I am just not a “dog person”. I do not understand them at all.

For instance, when Alice voids her bowels on the floor, I have to literally physically restrain Polynomial from treating it the way the kids would treat the effluvia from a piñata getting smashed. Yet this afternoon, when Mom spilled a big pile of dog food all over the floor, Poly had no interest in it. Perhaps it’s not that dogs have no taste buds, but they are such gourmands that they constantly need new and different taste sensations (not necessarily good ones, just different).

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Properly Titled

[Dad is servicing an Alice request]

Dad: Is this OK for my Alice-girlie?

Alice: I not a “girlie”.

Dad: Are you an Alice-boy?

Alice: No. I not a “boy”.

Dad: What about an Alice-monkey?

Alice: No.

Dad: What are you then?

Alice: I Alice, Super Princess!

Dad: Ahhh. That’s right, I had forgotten.

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The joy of giving during the holiday season

Mom and I had recently had a conference with Charles’ teacher (the school has quarterly reviews with parents). One of the things mentioned was that the class had the same problem with Charles’ Lego™ constructs as we do, which is that no one is willing to break up an existing construct to provide pieces for a new one.

Naturally, it seemed to me that the solution was more Legos™!. I obtained a couple of 800 piece boxes (an excellent value and perfectly suited as a birthday / Christmas present for Charles). After verifying with the teacher that she could tolerate more Legos, I sent the boxes in with Charles and Corwin this morning. Here is Charles’ reaction —

Charles: What are those for?

Dad: Those are for your class.

Charles: Why don’t we get one?

Dad: You already got a box just like that.

Charles: Why can’t we keep one? Two for us and one for the class?

Dad: Because you already have plenty of Legos and your teacher told me you were fighting over the Legos. Maybe you can get some more for your birthday or Christmas. [← HINT TO READERS]

Charles: [holds back the tears]

Charles’ Fleet, or How Could the Boy Need More Legos?

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Tuesday 21 November 2006

‘C’ Company

General Alice surveys her troops in their camoflauge

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I'll give you something to cry about

Charles was cutting up paper the other day. He had worked out on his own that he could make interesting cuts in the paper if he folded it over (for instance, big squares from the middle of the paper). To comemorate this intellectual breakthrough, I tried to take some pictures of him. He began to get wild and eventually stabbed himself in the hand with the scissors. After the initial shock he quickly hid his hand so I couldn’t see it. Eventually I was able to pry it open and examine the damage, which didn’t look too bad (just a little bleeding). Charles had not yet even yelped in pain at this point. But, as punishment for behaving in an unsafe manner, I took the scissors away. Then, I got some seriously distraught crying out of him.

P.S. I checked his hand the next morning and could barely tell where he had nicked himself, so he has a good chance of making a full recovery.

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Monday 20 November 2006

To take arms against a sea of troubles

My current effort in psychological manipulation of Charles is working on his habit of hurling accusations and complaints as his initial gambit. He will frequently just announce, out of the blue, “why isn’t anyone helping me?” or “you never help me! you don’t want me to do it!”. My goal is a simple one — convince Charles to try asking for help as a first step. I have been refusing to help him as long as he complains, while explaining “No one is helping you because you didn’t ask anyone”. I deliberately make no move to help him with his problem. Once he explicitly requests help, I then I go and help him.

I can already see some progress being made. At first, Charles would break down and cry, frustrated, rather than request help. After discovering the lack of success from that tactic, he would grudgingly request aid. Just recently, however, Charles has dropped the grudgingness and after his initial complaint, I need merely look at him to prompt him to ask for help. Hopefully he will soon achieve my project goals and lead off with a help request.

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If I can't see it, it doesn't exist

There is no camera … there is no camera

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Very "handy" — get it?

I was washing Alice in the bath the other day and as I worked on her arms, I asked “Alice, why do you have arms?”. “To keep my hands out here. I need my hands to stay with me.” she replied.

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Sunday 19 November 2006

I'm dreaming of a white Thanksgiving

Alice watches the first snow fall of the season

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It's after Halloween, so it's Christmas time!

On Saturday Mom rousted us early (well, by 10, but that’s gosh darn early on a Saturday, by gum!) and we headed out to see the local Christmas tree show. We missed it last year because they tore down the hotel it had been in and Mom couldn’t find the new location. This year the new hotel was done and the show was moved back there.

The children tolerated the show. Corwin enjoyed a puzzle they had with a bunch of Christmas trees where there there was a star ornament on each tree with a letter on it. The kids had to find the letters and use them to assemble a message. Each tree had been made by a local elementary school, so Charles and Corwin were at least a little bit happy to point out the one from their school.

Corwin also liked the tree with the vintage Galaga video game. He kept sneaking off to see if it was empty so he could have a turn.

Alice liked the main tree area because it had a number of trees in themes she liked, such as

  • The cookie baking tree
  • The Thomas the Tank Engine tree (with train table)
  • The Dora and Diegeo tree.

Charles mostly just clutched at Mom. Don’t tell her, but it was kind of funny to see her with Charles plastered to one leg and Alice to the other, trying to go somewhere. It looked like good exercise.

P.S. A Christmas tree show before Thanksgiving? We should move that holiday over to spring, which has a dearth of them (say, late March or so).

P.P.S. There was a clever scheme where some of the trees were won by lottery. Viewers bought lottery tickets and then deposited them at the desired tree so that it served as a voting system as well. We ended up winning the school tree (I suspect there were very few votes for it). Charles broke down in tears because we didn’t win the Star Wars tree, which both he and Corwin voted for.

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A tower up to the sky

Alice and Charles convinced me to build another tower for them. This time I managed to make it taller than me, not just taller than Corwin.

After I got my picture, I told Alice she could knock it over (which was her plan from the start). She hit it a couple of times, even knocking out a few planks, but it remained upright.

I couldn’t believe it. My little Destructo Baby failing to destroy! Laptops, no problem. But the tower resisted her initial efforts.

I suspect that Alice would have eventually found a way to unleash the destructive forces with in her, but Charles couldn’t wait. He executed a running slide in to the base of the tower, which proved too much for it.

This morning, Alice tried to convince me to build another tower, “up to the ceiling!”. I asked her why and she said explicitly “so I can knock it over!”. I tried building one but Alice kept knocking it over before I made much progress until I gave up. As far as I can tell, she didn’t intend to knock it over, but her destructive energy was at full flood instead of an ebb. Meanwhile, of course, she would ask every couple of minutes “why it not up the ceiling yet?”.

I did get to hear Alice extemporize in song, with verses like

Daddy build a big high tower

Up to the sky

Alice knock it over

Alice knock it down


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Saturday 18 November 2006

A bit too strong with the message

[The family arrives at a local restuarant for lunch]

Alice: Daddy, pick me up!

Dad: Why?

Alice: Cars going by and they squish me.

Dad: That would be bad?

Alice: Yes. Cars going by and squish me and that hurt me.

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Finally he is old enough to be useful

Alice finds a comfortable seat from which to make a quick call to Mom

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Friday 17 November 2006

Travel and the end of the great violin hunt

The boys and I spent yesterday in Chicago. The main goal of our expedition was to return two violins we had borrowed for evaluation from a violin store there. We really liked one of them, but the cost point didn’t match with my expectations of Corwin’s maturity level. We ended up going with the violin from Iowa City which was much less expensive but still much nicer than the rental he has been playing.

Of course for the boys, the main purpose of the day was not going to school and riding a lot of trains. We rode on the City of New Orleans up. As you can tell from the name, this is a long distance train, so it has the double decker cars, dining cars, and oberservation car. We rode in the glass roofed obeservation car. Corwin slept, but Charles just stared even though the view wasn’t very interesting (grey, overcast, flat).

I had mapped out our course on the elevated train once we got into Chicago. We rode around the loop and headed to Wrigleville. Unfortuately, I had not called ahead, so we had to hang out and eat bagles until someone appeared at the violin shop.

Once freed of the violins, we headed to the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Ave via El-train and subway to go to the only store of interest. That’s right, the Lego Store! The boys pored over all the kits and built some things out of the legos and gazed longingly at the giant Darth Vader, T Rex, and John Hancock center built out of legos. After buying each boy a kit, we were able to escape and take a taxi to the Adler planetarium.

At the planetarium, Corwin played with programming the Mars rover replica. There were a pair of volunteers with their really nice telescopes. Unfortunately, the day was still just as grey and overcast, so there wasn’t much to see. They were focusing on waves crashing on the shore, big cranes, and the top of the Sear’s tower. Cool, but perhaps not astronomical. We finished with a show about space and time, and then took another taxi back to the train station.

We took the Illini train back home. This was a more modest train, since it is only a short run train. No double decker observation car. Just single level and every seat filled. Nothing much to see on the way back because night comes early these days. Charles, who had spent most of the day very quiet, turned into the major wiggle-boy on the way back. Corwin was on the edge of his seat until they announced that the snack car was open. We feasted on microwave pizza and skittles. Finally we made it back home. Both boys fell asleep in the car in the 15 minutes it took to drive from the station to the house.

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Thursday 16 November 2006

The flowering of Lego skills

Alice made her first Lego™ construction this evening. She put a leafy looking piece on top of a translucent red whip attenna and called it a flower. Unfortunately, she insisted on playing with it and the pieces are now lost so no picture. Alice designed and assembled it entirely on her own. WIth some help and guidance, I think she can eventually master three unit constructions.

Now with a picture of Alice’s very first ever of all time Lego™ construction! When you are ready for this kind of excitement, see what’s under there!

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Coping with his excessive work load

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Charles and snarles

We are continuing our struggle with Charles. I have had several interesting interactions with him over the last few days.

Charles still has issues with not sharing with his siblings, particularly Alice. I expected that Charles would continue to think that what Corwin was playing with was the cool stuff, but Charles has a very strong tendency to want to play with whatever Alice is playing with. The other night Alice asked to play with Sharky. I said OK, at which point Charles instantly spoke up that he wanted to play with Sharky. When I pointed out that Alice had asked first, Charles instantly claimed that he was going to ask for Sharky except Alice was just a little faster in asking. This devolved in to the “you hate me, you just want me to not have Sharky” discussion because I wouldn’t take Sharky away from Alice. Charles then confirmed that he liked me only when I was doing what he wanted (such as providing new markers for him to draw with). Finally, Charles hit on the scheme of finding something of Alice’s to play with, picking the stuffed tow truck. Alice’s response was to just say “OK, Charles”. After a minute or two, Alice relented and traded Sharky for the truck.

The next fun with Charles was when he was working on a Lego™ ship and lost a piece. He got upset at me about it and exclaimed “you lost my piece because you not want me to build Lego™ ships! That your plan!”. At least he has some respect for my plotting skills.

After a brief search, I pointed out the piece on the floor for him (I didn’t pick it up to avoid being accused of having had it the entire time, Charles not being quite clever enough to think that I put it back on the floor just before pointing it out). Charles picked it up and went to work on his ship but managed to lose the piece again before he could complete the construction. I managed to locate it it once again, although Charles was still in a grumbly mood even after fixing his ship.

However, just a minute later he went off to draw and was bouncy happy boy again, all plotting against him forgotten.

Just to be mean, though, I made him hang up his coat. This lead to complaints of not helping interleaved with “you bothering me!” when I did try to help. After much stress Charles got the coat on the hangar (which is a major challenge for him, since he absolutely refuses to hold the coat by the collar while putting it on the hangar). He then put it in the closet backwards, so the hangar hook was the wrong way. Rather than backtracking and rotating, he pushed in far enough that he could hang the coat from the backside.

The final vignette is about the new computers. Naturally, I had purchased two of the same so that the boyen had completely identical computers. However, I also ordered a nice LCD panel for company use. I hooked it up to Corwin’s computer temporarily while we get things re-arranged in the kid office. This upset Charles, which I discovered when he accused me of not getting him a new computer like Corwin’s. I was a bit confused (after further accusations of deliberately not paying attention) I figured out he meant he hadn’t gotten a new monitor. I tried to explain that Corwin just had it temporarily but Charles was unmollified. Then I remembered that last time we bought equipment, we got an 18” LCD instead of a 17” because of a special deal which made it just a few extra dollars. The 18” LCD had ended up on Charles’ computer, so I got out a measuring tape and took him down to the basement. I then demonstrated that not only did he have the biggest monitor but he had it for a long time. When this sunk in, Charles made his gleeful little laugh and lost any concern about the new monitor.

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Wednesday 15 November 2006

Finally, a reason to learn letters and numbers

Charles got a magnetic “Battleship” game the other day and he’s been making everyone play it with him. He learned how to play in just a few minutes, putting his knowledge of numbers and letters to use. The strategy is still a bit of a stretch for him. Corwin rapidly figured out that Charles likes to put all of his ships in a dense array on one edge of the board and ruthlessly takes advantage of that. When I play Charles, I just do a transform of his moves to make it a little more even. Alice just moves stuff around and declares hits, but Charles seems OK with that most of the time.

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Tuesday 14 November 2006

Charles' Marker Report

Foohy Retractable MarkersGood
Foohy Glitter MarkersExcellent
Crayola Erasable MarkersPoor — pencil style eraser, not vanishing ink style
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Maybe we'll try it again next year

Mom and I managed to have a night out on the town last Saturday. Anwen came over to watch the kids for us, which meant that Jack came over as well (so their parents got a free evening themselves). Alice was a little unsure of having Anwen in charge when we left them, but by the time we returned Alice was clutching Anwen’s leg for protection from us. Unfortunately, we managed to separate the two, allowing Anwen to go home without a new little sister. I think Charles had a good time as well. Corwin was still invited to Jack’s birthday party the next day so I suppose the two of them must have gotten along tolerably.

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Monday 13 November 2006

It's hard to say goodbye

I went out to do some flying on Sunday but it was a bad day for the club. We lost 5 rockets to premature deployment, one of them my Green Rage 4 (a PML 4” AMRAAM). I sent it up an H218R but I must have not assembled the motor correctly as it deployed almost instantly after burnout. It was a tough rocket but putting out a chute at 300MPH was a bit much for it. Two seconds after this picture was taken, most of the bottom half the rocket was debris floating down. I will rebuild, someday (I have a whole lot of kits partially constructed that I need to finish first).

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The artist at work

Charles uses long strips of paper from a roll so that he has a proper scope for his vision

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Ignoring is bliss

I saw these cute little computers on the Internet, so I had to pick up a couple for the boys, especially since Corwin’s computer was over four years old. I told him it was an early Christmas present and made him promise that I can made a video clip of him acknowledging this so I can play it back for him on Christmas when he whines about not getting enough loot.

We loaded up BattleFront II and I tried to get Corwin to compare it to playing on his old computer, but he was even more uncommunicative than normal. Perhaps his level of catatonia is a reasonable proxy for how much he likes the computer.

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A well with no bottom

As I was messing with Alice and Charles one evening, I decided to get out my “polisher”. That consists of my fist twisting back and forth. I use it to polish the kids so that they are bright and shiny. After polishing Alice, I asked her if I should polish Charles. Immediately she said “yes” so I told her to turn the key my wrist to fire up the polisher. She did so and I polished Charles. He then snatched the key away so that he wouldn’t be polished anymore. Alice grabbed it back and Charles went after it The end result is that I managed to get Alice and Charles to fight over the possession of an imaginary artifact. Alice eventually decided to imagine additional keys, which she “found” after Charles made off with the original key.

They were still fighting over the keys the next day,until I found Charles crying in the hallway. When I asked what was wrong, Charles made his standard complaint “Alice bothering me!” because no matter how many times he took away a key from Alice, she would always find another one. I managed to get Charles to stop crying, but he was still sullen about Alice having so many keys. Alice thought it was very funny because few things amuse her more than her brother being upset.

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Sunday 12 November 2006

Not in the money

Last Saturday Corwin had his chamber music contest. He was teamed up with two other violin payers as an ensemble. Corwin was convinced his group was going to win, although Mom and I pointed out that maybe other, older children who had been to multiple previous constests might have a bit of an edge.

Corwin played well, although his team didn’t finish in the money. I thought that was just an expression but Mom tells me that there were, in fact, cash prizes and that as she and Corwin waited for the results there was much discussion among the contestants about it. Some were convinced that if they left before the results were posted they would “miss out on the money”. It’s good to see children gaining such a clear understanding of the modern world of arts.

P.S. Mom’s comment later was “no more trio practice! yay!”

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Wild wild hair

Alice not only no longer likes having her hair brushed, but she actively resists. A good brushing now requires Dad to hold and comfort Alice while Mom viciously destroys the hair style Alice spent so much time creating. This morning Alice moved on to deliberately messing up her hair once Mom had given up in despair finished.

It’s all part of Mom’s repressive fashion regime. For example, this morning Alice had (in addition to her distinct hair styling) selected an outfit with a pinkish/lavender skirt and a bright orange top. Mom insisted that she change to something more “acceptable” to Mom’s oppressive sensibilities. Ah, the crushing of youthful spirit. How could anyone think that a girl who dresses like this or this needs to have her fashion choices overridden?

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Saturday 11 November 2006

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

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Friday 10 November 2006

Getting buy in from all the stake holders

[Driving home from daycare]

Alice: Where we going?

Dad: We’re going home.

Alice: Why?

Dad: So we can keep an eye on your brother Charles.

Alice: My brother Charles … is lonely and sad ‘cause we not there?

Dad: Oh, I don’t think so, but we should keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn’t misbehave.

Alice: Keep an eye on him?

Dad: Yes.

Alice: Awe-wight. Lets do that.

[A minute of silence]


Dad: He went home.

Aice: [normal tone of voice] OK.

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Faux-tographic memory

I am already starting to reap some benefits from this kidlog. When I discuss things he used to do with Corwin and he denies it, I have found myself saying “I have pictures”. The first few times Corwin demanded to see them, but now he just conceeds the point. Another year or two of this and I will be able to just make things up. Oh yeahhhh.

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Thursday 09 November 2006

Builder Boy and Fly Girl

A precious moment of Alice and Charles interacting without conflict

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Hard copy girl

Alice has figured out, on her own, how to print things from the computer. The boyen never figured that out — in fact, as far as I know, they still don’t know how to print. But our little Alice can use up massive amounts of toner ink unless monitored. Not that Alice has any interest in the print outs after they show up, but she likes to print them now and then.

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Wednesday 08 November 2006

Bruised by the 2x4 of Reality

We are going through a difficult phase with Charles. It’s like a teen age rebellion in miniature. His two most annoying habits are

  • Issuing counter-threats, such as “I won’t let you play with my airplane if you make me eat my peas”.
  • Claiming that anyone who doesn’t indulge his whims “hates” him, or that Charles now hates that person.

I am not sure where he picked up the “hate” thing from, as we don’t do that ourselves and I don’t remember seeing that on any thing we let him watch. We discourage that without making a big deal of it. As for the counter threats, I explain the overall ineffectiveness of the technique.

Charles is also engaging in tactical incompetence, although only with regard to hanging up his coat. Mom got so upset with him about that last night (when, having put his coat on the hanger, he tried to insert the hanger sideways and refused to rotate it1) that she sent him to bed.

I suspect part of the problem is that Charles has such a rich inner life that reality simply can’t measure up.

On the other hand, Charles was in a very good mood Sunday and Monday, laughing and playing with his sister. I built a Vaygr Destroyer for him out of Legos™ which helped maintain his upbeat mood for a day or so. Maybe we’ll keep for a while longer, to see if we can tweak him in to shape.

1 Mom wasn’t buying that level of poor 3-dimensional visualization from a boy who builds things like this.

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Tuesday 07 November 2006

The next generation

Alice and her baby

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Monday 06 November 2006

A taste of her own medicine

I had Polynomial out for a walk over the weekend and we encountered another dog taking his owner around the neighborhood. Of course. Poly was desperate to visit with that dog so I took her over. The other dog was almost exact the same size as Poly and about the same age, from what I could tell. He was agressively friendly as well, so much so that Poly was taken aback. Normally, Poly startles or annoys the other dog that way, so I found it amusing that even Poly had a limit to her tolerance of Sudden Dog Affection.

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Weekend at Grandma's

The kids and I invaded Grandma and Grandpa’s last weekend. We were continuing our tour of violin stores iof the midwest, and there is a recommended one in Iowa City. We arrived at Grandma’s Friday night, and took off in good time Saturday to check out the violin store. It was a nice store with a big workspace and a few listening rooms. The owner makes cellos, but he also fixes and sells other stringed instruments. The owner seems like a pretty laid back sort. While we were waiting to check out, a college student came in to buy some new strings. Since he wanted to get to the football game, the owner gave him the strings and told him to come back Tuesday to pay rather than wait to pay then.

The violins Corwin tried seemed nice, and we took one home for Corwin’s violin teacher to try in the great violin play-off this Tuesday.

After violin shopping, we went to the local mall. It is a relatively new mall, and it was built by the same company that recently remodeled our local mall. It is a good sign for a mall when one of the anchor stores is a Barnes and Nobles. There was a caurosel in the food court that Corwin, Alice, and I rode. Chares just stared morosely at us, but did not want to ride. After a nice lunch, I spied the Iowa Children’s Museum, where we spent the next several hours. The room Corwin liked best was the “Motion Room”. It had a pinewood derby racing set up, a “roller coaster” track along the other wall that you could put golf balls down, another loop-de-loop golf ball track, a couple other golf ball things, and a brio train table. We easily spent an hour there, and I ended up pulling them out to check out the rest of the place.

Most of the time that we were at Grandma’s house, Charles spent drawing. I brought along a roll of paper and a little art set that I bought at IKEA. Charles was either drawing motherships and destroyers, or he was explaining to anyone who would listen what he had drawn.

Alice was greatly mesmerized by Grandma’s set up magnetic coke bottles on the fridge. She would pull them off and “feed” them to Corwin or Charles, or just carry them around. All in all a good trip. Hopefully Grandma and Grandpa will have recovered by now.

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Sunday 05 November 2006

In the house

Everyone has returned to our lovely abode. Sadly, I was feeling tired and out of sorts today, which lead to the day passing by in sort of a haze, so I didn’t get to enjoy miss them all quite as much.

While they were gone, a package Mom had ordered arrived. It contained 800 Lego™ pieces. Needless to say, Charles was more than a bit thrilled to discover it on his return. Mom made him do some chores first (such as hanging up his coat) but he finished those and immediately started a new wave of massive construction.

Corwin came back with a LightBright from Grandma. I can’t believe it still works after all these years. He seems just as fascinated with the holes punched in the paper as the actual lighted image.

Alice got short changed, even though she was in the best mood when they got back.

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Saturday 04 November 2006

Family parties while Dad does community service

The best shot of the day — not a good picture day either

Mom took the spawn off to visit Grandma this weekend, and check out a violin store over in the next state (Mom’s collecting violins now, she had four before she left on the trip). Many adventures were had, which hopefully Mom will be writing up when she gets back.

I was left behind with Poly, although I went out today to the family farm to help with a student rocket launch. It was a cold, very windy day but we managed to get all of the student rockets in the air and find the pieces afterwards.

There was a lot of walking. The rockets were flying on J350s and hitting 5,000 to 6,000 feet in 15-20 MPH winds so there was some drifting. We launched from the south end of the field near the house and a couple of rockets landed a good distance north of the north edge of the field, across the road. Two of the rockets seperated at deployment so finding all the pieces was no easy task. It kept the students busy and less cold (I went out looking myself at the end, finding one of the lost payload sections and had to shed some layers afterwards).

The rockets carried digital cameras and I am trying to see if any of them got some good pictures and copies of those pictures.

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Friday 03 November 2006

Poly's Crib

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The end is drawing nigh

I am making progress with Charles and bathing. Last night I was giving him a bath and brought up the subject of when he would be old enough to wash himself. This time he told me he would when he was 8 years old. Not quite as young as I had hoped, but much better than college aged.

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Thursday 02 November 2006

Playing with racket and cuppie

Alice with her current two favorite toys, a badminton racket and a cup with a toothbrush

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And she makes the Moon shine

[Leaving Alice’s daycare, she looks up and saw the Moon]

Alice: The Moon!

Dad: Yes. What’s it doing out during daytime?

Alice: I don’t know.

Dad: [singing] Who let the Moon out? Who, who?

Alice: [singing too] Who let the Moon out? Who? Who? — MOMMY!

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Wednesday 01 November 2006

To lick or crunch? That is the question

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Dinner time math

At dinner the other night, Charles was exploring numbers once again.

Charles: What is a billion one hundred plus a billion one hundred?

Dad: Corwin, you handle this.

Corwin: [thinks] 2 billion one hundred?

Dad: No.

Alice: Yes way!

Charles: Alice, what is it then?

Alice: 16!

Dad: No, but good try Alice.

Corwin: 2 billion two hundred?

Dad: Yes.

Corwin: I was only 100 off, while Alice was way more off.

Dad: Careful, or you’ll be figuring out exactly how much Alice was off.

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