Wednesday 31 January 2007

Lap dance

Alice came in to my office the other day but was frustrated in her goals because POset had already claimed my lap. While Alice was noting this to me — “POset is on your lap” — Polynomial arrived, following Alice’s motion and also became interested in my lap. POset, however, was able to successful defend her perch from all comers for a while, until she became bored or hungry and left. Poly having wandered off by this time, Alice was finally able to claim her rightful place and help me with my typing. She also, considerate child that she is, helped with some memory drills to stave off my encroaching senility, asking me “what’s that?” about everything she could point at.

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Tuesday 30 January 2007

Ice work, if you can get it

Coat? I don’t need no stinking coat

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Sunday 28 January 2007

Wash hard

[Daddy is giving Charles a bath]

Alice: Can I get in the bath after Charles is done?

Dad: I don’t think so — you’ve already had a bath today.

Alice: Only two! I only have two baths today!

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Spin state

Mom tried to get Corwin to look nice for Sunday School / Church this morning but had to resort to using a sweater to cover up Corwin’s shirt. Being the kind of resolute soul who has the will to goes clothes shopping no matter how dire the situation, she set out in to the Internet WIlds to find want Corwin needed. Despite the desperate situation, Mom still found time to be polite and summoned Corwin to give pro forma approval before she ordered the clothes.

When Corwin was released and wandered down stairs, his mind entrance , I was waiting in ambush.

Dad: So, did you enjoy clothes shopping with Mom?

Corwin: Yeah.

[Corwin’s face registers a look of dawning realization of what he just said. He is conflicted between mindless agreement to escape the conversation and the Daddy’s trap.]

Corwin: Kind of … maybe … not really

[At this point, Corwin wanders close enough to the basement steps to give himself over to the siren call of his computer and its games, erasing the stress and even the memory of this painful incident]

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Fire dog

I thought animals were supposed to be afraid of fire, but Poly thinks the fireplace is fascinating when there’s a fire going. She will sniff at it, close enough that her nose is actually inside the fireplace while the logs are roaring. Hopefully she won’t try to chew on a burning log the way she does the ones in the log pile.

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Saturday 27 January 2007

For Grandma

Alice enjoys her new fold-out couch

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Stockholm Syndrome

[Mom and Alice have a disagreement over the current show on the TV]

Alice: Daddy! Daddy! Daaaaaaddddddyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

[Dad hustles from his lair to the media room. Alice sees him and rushes to his arms. Dad comforts Alice, mired in the despair of not watching Dora every waking moment.]

Alice: I want some milk.

Dad: OK. I will put you down on the couch and get you some milk.

[Dad puts Alice down and heads off to the kitchen]

Alice: I like Mommy better.

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Friday 26 January 2007

Under deep cover

Charles blends in to his surroundings like a true ninja master

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At least shes doesn't need emptying instructions printed on the heel

Back on Charles’ birthday, Alice also went outside to play with Charles and his friends. She wore her frog boots, which I hoped would keep her feet from getting too wet. However, when I saw her taking them off to pour out the water, I realized that I had hoped in vain. Despite it being about 40° out, Alice was OK as long as she didn’t literally have standing water in her boots.

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Thursday 25 January 2007

Dance of Remembrance

When I tried to take a picture of some Alice art, Alice insisted on dancing on it first.

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Wednesday 24 January 2007

Staving off boredom

Mom is once again struggling against massive tides from her oceans of tasks. Naturally, the thing to do is re-engineer the kitchen, since we already have a dog. She plans to

  • Replace the sink with a cast Corian unit with a split sink.
  • Put in a new inductive stove top
  • Put in a new oven
  • Replace the microwave with a new microwave that not only works better but doubles as normal oven.
  • Remove all of the mirror tiling and replace it with fancy irridescent recycled glass tiles.
  • Re-wire the electricals to make the locations more convenient, put in a GFCI near the sink, and replace the plug in light switches with real light switches.

Mom has already taken out the mirror tiling and has recently finished with the first section of the rewiring, the wall behind the sink. The original wiring wasn’t quite right, but Mom eventually overcame that handicap and now has lovely junction boxes for the outlets and lights on that wall. For the other wall, she is going to remove the outlets in the wall and put one big strip on the bottom of the cabinets. I can’t wait to see what she gets in to next spring.

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Winter water fun

It snowed a bit on the weekend. Corwin and Alice liked the snow, although I don’t think Charles went out much. Poly liked the snow, but she got cold more quickly than the kids.

Charles and Corwin did like the ice in the dead end. It rained quite a bit before the cold so there was a thick layer of ice there.

Corwin and his officially favorite snow activity

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Tuesday 23 January 2007

Those difficult questions

[A very worked up Charles runs in to my office]

Charles: Daddy! Daddy! How many anti-aircraft guns does a cruiser have?

Dad: [glad to have watched Monty Python] American or European?

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Should we look in to rehab?

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Monday 22 January 2007

Lost at school

Charles lost one of his bottom front teeth today. He lost it at school and showed it to his teacher, who then put it in a little baggie for us. I have been trying to get a picture of Charles’ teeth because his two new bottom teeth came in before the old ones fell out, giving him double front bottom teeth. Charles, however, has resisted any photographic record of this feat.

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Not completely non-interactive

Corwin hasn’t been doing so well lately with his multiplication tables. He knows the tables, just not well enough that they’re automatic. Since he just needed some drill, I thought I would write up a quick program to do that. But then I realized that it was impossible that no one else had ever done that and I should just find one that was already written. After a bit of net searching I found this one which seems quite nice. So those nights when Corwin said his homework was practicing his multiplication tables, I made him use that.

A day or two later, Corwin reported that his teacher was interested in the URL for this practice. Mom and I were thrilled. Corwin had spoken with his teacher and reported this back to us! I think that was the first time this year that Corwin had provided unambiguous evidence for such a thing. Unfortunately, we were so overwhelmed at this news (compared to this sort of thing) that we may have over reacted a bit and discouraged further such reporting.

UPDATE: Corwin’s report card came home today and he is now acing the multiplication table test, representing a nearly 50% improvement in speed. Given the actual amount of drill he did, I suspect that the motivation to avoiding future drilling had more effect than the drill itself.

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Sunday 21 January 2007

Sibling sell-out

We found one night at dinner that as part of Corwin’s school’s Martin Luther King celebration (which seems to take an entire week), Corwin was part of a presentation to the whole school. Not that Corwin told us this, even though we forced him to admit the gathering and presentation took place. It was Charles who ratted him out. Sadly, all Charles could remember of the presentation was that Corwin was in it, so I think the pedagogical purposes of it were not a complete success.

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Barrier to entry

Alice struggles to penetrate Mimi’s fiendish present wrapping technique

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CD rescuer

Alice can be a very considerate child. The other day I was cleaning up (yes, really) and I decided to dispose of various software CDs containing things I will never use again. Fearing that I might have been overzealous in my disposal, Alice picked all the CDs out of my trash and gave them back to me, saying “Here you go — I saved these for you”.

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Saturday 20 January 2007

Is it too early to talk about 2012?

Corwin was elected1 to Student Council a while back. He was excited about it, but not excited enough to remember to attend the first meeting. He did manage to get to the second one at least, although from his description I figure they just all sat silently in chairs for a while and then dispersed.

1 Or selected. Corwin was very unclear about any specifics, as usual.

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Traveling by foot

Alice has found a new fun way to use Daddy as an amusement park ride. There is already the Daddy Slide, the Daddy up and down, the Daddy Bounce House, the Daddy Free-Fall. Now Alice has invented the Daddy Thumper. This consists of Daddy standing while Alice sits on his foot, wrapping her arms and legs around Dad’s leg. Dad is then expected to walk around while making sound effects. It’s like yoga, the first few steps are nothing but it doesn’t take long before Dad’s feeling the strain. That happens even faster if Charles is on the other foot.

As usual, this was discovered while Dad was trying to discourage Alice. She had just taken a bath and was refusing to get dressed. She grabbed on to my leg to stop me from grabbing her and taking her to her room. “Aha!”, I thought, “I will walk over to her room even with her on my foot and this will frighten her in to cooperating!”. Hahaha, where do I get these crazy ideas? Naturally, Alice wasn’t a bit frightened, but thought riding precariously perched on a foot moving through the air was screamingly fun. Clearly my fault for even suggesting the thing to her.

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Personal art

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Friday 19 January 2007

Let the looting begin

The kids are unleashed on the Mimi shipment

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Thursday 18 January 2007

We had to destroy the Daddy to save him

[Alice makes a big jump on Daddy, landing on his leg and her knees]

Dad: OOOF!

Alice: [brightly] I not breaking you!

Dad: You’re not?

Alice: No. I just jumping on you!

Dad: Well, no problem then!

[After a number of additional jumps, Alice decides she needs to spin it a bit better]

Alice: Now I saving you.

Dad: You’re saving me?

Alice: Yes.

Dad: From whom are you saving me?

Alice: The mean Corwin. Corwin is very mean to you because I saving you.


Dad: OOOF!

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All dolled up

Alice’s big Christmas / birthday present was a large doll house. It proved to be a very popular choice with the entire crew. Oddly, though, Alice prefers to have me play with her rather than Mom. I have to play with “little Alice” while Alice does “little Mommy”. I have discovered that Little Alice can have all the treats she wants, but bedtimes are not negotiable. At one point, when it was bedtime, Little Alice was in the Little Mommy / Daddy bed when Little Daddy wanted to go to sleep as well. Little Alce refused to move, so Alice sent Little Daddy off to sleep in Little Alice’s bed. Little Alice is also allowed to jump on the bed. It’s no problem if she falls off and bonks her head, because Little Mommy has plenty of band-aids.

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Lap fight

Polynomial has recently acquired an increased interest in POset. Even the little claw swipes POset throws now and then don’t dissuade her. Being a dog, Poly seems to mainly want to sniff POset’s butt, which POset doesn’t much care for. What I lke best though is when I am at my computer and the two of them fight over who gets to sit in my lap.

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Wednesday 17 January 2007

Language of pants

[Alice has just awaken and is jumping on the bed]

Alice: I wearing pants.

Dad: You are wearing pants? Why?

Alice: ‘Cause I wear pants. [pause] Charles wears pants too.

Dad: Are you wearing Charles’ pants?

Alice: No!


Alice: You have to say yes to Alice.

Dad: I have to say yes?

Alice: Yes. You can’t say no to Alice. [practicing] Yes…yes…

Dad: Oh.


Alice: That how you get pants on.

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Dog pile

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Tuesday 16 January 2007

Big Blue Marbles

[Charles is taking a bath]

Dad: You have eyes like marbes.

Charles: No I don’t!

Dad: Your teacher said that. Blue marble eyes.

Charles: No he [sic] didn’t!

Dad: Do you think your teacher is silly for thinking you have blue eyes?

Charles: They don’t know how to make eyes.

Dad: What color are your eyes?

Charles: I don’t know.

Dad: Have you ever looked in a mirror?

Charles: Yes.

Dad: What color where your eyes?

Charles: I don’t remember.

Dad; I think they’re all white.

Charles: No! They not all white!

Dad: What color are they then? Green or purple?

Charles: Eyes can’t be purple.

Dad: Why not?

Charles: Purple eyes means your eye is sick. Black eye means you hitted [sic] it too hard. Green is OK. Your eye can be light blue but not dark blue.

Dad: So what color are your eyes?

Charles: I think they blue or green.

Dad: Are you sure?

Charles: Once, when I was four, when I looked in the mirror my eyes were red.

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A Mimi load of presents

Last week we got the big Christmas / birthday shipment from Mimi. I tried to convince the kids that since the packages were addressed to me they were all my presents, but not even Alice believed that.

Charles and Corwin had fun sorting all the presents. Alice had fun for a while trying to open one of the presents but was finally defeated by Mimi’s superior present wrapping skills.

I was defeated by Charles. I took literally 17 pictures of him putting coins in a dino-bank Mimi sent but he had his eyes closed in everysingleone. He was annoyed at first when I kept taking pictures but by the end he was openly laughing at me.

For Mimi’s edification, the following were popular

  • The levitating soccer ball (all the kids)
  • The flashlight for Charles (he immediately attached it to a nerf weapon as a tactical flashlight)
  • The dino banks (Charles went through all of his coins in one sitting)
  • The balancing board (unfortunately, Alice likes it too)
  • The motion sensitive frog (although what all the kids found fascinating was that the throat moved)
  • The purse with the kitty.
  • Cash (especially for Corwin — “I’m rich! hahaha!”)
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Monday 15 January 2007

Wielding his bucket like a scythe

Charles getting water for his bucket by skimming along a puddle

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Sunday 14 January 2007


Mom took the kids up to see Grandma. Naturally, I felt miseable with some sort of cold / flu the rest of the day. I also realized that Poly has not internalized the concept of “go outside to urinate”. Before putting her to bed, we went for over 15 minutes, in the dark, cold, and heavy rain, until my thick hat soaked through and I had to come back in. Augh.

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Saturday 13 January 2007

Wake up, sleepy demons!

Erica saved the day again this morning. Mom and I had arranged to do a presentation on our company to a local group of people who like to get together to talk about business plans (I’d mock them except for the glass house rule). It started at 7:30 AM, so we had to leave the house by 7:15 or so and someone to watch the kids for us. Erica, presumably doing penance for some awful deed, agreed to show up at 7 in the morning to hold the fort. Really. Without any threats at all. Honest.

Luckily, Charles and Alice didn’t wake up until 8 or so, and then Erica somehow (through her child handling magic) managed to convince Charles and Corwin to play on the computer instead of turning the house in to a smoking ruin. She had to pay the price of having Charles explain Rise of Nations to her in great detail, but Erica is strongly made and was therefore sufficiently undamaged to have no basis for legal action against us. That counts as a good morning around here.

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Mom and the Cycle of House

Sometimes, Mom creates that which is new in the house, such as this lovely lamp in the sun room —

And sometimes, when a deconstructionist mood awakes in her, Mom takes away that which displeases her —

She had always hated those mirrors.

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Friday 12 January 2007

Alice vision

I have been teasing Alice about using her tummy as a display device, like the Tele-Tubbies. I use her belly button as the channel changer and on / off switch. When she’s tired of me doing that, she pulls down her shirt and declares “tummy is closed!”. Still, sometimes there are good movies about monkeys on it.

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Mid-day with Charles

Dad: What about some Kim-Chee for lunch?

Charles: What is that?

Dad: Rotten cabbage with spice.

Charles: I don’t like it.

Dad: How do you know, you haven’t even tried it.

Charles: I don’t like spicy stuff.

Dad: But it’s really really spicy!

Charles: I still don’t like it.

Both of the boys are way too deadpan.

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Morning with Alice

[Mom, Alice, Dad are at the table]

Mom: Alice, can I undo your braids?

Alice: No!

Mom: They’re getting fuzzy, we need to re do them if you want braids today.

Alice: No!

Dad: [singing] Alice, Alice, Alice, Princess Alice!

Alice: Stop!

Dad: [singing] She lives in a way cool super —

Alice: Stop!

Dad: — palace!

Alice: Stop! I trying to do my homework!

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Thursday 11 January 2007

How can he keep all those names straight?

In a fit of madness, I asked Charles what he called the aircraft carrier he and “Shippy” the battleship play with. “Carrier”, he replied. I asked if I could therefore call him “boy” but he denied the request.

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Odd that Mom works on the other side of a cat proof gate, eh?

I like POset, but lately she has been extra annoying, even for a cat. She has decided that my laptop is just about the best place in the entire house to relax. She used to at least avoid it if it was open, but now she happily settles down on the keyboard, doing bizarre and potentially disastrous things to my e-mail. POset also manages to put my laptop in funky modes, some of which have taken me hours to figure out and undo. POset is also leaving hair and other matter (the nature of which I try to not think about) all over my desk. At least she’s not sneezing up big wads of phlegm on my monitors like she was doing a few months ago.

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Live party music

Corwin plays for Alice’s birthday party

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Wednesday 10 January 2007

Rinse only

Corwin has reached that stage in a boy’s life where he finds cleanliness next to girl-cootie-ness. It’s a bit of a challenge to keep him reminded to change in to clean underwear every day and any suggestion of a bath / shower is met with evasion. Naturally, Corwin must be frequently reminded to use soap and a wash cloth on his entire body or he “forgets”. Oddly, he seems to reliably wash his hair with shampoo. It’s the body that must remain sacrosanct from the contaminating touch of soap (it is for this reason that I forbear to point out that when he rinse the shampoo out, soap touches the rest of him).

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Look, Mom, it's up my sleeve!

Mom made the mistake of look at Corwin’s hands at dinner last night and therefore had to send him off to try washing again. She then checked Charles’ hands, which were much cleaner looking. I suspect this not due to better washing technique, but because Charles has the habit of keeping his arms out of his sleeves much of the time. And even when his arms are sleeved, he keeps his hands inside the sleeves as well. This minimizes contact with the outside world, but does make gripping more problematic. Overall, I think I would favor better washing.

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Tuesday 09 January 2007

Let a joyous noise be heard!

Alice turns three today. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

P.S. Alice has been very excited in the run up to today, especially about cake and presents. The “three years old” thing is of much lesser importance. Compared to cake and presents.

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Monday 08 January 2007

A visit from the Dog Fairy

Note that Poly is chewing on a small log that she’s snatched from the fireplace. Mom buys all sorts of nice chew toys for Poly, but Poly strongly prefers logs and Christmas ornaments.

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Sunday 07 January 2007

Small town chronicles

This afternoon we went to Great-Aunt Thea’s 100th birthday party. Thea is Mom’s grandmother’s younger sister. While we were there, I was recognized by the younger sister of one of my best friends in high school who had married in to Mom’s extended family. Although I hadn’t seen her for a decade (or two), I could still match her name and face (which, if you know me, is something I find challenging even with people with whom I am familiar). I hesitated only because she had a sister almost the same age and I didn’t want to get the wrong sister’s name. I remembered enough to know that would not have worked out well. Once past that pitfall, I managed to converse well enough that Mom wasn’t tempted to beat me when we got home, which is always a welcome result.

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Tasteful child

Just to mess with Alice, I adopted one of the songs from Dora to the lyrics “Pate, Pate;, Alice-latte” (pah-tay, pah-tey, Alice lah-tay). As I sing it, I rub her tummy because the song is about mixing chocolate in a bowl. Once I have made my Alice-latte, I pick her up and drink her (I make sure to put the legs up high so I can drain every last drop). After I am done, Alice puts her hand over her head and wiggles her fingers as she says “I fill myself back up!”.

Sometimes I eat Alice’s toes, because they’re like tasty popcorn. Alice doesn’t mind because she has an apparently inexhaustible of spare toes in her pocket that she can use to replace any that have been consumed. I need to get me one of those myself, for my various body parts that are no longer functional.

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Alice’s Christmas Braids

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Saturday 06 January 2007

At least it doesn't involve Barney

Charles has become very obsessed with Rise of Nations. He cries when we don’t let him play after school (he wants to play it every day). Because Corwin plays sometimes, Charles keeps an eye on him and immediately reports any gaming so that Chares can get matching game time. I have tried to convince Charles to try some educational software or his new driving game, but “all I want to play is Rise of Nations!”. When I mention how cool the other games are, Charles runs through his list —

  • “Does it have half-tracks?”
  • “Does it have airplanes?”
  • “Does it have destroyers?”1
  • “Doesit have aircraft carriers?”

Sadly, neither the educational software nor the driving game have any of these, at which point Charles says “so they are no fun”.

On the bright side, Charles is now skilled enough that once I do the intial resource cheat for him he can do the rest of the game all by himself. He can even set up oil production, which is a moderately complex operation. The resource cheat doesn’t provide any, because it’s not present that early in the game. But you need it to build destroyers, aircraft carriers, half tracks, and tanks, so Charles goes out and gets some.

One negative, though, is that Corwin has now learned the cheat codes and cheats outrageously. As if the other legal advantages he gives himself weren’t enough.

1 For some reason, Charles doesn’t like the battle ships anymore and will only build the destroyer / cruisers.

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Presently surprised

The element of surprise is key

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Friday 05 January 2007

You can't catch me!

The kids naturally like to play “keep away”, although Alice has a different view of it than her brothers. When I am sitting on the couch, Alice likes to run around in circles nearby saying “you can’t catch me!”. She gets upset, however, if I don’t manage to catch her. If I miss more than once she will circle closer and if that doesn’t work, run right in to me. No darting away at the last moment for her.

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The tinkle tinkle of little fingers

As part of the upcoming major event (Alice’s birthday), Mom got a miniature upright piano for Alice. Alice found it wonderful and was tapping away on it the instant it was unwrapped.

Here’s a video of Alice playing the piano while singing “The Best Day Ever” with some background vocals by Charles.

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Thursday 04 January 2007

Who'd believe it if I didn't have a picture?

Actual co-operative sibling play

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Star princess

Alice now frequently says “thank you very much!”. Sometimes it is after she has done some interpretive dance or a particularly good jump, but sometimes it is for no reason Mom or I can percieve. She says it in a very earnest voice. This evening she has added the demand that Mom and I clap for her.

Alice: Mommy, Daddy, clap for me.

[Mom and Dad clap]

Alice: Thank you very much.

However, Charles is not allowed to clap for Alice — she became quite irate when Charles joined in the Mom and Dad clapping without be specifically instructed to do so by Alice. Seems to me that she’s already got what it takes to succeed in the entertainment industry.

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Wednesday 03 January 2007

Good news, bad news

The good news is that one of the nicer things about having a company with Mom is that we can have lunch together as a business expense. The bad news is that we spend our lunch time talking about the company.

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Choo choo!

The Thomas Playhut Train threads its way past the food depot

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Day of Horror

Everyone goes back to school today. The boys are just as excited about that as you would imagine. Alice has been extra grumpy the last few days but I don’t think it’s related. Last night she wanted to sit with Mom on the couch, but Mom was painting so I sat there instead, leading to Alice crying “move away, Daddy!” until she passed out, saying it slower and moanier until she just trailed off. After that kind of abuse, going back to school should seem like a relief.

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Tuesday 02 January 2007

Drumming in the message

During a lull this morning, Mom popped in to the living room to play on the piano. Alice soon followed her to say “Mommy, stop making that noise!”.

Maybe this is the kind of noise Mom shoud be making?

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Monday 01 January 2007

Game day

Haha, bet you thought I meant football. Oddly, Mom wasn’t primed for any bowl games this year (there are some on New Year’s Day, right?).

Anyway, Mom decided last year that we should have some of Corwin’s friends and family over for some heavy duty computer gaming. We ended up with Jack and dad, Keith and dad, and Jacob, Jessie, Jared, and father. Mom distracted me on purpose in the morning so that I didn’t get around to fixing up the computers until just before people started arriving. I had to do a major re-arrangement in my office because all of the computers were set up to be convenient for me to use at the same time. I thought that might be a bit … overly friendly. The final arrangement worked well, even if it was an hour late or so.

We played Rise of Nations, dads vs. spawn. We got in two games, the first won by the boys and the second by the dads. In the end, we had 6 players in the game (which wasn’t quite enough, as I pointed out to Miss “No computers for you!” afterwards).

Charles was a major grump most of the time, as he wanted to play the game instead of with Jessie, Jared, and Anwen (who was over for a while at the start). He tried refusing to get out of the chair in front of one of the computers, but he’s still not heavy enough to render that very effective. Eventually he acquiesced and let us play. As soon as people started leaving, though, he was pestering me with “Can I play now?”.

Still, the guests claimed it was a successful event.

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