Saturday 31 March 2007

Weekly Soccer Report


Corwin has his first soccer game of the season today. It was grey and almost rainy but the clouds didn’t produce more than the merest mist during the game. The ground was well soaked and several players (particularly Jack and Ali) made full use of the enhanced sliding that made possible. Both goals were attacked on a regular basis and it was close all the way to the end.

It was an important game because it was against Keith’s team. There was a lot of good play. Jack had several good (sliding!) saves as goalie in the first quarter. Jake and Corwin both scored goals, Jake about midway through the first quarter and Corwin in the third. Binet on the other team scored a goal as well, but Corwin’s team hung on for a win of 2-1.

Corwin’s goal was interesting. He dug it out of some defenders and it went in a high and shallow arc toward the goal right over the defenders’ heads. The ball then rolled all the way to the far side of the goal, where it bounced off the support, rolled back a bit and then curved in past the goal line. The outcome was in doubt until the moment the ball came to rest.

The teams are a little thin this year — Corwin’s team has only 11 people on it, which is rough when there are 9 players on the field. With one player missing, that left only one player on the bench, something that was very telling by the fourth quarter. As I write every season, we need to do more conditioning on Corwin.

Season Summary

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Friday 30 March 2007


Charles achieved a milestone in upholding family tradition — he got a bloody head wound at school. Now, he’s not close to matching my record, but it’s a good start.

It seems that one of the other children hurled a plastic dinosaur (Stegosaurus, according to Charles) hard enough that one of the little points gashed Charles’ head. Apparently it bleed so profusely that the teacher thought Charles was seriously wounded but after he was cleaned up it was just a little gash (unlike one of my better efforts — even Alice has done better).

Still, they decided to call me about it, which is probably for the best as otherwise I doubt I would have ever known about this important milestone. I asked Charles about the incident when he got home, but he couldn’t remember where he had been wounded more specifically than one side of his head. I had to find the actual wound for myself. I tried to get Charles to tell Mom, but he refused to talk about it until it he could use it to delay violin practice. If only he were as stoic about not getting enough computer time.

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Does she pick this up on the playground?

Alice has started using a new psychological trick to try and impose her will on her parents. This is to argue that should be allowed or given something because she likes the parent in question.

For example, Alice has been hitting the juice quite hard the last week or so and we’ve been trying to cut her down so she consumes food as well. This leads to conversations such as

Dad: No, you can’t have your fourth sippy cup of juice until you eat some dinner.

Alice: But I like you, Daddy!

As part of the ground work, Alice has also taken to spontaneously declaring her love for her parents, presumably so this type of argument isn’t quite so blatant.

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Pop goes the Charles

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Thursday 29 March 2007

Why I brought back padded weapons from Texas

Boys hit each with things — all you can do is (sometimes) pick which things

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Princess Broken-Pants

[Alice is running around in her underwear]

Alice: Daddy! Daddy! Put pants on me.

Dad: Didn’t you already have pants on?

Alice: No!

Dad: Yes you did. Where are they?

Alice: I don’t know. They just disappeared. [waves hands away from legs]

Dad: Here they are on the floor.

Alice: Oh.

Dad: Why did you take your pants off?

Alice: I broke the pants.

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Wednesday 28 March 2007

Making Charles happy

I hooked the boyen computers back up. They’re back in the modern age. I had been busy but Charles used his big blue marble eyes on me.

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Gratuitous Picture of the Day

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Tuesday 27 March 2007

It's the thought that counts

I arrive home and Mom says “go check and see if Alice is putting pants on”. Alice had gone potty and, as sometimes happens, this required total nakedness. I went up to check and discovered that Charles was trying to help Alice put her pants back on. Oddly, this didn’t seem to be making it go any faster.

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Monday 26 March 2007

Self Polymerized

Our little bit of excitement for the day was Polynomial following in the tradition of the kids and trying to get herself hurt.

Mom had left to pick up Corwin and Jack from play practice after school. I was in working while Charles was drawing in the media room. At some point, Charles must have opened the screen door1 and let Poly escape. Our neighbor across the street was out with her dog Trevor, which is of course where I spotted Poly as soon as I looked for her. I grabbed a leash and headed out to retrieve the wayward canine.

I managed to get close to Poly because she was distracted by Trevor. When she saw me, she knew she was in trouble. As I started toward her to hook her up, she for once headed back to the house instead of running off elsewhere. Unfortunately, there was also a car going down the street and Poly ran smack in to it. Luckily she hit the side of the car instead of going in front of it so she was just banged up a bit on the nose and a paw. I was concerned but not too worried because while she was wimpering and limping, she let me pick her up and move her paw without complaint. I put her back down and she went in the house unprompted and under her own power. She was very subdued that evening, but otherwise seems fine.

1 Although Mom claims that Poly can sometimes nose it open herself.

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Beating time

In the aftermath of the trip, I still don’t have the boyen computers operational here again, which was a matter of some distress for Corwin. He has moved on from Rise of Nations to Rise of Legends, which we picked up while in Texas.

However, when Jack came over after play practice, Mom was able to distract them with the practice swords I brought back from Texas.

Based on that experience, it’s possible that the practice weapons will remain interesting, but even if not it gives me an excellent mechanism for forbidding the fights with random sharp wood and / or metal sticks that tend to arise.

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Sunday 25 March 2007

Vacation is over, now I can relax

We’re back from visiting Mimi, who is looking well now —

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Saturday 24 March 2007

Saturday and Sayonara

Today was our last dayin Texas, so naturally Alice finally admitted that we were actually in Texas, just minutes before we left.

The morning I let the rest of the family hang out at Mimi’s house while I started packing. I must have been in a hurry on the way down (imagine that!) but I was able to pack everything down to about the same space despite the massive volume resulting from Mom’s shopping sprees. The true moment of sadness of leaving for the boys was the point at which I shut down the computers and packed them away as well.

After that, Uncle Bruce and Uncle Craig with Bryson and Dawson showed up. We just hung out for a while, talking and engaging in weapon’s drill. Despite that, we managed to roll out of the driveway at 5:05 pm, having originally scheduled departure for 5 pm.

This time, we put Charles in the wayback with Corwin and provided both of them with pillows. Perhaps it was coincidence, but they both slept a lot more than on the way down.

For excitement, we were almost in three auto accidents in Dallas (about which, presciently, Mom had commented “Driving in Dallas makes me nervous”). For all of these, the traffic is very heavy and fast, moving along at about 65-70 MPH.

  1. Our exit is coming up and Mom is trying to shift lanes, which is difficult despite it being 8 pm. Finally a spot opens and as she changes, a car directly across from us two lanes over tries to pull in to the same open space. That one wasn’t very close, but a bit unnerving.
  2. About 2 or 3 minutes later another minivan blasts by us on the right and then encounters another car that has hit the brakes hard in the middle of the traffic stream. The minivan decides it can’t stop and so swerves around that car in to our lane right in front of us. It turns so hard that the left rear tire is literally emitted a cloud of burnt rubber. I was stunned that it didn’t blow out and send the minivan spinning across another 2 or 3 lanes of traffic.
  3. Just a couple of minutes after that we come up over a hill and there’s a truck literally stopped on the highway, in the second from right most lane. Luckily Mom isn’t trying fancy lane shift manuevers like crazy minivan driver but she still has to brake and swerve to avoid a collision. Directly in front of the truck is another car, old and descrepit, with an open trunk holding a big pile of something (bricks, or metal junk, something of that nature). I am left wondering if that wasn’t an attempt at a planned accident, the beater stopping in front of the truck with stuff in the trunk to help the passengers survive the impact.
  4. Continuing the theme of stopping on the highway, a minute later we pass three more cars stopped, but at least these are in the median in front of a turn off instead of actually on the high way. It looked to me as if they had managed an actual collision of some sort.

Needless to say, Mom is now all about moving to Texas and commuting in that every day.

Other than Dallas the trip was uneventful, except for Mom making herself sick on too much junk food overnight. We arrived home around 11 AM. Mom and I spent the rest of the day in basically a daze while the kids did something, the memory is unclear. Alice was tired as well — she crashed out about 5 pm and didn’t wake up until 7 the next morning. The boys, having had comfy pillows, were unfazed and ready for another trip.

Charles and Dawson prepare to get it on

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Friday 23 March 2007

Friday Family Fun

We had a slow start and then headed over to Mimi’s house. The computers were stil there despite Uncle Evil and the kids fell upon them the way sailors fall on bars after a year long cruise. This lead to an immediate fight between Charles and Alice over who would play Worms Armageddon on Charles’ computer, a game Alice has taken to in a big way1. Alice had been faster and made it to the seat first, so I let her take control while I tried to console a weeping Charles.

After a while the noise woke up Mimi and Uncle Evil. After that we basically just hung out at the house — I talked with Mimi, Uncle Evil gamed with Corwin and Charles, and Mom took Alice off for a bit of shopping. Corwin, Charles, Uncle Evil, and I also spent some time at weapons drill.

In the afternoon, we went to visit UncleBlaine. Our spawn liked that, because Uncle Blaine has a huge LCD TV hooked up to an XBox, plus a trampoline. For Alice, there was the additional fun of chalk and a hose, so she should make wet chalk footprints. Alice liked playing with Bleys, Uncle Blain’s oldest boy who is about her age, and who helped her find the chalk. Alice liked the trampoline as well because she was able to jump on Corwin, who is almost as much fun as a landing area as Dad.

Once it got dark, we headed back. Mom, Charles, and Alice went back to the hotel to sleep while Corwin and I stayed at Mimi’s to get a last round of computer gaming in which I could participate.

Alice drops the hammer on Corwin

1 Although, naturally, she can’t really play it, but she can click the mouse and the keyboard and make things happen. Charles, interestingly, likes the background music so much that sometimes he just sits on the entry screen listening to it for many minutes.

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Thursday 22 March 2007

Escape from Little Rock

Before detailing today’s adventures, I would like to share a conversation I have had with Alice several times in the last few days —

Alice: Daddy! I found a tiny bug!

Dad: That’s nice.

Alice: Here you go [drops imaginary bug in Dad’s hand]

Dad: Thank you.

Alice: Eat it!

As the morning dawned, it was time to leave our outdoor adventure and return to civilization. Mom had mentioned that there was a large dam nearby that created the lake and Charles became fixated on that1. The entire morning was normal routine punctuated by a question from Charles — “Are we going to see the dam?”. In the end Charles’ persistence paid off and we made it to the dam. It had a large display room with many pictures about the dam and its area. Unfortunately, it seemed that the public site was in the midst of a maintenance cycle and we couldn’t walk out on the dam or see that much of it. Still, Charles said he was happy to have been2.

We made some stops and took some time to let Mom wander the cute little shops of central Texas in Llano and Fredericksburg. The boys endured, but Alice thought it was fun. She suggested many items for purchase, both for herself and Mom3. The boys stayed primarily on the lookout for toys and ice cream. Again, patience was rewarded when Mom found the bakery store we had stopped at last time we were in Fredericksburg (a year or two Before Charles) and ice was had by all.

Charles after ice cream

As we were leaving the bakery / ice cream shop, a police officer gave me some police stickers for the kids. Charles put his on Sharky and for the rest of the trip, it was “Police Officer Sharky”, whom Charles eagerly showed to everyone.

The big adventure of the day was going to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (“park” apparently being too old fashioned). It has several interconnected large granite outcroppings. These have relatively gentle slopes (for mountains) so that one can hike up without specialized equipment. Mom and Alice decided to wander the lowland trails while the boys and I assayed the peak called “Little Rock”. It was a bit challenging because of the light drizzle and occasional rain which made even the rough granite slippery. Still, the boys and I perserved. We made it to the highest point visible from the front, but Corwin insisted on making a further assent to the real top of the hill.

During the ascent, when I had time for pictures

At that point, I forced the start of the return journey as the rain was starting to become more persistent. Despite Corwin’s scouting skills, we lost the trail we came up on and had to make a descent over more rocky territory where the drops and gaps were too much for Charles and I had to transport him. This would have been OK if I had remembered my camera backpack and hadn’t had to also worry about smashing my camera into those very rocks as I was swinging Charles over them.

Charles got scared a few times (especially when he’d slip and I would save him from a nasty tumble down a slope in to cactus patches) but he didn’t melt down which would have created a real problem. Corwin was concerned enough that as we started down, he said he’d thought we’d be lucky to get down without serious injury and amazed if we managed it without a scratch. However, after accomplishing exactly that, he turned out to not be impressed. Really, though, except for having to hurry to get out of the rain (and avoid a real downpour) and the slippery parts from that rain, it would have been very easy.

After all of that, we headed back to Austin, had dinner, and crashed out. For once the kids went down quickly and Mom and I had several minutes to be too tired to enjoy our time without the kids awake.

1 Who could have expected Charles to fixate on transportation or infrastructure?

2 When asked by Mom when we were back home, Charles said the dam visit was what he had liked best about the trip.

3 I just provided the helpful service of pointing out the very limited room for additional dry goods on the return trip, as was my duty as a husband and father.

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Wednesday 21 March 2007

There are no boats in Texas

We had a little bit of fun today, but first a flashback to dinner the previous night —

[Mom is trying to feed Charles cucumbers]

Mom: Do you want another cucumber?

Charles: No. I don’t like it.

Mom: You don’t like cucumbers?

Charles: I don’t like the icky stuff [italian dressing] on it.

Mom: Would you like me to lick it off then?

Charles: Yes.

At one point while we were wandering around in the morning, Charles found two short pieces of rope. We had to make Charles share one with Alice to avoid massive unhappiness. These topes became recurring toys for the rest of our stay. They would be put aside, but rediscovered later for additional fun. One ended up attachd to the end of a stick to make a fishing pole, which was used as a toy by all three children at one point or another. Mom and I ended up keeping an eye on the rope so we could deal with the later plaintive wails of “where is my rope?” from Charles and Alice.

Alice refuses to believe that we are in Texas. Today she explained that it’s because only airplanes can go to Texas. When pressed about where exactly we are, she is very inventive of ways to take things very literally, for example —

Corwin: Are we in Texas?

Alice: No. We not in Texas!

Corwin: Where are we then?

Alice: In a boat.

Corwin: Where is the boat?

Alice: Right here!

Corwin: Isn’t the boat in Texas?

Alice: [condescendingly] There are no boats in Texas.

Today’s big activity was going on a lake cruise. The instant Charles heard “boat” he was insistent on going. I thought it was fine. although the kids all said that the best part was having lunch on a boat. Charles did end up in a rare state of satisfaction with life right after the trip, although that didn’t last past returning to the cabin with loot from the boat related store, as naturally Charles only wanted to play with Corwin’s toy (a magnifying class). He accused Corwin and/or his parents of conspiring to trick him in to not selecting the magnifying glass for himself. Eventually Corwin had enough magnification and let Charles play with it for a while. I suspect that the conspiracy charges will hang on, though.

Before the boat trip while wandering about to check out the local environs, I found a trail from the main resort area down to the lake shore. The boys and I went on an adventure to check it out while the womenfolk stayed behind to do womenfolk things (like, not stumble in to rattle snake nests on unknown trails). The boys had fun generally but one of the more interesting bits was a band of dead trees between the edge of the tree cover and the lake. I managed to convince Charles that it was the Tree Graveyard and that old tree, when their time was near, would pull up their roots and travel there to die. Sadly, a small pang of parental concern lead to me tell Charles I was just kidding with him, before he told the tale to his class for Show and Tell.

After the cruise, Mom took us out hiking again. This time Alice was in a stroller so she kept up. Charles was the trailing man, trudgingly accepting the necessity of the hike. Mom and I had a bet on what Charles would do when he fell so far behind that he couldn’t see us — panic and run madly to catch up, or meltdown in a miserable puddle requiring rescue. It turned out that he did neither, but just steadfastly moved along as his own pace until he reached the end of the trail where we were waiting.

At that point on the trail there was just a short loop and then a little amphitheater with log benches and a small stage. Alice immediately hopped up on stage and started performing various songs and dances. She made the boys alternate with her sets. They chose to enact various sword battles uses sticks as props. Alice demonstrated her prima dona talents by bossing her brothers around with both stage directions and demands to be seated and quiet while she was trying to perform. She wouldn’t let Corwin sit on the stage or the ground, she insisted that he sit properly on one of the log benches and that he not fidget noisily.

After the exhausting hike and performance, we went back and I suggested we try out the pool. Mom pointed out that it wasn’t that hot a day and that the pool temperature was 62°F according the the morning maintenance man. I laughed at the danger and said I would try it out. Corwin and Charles, goaded by this, also put on swim suits.

We arrived and Corwin put his leg in the water then immediately pulled it out saying “I’m not going in there!”. I decided anything was worth the chance to trick Corwin in, so I jumped in myself. Gosh, it was cold. But I quickly became numb and called to Corwin to try it. I managed to convince him to come in as well, at which point he regetted listening to me (hopefully, he will fail to learn from this experience as he does so many others).

However, one did become numb rather quickly and after that it wasn’t unpleasant. Corwin stayed in with me and we swam for a bit, then tried the other little pool whch drained in to the main pool via a short run and small waterfull. That pool was lined with rocks to look like a grotto, even though it was about 5 feet across and deep. Still, it was kind of neat. By this time Alice had stripped down to her underwear (keeping that on only at Mom’s insistence) and was splashing around in the water. Charles came in as well, leaving Mom the only wimp. Alice even made me dip her all the way in the water, although she’d only last about 2-3 seconds before asking to be put back out. Afterwards, the sun was out and it was nice to soak up some warmth. I think we ended up hanging out for 45 minutes or so, making it a rather successful outing for our family.

The grotto pool

After some clean up, we headed in to town for dinner. All of the children fell asleep on the way. That lead to some false hopes of an early bedtime, but some how that short 15 minute nap refreshed them all enough to stay up late while Mom and I struggled to keep our eyes open enough to watch them.

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Tuesday 20 March 2007

Podding along

On the trip to Lake Buchanan, Alice had her first iPod experience. I had ripped all of our Laurie Berkner CDs, thinking we could then play them off the iPod in to the car stereo. But the auxillary input only works for the rear part of the sound system. This became an issue when Alice started demanding to hear “the train song1”.

Fortunately we had purchased a third van headset so that all three kids could listen to movies. This has accustomed Alice to wearing headphones. I was therefore able to put my headpones on Alice so she could listen to her preferred music. In this way Alice was introduced to technology she’ll disparage as being for old fogies when she’s a teenager.

1 Catch That Train by Dan Zanes and Friends.

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Off to a lake in the woods

In the morning we prepared to depart for a cottage up on Lake Buchanan. Alice was ready on time, but Mom had to struggle with the boys to get them ready. Not the normal sort of pattern one might expect.

On the trip up I saw some clouds so low that a radio tower extended up in to them. I tried to point this out to the kids, but a movie was playing on the in-van DVD and the external world was a pale imitation of the cinematic glory glow there. They just don’t have the adult-like sense of wonder about the natural world.

We arrived and it wasn’t very busy, so we were able to check in immediately. After unloading, Mom wanted a forced march in to untracked wilds hike to commune with nature. Unfortunately, Corwin had read some of the promotional literature and seen “shuffleboard” which consumed his brain like a pop-up virus from a malware website. Every 10 or 20 seconds he’d pop up “or shuffleboard!” in case we’d simply managed to overlook that as an entertainment option.

Nonetheless, it was off to the trails for the crew despite the sporadic rain1. Alice and Charles were good for about the first half. Corwin kept charging ahead, in the hope that he would spot the end of the trail sooner. I asked Alice about being an explorer. She said she was, but not like Dora because Dora is “kinda big” and Alice is small. Alice pointed out she was a girl. When asked how she knew this, she said that princesses had told her. At that point, Charles calls back with a bit of heat in his voice “Explorers don’t have to be girls!”.

Eventually, though, the tribulations of the trail took it toll. Charles acquired a phobia about the ant hills because we apparenty had over emphasized the importance of not stepping on fire ant hills so that Charles wouldn’t step near any ant hill, however, small. Naturally, the trail was peppered with small ant hills. Meanwhile, a gang of green bugs had leapt out of hiding (so that Mom didn’t see them to warn us) and eaten all Alice’s toes, making her so scared of more green bugs that Dad had to carry her.

We also rescued (maybe) a cat from the trail. He had no collar but was very friendly. We used some rope Alice and Charles had to get him to follow us back to the main lodge where we turned him over to the staff.

After that, Corwin finally got to play shuffleboard, which turned out to be a table top version rather than the standard style with sticks that Corwin prefers. After Dad whomped him 10-3 games, he decided that was enough shuffleboard.

On the way back to the cabin, Charles provided Mom with a series of hugs to the main Star Wars theme — “hug hug-hug hug, hug hug-hug, hug-hug-hug-hug”. Corwin became obsessed with making coffee for Mom and me and asks about it every five minutes. Other than that, we just have to endure being trapped in a cabin by rain with three children who finished off an entire bag of Oreos in under five minutes2.

1 “Just misting!” says Mom.

2 Mom helped a little bit.

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Monday 19 March 2007

Just another Texas Monday

The womenfolk (Mom and Alice) went off to do shopping today while the sturdy menfolk engaged in combat of various forms. We alternated between beating on each other with foam covered sticks and playing computer combat simulations. Mom even came to terms with my sneaking the computers in to the car in a sealed box.

Other fun little tidbits —

  • While we were setting up the computers, someone asked Alice if she wanted a computer. She pointed at my laptop and said “I want a pink one of those”.
  • At one point, while I was trying to find Mom, I asked for “Dr. H”, which is one of my pet names for her. Alice took it up, yelling out “Dr. H! Where are you?!”
  • Mom said that the merchants she encountered on her shopping excursions all thought Alice was just the cutest thing, but apparently not quite cute enough to justify deep discounts for Mom.
  • Taking a break from gaming, Corwin and I went out to retrieve a badminton racket Alice had flung from the porch. Corwin was able to see the cliff in back of TexHome close up and a small lizard that was crawling around the bottom porch.
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Sunday 18 March 2007

It's all about the Cheetos

Mom and I spent basically all day Friday packing. I was sent out in the morning to get the van oil changed and cleaned up. Unfortunately, the car dealership doesn’t do car cleaning anymore and they detected a slow leak in one of the tires due to a nail. We had been fighting with that leak for months, but it was so slow that we hadn’t been motivated enough to look in to it deeply. However, the nai meant that we had to get a new tire, but the van has specia “dealer only” tires1 which were not in stock. I must have looked extra pitiful, though, because they managed to scroung up a tire from somewhere. So, after only 3 hours, we had a working (if unclean) van. The rest of my day was spent in a panic trying to recover the lost time.

As part of that, I made the boys help clean the van as soon as they arrived home. They actually did a reasonable job, especially Corwin. Even Mom thought the van looked clean afterwards. Charles did have to warn me a couple of times, though, to be careful to not vacuum him (or anyone else) up.

The packing went well. I cut back on the glow stick supply so I could fit in the boys’ computers but we still managed to not fill the way back beyond the top of the back seats. We had one basket in the back seat but it had the snacks so that was a feature, not a bug.

As we were in the last stages of departure, Alice and Charles were agitating for access to the contents of the snack basket, particularly the Cheetos. Mom told them not until we left. They then switched to intense pestering about leaving, putting on their coats and backpacks and heading for the car everytime I took a load out. Mom and I thought they were just ready to go, but the moment we pulled out of the driveway Charles pointed out that we were on the way, therefore the Cheetos should be disbursed, obviously the key point all along.

We left only an hour after our originally scheduled departure time, which is better than expected. However, I managed to forget my vest at home, which has things like my cell phone, wallet, keys, etc so we had to go back for that, which cost us another hour. It was probably better to discover it a half hour after leaving than after we got to Texas.

We had hoped the kids would sleep most of the way, but they managed to stay up most of the night (on and off). Corwin actually stayed awake until 1:30 or so (he was so proud), but roused himself several times before morning. He slept on the floor of the van when he wasn’t asleep, even though we recommended moving the snack basket and using the back seat as it would be more comfortable. Charles has the worst situation, since he has to use a car seat and can’t recline (Alice can’t either, but she enough smaller and her seat has sides that it’s much less of a problem).

We arrived at Mimi’s house around noon. The rest of the day was mostly a sleep deprivation induced blur, because the hotel was full and so wouldn’t let us check in until 3 pm. After some refreshing from the trip, we went over to Uncle Craig’s house to see the cousins. Craig and Linda were out of town (ironically, in Chicago) but Linda’s parents were there with the cousins so that gang of six was able to hang out together a bit.

We slept late in to the morning, and then headed over to Mimi’s house. Uncle Evil had returned by then so he abused Corwin while I got the computers set up. It was such a nice day, though, that we ended up spending most of the time outdoors. First Uncle Evil demonstrated some simulated weapons used for simulated medieval style fighting2. After lunch we went over to a local park where Uncle Evil’s crew practiced so that we could see him in action. One of the crew had a daughter named Kimberly who must have been about 11 or so. She took a fancy to Corwin soon after we arrived, he being the only other person there anywhere near her age. She was quite cute, so cute that she managed to get Corwin to answer questions. I couldn’t believe it. Kimberly used a pike vs. Corwin’s sword and she had this spinning flourish in which she would, rather than try to reverse the pike’s swing, spin it around herself while turning around for another strike. She messed it up once and Corwin, being the gallant sort he is, took advantage to dart hin and “kill” her. That’s my boy!

Despite the girl interaction, Corwin much enjoyed the outing and wants to introduce the game to his friends. We’ll see how that works out.

Corwin introduced Uncle Evil to Worms (see here and here as well). Sadly, Corwin was over confident and let Uncle Evil get a win.

After all that, we went out to supper then staggered back to the hotel. The kids went swimming while I figured out the hotel’s wireless networking. Mom then took Corwin down to checkout the exercise room, which turned in to a rather extended adventure because “Corwin really liked the exercise room”. Now Mom and Corwin are off on an emergency grocery run while I am left to guard the hotel from Alice and Charles.

Corwin vs. Kimberly

1 Quite the clever scheme, eh?

2 Uncle Evil had spent Saturday “beating on freaks” in this manner, leaving him tired and sore and therefore a proper target for a fresh and rested Corwin.

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Friday 16 March 2007

Going to TexHome for a week

The adventurers are ready for the long and hard road to Texas

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Thursday 15 March 2007

Basket case

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Wednesday 14 March 2007

Once in a lifetime

[Alice and Dad are outside]

Alice: What’s that?

Dad: It’s a [chalk] picture of Alice.

Alice: I don’t like a picture of Alice.

Dad: Yes you do.

Alice: I do? Yay!

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Titanic obsession

Charles spent a few days last week obsessed with the Titanic (it seems to have passed now). It was the evil School Book Sale that did it. The kid were told they could have one free book, as long as it was $5 or less. Charles naturally picked this Titanic book at a list price of $20 and then had a major melt down when he couldn’t have it.

But Charles is a boy who can fixate when it’s sufficiently inconvenient for others. That evening, as part of discussing the model citizens and students who are our boys with their instructors, we dropped by the school book sale. Charles, scarred by his earlier experience with the direct method, approached the subject in stages —

  • Daddy, can I get a book?
  • Daddy, can I get a book about boats?
  • Daddy, can I get this book about boats?

Being a stern parent who doesn’t like to spoil his children, I asked Mom about it. She approved and Charles was happy (for a little while). It was of such importance to him that he built the object pictured below. Still, he did look at the book a little bit after we got home.

Titanic, a study in Legos™, by Charles

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Tuesday 13 March 2007

You say "Alice", I say "Laurie"

Mom got Alice a new Alice in Wonderland themed shirt, which Alice liked. However, Alice for some reason decided that the girl pictured on it was “Princess Laurie” and was adamant that it was she was not named “Alice”. I presume Laurie was because she had been watching Laurie Berkner videos that night Mom came home with the shirt, but who knows with a girl who thinks she bought her hair in Tennessee.

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Soccer has sprung

It is soccer season once again. The first practice was last evening, with some wonderful spring weather to start it off. The only bad news is due to some mixup at the park district, Keith ended up on a different team. Apparently most other teams were very thin on players so Keith got bumped over and they won’t transfer him back because it would leave too few on his current team. We’re hoping that a few more kids sign up late and Keith can get a transfer, as it would be a shame to break up the Gang Of Four.

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Monday 12 March 2007

Alice anecdotes

We went to the park yesterday and Alice was enjoying the slide until she took a tumble at at the of a run and got mud all over her hands. Fortunately she found a solution, which was to walk over to an unsuspecting Dad and wipe off all the mud on to his pants.

While giving Alice a bath yesterday, I noticed that if her hair is wet it reaches all the way to her butt even with her head upright. I think that means that her hair grows faster down than she is growing up.

Alice hurt her foot again today. I don’t know what she did to it, she forbade me to touch it or even look at it. She told me to just look at the picture on the weblog I posted earlier.

Alice digs snow

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Sunday 11 March 2007

But it's for the children, Mom!

As part of my self abnegating nature with the children, I made the sacrifice of buying some way cool technology for Charles, so that he might enjoy his computer a bit more. I have been eyeing for years found a place that sells various sorts of buttons and keypads for computers. When I worked out a rationalization realized how this could be helpful for Charles, I placed my order.

What you see here is the “big red button”. I arranged it so that when pressed, it sends the key sequence to engage the nuclear explosion cheat for Rise of Nations. This means that Charles can point the mouse at a point on the map then hit the big red button to drop a (simulated) nuclear weapon on that spot. This is so utterly cool that both Charles and Corwin confirmed the coolness of something Dad had done.

I also got Charles a smaller green button, which does the extra resource cheat. On the one hand, this is nice because Charles no longer has to bother me at all to play — when he starts up, instead of searching for Dad to importune him to provide extra resources, he just hits the button. On the other hand, Charles no longer asks me for resources so I have no idea about (nor gatekeeping ability to control) his gaming.

Still, despite the expense and bother of dealing with this sort of computer twiddling and hardware (which, as you all know, is a painful thing for me), it was all worth it to make Charles a little happier. Just a sacrifice I happily made For The Children™.

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Because a sense of timing is critical for proper drama

Sorry about the poor quality, but the lighting was bad and trying to hold her foot still just tickled her so she wriggled more.

Anyway, I was trying to get Alice ready for something and asked her to come over to the couch so I could put shoes and socks on her. She refused on the grounds that she couldn’t walk. I didn’t beileve her, but upon examination I found this messy wound on the bottom of her big toe. Where she got it I have no idea. She claimed it was from my office, but based on the lack of blood and the yellowing of some of the flapping skin it had not happened that recently. It is typical of Alice that she doesn’t much complain at the time she’s actually wounded, but later when it is more convenient to claim disability.

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Saturday 10 March 2007

It's about picking, not keeping

[Dad is coming in to help Alice after potty. She is completely naked.]

Dad: Alice, where is your shirt?

Alice: I was going potty.

Dad: Why did you take off your shirt?

Alice: I picked out a shirt this morning.

Dad: [trying a new tack] Alice, are you wearing a shirt?

Alice: [Looks at her chest, touches it a bit, then ponders for 3 or 4 seconds] No!
Alice: [A thought occurs to her] I naky!

Just what we need, a fashion conscious nudist.

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Engineering Open House 2007

Charles and Corwin had last Thursday and Friday off from school. Mom foresightfully arranged to have to be at a conference those two days. I am sure she did it out of love, so that the boys and I could bond more fully.

Thursday passed in a haze of gaming and sleep, but Mom decided that a repeat for Friday was unacceptable. She therefore decreed that, since the local university was having its annual Engineering Open House, I would take the boyen and Gang Of Four there for the day. Anwen and Josh’s brother Jake came along as well, as the two of them had been placed in Anwen’s gaol for the day. We also brough along Amine, who is a candidate member for the Gang of Four. Keith was supposed to show up later, but he never arrived.

On the way over, we had a discussion about sisters (Anwen being the sole representative of that demographic). After the standard disparagement of older sisters, the talk turned to younger sisters. I pointed out that little sisters can get away with anything because they are little sisters. Amine confirmed that his little sister could, but then started detailing the transgressions that got him in the most trouble. Segueing from that, it came up that Alice had broken my laptop and everyone said “wow, I’ll bet she got in trouble for that!”. “No”, I replied. “Why not?” was the chorus. To which I could only respond “Because she’s a little sister!”. Duh!

Jake, Jack, Josh, Corwin, Amine, enjoy simulated simulated flying

I think the boys had a good time. The favorite exhibit for the older boys was an RC flight simulator, which had an RC airplane control wired to a computer with a big screen running an RC airplane simulation. Oddly, there were very few other visitors1 so the boys were able to spend a lot of time there.

In the same building was the place that Charles liked the most. It was a boat building exercise, where the kids were given a budget which they could spend on various boat parts and then try to sail the boat across a large box filled with water. I did most of the actual boat building, but Charles provided much of the high level design and did some of the assembling. His boat made it across on the first attempt, which made him very thrilled. Luckily this was the last place we visited during the day because Charles didn’t let go of his boat until we got back home.

The rest of the crew tried it out as well and had a lot of fun with it. They had more trouble than Charles because they set loftier goals (for Charles, just making it to the other side without capsizing was a win). Anwen became very involved helping Jake with his boat.

We went to one set of exhibits in the Material Sciences area because Josh had some vague memory of free candy somewhere at the event, which turned out to be there. It showed how you could mix various base material together to get something useful (candy!). There was also a “Polymer Slime” making exhibit which was very popular with the crew.


Charles finds a comfy seat to wait for the crusher to start up

We went to see the concrete crushing, of course. The older boys thought it was very cool, but Charles, who originally was eager and happy (as you can see in the photo on the left), became very frightened once things started, running to the back of the room and cowering under his coat. Somehow (remembering from last year?) he knew that it would be very loud. When the concrete exploded he broke down in to tears and wanted to run out in to the hall. I kept him back because the noise was over and I didn’t want to get separated from the rest of the crew. Charles was fine a few minutes later, so he may recover.

The other boys thought the crushing was The Cool and when they handed out memorial samples of the concrete afterwards, there was much joy. Charles wanted a piece as well, and then had another break down when his piece turned out to be smaller than Corwin’s. Jake managed to acquire 3 or 4 pieces and so had to put some in his pockets, where the sharp edges cut through his pants and then bit in to his legs, slowing down his walking speed. I suggested that he could take the concrete out of his pockets, a suggestion that fell upon him like a revelation.

We also watched one round of the robot contest. It’s set up as sort of a extreme task exercise. The real scoring is accomplishing some specific tasks, but the robots are allowed to “interact” during the round. The robot that won the round did so by disabling both other robots. One it managed to flip up on its back and the other was pushed half off an edge so that it couldn’t get back and the operators didn’t want to risk permanent damage by making it fall the rest of the way. The boys liked it but there’s a long set up time between round they didn’t want to endure.

Instead of waiting we headed off for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant that is a favorite of Corwin and Charles. The boys had mostly corn chips with melted cheese. At one point Amine started putting hot sauce on his corn chips. Other boys of course had to match him, apparently not realizing that due to the style of cooking at his house, Amine has a far higher tolerance for spicy hotness. Jake was the first to load up.

Dad: Jake, I think you’re making a big mistake you will deeply regret.

Jake: [responds with a look combining disparagement and resignation to the dictates of male bonding, then eats the chip. Of course, it is far too much and he starts chugging water.]

Dad: Did you learn anything from this experience?

Jake: [nods vigorously while drinking]

I have my doubts about the amount of learning Jake experienced, but it was clear that Corwin found observation insufficient for it, as he was the next to try it (this from the boy who screams in dismay at the very suggestion of having hot sauce put on his food at home). Corwin also claimed to have learned something, which is possible as he mentioned it at lunch the next day. But I have my doubts there as well.

Gallery with additional pictures.

1 Of course, one of the reasons we went Friday is because that’s the less busy day.

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Friday 09 March 2007

At last, it all makes sense

Something for Mom

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with a beedog. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the beedog. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the beedog about it: “Beedog, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

And the beedog said: “It is because I cannot be trusted off-leash, and I ran away”.

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Thursday 08 March 2007

Always helpful

[Dad and Alice are wandering outside]

Alice: Daddy, what you doing?

Dad: I am looking for something to destroy Super Horsey Princesses.

Alice: That not out here, those in the house.

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Wednesday 07 March 2007

Just like in the funny papers

Charles and Sharky play Calvin and Hobbes

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The concise Alice

I have a number of little aspects of Alice, which hopefully in concert constitute an interesting portrait of she who is the Super Horsey Princess.

Alice likes to change clothes. I don’t remember the boys being so enthralled with new outfits. Alice would probably change 3 or 4 times a day if she thought she could get away with it. I suspect that sometimes when she has a containment failure, it’s deliberate because afterwards she gets

  • a bath
  • new clothes

both of which are high on her favorites list.

In my opinion relatedly, Alice has decided that she is allowed to change in to night clothes as soon as it’s dark (she frequently asks before it’s dark, but she can be put off with the excuse that it’s still day time outside). I am working on having her accept that we should wait for night clothes until after supper, even if it’s already dark.

Alice has another girlie habit, which is putting her face right in front of mine when she’s arguing with me or trying to convince me of something. I don’t remember that with the boys, but I do remember Ashlyn and Gwyneth doing that, particularly the hands on knees, leaning forward until her face is an inch or two away bit.

On the other hand, Alice has a few non-stereotypical aspects. She demonstrated one last week when she started jumping on me on the couch. After a jump or two, she started to critique my cries of pain. Apparently she wanted more of a grunt of pain than a scream of agony. Silent stoicism was right out, because then it didn’t really feel like jumping on Dad.

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Tuesday 06 March 2007

Climbing sweater mountain

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Monday 05 March 2007

Is a warm butt worth interacting with Mom?

On the way back from running errands yesterday, Corwin had to ride in the front of the van with me because the last row had to be folded down to hold drywall. Since it was kind of chilly out, I offered to turn on the seat warmer for Corwin. Evidently this was the first time Corwin experienced the butt warmer. He really, really liked it, and when the lumbar warmer kicked in he liked it even more.

I asked him it the niceness of the butt warmer offset the difficultly in avoiding talking with Mom. He thought about it awhile but didn’t answer.

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Roaring cataract

Last Friday, when the snow melt was serious, I took Poly out and wandered around the dead end to see how things were there. It was flooded, but I noticed that there seemed to be some flow, which was unusual. I traced it through our back yard, from which it headed out in to the fields. I went back to the street and went down to the corner that goes to the park and saw that the fields were flooded all the way down to there and our dead end was draining to the stream that starts in that lot. I could also hear the roar of flowing water, which is not a sound one normally hears in these parts.

I decided to check it out with a camera, but I had to prepare because the way in was flooded. The boys had arrived home by this time but had soaked their feet in the dead end (trying to walk across a snow bridge, which collapsed and dumped them in the water). I didn’t have any footwear that was tall enough to resist flooding, so I didn’t bother and put on my water shoes for some wading fun.

That water was cold. I had to roll up my pant legs as well because I had to tramp through some deep slush (almost to my knees) at times. But, I figured, it was water so I couldn’t actually get frost bite. It was interesting to see that much flowing water in our own neighborhood, so it was worth it. Here are some other pictures of the temporary cataract.

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Sunday 04 March 2007

Built to last!

Dad demonstrates the sturdy construction of his ice-scraper project

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Meat before pudding

As part of my efforts to drive Mom completely batty, I have been “helping” at dinner to convince the boyen to consume their dinners. I started quoting some Pink Floyd song lyrics at them, where a background voice says

If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

Corwin tried to figure out where this was from and how this could possibly be worked in to a song. Charles just thought it was amusing and started quoting it himself. Neither boy actually ate any more of their meat, except for one night when Mom had actually made some pudding.

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Saturday 03 March 2007


Charles attacks, almost perfectly concealed by his dino-camo

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Bidding the excreted farewell

[Dad helps Alice go potty]

Dad: Alice, can you flush for me?

Alice: OK. [pause] There a lot of poop!

Dad: Yes. Go ahead and flush, please.


Alice: All the poop going away!

Dad: Yes.

Alice: Bye bye poopy! [waves]

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Friday 02 March 2007

Because her day time is so tiring

Alice is in a transition phase. Sometimes when she wakes up she can go to the potty and dress all by herself. Later in the day, however, she almost always “needs” help. I try to convince her that since she’s done it by herself earlier, she can handle it now, but she refuses to believe me.

UPDATE: Today, Alice had a bit of trouble pulling up her pants after going potty, so I helped and ended up just pulling them up. Alice melted down because she wanted to do it. I had to pull her pants back down so she could pull them up. About 90 minutes later, Alice goes potty again and this time absolutely refuses to put her underwear or pants back on, Dad must do it. I told her I didn’t want to because she had been so upset the last time, but she just gave me a puzzled look and said “Daddy put these on me”.

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Thursday 01 March 2007

Bundle of joy

It’s been a few days since the last “Alice lost in the snow picture”
and with the snow is melting it’s now or never for these shots

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The Cycle of Toy

After a little bit of initial fun, the set of PixelBlocks I bought for the boyen languished on a shelf. A couple of weeks ago Charles discovered one of these constructs and asked about it. I told him about the PixelBlocks (as if for the first time) and Charles, as is his way, immediately complained “Why haven’t you let me play with them?”. As is my way, I responded that the most likely reason was that he had never asked to do so. Charles, slowly acquiring an understand of this type of human interaction, managed to stammer out “Can I please with them, please?”. A couple of weeks passed of intensive construction efforts by the boyen, but which by now have basically wound down. I suppose it’s time to gather them up and put them back on the shelf, so that they can become new again and Charles can blame me for not letting him play.

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