Sunday 30 September 2007

Flame on!

Apparently you need to clean the grill bottom now and then to avoid flash fires

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Saturday 29 September 2007

Weekly Soccer Report

Corwin’s stomach stops the play

Corwin and Charles had games as separate locations today, so I could only attend one. Corwin’s game was much further away and much earlier in the morning so Mom sent me to that one while she watched the closer, later, and shorter game (she actually made it back home before I did, to report that Charles’ team won 4-2) even though I was worn out from exposing Corwin to high culture.

I think the team was playing better today. The midfield did a better job of feeding the ball to the other side of the field and the offense, for once, was spreading out around the goal instead of clustering on one side. As a result, Corwin’s team won 5-2, although the game was much more contested than that because it was tied 0-0 at the half. Levi lead the break through in the second half as the first person to score in the game (although the other team had put one in the goal but it was called back due to an offside pass). After that, the other team seemed to break down a bit and Corwin’s teams scored 3 more goals shortly there after. The opponents did manage a rally late in the game, scoring a couple of goals but were unable to overcome the lead.

Corwin did better, getting more loft on his kicks. That’s needed now because the kids are good enough to stop kicks near the ground. You have to either pass or kick over the other team to get the ball downfield for more than momentarily. Corwin had several good saves, my favorite being the one where first stopped the incoming ball with his stomach and then kicked it back.

Corwin’s team did get lucky a couple of times when the opponents broke through their forward defense and took unopposed runs at the goal. These were prevented only by desperate goalie action or the kicker muffing the shot. One was blocked by the goalie (Nick) on one side and then rolled all the way across the front of the goal to other side. If an opponent had been in position it would have been a simple chip shot for a score.

Scoring were Brian (twice), Josh, Levi, and Andrew.

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Friday 28 September 2007


The big adventure tonight was Corwin and I going to Corwin’s first rock music concert. We saw Weird Al Yankovich live.It was an excellent concert, even better than the last one I went to (about 4 or 5 years back). I had warned Corwin that Weird Al might not play Corwin’s favorite songs, but Al came through and played The Saga Begins and Yoda back to back about half way through. He did Albuquerque for an encore, which was great. It was somewhat depressing to realize how many of the songs to which I can sing all the lyrics. But hey, Weird Al is one of the musical geniuses of our time

Corwin said he enjoyed it a lot, although I suspect it’s going to impact his soccer game tomorrow. His soccer teammate Nick sat literally in front of Corwin, another teammate was in the audience somwhere, and the parents of one of this baseball teammates sat a couple of row forwards on the other side of the same section. It was definitely a very pumped audience. I thought about getting Corwin a concert T-shirt but the line was unbelievable, at least 50 or 60 people each on both side of the table. Definitely the place to be for the hip and happening crew.

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Thursday 27 September 2007

Coming of electronic age

The joys of the modern age — I discovered on Monday that Corwin has found YouTube. I realized that he already had some familiarity with netsearch engines, which he uses to find game cheats, but I was hoping to keep him out of the online video world for a while yet. Fortunately he was spending his time finding Halo 3 trailers. At least the cooties and dire parental threats will keep him away from less age appropriate things.

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Wednesday 26 September 2007

Volume Disorder

I thought girls were supposed nicer and cleaner than boys, but I can’t tell that from Alice. She has the most remarkable ability to make any mess worse. If she spills something, or some sort of biological waste product is left on the floor, Alice will walk through it unless forcibly prevented from doing so. Telling her not to step in it just means you get an “ooopsie!” after she tracks it elsewhere.

Her dining style is atrocious, although I blame her brothers for most of that, being the overly sensitive types that they are. We can spend entire dinners listening to Corwin say “Alice, chew with your mouth closed” every 10 seconds. Corwin has yet to notice that Alice’s dining becomes more unwatchable, not less, every time he says something.

Alice doesn’t like me making up nicknames for her, like calling her “white shoed girl” when she’s wearing white shoes, or Mom referring to her as a debil child. But two appellations she actively likes are “loud” and “messy”. I sung bits of the “I’m a mess” song by Laurie Berkner and Alice liked it, loudly agreeing that she’s a mess and loud and proud of both.

I used to despair, but lately I have begun to think that this is a better solution to future dating issues than a convent.

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Tuesday 25 September 2007


Corwin had a hard time yesterday after school. Jack was over because it was Monday, but the power to the house was out. That meant no computers. The kids were deeply shocked at this, and especially when they realized it meant no TV either. Much joy was created when the power came back about 20 minutes later. Things went well for a while until Corwin called me down to get him through a section of a game that was too “scary” or “freaky” or something — Corwin was not very coherent about it. It had been a long time since I had played that one, so after a bit of stumbling around I decided that if Corwin couldn’t handle one of the missions, he was better off not playing at all. I am not sure why that mission was so mentally searing. It of course features lots of deadly creatures chasing you, but that describes 80% of the game. Luckily, shortly after that the power went out again, so everyone headed outside to play. Problem solved!

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Fair share

Mom: Corwin! If the four of us each have one eighth of the pie, how much is left?

Corwin: One half.

Mom: Right!

Alice: And all the rest is for me.

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Monday 24 September 2007

Mixed results

Corwin has started demanding hot chocolate, which I find a bit odd when it’s nearly 90°F out, but that’s our boy. We finally told him that he could make it himself — how hard could it be? Challenging, it turns out. Corwin read the directions carefully but didn’t quite grasp the basic assumption that one would boil the water first, then mix the result in the cup. Instead, Corwin carefully measured the water and the mix and put them in to the tea kettle to boil them. It was quite the mess, but at least I finally understood why Corwin was so worked up about exactly how much water to put in the kettle.

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Sunday 23 September 2007

Dinner theatre

Dad: OK, Charles, Daddy is eating so you can’t touch him.

Charles: You are not eating. There is no food in your mouth.

Dad: I have food on my plate and I am at dinner. That counts.

Charles: No it doesn’t.

Dad: OK, then, I will sing.

Charles: Nooooo!

Dad: Yes, I will sing the Charles Song1.

Alice: Not while I’m eating!

[Later, while Charles is drawing]

Alice: If any one tries to stop Charles from drawing, I will kick them in the butt!

[Dad grabs Charles and puts him over his knee so Alice can practice]

Dad: Alice, here you go!

Alice: I don’t have time for that.

1 To the tune of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!

If you want to eat but you got no feet
If you want to dance but you got no pants
You can call and get some ants ‘cause that’s what Charles are for!
That’s what Charles are for, that’s what Charles are for.
When you really need ‘em to whine and cry, that’s what Charles are for!

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Saturday 22 September 2007

Brother Games

Corwin does sometimes move during a game

It was a bad day for the boyen. Corwin’s team lost 0-3 and Charles’ team went down 2-3.

Corwin’s team did seem to be playing reasonably well, except they were consistent out hustled by their opponents. I knew they were in trouble early on because it was clear the ball was spending much more time on Corwin’s side than the opponents side. Their midfield in particular did a good job of repulsing returns. It did mean that Corwin got a lot of game action, trying to clear the ball and had a number of good saves. One of our goalies had an amazing save, blocking a shot twice then running in to the goal to grab the ball just before it crossed the goal line.

The offense wasn’t as strong. I don’t know how the other teams do it, but we seem to do a lot more lone charges at the goal while the other team gets a crowd there to make the score on the rebound.

It does seem a big change from previous seasons, where there would be effectively one other strong team and all the rest weak or hopeless. For whatever reason, at this level all the teams are strong. The previous win and tie were both hard fought games, as was this one. It definitely seems to be a much higher level of competition.

Charles takes action

Charles was noticeably more aggressive the half of the game I saw. Corwin and I had to leave early to make it to Corwin’s game across town. Charles had some good kicks and ran more than usual, although he still flaps his arms like a headless chicken as he goes. There was no scoring in the first half, but the teams seemed roughly even in terms of keeping the ball on the other side and taking shots at the goal.

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Alice Culpa

Dad: Alice, you have the pokiest tummy in the whole world!

Alice: No I don’t!

Dad: Here comes the Evil Daddy Poker to get your tummy.

Alice: No!

Dad: Can I poke Mommy’s tummy instead?

Alice: Yes.

Dad: [to Mom] Ah-ha-ha!

Mom: Alice said “no”, I heard her.

Dad: Alice, can I poke Mommy’s tummy?

Alice: [loud and clear] Yes, poke Mommy!

Mom: Alice! How could you say that?

Alice: Oopsie!

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Friday 21 September 2007

Language traps

[Driving around without Mom]

Corwin: Let’s get some bagels for dinner.

Charles: I want a raisin bagel!

Alice: I want a plain bagel!

Dad: If Alice gets a plane bagel, I want a train bagel. Or maybe a car bagel.

Charles: There’s no such thing as a train bagel.

Alice: I have some in my pocket, but I can’t get them out right now.

I think I have no choice but to start referring to the place Alice lives as “Wonderland”. Tonight we had this conversation —

Dad: Can I call you “Alice Super Silly Pop”?

Alice: No.

Dad: Can I call Charles “Alice Super Silly Pop”?

Alice: Yes. You can call him Daddy Corwin Super Silly Pop! [pause] That’s a nice word for Africans.

Then she wanted to know what “AOMKQB” spelled. She wouldn’t believe I didn’t know the word. Finally we argued about a Dora episode which she said had a king. I said it was a prince, and when Dora said “we have to save the prince!” I nudged Alice and said “haha! see!”. Alice simply stated “The TV said the wrong word. It’s a king”.

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Thursday 20 September 2007

Alice is not paper

We are still struggling with Alice and her self decorating.

I have tried to promote the rule “only draw on paper” so I frequently ask her “Alice, are you made of paper?” — “No” — “Then should you be drawing on yourself?”. However, this seems to have had only a ritualizing and not a deterrent effect. Alice came to me the other evening with her little ink stained hands. I didn’t notice them immediately so Alice thrust them in to my face saying “I drawed on myself!” until I scolded her for it and she said “Ooops! I sorry!”. The next evening she colored her foot blue.

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Wednesday 19 September 2007

Playing dentist

Flossing time

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Tuesday 18 September 2007

I'll need a stiff drink with that

Mom has been trying to feed the kids edamame which is lightly steamed soybeans. Alice and Corwin liked them, Corwin particularly, but Charles says “I can’t eat them!” in his most plaintive tone. Mom makes him eat them anyway, even though one time I had to pick them off his plate, put them in his mouth, and then help work his jaw to get them down. Most recently Charles has become obsessed with counting how many he has to eat (imagine that!). To make this easier, he popped all the beans out of their husks and arranged them in a rectangular array on his plate. Honestly, though, it didn’t seem to help. Charles still had to wash all 18 of them down with multiple glasses of milk.

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Monday 17 September 2007

Sneaky fish

Unaware he is being sized up for a meal by local fish, Charles continues digging his burrow

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Sunday 16 September 2007

A matter of timing

[Charles and Alice are running around outside]

Alice: Charles, what are you playing?

Dad: Super Flying Ultra Monkey Charles!

Alice: I not talking to you! I talking to Charles. Charles, are you playing Star Wars?

Dad: I want to play “Poke Alice in the Tummy”.

Alice: No! You can’t play that until the snow falls! You have to wait until there is snow on the ground.

Dad: I can play it once there’s snow?

Alice: Yes.

[Turns out Charles was playing Halo, not Star Wars]

Alice: Can there be horses?

Charles: No. No living things except people.

Dad: What about robot horses?

Charles: No. Only people.

Alice: And aliens! Lots of aliens, and alien babies little aliens and alien Daddies and alien Mommies!

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Saturday 15 September 2007

Double Header

Corwin and Charles both had games today. I went to Charles because I was at Corwin’s last week.

Charles’ team had a full roster but unfortunately the other team was very short on players, starting out with just five on the field. Later the coach loaned them one of our players and then they had a couple of their players arrive, so in the end there were 14 kids on the field.

Charles did OK, although he needs to be more aggressive. He’s a tad too polite about not getting in the way of opposing players. He ended up backing up an aggressive player most of the time because the other kid would just charge in where Charles feared to tred. Still, Charles did have a couple of good plays, blocking the ball and kicking it back to the other side.

His team did well, winning 4-0. Charles spent one quarter as goalie without ever having to touch the ball because his team kept it almost entirely on the other side of the field. It didn’t provide much excitement for Charles but it was better for the team.

Corwin’s games started later than Charles’ so I was able to watch the second half it. It was a hard played game that ended in a 1-1 tie. Josh had scored a goal in the first quarter but the other team held off Corwin’s team for the rest of the game, despite a good number of close shots at the goal. It seemed to me that Corwin’s team put a lot more pressure on their opponent’s goal than vice versa, but the other team managed to score in the third quarter on a good drive. They actually put the ball in the goal a second time but had been offsides before that so it didn’t count.

Corwin did a good job as defender, regularly knocking the ball back to the other side. He seemed to be doing better at moving and getting involved in plays.

The opponent team was mostly 6th graders with some very large players. Even a couple of the girls outmassed players like Josh by a large margin and Corwin was far from the biggest kid on the field. Overall they did well, but the coach wants to work on cross shots at the goal next week because they missed a lot of those.

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Friday 14 September 2007


Mom tried to take the kids over to the local park for a “Jazz Walk”, where various jazz muscians set up and play along the paths in the park. The kids were grumbly but accepting until about half way through. Mom then made the mistake of mentioning that if the kids hung on for a little longer, we’d get to the cookie stand and everyone could have cookies. That was the end of the jazz as far as the kids were concerned, cookie thoughts leaving no room for music appreciation.

Unfortunately, there was no cookie stand. Alice melted down and Charles fixated on “can we go home now?”. Mom did get to hear a bit of music between the shrieks and requests for homeward boundedness.

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Thursday 13 September 2007

Can you just get along?

[Driving home in the van]

Alice: La la la la la la!

Alice: Stop saying that!

Alice: You stop saying that!

Alice: No, you stop saying that!

Alice: Stop copying me!

Alice: Stop copying me!

Alice: Stop saying what I say!

Alice: Stop saying what I say!

Alice: [drops in to a sotto voice argument — it’s probably best we don’t know exactly what she said to herself]

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Wednesday 12 September 2007

Hot time

We went over to Laurie and Sara’s parents’ house tonight. The entire set (including Dan, Uncle Evil’s dread companion) was there so we were able to re-unite the Three Girl Gang. It was also the evening of the annual burning, so there was a massive fire for cooking hot dogs and marshmallows. The resulting ember pile generated so much heat that only a few brave souls could actually cook on it (Laurie tried and after a few minutes she looked like she had sunburn, her face was so reddened). I managed it only by laying down and hiding behind some weeds that had miraculously survived the initial burn. Alice, however, couldn’t wait so she and the other girls had their hotdogs raw. They seemed to think that was the superior choice, which says what they think about my cooking.

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Tuesday 11 September 2007

With an extra helping of grump

Gosh, the kids have been grumpy lately. Corwin is only a little worse than usual but Charles and Alice haven’t been happy since school started.

Charles has mastered the technique of whining in such a monotone that he’s literally incomprehensible. It’s often difficult to even detect word boundaries because it comes out as this sort of pulsating drone that you suspect might have been based on some language before it was whined down.

Alice has been throwing more grumpy fits lately. In fact, Mom’s been trying to get me to drop Alice off in the mornings because once we’ve gone through “I don’t like you anymore” and “you’re a bad Daddy!” it would seem that there should be less separation anxiety. That worked for a couple of days until Alice figured it out, so despite my lack of parental goodness, Alice will still clutch at me when I try to drop her off at school. It also shows that more communication is not always better. Alice has stated clearly that she should be able to lay on the couch in her underwear / pullups and watch Dora all day instead of having to go to school. She’s so mature for her age.

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Monday 10 September 2007

Face the cuteness

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Sunday 09 September 2007

Lazy Sunday

Corwin went off to a birthday party for one of his friends, so Mom made the rest of us go to the pond. It was worth it, though, because she went out on an inner tube which resulted in Charles calling her a boat. I gave him a sand shovel, told him it was a paddle, and that he should get on the boat and paddle it around. Charles immediately put this plan in to action. Boo-yah!

Later, as punishment, Mom told me to unload the dishwasher which had just run.

Mom: These should all be dry.

Dad: Ouch! They’re still hot. But not as hot as you

Mom: [The Look™]

Alice: Daaaaaddy! Mom is not hot!

Dad: Boo-yah!

Then it was time for a treat. Alice decided on a cookie instead of a treat from her pumpkin. She explains her choice:

Alice: I don’t have room for candy. All the candy is in my tummy. Later, it will go down in to my feet. Then I will be able to eat more candy.

Dad: What about the other candy that’s already gone down there?

Alice: I have eaten a lot of candy.

Dad: Yes. Aren’t your feet full?

Alice: No, I getting bigger. Then there is more room in my feet. I just eat, and drink, think about it and then sleep and that’s why I get bigger.

I believe her. I can get bigger just by thinking about donuts.

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Saturday 08 September 2007

Big League Soccer

Today was Corwin’s first soccer game of the season. The kids did well, but I don’t think they were playing at their full ability. It was a good game, although clearly favoring Corwin’s team which won 2-0. They pressured the other team’s goal from the start, although the other team did have a few spans where they put some good pressure on Corwin’s goal and made the goalie earn his keep.

Corwin play central defense, which I think is his favorite position. I do think he needs to do a bit better in the hustle department, as he’s not the fastest runner and therefore needs to make his move before the attackers get to him, since he generally can’t catch them if they get past him. Corwin did make some excellent saves and tackles, he could just make more if he’d move a bit earlier and more often.

The bigger field took its toll — even with multiple substitutes I could see the kids dragging by the end. It was a bit worse because we ended up loaning the other team a couple of players for most of the game.

The worst part, though, was that it was a cloudy day that got cloudier as the match wore on which had a bad effect on the pictures. The bigger field made it harder to zoom in on the action. The kids were also moving the ball much farther and faster than they have in the past. I used to be able to mostly just track along but both sides were making a good number of big plays. The solution, I think, is to switch over to taking pictures of Charles.

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Friday 07 September 2007

Punished for success

This evening was Corwin’s first solo violin recital. He has finished “Book Two” and as a result has to perform selections from the books in public. Mom went all out — Corwin had a rough week, with his first full week of school, soccer practice, Webelos, and lots and lots of practice.

The recital went well, with Corwin making only few mistakes. Mom was able to listen for once because she hired an accompanist instead of playing herself. Grandma came down for it and several of Corwin’s fellow students showed up to listen. Alice and Charles were there as well, but they spent most of the time asking “is Corwin done yet?” because Mom said “no cookies until Corwin is done”. In the end, though Corwin was the cookie monster. I had to chastise him for eating too many of Mom’s chocolate chip cookies. So he stopped eating those and starting chowing down on the thin mints. Oddly, afterwards when Mom got pizza the way Corwin likes it, he didn’t eat very much of it.

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Alice came to me last evening with a wide streak of purple marker across her lips and out across the rest of her face.

Dad: Alice, how did that marker get on your face?

Alice: I don’t know.

Dad: Why did you have a marker in your mouth?

Alice: [ponders] I thought it was lipstick!

Dad: What do you know about lipstick?

Alice: It cleans my lips. It’s something like sunscreen. For my lips.

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Thursday 06 September 2007

A study in contrasts, 2

POset yarfed all over the bed covers this morning, and on the floor as well. Naturally, when Alice woke up she stepped in it, even though it was on the other side of the bed and out of the way of leaving the from. Alice, much more than the boys, has a natural instinct for being attracted to mess. Any time she has a containment failure, she will walk through the results unless physically restrained. Sometimes telling her will work, but frequently not, even if she agrees to not do it. She just can’t help herself, apparently.

On the other hand, Charles was reading a book this morning and it had a section on bugs that live the in carpet. Charles became immediately terrified of stepping on the carpet and broke down in tears when Mom told him to go upstairs and pick up his dirty clothes. He was browbeaten in to going up anyway and when I checked on him, he had carefully built a trail of books that he could step on, like rocks in a stream. Naturally I plucked him off, called out to the swarming carpet bugs in their untold billions “Hey, tasty Charles treat incoming!”, and fed Charles to them. At least we won’t have to hear Charles whining about touching the carpet any more.

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Wednesday 05 September 2007

A study in contrasts

Charles had his first homework this week (handed out Monday, due Friday) and he was very excited about it. Alice has been so excited about homework that we had to give her a little notebook in which she can do her “homework”.

Corwin, on the other hand, is not quite so thrilled. His homework is a bit more of an effort and involves that which he dreads second most1, creative writing. I think his problem is that he spends a lot more energy on convincing himself the homework is too hard than on actually doing it.

1 Number one is girl cooties. Apparently the modern strain is so virulent that you can get it just from watching a girl being physically affectionate on the TV.

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Tuesday 04 September 2007

Don't look behind the curtain

A cleverly hidden dog

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Monday 03 September 2007

Wood treatment

Poor Alice. She got another nasty pair of splinters in her foot, this time on the bottom of her big toe right below the joint. I found out while trying to extract the splinters that Alice has very strong legs. Even her toes are strong — my hand started cramping from trying to hold her big toe in the none clenched position. At least I didn’t have to feel guilty about hurting her, as she would start screaming and crying as soon as I touched her foot with my hand without regard to the tweezers were touching or even any near her foot. I eventually finished extracting this evening, after she fell asleep on Mom. It would seem to indicate that it didn’t hurt that much if Alice didn’t even wake up during the effort. On the other hand, it went much faster because I could actually look at the target and then grab it at instead of jabbing at a moving target. I am thinking that we may need to require footwear while the kids are outside, as I am not sure what to do to the deck to keep the kids from mainlining wood.

P.S. On a semi-related topic, I have noticed that Alice’s neck veins really stick out when I bug her too much. I could see them just bulge as she hissed at me “Daddy, I do NOT have grapey toes!”. Oooh, she’s going to be high maintenance some day.

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Sunday 02 September 2007

But he's a world record holder!

Let’s just hope that this isn’t what we’ll be reading about Charles in 40 years.

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Going through the motions

So the other day Corwin comes home from soccer practice on a day when it was over 90° in the evening. The coach works them hard, so he was quite smelly. Mom sends him up to take a shower. He comes back having not apparently showered. Mom questioned him on this. It turned out that he had taken a shower but put his dirty clothes back on afterwards. The basic concept being showering seems to have escaped his grasp. We can only hope we have instilled the proper habits in him.

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Record break

Right after getting back from church, we managed to fill all three bathrooms with kids simultaneously. At least they do something together.

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Saturday 01 September 2007

First time as practice

Today’s excitement was going to the wedding of Erica’s brother Adam. I think the kids cleaned up nice, although it took a lot of yelling and threats to get them in to nice clothes. Charles was particularly Charles. He complained that all of his nice clothes were so uncomfortable they were actively painful. We made him suffer anyway. At least he didn’t strip off his tie and shirt on the way back like a certain brother did.

Overall, though, the kids endured reasonably well. Alice partied down like there was no tomorrow, hitting the dance floor once the music started.

We also sent Corwin up with the single guys for the throwing of the garter. Of course, we didn’t tell him that if he caught it he was the next to get married. He was so much shorter that there wasn’t much chance of it. He was deeply shocked when I told him afterwards, as if he had dodged a bullet unknowing.

We get to do it again in October when Erica herself gets sold off married.

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Stay at home girl

Alice was out grazing on Mom’s raspberry bushes this morning. Only a few have come in this year, but that’s still better than the strawberries.

Alice is also still having a difficult transition back to daycare. She never wants to go in the morning, although I haven’t had a terrible drop off yet. Still, when the teacher says “Oh, Alice, it’s so nice to see you smile!” it’s not a good sign. Alice asked us several times this morning “we stay together today?” meaning “I don’t have to go to school, right?”.

On a random note, Alice had milk on her cereal this morning. It’s the first time I have served it up that way for her.

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