Wednesday 31 October 2007


Today was Halloween, which means a massive social whirl for the children. Corwin and Charles had parties at school, along with a costume parade. Much candy was handed out to the kids. Back when Corwin was in first grade, I generally bulked up the party contributions because they were otherwise thin. Now, I rarely add anything because the kids get full bags of treets and there’s always a lot of general snacks left over. It’s definitely a lot easier for me.

After school, Alice and Charles went off with Mom to her office at the university where the building was having a trick or treat event. Not many families showed up, so the kids got a lot of candy. Corwin, meanwhile, went home with Jack to gather in a gang to terrorize Jack’s neighborhood. We’re still waiting for him to get home so I don’t know how that went.

We all grabbed a quick supper and then Mom went off to give her students a special Halloween treat - a mid term exam. Now that’s the kind of scary only Mom can do. Meanwhile, Alice, Charles, and I headed out to plunder the local neighborhood. We hit a few houses on a forced march over to Mara’s house and then hooked up with Mara, Zina, and Amalia to hit some more houses. Eventually we all ended up back at our house, paid off the Mara crew for their escort and called it a night. The weather had been about as good as it gets for a fall evening but it was starting to chill up and get dark, the kids had walked a long way, so they were willing to call it a night and start feasting on the proceeds.

UPDATE: Corwin made it back home, hitching a ride with Josh and family. Exhausted from their expedition, they nevertheless played outside the house for a little bit so that I could test one of my new 5-minute super bright glow sticks. Such nice boys.

The next morning Mom asked me why Alice’s face was bruised and abraded. I had forgotten that while I was out with Charles and Alice, Alice had stopped to complain of something in her shoe. Charles, completely absorbed in targeting enemies with his gun, ran right over her, grinding her face in to the sidewalk in passing. Alice, needless to say, was a bit put out over the incident, but through her tears she declared that she wanted to go on with the outing rather than go home and rest. Charles never did grasp why Alice and I were unpleased with him. However, his karma caught up with him later, as another period of similar obliviousness without an Alice to cushion the fall lead to the destruction of his gun. Now that, Charles was sorry about.

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Tuesday 30 October 2007

How to teach that patience is a virtue

Another thing that warms a Dad’s heart is the opportunity to make up for a past mistake. Yesterday I caught Corwin with only one sock on, something he’s managed to avoid for months now. As I wreaked havoc on him, Alice joined in to help. After much suffering, Corwin managed to get his sock off but — oh, I chuckle just to think of it! — he left it on the floor. Having learned my lesson, unlike Corwin, I snuck off to acquire the proper tool with which to chastise him. “Look, what’s that?!? A sock! WHACK”. He got that sock off the floor and in to the laundry in record time after that.

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Monday 29 October 2007

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

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Alice has acquired the habit of announcing to her parents the fact that she is talking to herself. This turns out to always be a self falsified statement, as she expects the targeted parent to respond with an affirmation that Alice is not talking to that parent, but to Alice.

Then there’s this bold statement, delivered to me as Alice walked in to my office.

Alice: Daddy, I not going to pee on your chair anymore because I a big girl now.

That’s the kind of thing that warms a Dad’s heart.

Alice sometimes decides that she needs to be called “Princess Dora”. But only by Dad — Mom is supposed to still call her “Alice”.

She drove Charles to an absolute screaming fit and near violence the other day by turning him in to a chicken with her magic princess wand. At one point Charles trapped her in a corner and refused to let her go until he wasn’t a chicken anymore.

Alice proposed declared marriage with the 2½ year old boy she plays with while her brothers are practicing soccer. The impending marriage of Erica (this weekend!) seems to be affecting her thoughts. After we bought a wedding gift for Erica, Alice “called” her on Alice’s toy cell phone and had a long talk with Erica about it, so we already know that Erica loves her present.

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Sunday 28 October 2007

Holy Halloween

The big fun today was the “Trunk or Treat” at the church. The parents park cars with trunks full of candy and the kids do power-treating, hitting the equivalent of 15 or so houses in less than 10 minutes. There’s also a set of games inside the church which cost tickets and reward the kids with even more candy. And finally, near the end, is a parade of all of the costumed kiddies.

Alice went as Snow White, promoted to Princess Snow White. Charles was a WWII infantryman and Corwin, failing to do any pre-planning, was left to scrounge left over parts of Charles’ costume to be another WWII infrantryman, even though he had to pack a colonial era rifle. Mom went as a harried mother of three.

The kids had a good time, except for Charles and Corwin. Charles broke down at least once because he ran out of tickets and lost one. We fixed that by buying him some more tickets. Corwin was near tears for an extended period because he was failing at the cake walk. This involves 10 people walking in a circle over numbers for a while, stopping, and then the MC pulling a number out of a hat. The person on that number wins a cake / plate of cookies / cupcakes. Corwin played seventeen times before he won, even though by near the end they’d dropped to only requiring 3 or 4 people at a time, having a large table still half filled with baked goods and a dwindling supply of players who didn’t already have as many baked goods as they could carry. Still, in the end Corwin’s persistence paid off and he snagged a nice set of cupcakes. Luckily, for Corwin’s apparently dwindling supply of luck, he’ll be tagged as a helper instead of a player next year.

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Saturday 27 October 2007

Evolving to spectator sports

Corwin received some free tickets (not, in my view, worth what he paid for them) for a local university football game. Mom’s a soft touch, though, and volunteered to go along. The rest of us stayed home and had fun. A number of Corwin’s classmates attended as well, there apparently being a regular blizzard of free tickets. Corwin claimed he had fun watching, although I noted that Mom took along a book and a deck of cards “just in case”.

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Friday 26 October 2007


Alice has announced that she wants to grow up to be a princess because then she will get to have a very nice dress. Plus long pink hair. Alice has always shown more interest in her clothes than her brothers — the school staff has noticed that one way to distract Alice when she’s dropped off is to complement her on her clothing. That always puts her in a better mood and sets her off displaying and discussing her fashion choices. It’s very important to always be in style, Alice assures me.

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Thursday 25 October 2007

Night life

We ran out of pull-ups for Alice to sleep in, so Mom decided that we would do without and plan on Alice not wetting the bed overnight. Well, Alice hasn’t wet the bed every single night, but we’ve given up on keeping sheets on her bed. Mom’s taken the brunt of the cleanup, but she was sick last night so I got up at 4 to rinse off a urine encrusted daughter. She can store an amazing amount of fluid for such a little girl. We all went back to sleep, but Alice woke up cranky the next morning. Mom and I were discussing this when Alice broke in with “I just tired because I had a busy night”.

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Wednesday 24 October 2007

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

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Tuesday 23 October 2007

Politeness first

Alice: Daddy, I had a bad dream last night!

Dad: You dreamed you were a star-bellied Alice?1

Alice: No. That was a good dream!

Dad: Oh. Did you dream that Daddy hugged you until you popped?

Alice: No.

Dad: Oh, can I hug you until you pop?

Alice: NO!

Dad: Oh.

Alice. You have to say “please may I hug you until you pop?”.

Dad: Please may I hug you until you pop?

Alice: Yes!


1 I got a roll of star stickers for Alice and had been asking her if she wanted to be a star-bellied Alice. She was, for a little bit. Later she was a star-footed Alice as well.

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Monday 22 October 2007

Much to do

I thought that with the soccer season finished, we’d have some spare time. But both boys had to go out tonight to attend various parties (they are such the socialites). Maybe next week…

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Sunday 21 October 2007

Multi Level Marketing

This weekend’s big project was foisting consumer goods on innocent civilians. That is, selling popcorn for the Cub Scouts. This year we have both Corwin and Charles we have to sell twice as much as last year.

We went out for several hours last Sunday to cover our neighborhood. Unfortunately, Matt is also now a Cub Scout so we had to split the neighborhood. That wasn’t so bad because we were already doomed to go wandering the mean streets peddling our wares so it was just a little bit more.

It was slow but not too bad. Charles was able to memorize his little spiel, although I was unable to convince him to look at the victims potential customers with big blue puppy dog eyes. Charles also kept careful track of how many sales we had made and how many we had left to fill up our sheet. Corwin was somewhat indifferent, instead trying to determine how much longer / many houses until we could go home. I took the boys out together last weekend but this weekend I had to do the entire run, trading off boys now and then to keep the complaining minimized. At least the weather was very nice.

P.S. We saw a lot of dead birds while we were out, 3 with Corwin and another with Charles. One of them was still cheeping and twitching, which rattled Corwin a bit. I don’t know if that’s seasonal or we were just unlucky.

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Saturday 20 October 2007

Season windup

Charles had his last soccer game of the season today. It didn’t go very well as they lost 0-3 (the other team apparently having had an undefeated season). The scoring was very odd, as all three goals happened in the space of a literally a couple of minutes early in the second quarter and nothing for either team elsewhen in the game.

Charles played reasonably well, although not quite at the top of his game. I think he spent the game on defense but not goalie. He did a good job of going after the ball, even if it was buried in a scrum and made a number of good passes to the offense to clear the ball. Overall, the field dominance was roughly equal but Charles’ team couldn’t convert the attacks, partially I think because the other team did a better job of mass attacks rather than loan break aways. Charles didn’t seem very upset about the outcome so I expect he’ll be willing to play again next season.

After Charles’ game, I stayed to take a few pictures of Mara’s game, which also featured Maggie but not Allison (injured) or Ali (out of town partying) who are also on that team. I was trying for a nice picture of Mara for an updated MaraWare but I didn’t get anything I was really happy with. It’s just another way for me to turn fun in to work. Still, I got enough shots to be able to annoy Mara even if I missed capturing her most embarassing moment in the game, falling on her posterior, legs in the air.

I ended up distracted and shot the whole game, which meant that it was time for the end of season picnic for Corwin’s team by the time I was ready to pop home for a break. That was nice, with a cookout and the traditional kids vs. parents game. As usual, the kids got crushed but no small part of it was that they didn’t play very well, bunching up and not passing. They outnumbered the adults but didn’t take any advantage of that. Charles did well, though, breaking up some plays nicely on defense. The kids did end up scoring a couple of goals which was enough to make them happy.

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Friday 19 October 2007

Light games

I had to restock some of my glowing stuff for the Halloween season, so I picked up a couple extra glowing swords because they were very inexpensive. As you can see, they were a big hit with the kids so even though half of them were broken within a couple days, we still got our money’s worth out of them.

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Thursday 18 October 2007

Gratuitous Picture of the day

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Wednesday 17 October 2007

Stories in play

Charles, presumably at the strong urging of his teacher, has been writing his little story books about something other than modern warfare. He did one about fishing a few days ago and more recently one about him and Alice. In this most recent story, he and Alice go outside and shoot things, one of which I think is Corwin. So, it’s not completely off topic for him.

What I liked about it, though, was that he modeled the story reasonably well on how he and Alice play outside. He even drew himself with his big gun, rendered well enough that it was instantly recognizable. Alice, being a girl, changed weapons on every page. All of her weapons were also modeled (not as accurately) on actual Alice weaponry, including a nerf pistol and a bazooka. It’s too bad he didn’t draw her with a blaster, as Alice has been claiming to be Princess Leia for a number of days, sometimes to the point of insisting on being called that instead of “Alice”. She was very happy when I told her that Leia carried a blaster.

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Tuesday 16 October 2007

Solving the unstained carpet problem

Polynomial has discovered that she can nose open the doggy gate to the upstairs if we leave it unlatched. We tend to do that because it makes it easier for POset and Poly hadn’t figured it out. Naturally, the first thing Poly does when she gets upstairs is pee on the carpet. This in turn discourages us from letting her upstairs. I think at least once she’s snuck upstairs just to pee and then gone back down. Then she looks sad when we lock the gate. But I suppose that why we have pets, so we can learn to disregard puppy eyes even when our kids use them.

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Monday 15 October 2007

It was a dark and rainy soccer night

This evening we had two soccer games for both Corwin and Charles. Since I have way too many pictures of Corwin’s games that I haven’t edited yet, I decided to watch Charles. That proved challenging late in the game when the combination of cloud cover and time rendered the players near invisible. That fact that it started drizzling just added to the ambiance.

Charles played defense most of the game, which they won 5-0. He played offense for one quarter and did a good job of pressuring the other side, coming close to scoring at least once. The thing I noticed most was that Charles stayed in position. While everyone else except the goalies were clustered around wherever the ball was, Charles would stop moving forward at a location appropriate to his official position. On offense Charles was all over the field, showing much more affinity for running than his older brother.

Corwin’s team had a hard fought game which ended in a 2-2 tie with Corwin’s team scoring very late in the fourth quarter on a penalty kick. In fact, both scores were off penalties, the first an indirect kick that was bounced from a nice initial pass.

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Sunday 14 October 2007

Daddy's Girl

[Watching TV]

Dad: Alice, can I sit on the couch next to you?

Alice: No.

[Playing games in Dad’s office]


Dad: What?

Alice: This doesn’t work! I can’t hear anything.

Dad: It’s just the end of the game.

Alice: Its BROKEN!

Dad: Here, just start the game again. [blaring game sound]

Alice: Oh.

Dad: It’s working fine.

Alice: [low voiced] I told you that!

[Time for bed. Alice is laying on the floor in tears and misery]

Mom: Alice, you need to go upstairs and go potty.

Alice: My leg hurts!

Dad: Should I carry you upstairs?

Alice: I want gasp I want choked sob Mommy to carry me.

Mom: No. I am carrying milk and water and can’t carry you too.

Alice: I want somebody to carry me upstairs!

Mom: Is Daddy somebody?

Alice: My leg doesn’t hurt so much anymore! [hops up and follows Mom]

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Saturday 13 October 2007

Big spender

Charles has finally starting dipping in to his cash reserves which he has been accumulating for quite a while. He’s bought a couple of very fancy toy guns and today Mom let him get an $80 Star Wars toy vehicle. Yet Charles still has a good sized wad of cash left. Spending’s an easy habit, though. I remember when Corwin gave up on saving and went on a consuming frenzy. He had fun for a while, until the money ran out. That little crash at the end of a budget is a wonderful personal growth experience which I expect Charles to discover in the near future.

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Weekend soccer

Today was the big game of the season, against the other local team. Many of the kids on both teams attend the same schools so there’s a lot of off field rivalry. Sadly, as the previous games have gone, Corwin’s team lost 0-4.

The game didn’t start well, with the other team dominating and keeping the pressure on our goal until they scored about half way through the first quarter. After that, however, Corwin’s team rallied back and kept the pressure on them for most of the rest of the game. Somehow, though, they weren’t able to translate that to scoring although they came close several times (once bouncing off the goal post and another just over the top bar). All of the other team’s goals were on break away plays when they got past the defenders and took unopposed shots at the goalie.

Corwin made another of his stomach blocks. He had one the last game or the one before, so it’s close to being a habit for him. The referee wanted to send him out but Corwin refused. Corwin did some good kicking but he still needs to have most hustle, particularly in response to the break away plays the other team was scoring with.

I think that to some extent the team is the victim of team loyalty. There were six locals teams last year, but only 2 this year. Some of the losses were up to the full time league and many of the girls, but still I think that the other team got the cream of the other 5 teams because the slots on Corwin’s team were mostly filled by former teammates. Mom thinks that the coach is coaching for long term, making the players play in a way that’s not so good now but will server them better later on. She may be right — I think, oddly, that Corwin’s team was playing better but just wasn’t handling the break aways by the strong players on the other team as well as they should because they play a very forward defense. We’ll see how they look next year.

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Friday 12 October 2007

Fish wife

Alice spent the morning “fishing”. Here you can see the “shoe-fish” she caught with her net. She caught all sorts of fish which she put in the weir at the bottom of the steps. She made special note of the fish still being alive despite the length of time they had been caught (up to 6 months).

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Thursday 11 October 2007


Corwin has a busy two weeks of soccer, this and the next. Five days a week, with just Tuesday and Friday off.

Tonight was a game against a team they played before. The game was much closer this time but Corwin’s crew eaked out a 1-0 win. Andrew scored near the end of the first quarter and that was it.

Corwin was playing well, not kick as far as usual but doing a much better job of kicking to someone. He had a number of good returns that put the ball right in front of an offensive teammate. He made another stomach based save as well. Still, the tide of the game shifted back and forth, with the other team putting a lot of pressure on in the first and fourth quarters, while Corwin’s team dominated the middle quarters.

My favorite incident was Brian driving the ball up the side. He let it get too far ahead of him and an opponent kicked it back, hitting Brian right in the face so hard he fell over on his back. Without pause, Brian popped right back up and resumed his drive with the ball, conveniently stopped nearby courtesy of his face. I swear he recovered faster than the kid who nailed him.

Our team also get very lucky on one play where there was a bit of a scrum near the goal. Our goalie got pulled out of position and the ball kind of just drifted over to the side, near the goal but nobody near it. One little tap and it would have gone in unopposed. I can’t believe the other team didn’t score on that. Both teams had other shots that just missed the goal by a few feet. All in all, quite an exciting game.

P.S. Check out Corwin’s primary color outfit. Red, blue, green, yellow. Along with his orange he just needed a splash of purple to be a complete color wheel.

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Wednesday 10 October 2007

No Wonderland today

Dad: Alice, what do you want for breakfast?

Alice: Cereal.

Dad: OK.

[Dad gets a bowl of Kix cereal. Alice sits down and eyes it dubiously]

Dad: It’s special Alice Super Girly-Pop Princess cereal!

Alice: No it’s not. It’s Kix.

She must get that kind of cynicism from Mom.

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Tuesday 09 October 2007

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

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Monday 08 October 2007

Soccer fancy

I got nothing today and Charles didn’t have soccer Saturday, so here you go

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Sunday 07 October 2007

Old wine in a new bottle

Alice has been enjoying this metal lunch box I received as a promotional item. She likes to set it on the table open, drum her fingers on the lid, and declare that she’s “using her laptop”. The other day she needed to send some email but couldn’t find it, so she used an empty baby wipe box instead. Apparently it didn’t work as well. However, Alice is resourceful. She found a rock, put it in the baby wipe box, and declare that everything was working now because her laptop had a new battery. She then banged out email all the way from home to daycare.

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Saturday 06 October 2007

Corwin's big day

Corwin breaks a double team

Today was a big if somewhat disappointing day for Corwin.

In the morning was a soccer game against the team they tied 1-1 last time. It was a very hard fought game but Corwin’s team failed to achieve victory, losing 1-2. The team struggled quite a bit in the first half, relying on their goalie for a lot of saves, which is not a good sign. I was quite worried because the other teams goalie was making very few kicks while ours was kicking frequently. Then, during this time, Colin had a great save during an attack on the goal. Unfortunately, every one was so relieved at the save that they stopped paying attention and an opponent popped the ball right in past them.

That was all the scoring in the first half. In the second half the team did much better about keeping the pressure on the opponent’s goal, eventually scoring. However, during one of the opponents few attacks they kicked it past the defenders and Corwin all the way to the other side of the goal then the ball bounced off the goal post in to the goal. Corwin was quite distraught about it, but that’s the way luck goes sometimes. He did have a number of other good saves and that was the only score on him.

Overall, though, it was a good game. I took a personal record number of pictures (1143) because the game was full of action. The team didn’t seem as on this game. Corwin was lacking in hustle, which may have been from his late night partying on Thursday at Colin’s house (there wasn’t school on Friday). Josh was also one of the party animals and he seemed a bit slow on the field as well. He did, however, execute some amazing ball handling to get past the opposing players. At least once he blew by two opponents trying to stop him without even slowing down.

The opponents had a three girl defense which was very effective. It was anchored by a goalie who could kick the ball, even on the big field, almost to the mid line on most of her kicks. She was also good at catching the ball, so any shot that didn’t score generally resulted in having it immediately returned to the other side of the field. The other two girls were defenders. One did a great job of getting in the face of attackers, slowing them up, and the other was another good kicker who did well at booting the ball at (for Corwin’s team) inopportune moments (like Corwin does on a good day).

To compensate for that, the coach brought in a ringer, Jake. Even that wasn’t enough, in the end. It might have been just too big of a challenge for him —

As soon as the soccer game was over, Corwin and I took off for a camping outing with the Boy Scouts. Corwin was supposed to have packed everything so we could leave right from the soccer field, but of course he left his normal shoes back at the house. Corwin was originally scheduled to leave Friday evening, but Mom had hinted in her oh so subtle way that she wanted Corwin at the game. Corwin missed some of the good stuff, but he’s still got tonight to camp and most of the activites to enjoy.

I stayed around for a bit after dropping him off because the scouts had recruited my rocket club to do a demonstration launch. The field was very small with tall trees on all sides, which is not the best place to launch. Despite launching small rockets and using as small of motors as we could, we ended up losing three rockets in the trees, two of them we never saw again. The other was Corwin’s on its second flight. Corwin took it well, which is good, because if you can’t stand losing rockets you shouldn’t fly them at all. On the other hand, Corwin got to stand up in front of the assembled scouts to prep and launch his rocket all by himself, which I think was good for some status points.

The treed rocket

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Friday 05 October 2007

Weapons chatter

Charles: You can’t shoot that gun!

Alice: I can use all kinds of guns and all kinds of weapons.

Charles: No.

Alice: Yes I can!

Charles: You can’t use that one.

Alice: I am three and half years old so I can shoot all sorts of guns!

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Thursday 04 October 2007

Big enough to swing

Today’s first is Alice swinging on the disk swing in the front yard. She’s been too small until now but to distract her from climbing too high in the tree I had her try it out. She tilts quite a bit but can hang on even while in motion.

Of course, no event would be complete without a trip to Wonderland

Alice: I’m done!

Dad: OK

[Dad tries to run over and stop the swing. Alice doesn’t wait but tumbles off instead]

Dad: You should wait for me to stop it so you don’t hurt yourself.

Alice: But I didn’t hurt myself!

Dad: OK.

Alice: I want to swing again.

Dad: You said you were done.

Alice: In Spanish, “done” means “I want to get off but then go again”.

Dad: Oh.

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Wednesday 03 October 2007

Couch refugees

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Tuesday 02 October 2007

Talk balk

It was brought home forcefully today that for all the presumption of a common language, I still have a lot of difficulty communicating with the younger ones.

Charles’ primary problem is that he is too whiny. He can easily put so much whine in to his voice that he really is incoherent. When this is pointed out, he responds by adding volume and a screaming overtone, which frankly doesn’t do much to improve comprehensibility. This morning he wouldn’t get dressed because something was wrong with his shirts. He spent 20 minutes laying in misery on the stairs rather than speak one sentence in a normal voice. Eventually I just picked a “wrong”shirt and put it on him.

Alice, on the other hand, has much better diction but less global coherence. I have already mentioned her little detours to Wonderland but I realized this afternoon that she also models conversations in her head and becomes extremely irate if the other participants don’t follow her model. Alice seems to think of conversation more as a stylized ritual than a form of communication. Woe betide one who speaks to Alice when she’s having a purely internal but vocalized conversation!

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Monday 01 October 2007

Fighting at school

We have to go in to talk to Charles’ teacher this week because we missed the school open house (that was event #4 for that evening which was beyond our ability to accommodate). Mom thinks that the primary topic of discussion will be Charles’ choice of drawing subjects. He’s been bring home little work books filled with his art. The titles have been things like “The Bombers”, “The Troops”, “The Troops Defending”, etc. Each page has a descriptive sentence like “The troops were with the tanks” with a Charles level of detail picture. His previous efforts in civilian infrastructure would probably raise less concern.

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