Friday 30 November 2007

Slippery path

Mom bought Alice some cute little cherry cupcake slippers and they’ve been inseparable for the last few days. Alice puts them on and takes them off and cries if she notices that she left them somewhere else. We had a terrible time getting her to sleep one night because she’d misplaced the slippers and was far too worked up about it to sleep. Luckily, after quite a bit of prompting from Alice, I checked her ears and there they were! Alice laughed at the silly Daddy who hadn’t just looked there first.

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Thursday 29 November 2007

Building his castles on the table

Charles enjoys his present from Thanksgiving

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Wednesday 28 November 2007

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

Alice gets the comfy seat

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Attitude contrast

Charles is definitely a lot more pleasant to go out delivering popcorn with. He cheerfully counts everything — the money, the number of houses we delivered to, the set of popcorn items left. Corwin, on the other hand, basically just asks “can we go home after this house?”.

We’ve still got a couple of evaders left, although I had to turn in the popcorn money already. Unfortunately, neither has paid so I can’t just leave the popcorn on the doorstep. Still, it’s a good character building experience for someone. I hope.

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Tuesday 27 November 2007


To make his patrols more successful, Charles ended up using some yarn and paper to make a gun strap and a belt with an ammunition pack on it. One can’t go out without the proper accessories, after all.

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Monday 26 November 2007

Religious training

At Sunday school a week or so back, Corwin came back singing a different tune. Namely, alternate lyrics to standard Christmas songs. He couldn’t remember anything he had been taught in Sunday school, but those lyrics were thoroughly memorized. It wasn’t long at all before

  • Charles and Alice were singing along
  • Mom was issuing dire threats in an attempt to not stop the childrens’ continuous rounds of song.

We still get out breaks now and then, but it seems to be under some amount of control so Mom hasn’t had to duct tape Corwin quiet.

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The wages of soccer

Dana’s soccer ravaged leg

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Sunday 25 November 2007

Tales of Wonderland

In Wonderland, there are cookie angels who fly around and deliver cookies to all the good children. But cookie angels only have pink dresses, not white dresses. Of course, all angles have very nice dresses. Little white angles don’t have wings. Only “growed up” angels can have wings. Sometimes angels cry, but only when their angel brothers do something with their toys.

I also found out that Erica has already had four children since she got married. One baby named “Sierra” and a set of triplets, names unknown. Alice was also clear on the f act that triplets are not babies. Completely different things.

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Gratuitous Picture of the Day

Charles at his school Halloween party, caught with pumpkin in hand

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Saturday 24 November 2007

Domestic routines re-established.

Enough relaxation, Mom’s back on track despite being sick, with severe congestion and a hacking cough. We did some cleaning and popcorn delivery. Alice found the fiber optic angel night light Grandma gave us and it became her new best friend. At bedtime, Alice insisted that it go in her room but not be plugged in. Before then the little angel went everywhere with her, along with some of her other dolls. Alice still has her Bitty Baby, despite announcing that she was done with it and Aunt Debbie should keep it.

Alice also played with a new mini-cookset that Mom got her at IKEA. Last time, Mom got her one with ceramic items, which turns out to have been a mistake. This time Mom picked an all metal one which seems a bit more durable. Alice spent a lot of time cooking with it, although she got very upset when Poly ate one of her meals (very impressive, since we hadn’t picked up Poly from petcare yet).

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Friday 23 November 2007

True purpose revealed

We had a lazy morning, started off with the good news that Alice hadn’t wet the bed overnight. The kids played together some. Dana wasn’t as interactive as usual. She had messed up her knee playing indoor soccer, bursting the bursa under her left patella. It then filled up with blood, leaving quite the mess. She’s mostly recovering now, but gets to play with some neat physical therapy equipment. She went out back to kick a soccer ball around with Corwin and Josh a bit. I threatened to take pictures to show the insurance company, but I figured that she probably added a week or two to her recovery time already. Chasing me down as well would have been a bit too much of an extension on healing time.

On the way home, we stopped by IKEA, which frankly I think is the only reason Mom decided to go out of town for Thanksgiving. I had thought it would be overwhelming being the day after Thanksgiving, but it was only normally crowded. Maybe IKEA just isn’t a big start of the Christmas season shopping spot. Mom picked up a few furniture bits. I did too, not because I really needed them but to make Mom feel like she had accomplished more for the outing.

We had lunch at the IKEA cafeteria, because Mom had never tried that before. It was nice, the meatballs were good. After that we dropped Alice and Charles off at the IKEA child play area. The kids seemed to like it, as Alice had to be dragged out by Charles when it was time to leave. Corwin, being too old, was forced to accompany the parental units in their stroll through the store. He was poorly rewarded, because as we were leaving Mom took the kids to get some going away snacks. Corwin changed his mind right as Mom ordered and ended up not getting what he wanted leading to a bit of a melt down. I think it he should treat it as character building experience to demonstrate the value of decisiveness.

We also spotted a set of what looked like triplets — three girls all the same age (about 8) dressed in identical outfits looking like sisters. I pointed them out to Alice, who was almost fascinated enough to talk to them. But not quite.

After a medium long trip home, we all just collapsed and tried to recover from our mini-vacation.

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Thursday 22 November 2007

Giving thanks we're there and back

For Thanksgiving this year we followed the standard plan and headed up to Aunt Debbie’s house. We got off to a late start because we’re just slow people and because Mom took Corwin out for a Thanksgiving Day Mile Run. Mom left him in the dust but was almost run in to the ground by Keith who was also there. That wouldn’t have been a problem except Corwin took his usual 90+ minutes to go upstairs and shower.

Both of the formerly cute and little cousins (Tara and Dana) were there, along with Grandma. Tara brought her husband Josh and baby Brady so that for the first time in a long time diapers had to be changed but they didn’t belong to one of our children. The passing of an era…

We had a nice dinner, although the kids didn’t eat much having snacked on various relish trays pretty much from the time we arrived until dinner. Corwin had also discovered a tray of M&Ms which he consumed at a rapid pace despite multiple parental admonishments. Still, after a relaxing evening, the kids didn’t complain of hunger before bed. So it was a good day.

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Wednesday 21 November 2007

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

Charles has a corking good time

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Tuesday 20 November 2007


Yesterday, Alice brought home the “Surprise Box” from school. This is an orange lunchbox in to which the child puts an object. The other kids are given three clues to guess what’s inside. I had forgotten about it until this morning, at which point Alice remembered and we had a rush search of the house for something suitable. The search was complicated by Alice declaring that the instructions taped inside the box specifically prohibited various choices. For instance, we found Corwin’s life sized stuffed rat. Alice declared it wouldn’t fit, and when I demonstrated that it did, she “read” the instructions to me: “Do not put rats in the Surprise Box!”. After discovering the instructions contained a variety of very specific prohibitions, we settled on Henry, who apparently is specifically provided for in the instructions.

Alice was still in a bit of a fey mood as we drove over to school …

Alice: Is this not a dream?

Dad: This is not a dream.

[a minute or so of silence]

Alice: Is this real?

Dad: Yes, this is real.

Alice: Oh. That’s what I thought.

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Monday 19 November 2007

Youthful mirror

Alice’s impression of how Mom drives

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Sunday was popcorn delivery day. The boys sold a lot of popcorn and now we’re trying to deliver it. Charles managed to avoid the task by going off with Mom to look at Christmas trees, not normally a favored activity. It was a bit of work, but definitely went much faster than selling, since we only hit houses that had bought popcorn, not every house, and most of the people had already paid making drop off fast and easy. If only I could convince Corwin to look at people when he talks to them, instead of making an obvious effort to stare off somewhere else.

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Sunday 18 November 2007

Fowl play

[Dinner time conversation]

Alice: Why do all the turkeys die?

Mom: Because people like to eat turkey at Thanksgiving.

Alice: You mean the turkeys with the eyes and the feet?

Mom: Yes.

Alice: [very matter of fact] That’s too bad for the turkeys.

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What's even worse than chores?

Having Dad take pictures while you do chores

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Saturday 17 November 2007

Air scouts

Today’s big event was a Cub Scout outing to the local airport. Mom took the boyen because for once, it was something she wanted to see as well. It was a big hit, even Corwin (Corwin!) spontaneously commented (spontaneously! Corwin!) that he had a good time. Mom saw the inside of the control tower for the first time, along with some of the very high tech systems used move critical flight information around the staff1. Charles was the least voluble, which I found odd, although he admitted he did enjoy going out on the airport firetruck and using the firehose.

I don’t have much more detail, as I was left home to have some bonding time with Alice. She used the freedom to play Dora on my computer, and sit on my lap anytime it looked like I might get some work done. Or send me off to fetch her snacks (she had to have three of them to stop being hungry — the Alice aspect is that she announced this before she had any snack).

1 If she likes any of you, she’ll drop a comment here with the details. If not, then you know where you stand.

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Friday 16 November 2007


You know Charles is consumed with a game when it shows up in his Lego™ constructions.

The first picture is a screen capture from Homeworld 2, of Tanis base building a new Mothership. The second is Charles’ rendition of this scene in Lego™. Charles has also been drawing this scene at school. I actually set up the screen capture so I could print a copy for him to take in, so his teacher and fellow students would have some idea of the concept he was trying to render. He did a good job, but it’s hard to tell if you have no idea about the source, as you can see in the third picture.

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Thursday 15 November 2007

Alice agonistes

Alice had a massive screaming fit tonight at dinner. It was initially set off because Mom sent Alice to tell me dinner was ready. She did that, but I didn’t respond promptly enough so Mom sent Corwin to repeat it and Alice completely flipped out because she was supposed to tell me (claims that she had were discarded as obvious lies). It was downhill after that, with Alice crying and screaming alternately because

  1. She didn’t have enough food.
  2. It was offensive to be offered food she didn’t want.
  3. Mom put the cauliflower on her plate instead of Dad1.
  4. Dad put the cauliflower in the wrong place on her plate.
  5. The peas kept falling off her fork.
  6. The spoon Dad got her because the peas were falling off her fork was too small.
  7. The peas were scattered all over her plate.
  8. Dad gathered up the wrong peas after the previous complaint — “not all of them!”
  9. Mom did not give Alice a snack immediately after dinner.

1 The silver lining — for once Dad was the preferred parent! I would have lorded that over Mom except she couldn’t have heard over the Alice screaming. Oh, and we heard a lot less complaining from Corwin because a screaming Alice is one that isn’t chewing with her mouth open.

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Wednesday 14 November 2007

A Wii bit of fun

UPDATE: Mom tells me that this is supposed to be a secret from the kids. I thought she’d discussed it in front of them already, but she says not. So don’t tell them!

Mom took the children out shopping recently and they ended up going by an electronics store where Mom encountered a demonstration game system with Guitar Hero playing. When she got home, she mentioned this to me and noted that she saw how some one could become addicted to that game. Shortly after that, she informed me that we would be breaking our ten year ban on game consoles, primarily (as far as I could tell) so that Mom could play Guitar Hero. Mom considered several choices of game consoles before deciding on the Wii. The children were not consulted. I am still uncertain whether they will be allowed to play with it at all.

Since then Mom has been haunting the electronics store waiting for shipments of the console to arrive. She gets rumors of arrivals but they apparently sell out so quickly that it’s been a futile effort. Her back up plan is to order one on the Internet, although that’s significantly more expensive (hence the rapidly evaporating local stocks). Mom is rarely balked for long, so I expect her to acquire her new heart’s desire before Christmas.

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Tuesday 13 November 2007

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

PML X-Calibur, H128-M

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Monday 12 November 2007

Game of the month

The boys have been playing a lot of Homeworld 2 the last couple of weeks. I had originally hesitated to let Charles play, as it’s complex even for the genre because of the 3D movement, but his sad blue eyes wore me down. He’s actually leaned to play well enough to beat the computer on the easy setting. He’s tried some of the single player missions but those are a bit much because one has to have a good overall sense of strategic flow to do well enough to win. Even Corwin is struggling with that.

Both boys have noticed how pretty the game is, which is one of its best features. This is a screen shot of a Vaygr Battlecruiser firing on an enemy ship. This is what you see as you play, with the torpedoes flying out of the ship and big bursts of energy coming from the big gun in the bow.

The level of detail is astonishing. One type of ship fires torpedoes that split in to 4 smaller mini-torpedoes to hunt down small fighter craft. As you can see here, the game plots the main torpedo encased in a white cloud from the deployment charge, the panels and nose cone tumbling away, blown off to release the mini-torpedoes, along with the trails from the mini-torpedoes (the yellow lines). The orange trail is the smoke trail of the main torpedo, and the blue lines are torpedoes going the other way.

These shots were done by Corwin, after I showed him how to set them up. He actually spent some time making aesthetic judgments about ship and camera placement.

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Sunday 11 November 2007

Other random notes

Jack’s birthday was this weekend and Corwin was invited to a sleep over birthday party there. He claims to have had a good time, even if Anwen had fled to a refuge at a friend’s house. It was enough boy fun that we sent him up for a shower and clean clothes as soon as he got home.

Alice was outside playing with Charles when she announced that she had an “emote sheen gun, that fires in all selections”.

Corwin still spends most of every dinner time telling Alice to chew with her mouth closed, despite the complete and utter lack of effect of this, other than to annoy his parents.

Alice has forgotten how to count to 10.

Erica’s thank you note from the wedding has already arrived. Apparently the happy couple spent their time writing notes instead of having a honeymoon.

Charles’ teacher say that he is much more interactive and less obsessive than he was at the start of the year. If only he would bring some of that home.

Charles bought a Lego™ collection with a bunch of kits this afternoon and has already assembled the large fire fighting hovercraft which has a 20+ page instruction manual. I had to help a bit, primarily with locating parts Charles had dropped on the floor.

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Developmental news

A couple of weeks ago we took Charles off sippy cup. He had been using them now and then for normal drinks but most often for bedtime. He’s adjusted well without effectively no resistance to his now sippy cupless existence. Mom’s already starting to work on weaning Alice from them, so I suepct she’ll get cut off long before she’s seven, especially since no sippy cups for Alice means no sippy cups at all.

Alice can put on sock and her velcro strap shoes by herself, if properly tricked in to it. It normally doesn’t work to ask her to do it, one must convince her it’s a good idea without actually saying it or she’ll declare herself incapable. Sometimes, she’ll insist that she can put on one sock and shoe, but I have to take care of the other foot.

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Saturday 10 November 2007

Burning Time

The boys were out of school Thursday and Friday. Alice was also at home Friday, so Mom decided the boys work on raking up the pine needles and burning them in a big pile. Two big piles, actually. This is the driveway pile, which we lit up on Friday. It burned for quite a while, consuming the Christmas tree from last year (which, yes, was still laying around the side of the house). Today was the turn for the pile from all of the needles in the south half of the yard, outi n the dead end street. I was off elsewhere but Mom tells me that one burned a lot faster. We’ll just have to see next spring if the driveway conflagration killed the tree that overhangs the driveway. At least it didn’t melt the gutters.

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Friday 09 November 2007

Proper quantification

[Alice is wearing her Halloween princess tiara]

Alice: Daddy, look at me!

Dad: Very nice, Alice.

Alice: Some princesses wear tights. [points at her tights]

Dad: Yes. I think most princesses wear tights, it’s pretty common among princesses.

Alice: SOME princesses wear tights.

Dad: O…K…

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Thursday 08 November 2007


Charles came to me this evening in my office and told me that he needed to practice his words. I turned on the computer and set him up with a text editor. He produced the following work of high literature all by himself, except for some spelling help.

I M ALL.      LET ME IN.     you hf too  pay me 9000$.
    @##$$$$$$% 9000000000000000000000%.         
(and you have too give me 100%) 
(why not?)(you heve to)do I heve to.
Let me in once upon a time  there was a fox that wanted too eat the
children at the house a hot day the fox wanted too eat the children up
so the fox said I well eat you up so the children said no we well not let you in.

This is not Charles’ first typing but it is the first time he has tried to make words using the computer.

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Wednesday 07 November 2007

When ninja sharks attack

I went up to hassle Charles as he was waiting to read Mom and Alice a story.

Charles: Sharky will defend me!

Dad: Sharky? Really?

Charles: Sharky takes ninja lessons!

A bit later, Erica “called” Alice on Alice’s toy cell phone. Alice explained that Erica likes to talk to Alice “every time”. Charles, amazingly, correct Alice’s pronoun gender, declaring that one should use “he” for boys and “she” for girls. I only wonder if he’ll apply that rule to himself.

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Gratuituous Picture of the Day

Bubbles of joy

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Tuesday 06 November 2007

You waited how many years for a daughter?

As part of the run up to THE WEDDING, Mom bought Alice two new dresses. Alice wore the burgundy one to the wedding. The other was a cute little black dress with a black hair band, both with glittery embellishments. Along with some black tights, Alice was quite the vision of fashion. In the evening, after she got home, she was quite taken with her superior state of fashion.

Dad: Is that dress very fashionable?

Alice: Yes.

Dad: What about Mom’s clothes?

Alice: They’re nice. … She has a nice shirt … I don’t like these pants … they’re black.

Mom: Brown.

Alice: Brown. I don’t like brown. I don’t like black either.

Dad: What color is your dress?

Alice: [looks down at herself] OH! Black! I like black.

Dad: OK. Maybe you could help Mom put on nice clothes in the morning, to make sure she dresses nicely.

Alice: Hmmmm, OK, I can do that.

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Monday 05 November 2007

More wedded bliss

In the intense excitement of THE WEDDING I forgot to mention Erica’s cousin Jessica. She hit it off quite well with the boys, although I am not sure they thought so.

I was impressed by the fact that Charles was willing to talk to her, given how Charles is normally thought a mute by people he doesn’t know / like. Charles liked Jessica so much that he drew her a picture of a tank and explained the drawings he was making to her. Charles may have been favorably biased toward her because she’s a Marine and Charles

Jessica was fond of Corwin as well, although he didn’t reciprocate. I used the threat of smoochies from Jessica as an inducement to proper behavior from Corwin. I mentioned this to Jessica, who considered the alternative of punching Corwin, but came to the conclusion that Corwin not only likely to fear smoochies much more, but might even like mixing it up.

I tried to get Corwin to dance with Jessica at the reception, to which he responded by hiding under the table. Despite this effort, Jessica managed to trap him as we were leaving and give him a very bosomly hug in revenge for the slight on her honor from his hiding under the table.

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Sunday 04 November 2007

Smell first, verify later

A while back, we went over to Mara’s house with Poly in tow. They had a cut out image of a black cat in the bottom of a window right next to the door. Poly saw that and immediatey ran up to sniff it (black cats being a favorite odor bouquet for Poly). As soon as Poly sniffed, though, she jumped back. I can’t decide it if was because Poly has learned that is a smart move after sniffiing POset, or she bumped in to glass and thought the cut out cat had whapped her.

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Saturday 03 November 2007


Alice receives the flower basket back from Erica

Today was the big day — our sweet young nanny, Erica, became a married woman today.

But first, I went out to the family farm for some rockets! Today was the annual outing for the Aeronautical Engineering class. I couldn’t stay for the whole event, but I figured I should put in an appearance. Sadly, this left me unavailable to help Mom get the children ready for the big event, but sometimes the call of civic duty takes precedence. I’m sure Mom understands.

We had to get to the church early to be in the wedding pictures, which the kids really appreciated (especially Corwin). I gave Corwin one task, keep track of his jacket. Naturally he forgot it and Mom had to run him back to the house to get it. Other than that, the kids did well, I think. Corwin handed out programs in an animated if grim faced manner. Charles didn’t get excessively ahead of Alice, bearing the rings1 to the wedding party. Alice had to be reminded by Mom to throw flowers, despite her anticipation, but she did a good job and had some left at the end, while leaving a good trail down the aisle. Alice used the very same flower basket Erica used back when Erica was the flower girl at our wedding.

However, for Alice the biggest thrill was getting a new dress and new fancy black shoes. Erica had said that the dress Mom had originally picked wasn’t the optimal selection, so Mom (because she likes Erica so much and is so accomodating), took Alice out on Friday to get some new outfits. Alice, brave and stoic little girl that she is, endured as well. But it was all worth it to make Erica happy. As Alice said, “Erica is happy a lot today!”.

After the wedding we went to the reception. Except we had to stop for some fries on the way because the children were starving to death in their seats. Even after that Alice whined the rest of the way that she was still hungry. Nevertheless, all the kids held on to life until we were fed (free food!). Erica had these cute little cards on the tables with little bells built in. Corwin thought they were very cool until I pointed out that the purpose of them was to signal the bride and groom to make smoochies. Corwin dropped the one he was holding like it had the plague.

Alice had a good time on the dance floor. I put in a request for Video Killed the Radio Star, and Alice went really wild when that tune started jamming out. The dance floor was the territory of all of the little children until some polkas starting playing, which brought out the adults. Our kids were starting to get a little cranky by then, so we made our exit, with Alice and Charles get one last blast of Erica before her husband takes her off to a far land and an exciting, thrill packed new life.

P.S. For me, it was all made real for me when I realized that I could no longer refer to Erica as “Miss E.”. I am still working on a replacement. I also enjoyed emphasizing to Alice that Erica was getting married “for real” and it wasn’t all an elaborate play time.

1 Not the real rings, just a display replica.

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Friday 02 November 2007

Ready … set …

Today’s big excitement was getting ready for Erica’s wedding tomorrow. We all went to the rehearsal because Alice is the flower girl, Charles the ring bearer, and Corwin is in charge of handing out programs. Erica thought he could handle that without any explicit practice, so he got to sit around bored the whole time. Alice and Charles were a bit bored too, although Alice’s main complaint was having to wait till tomorrow to throw the flower petals around. Our main effort was to convince Alice to not throw all of the petals out at once and Charles to not charge ahead of Alice. After the rehearsal we went over to Erica’s parents’ house to trash it (plus free food!). Not that we wanted to, but we figured it would help break the parents in for grandkids.

Charles asks Jessica if she would like to see his etchings, too

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Thursday 01 November 2007

Exploding pants

Poor Corwin. I had to go to school to rescue him yesterday. It seems that his pants ripped somehow and he wanted to put on a new pair, despite the fact that the rip was on his underwear covered butt and only 8 inches or so long. I can only guess that he ate a big lunch and it went right to his posterior so fast the pants couldn’t hold.

Once I delivered his replacement pants, he had to go from the principal’s office to a bathroom to change. He did this by very s l o w l y edging down the nearly deserted hallway, rather darting through to minimize his exposure. I tried to point this out but Corwin’s focus was totally consumed with scanning for potential optical paths from his rip to local gawkers. Sadly, the incident left him having only an army hat for a costume, his previous (camouflage) pants being a key part of the “soldier” effect.

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