Sunday 31 January 2010

Filling in linguistic lacunae

I can’t remember how exactly it got started but Corwin brought up the subject of innappropriate words at the dinner table last week. He used the cirumlocution of “the ‘D’ word” and “the ‘H’ word” but I think Charles knew what he meant. Unfortunately Corwin kept getting more specific until Alice figured out the ‘H’ word based on it being part of “Hello Kitty”. She managed to skate the edges of propriety by inserting a strategic pause. We tried to discourage her from demonstrating this new knowledge in school.

One of the places Charles learned his words

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Saturday 30 January 2010

Bloody toothday

Mom and I were sitting in the media room watching some TV1 when Corwin reached in to his mouth and announced “I lost a tooth!”. I warned him to not bleed on Mom’s nice new couch as he stuffed facial tissues in to stem the bleeding. He actually bled like a stuck pig and had to resort to using cotton balls stuff in to the gap to hold back the red tide. Corwin did examine the lost tooth which was really just the crown with a hole worn through it. I figured it was a cavity but Mom claimed it could be just part of the general tooth decay as it was lost.

1 Truthfully Mom was watching her video streaming over wireless while I was typing away on this kidlog.

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Friday 29 January 2010

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

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Gift bearer

I had to leave on a business trip on Wednesday evening. Mom ran solo with the spawn that evening until this evening when I managed to return. One of the goodies from the trip were little containers of jelly beans. I picked up three because I couldn’t bring back just one. I handed them out after supper for which I was rewarded with shouts of “give me! give me!”. At least Polynomial was happy to see me.

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Thursday 28 January 2010

Good student but we wonder

Alice got an award for being a good student today and she was very proud of it. She showed it off to me and Mom. Alledgedly it was because she was a hard worker which is difficult for us to credit. But there it was.

One thing we wondered about is that here at home, Alice rarely flushes the toilet, rarely closes the door, and frequently comes out with her underwear and pants down at her ankles. How often does she do that at school? Or is that another thing she does better at schooll?

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Wednesday 27 January 2010

Gratuitous Picture of the Day

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Tuesday 26 January 2010

The long dark ski time of the soul

On Friday, my church and I went to the Wisconsin Dells to ski. Unlike my last church trip, my mom came skiing with us, and there wasn’t be extreme amounts of loud singing! It took us about five hours to get there. I watched Monty Python most of the way, and I also watched the Simpsons Movie. When we got there, it was around 10:00 PM.

The cabins were pretty good, almost exactly like the ones in Carlinville. Our youth leaders had a talk about not having purple. (If you need a hint, red=girls, blue=boys) So we have a boys bathroom and room, and a girls bathroom and two girls rooms. After that the camp director talked to our group. Then I went to bed.

The next day I woke up and went to get breakfast. I got cold pancakes and syrup. It was surprisingly good. After that, we got into a car for half an hour. When we got out, we were at Devil’s Head Ski Resort. When we got our boots and skis, my mom and I went down a green hill. Big mistake. I couldn’t go ten feet without falling. We got down eventually, and I got to go down the bunny hill a couple times. After that, I could get down the green slope without falling. The next slope I went down was a blue. The first time I went down was fine, but the second time I wiped out and hit my head hard. I was able to get up and and go down the rest of the way. The resorts food wasn’t the best, but there was a lot of it. After lunch, we went on some more hills then went back to camp. I was so tired I could barley listen to the lesson. After the lesson I went to bed.

The next day was pretty much the same, except most of us went to an indoor water park. I went skiing. The next day was pretty much the same as the previous day except my mom talked me down a black diamond. Other than that it was the same as yesterday. When we got back to camp I went to sleep. We went home the next day and it took us about five hours to get home. On the way back, Dominick really liked to watch Young Einstein. When my mom and I got back to the church we had to go to my sister’s dance practice. Then we went home.

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Monday 25 January 2010

Mom project

Another project Mom has in the works in building a dance floor for Alice in the basement. She bought some flooring a few weeks back and installed it a week or so ago. It was at the point that she realized that she didn’t have a proper border for it to keep it together. The project has been left in abeyance until Mom figures out a good mechanism. Normally one would use a stopper that is screwed in to the underflooring, but in our case the under flooring isn’t plywood but linoleum on top of concrete which is somewhat less accepting of screws. She doesn’t it to be complete permanent so epoxy is out. Mom is considering some double sided carpet tape but I don’t think a final decision has been made.

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Sunday 24 January 2010


This is the beaver dam in the park. There’s been a lot of local debate about it as people don’t want to attack the beavers but the beavers are stripping the local woods. I could see lots of stumps myself all up and down the banks. I don’t know what will be done eventually.

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Saturday 23 January 2010

Big Cook

Mom and Corwin went off to cook big vats of chile. They had the help of someone who does industrial cooking in his job. They made 14 gallons of chile. Mom noted that Corwin was marginally useful but sufficiently to get credit for some service hours.

In the afternoon everyone except Corwin went to a Cub Scout fun event. Charles didn’t want to go but he ended up having fun running around and building a paper stomp rocket. Then it was back home for supper and watching some more Netflix DVDs (original Star Trek episodes). Mom and I thought about catching an 11 PM showing of Zombieland but the kids were up until instead of going to sleep so we could make our escape. I spent the evening writing posts like this on the kidlog.

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Friday 22 January 2010

Digital convergence

One side effect of Mom’s new Netflix addiction is that we can also access streaming video. This motivated Mom to take the computer we had been using for Charles’ animation which she had been keeping in her updated office and put it next to the TV. Fortunately she had already equipped it for wireless networking so it was ready to serve as a media server for our big screen TV.

The video streaming actually works reasonably well. Mom and the kids watched a movie or two but mostly old TV programs. Charles figured out that it was really a computer with a web browser and decided that it would be much cooler to play his web games on the big screen than watch boring old shows. Mom was not enthused about that so Charles has been trying to sneak in some game playing since she got it hooked up. Mom figures that her HGTV is better than Charles’ gaming.

Charles gets his chance when Mom goes on errands

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Thursday 21 January 2010


Tuesday was the big day when Mom’s life long dream of having a nice couch was fufilled. Our old couch was one that we got at Sears 15 or so years ago and it was a low end model. Given the abuse it has taken over the years it’s clear that we got our money’s worth out of it. Like me, the couch is getting old and starting to break down (clearly a decade or so of kids jumping on it couldn’t have anything thing to do with it — hmmm, maybe it’s more similar than I thought).

We decided to get a leather couch because everyone tells us it is much more durable. We’ll see how that works out. Mom picked the less processed style (“semi-analine”) because it feels less like plastic. Charles doesn’t like any style of leather because it’s too cold. He wanted fabric. But Mom and I figured it’s time to start living large. We have had to institute a new rule that the guinea pigs require a towel to be on the couch. I don’t expect that rule to last the week but we do what we can.

The delivery guys were very happy that the target couch location was about 10 feet from our double opening front door. It was a lot easier than the fun Mom and I had moving the old couch down to the basement. It seems like we had just moved it up to replace the green couch but it’s been several months apparently. At some point we must have moved the green couch down the basement but I don’t remember when, exactly. I think it was right after Mom’s big re-arrangement of the basement.

Alice was the first to try it out although we didn’t let her jump on it. I verified that it will be properly sized for Dad naps although I havern’t had a chance to enjoy that feature.



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Wednesday 20 January 2010

Knuckle Evil

While Uncle Evil was visiting Alice managed to call him “knuckle evil” for no apparent reason. I decided that was too cute to pass up so I created “Knuckle Evil” who is pictured to the left. I use him to help out with discussions when normal methods do not seem to be working. Charles in particular required several interviews with Knuckle Evil before just the sight of him would result in increased cooperation and attention.

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Tuesday 19 January 2010

Underwater brothers

A rare moment of Corwin and Charles cooperating to succeed in a WWII submarine training station.

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Monday 18 January 2010

Snow snout

Polynomial after a nice walk in the snow

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Return from Ski-ville

Mom and Corwin made it back home and Corwin is an expert skiier.

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Sunday 17 January 2010

The Lost Weekend

This evening we watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Mom has signed us up for Netflix and the first two movies to arrive were that and The Tale of Desperaux. I tried to queue up the movie earlier in the day but Alice turned the TV off and announced “we’re not watching that”.

Other than that it’s been kind of a lost weekend. Everything has passed in a blur of laziness. I have been waking up at 9:30 or 10:00 and still not before Charles and sometimes Alice. One morning Charles announced that he was just going to lay in bed all day but he did eventually exit his resting place. What we all did after that I can’t recall. But I know he was on the couch when we finally, late in the evening, watched the movie.

At one point in the movie near the end the main character is presumed dead. Alice broke down in to the tears and it took me a bit to figure out what she was sad about. But she managed stick it out until (surprise!) it turned out he had survived.

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Saturday 16 January 2010


Mom and Corwin left yesterday for a long weekend ski trip up north with a church group. I am not sure enthused Corwin was but Mom was very excited. There was even another mother going as a chaperone amidst all the fathers. Corwin went skiing a few years back but I don’t think he remembers it.

I have been left at home with Charles and Alice. I think I can keep at least one of them alive until Mom returns, which I think is good enough. We’ll see how many of the pets make it through although we may be eating them for food if Mom’s pre-cooked meals run out.

One thing that disturbed me after lunch was looking at the snack drawer and seeing that it had been emptied. I thought Charles and especially Alice had destroyed our reserve food supply (and filled with empty calories without making it easier for me). But I found out later when Mom finally checked in with the news that she and Corwin had survived that she had taken most of the snacks with her for the trip. I almost felt bad about stringing the kids up by their toes with their heads in the snow as punishment but I figured hey, they need to get toughed up.

P.S. Everyone send Mom email telling her to write up her excellent and funny stories of the trip!

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Friday 15 January 2010

Dating Guide

When Ema was over for our New Year’s party she played some “Wii Resort”: which she also has at home. It turns out that she hasn’t found all 80 points of interest. I suggested that Corwin offer to come over to her house for a visit and show her around the resort but he just rolled his eyes at me and hid his face under a blanket. So naturally I decided to make a post about it here. Hi, Ema! Corwin is free any time to be your tour guide.

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Thursday 14 January 2010


Mimi sent a card down for Alice’s birthday which makes sounds. In this case it has five buttons each of which plays a cow moo sound at a different tone. Alice wasn’t very impressed but Corwin and Charles thought it udderly fascinating. They spent some time playing it until Mom had enough to put her in a bad moo-d. I try to keep her more upbeat with some puns but strangely it wasn’t as successful as I had hoped.

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Wednesday 13 January 2010

Electronic hand me down

Once, long ago, Mom bought an MP3 music player for Corwin. He used it for a little bit but it soon ended up on a shelf. For some reason Mom thought Alice would like it. We put a new battery in it and Alice does try to listen to it although the ear buds barely fit in her petite little ears. The only music on it is some Weird Al songs that Corwin loaded on it. This suffices for now. I will have to ask at some point if she would like some of her preferred songs on it.

Alice took the player with her when we went to Charles’ Cub Scouts last night. She seemed to enjoy it even though the batter cover is broke and keeps falling off, and she generally can only keep one ear bud in place. She ended up lieing down and passing out after about 10 minutes so I am not sure how long she would actually listen.

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Tuesday 12 January 2010

Dad goes out to enjoy the day

It was a very beautiful day on Saturday, clear blue skies and a very refreshing 4°F (according to the local weather station) so I decided to go out for a walk. Corwin naturally did not want to go but even Mom was too much of a slug to enjoy the great white outdoors.

I hiked up to the stream in the park because it had a couple of frozen waterfalls. Sadly, neither yielded very good pictures. The first seemed to be just some deadfall that had accumulated. The upper part was frozen over but the lower part was still free flowing. The other drop was a beaver dam somewhat further upstream which also was frozen on top and free flowing below. The lower froze over a ways downstream so it seems like the turbulence from the dams is enough to keep the creek just below open. The footing in both places was a bit tricky as the water level had fallen since it had frozen over so none of the ice was safe to walk on. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if the snow didn’t conceal exactly the boundaries between land and ice. I only fell once when my foot discovered some ice that was frozen down to the ground but absolutely smooth and flat on the top with a dusting of fluffy snow for lubrication. My coccyx is still sore. At least I had taken care to always have a firm grip on some terrain element so I only fell down and not in to the creek.

When I headed back I called Mom who sent Corwin and Polynomial out to meet me as both of them needed some exercise. We went over to the pond to check it out. It’s very solidly frozen even for someone as heavy as I am. Poly had a very good time and even Corwin was only somewhat whiney. We found that Mara and Zina had already been there and left their mark, a giant “MARA” and “ZINA is weird” tramped out in the snow on the pond.

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Monday 11 January 2010

Helping when it's important

This evening Mom let the boys have some of the party favors from Alice’s swim event. Included in the mix where some roll out noisemakers. All three kids were tooting away. I grabbed Charles and hoisting him up on my shoulder, declaring him a “shoulder mounted Charles sonic cannon”. I tried firing but really, it was weak. I could barely tell it was working. So I put him down and declared that I would try a “shoulder mounted Corwin sonic cannon”. Corwin started backing away at that point, until Mom said “Don’t. You’ll hurt yourself”. Corwin immediately started edging back towards me. He miscalculated as I was able to get him in to firing position without any permanent damage. Corwin, however, claimed to be unable to breathe because of his weight pressing down on my should. Personally, I hold with Uncle Evil’s view that if you can talk, you can breathe, therefore such announcements are self refuting.

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Sunday 10 January 2010

The Party

Today was Alice’s birthday party. She wanted to have a swim party so we rented the room at the local indoor swimming pool. We invited her kindergarten class and Andrew. We ended up with about 9 kids which is a decent turnout for how late we sent out the invitations. Andrew was there which made it a success from Alice’s point of view.

It was uneventful. The kids showed up, they swam for a while, ate some cake, then swam some more. The only problem was that the other boy who showed up didn’t bring a swimsuit (which seemed odd to me, it being a pool party and all) so Mom made Charles give up his swim trunks. Charles hadn’t wanted to go at all and was spending his time sitting in the cake room drawing comics so we didn’t feel too guilty about that.

To fill up space after the lack of drama, here are pictures of the two Alice birthday cakes.

Official cake

Party cake

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Saturday 09 January 2010


Today is Alice’s sixth birthday. She started the morning by beating on Corwin with some help from Charles. This seems to have worn her out as she started whining so badly we had to send her to her room to cool off. I asked her if she would behave better if we let her come back down and she replied “I don’t know”. As I type she’s still exiled. We will see if she achieves a sufficiently agreeable attitude to open presents today.

We have a party scheduled for tomorrow at the indoor swimming facility. This is what Alice said she wanted but like many things, there is Alice saying she wants something and Alice actually wanting it when it arrives. We have already had a major incident when Mom and I decided that Alice had enough stuff for now and we would not ask for presents from the kids invited to the party. Alice did not like that at all. There wasn’t anything she wanted in particular, just “stuff”. We remembered last year’s haul, some of which is still unopened and held firm. Alice had an excellent Christmas and is set to get a good haul from family today. She also has a big stack of money, which she is “saving up” for something she won’t tell us. We think she’ll managed to scrape by.

Evening update: Alice eventually settled down even if still a bit grumpy. She was able to open presents which was a lot of fun. The first present had wrapping paper with butterflies on it. Alice decided that it was wrong to destroy the butterflies and decided to cut all of them out before opening the present. After about 10 minutes Mom convinced Alice that she could just pull the wrapping paper off and cut out the butterflies later. As I write (around 8PM) the wrapping paper is still sitting there, butterflies undetached, along with the 3 or 4 Alice managed to cut out.

At the end of opening, Alice looked around with a disappointed look and announced “I wish I had gotten more presents”.

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Friday 08 January 2010

Charles is in the virtual office.

Corwin started reading Dilbert a few years back so I suppose it was time for Charles to start. He is definitely not as … focused as Corwin although that’s in line with Charles’ generally lower interest in reading.

I don’t know how much of it Charles understands. I tried to help with that by suggesting that every time he reads “Alice” in the comic, he thinks ‘Mom”.

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Thursday 07 January 2010

White out

We are getting some real snow today. The schools are all closed so we get to have family bonding time while Mom and I work and the kids play on the computers. Mom did take the boys out for a walk in the morning. Polynomial had a good time. They found the pond sufficiently frozen over to walk around on it. It hasn’t been above freezing for a week or so now. I thought about taking a picture but those never turn out well, just a lot of blurry white. The wind is really blowing around the snow which is very light due to the cold. We may skip the sledding today.

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Wednesday 06 January 2010

Last of Christmas

I noticed that I never put up a picture of Mom’s door decorations. She spent a lot of work on these so it is only fair that I immortalize them.

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A couple of months or so ago Alice asked me if she could sit in the back seat of the van. I told her that she was too young because we would have to move her booster seat back as well. Alice wanted to know when she wouldn’t need the booster seat and was not happy when I told that she was required to have it until she was 8 years old.

However during our trip to Chicago we had Uncle Evil and Aunt Nong in the middle seats so Alice was moved to the back seat. She liked this very much. After we returned we didn’t have the energy to move her seat back up (yes, we’re that lazy). As a result Corwin spent a few days riding in a middle seat which was apparently preferable to sitting by Alice when it wasn’t required. At some point though Alice’s seat was returned to its natural location. I would suspect Corwin but I can’t imagine him being that pro-active.

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Tuesday 05 January 2010

Tuesday with Charles

[After Cub Scouts]

Dad: How about a noodle place for supper?

Charles: McDonalds!

Dad: We always go to McDonalds.

Charles: No we don’t.

Dad: Every single day, we’re always at McDonalds.

Charles: No we aren’t.

Dad: You don’t even like McDonalds!

Charles: Yes I do!

Dad: You’ll never grow up to be a snobby gourmand if you like McDonalds.

Charles: Why would I want to grow up to be like you?

[Dad marks Charles down for some apropos yet excessive revenge]

[Examining the Happy Meal toy]

Dad: What is he saying?

Charles: “I’m Theodore”. The one in the blue shirt is Simon. He says “Ba da ba ba ba, I’m loving it” I think.

Dad: You aren’t sure?

Charles: No.

Dad: If you watched enough TV you would know?

Charles: Yes.

Dad: So your point is that this is Dad’s fault, and he should correct it by letting you watch more TV?

Charles: Play more computer games.

Dad: I do not see how that would improve your knowledge of pop culture such as this.

Charles: [condescendingly, with overtones of exasperation] It’s complex.

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Gratuitious Picture of the Day

Action shot of Corwin with one of his Christmas toys, a miniature Van de Graff generator with a mylar floater. The wand charges up the mylar which can then be levitated by the remaining charge on the wand. Sadly it has already worn out somewhat but it was cool while it lasted.

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Monday 04 January 2010

Gratuitious Picture of the Day

Alice tries out a new technique for paintball

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Now that's cold

It was so cold here yesterday that Mom and I took the air conditioner out of my office window.

The day before I had removed some wooden blocks that helped tilt it while in operation. I got a flood of dead and dieing ladybugs who I suspect had flown in through the cracks and not made it past the blocks. Mom was still stunned at how many she encountered while working the unit in through the window (*I* was sent outside to work in the bitter cold).

On a completely different topic we saw a pheasant walking down our sidewalk and a hawk being hassled by a couple of blackbirds.

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Sunday 03 January 2010


I’m writing about our Christmas this year. I wish I wasn’t because it’s only a couple days after Christmas and I wanted not writing this to be one of my presents but no. Anyway, I’m writing about my Christmas.

One of my presents was getting tortured by my Uncle Evil for a week. He came up from Texas for a week with Aunt Nong. He arrived in the morning on the last day of Charles’ s party and trapped Charles , Josie, and me in our computer room for an hour while at us with rubber bands, foam missles, and stuffed animals. A couple days after that we went to Chicago for a day to go shopping, see museums, and walk around. We spent about half the day at the the Museum of Science and Industry. After that we went shopping! We walked along Michigan Avenue while it was raining/snowing. We shopped till around 8:30ish and then went home. For Christmas I got candy, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (which got stuck on a level so I can’t beat the game), a gift card, and a Black Adder DVD collection. Charles and me got a foosball table Charles liked it for a bit but then stopped because he couldn’t win, and I can’t play with it because I can’t play alone. Uncle Evil and Aunt Nong left a couple days ago. Today I went sledding then I came home to write this. Overall it was a pretty good Christmas.

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Movie Night

After a brisk walk around the park just before dusk in the 15°F brisk weather, Mom rousted us all to go out in the 5°F post-sunset crispness to see some movies. Mom, Charles, and Alice went to The Princess and the Frog while Corwin and I went to see Avatar. The latter started a bit later and is a very long movie so Mom spent a half hour waiting for us before walking over to the nearby Dairy Queen, having some food, and coming back and still waiting a bit for us to get out. It was bed time by the time we got back to the house so we called it a night.

Mom says that Alice liked the movie very much and even Charles gave it a “good” rating. Avatar was OK but I was distracted by some rather large plot holes that nagged at me the whole time. I think Corwin rated it “good” although I don’t think he will be accumulating the complete merchandise set. He did ask a good question which was, “if Avatar is too mature for young children (such as Charles), why are there Avatar toys in kids’ meals at McDonalds?”. I couldn’t answer that one.

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Saturday 02 January 2010

Lego burnout

Charles got two Lego™ kits for his birthday. During out trip to Chicago he used his birthday money to buy another kit. For Christmas, Santa Claus brought Charles yet another Lego™ kit. Charles had of course assembled the first three kits already but he abandoned the final, very large kit the day after Christmas, a victim of too much building.

At one point Charles complained that he couldn’t find a part for the kit. He wanted me to help but refused to tell me what the part looked like. I refused to look until he told me and he decided to just abandon the effort instead of stooping to describing the missing piece. He came back to it a bit later and complained that pieces he had found were disappearing. Of course we couldn’t verify this because the indentity of the pieces remained a private secret of Charles.

P.S. I should note that Charles has a long history of losing pieces from his kits which so far have always turned up after a bit of searching. Frequently the piece is under some paper (such as the instruction booklet) or on Charles’ seat.

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Friday 01 January 2010


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Light house party

Mom tried to have an open house / party / gathering for New Year’s day as we have done in past years but things did not work out as hoped. I think we had a total of 4 families represented, one of a them a neighbor and another kinfolk. Ema’s family was there for most of the time. Her little sister Ana and Alice had a lot of fun together, playing dress up and bother the brother. Later Alice’s third cousin once removed Gracie arrive and the three of them did a lot of bonding. I am not sure what Corwin and Charles did, except Charles spent the early part building baracades to protect him from Ana.

We’ll be eating chili for a quite a while.

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