Wednesday 31 March 2010

Repeating history

I remember the days when Corwin would drive us all crazy with his endless complaints about the volume of Charles’ chewing at dinner. Well, the worm turns and now Charles spends dinner complaining about Alice chewing too loudly. Charles actually fled in tears up to his room one evening from distress at the noise. Oddly, bring up this history does not seem to make any difference to Charles or Alice, but Corwin certainly smirks so it’s not a total loss.

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Tuesday 30 March 2010

If only they were as easy to upgrade

As you might know, I have been working over the last couple of months to get the kids’ computers upgraded, putatively to provide them a better computer experience but really so that I have less hassle with keeping them running. Alice’s old computer was turned in to a test machine for Mom, Charles’ is now Vidiot, our media center computer. I upgraded and reduced, so Alice and Charles got my hand me downs.

Corwin has been resisting the upgrade but while he was out of town I took action and converted him to Windows 7, because he was the only hold out except for Mom (who mostly runs Linux anyway).

This makes a lot of things easier, including networking and personalization. Now the kids can have their own logons on each system which makes adjucating games and what not much easier. I have also removed administrative privileges and installed anti-virus software so we can be safe(r). They also all have bigger (at least 500G, compared to 160G) hard drives which means Corwin won’t whine about problems installing games because there is no storage left. For a while, at least. It will do him good to have all the old games cleared out and see which ones are worth re-installing.

I was planning to surprise Corwin with the upgrade but Charles ratted me out within minutes of Corwin’s return.

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Monday 29 March 2010

Time for art

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Sunday 28 March 2010


Dad: Charles, you need to go outside.

Charles: Why?

Dad: You’ve been gaming too much.

Charles: What can I do outside?

Dad: Just go outside and make some Vitamin D.

Charles: How much?

Dad: 317 milligrams.

Charles: What about 1 milligram?

Dad: Nope, that’s not nearly enough. Get outside and starting reacting!

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Saturday 27 March 2010

Spring is hatching

Today was Mom’s day to get started on her spring project which, Turing help us, is chickens. I guess Mom misses being a spring chicken herself (ooh, I’ll pay for that if Mom ever reads this).

Mom took all the kids out for her shopping expidition while I went out to the family farm for a scheduled rocket launch which ended up cancelled. When I returned the back yard had piles of wood along with some sawhorses and a child slaving awaty joyously working alongside Mom.

Mom’s design is some sort of sled (called a “chicken coop tractor”) that she can make her husband and kids drag around the yard when needful. Outdoor furniture — I can’t wait.

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Friday 26 March 2010

Still a bit feral

Mom forced Alice and Charles to clean out the guinea pig cage. Of course they left a big mess in front of the cage. I made them clean that up as well. Charles had to take the rug out to shake all of the bedding and guinea pig poop off it. Mom was hanging some laundry out so I sarcastically said to Charles “make sure you shake that out right next to Mom”. Mom added “and next to the clothes too!”. So that’s exactly what Charles did. Lesson learned — Charles has no idea of what proper social behavior is.

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Thursday 25 March 2010


Mom and Corwin made it back from their trip late last night. I am sure Mom and Corwin are working hard on a long and detailed description of the trip so I won’t steal her thunder.

Corwin’s big news is that he ate massive amounts of candy and got a blow gun. It has a variety of sharp pointy darts. Corwin demonstrated these for me by shooting them in to the wallpaper map on the wall in the basement. He was crestfallen when I reacted with distress instead of awe. But apparently the reason for that didn’t sink in as Mom reports that Corwin demonstrated it for Jack’s mom by shooting in to the wall near the front door. At least he didn’t shoot Jack’s mom.

Mom seemed quite upbeat after the experience, although that might have been the massive Starbucks fueled alertness of the long drive back.

P.S. Remember to bug Mom via e-mail or Facebook to write up her adventure!

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Wednesday 24 March 2010


Alice and Charles have been enjoying some video entertainment while Mom’s gone.

Alice has been taken with Kim Possible for a while and she was able to indulge herself this week. I think she watched the entirety of Season 4 today. I was able to watch some episodes that I hadn’t seen before but mostly I left it to Alice.

Charles some how found this video, The Final Sponge Down which features a song from my past with clips from Sponge Bob Square Pants. He can’t wait to show it to Mom when she returns. She’s due back late tonight and the kids, troopers that they are, volunteered to wait up for her as long as the TV was showing Kim Possible episodes (Charles was willing to settle for playing Spore on the big screen).

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Tuesday 23 March 2010

Placing fault

[Alice is behaving inappropriately]

Dad: Charles, why is your sister so rude?

Charles: That’s just the way you made her.

Dad: Now we’re blaming Dad?

Charles: Yes.

Alice: No. I am just the way Mom made me.

Dad: So you’re Mom’s fault?

Alice: Yes.

I found that a good place to end the conversation.

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Monday 22 March 2010

Sibling bonding

While Mom and Corwin are gone, I was planning on doing some bonding with Charles over some computer gaming. Charles, however, has been working with Alice to teach her how to be his gunner on the helicopter in Battlefield 2. Alice can now work the controls well enough to start the game, join Charles’ server, and walk around the virtual world. Dad is no longer needed and Alice’s computer is in use by Alice, so I am upstairs writing on the kid log instead.

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Sunday 21 March 2010

Ever helpful

Alice: Now that Mom is gone you can sing all you want Dad!

Charles: Yes!

Dad: Even thought it won’t bug Mom since she’s not here?

Alice: You could call her!

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Saturday 20 March 2010


Today was a big cleaning day as Mom tried to get ready for her trip down to St. Louis with Corwin on a service mission for the church. The people are Mom, the church youth director, Corwin, and a passel of middle school and high school girls.

Mom worked on the house while the boys and I tried to get the van passable. Mom anticipated conveying a set of middle school girls in it and decided the normal level of debris our children tolerate wasn’t going suffice. I worked on general debris and vacuuming while the boys did surface cleaning, especially the cup holders which had accumulated some serious gunk.

As it turned out the other adult chaperone ended up with a large car. He wanted Mom and Corwin to crowd in with the girls but Mom didn’t think she could handle that so she and Corwin took the car. We made a quick pass to get the major junk but it just wasn’t the same.

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Friday 19 March 2010


This is Alice’s new friend Tiffany. Her mom noted to me as Tiffany was dropped off that her daughter “could be a bit strong headed. I think she will grow up to be a litigation lawyer”.

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Thursday 18 March 2010


Alice has been struggling with a stuffy nose for a bit and as a result I have been struggling with used tissues.

Mom spent some time working with Alice to get her to use tissues at all, so I shouldn’t complain too much, even though Alice’s normal habit is to just drop them where ever. On the table, on the floor, in the bathroom. I have been trying to convince her that it’s best to just throw them away, especially before Poly gets a hold of them. It’s not too surprising, I suppose, since Alice generally leaves a bathroom looking like a cat got a hold of the toilet paper. Someone told me that girls were less messy than boys but so far I haven’t seen any evidence of that.

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Wednesday 17 March 2010

A full recovery

Alice’s little medical problem has cleared up. At least I am not cleaning up urine spills and the kids aren’t talking about pink pee which seems “better” to me.

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Tuesday 16 March 2010

Finding local resources

It was a very fine day today, with the true mark of the coming Spring — the guinea pigs had a day out.

Mom found two new kids in the neighborhood today. One has been riding the school bus since the start of this school year but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Alice figured out her name and where she lived (Charles thought of her only as “the girl who hates me” which doesn’t really distinguish among the many girls who know Charles). Her name is Tiffany, she is in 2nd grade, and she lives a couple of houses down from where Olivia lived. Mom walked Alice and Polynomial over to the house to introduce herself and Alice and invited Tiffany back for a walk and a look at Alice’s home ground.

While there Mom found a boy, roughly Charles’ age, who lives in the house where Andreas lived back in the day. Mom convinved him to go over as well and hang with Charles, Josie, and Matt. He did play with that crew for a while until his dad dropped by to send him home. So Alice and Charles might have a somewhat better summer this year.

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Monday 15 March 2010

Family pricing

As part of Charles’ current mercenary attitude, he and Corwin got in to an argument at dinner about who should pay who for hugs. It rapidly escalated with various discount offers and rephrasing until Charles had to stop, having completely lost track of the offers on the table. When he asked Corwin it turned out Corwin had become completely confused as well.

I got them back when Charles asked for a glass of chocolate milk and I told him it would cost $5. I noted that his offer of $5 / hug for Mom was still operative, so he could sell Mom a hug and get enough to get a beverage. Charles’ responded by trying to rephrase the terms so he could get the drink without the hug (and in some cases, pocket $5 on top of that) but I wasn’t Corwin so Charles eventually had to give in and hug Mom. She snagged a smoochie without any additional charge. I view it as teaching Charles the advantage of double teaming for getting a better deal.

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Sunday 14 March 2010

You scratch my back. What? That's it!

Alice has returned to her enjoyment of back scratching (which I swear I wrote about but can’t find now) with Mom as her preferred provider. I helped out the other night by getting Mom to try out a hair brush. It turns out Alice quite likes, and results in a lot less cootie transfer, something I think was really gnawing at Mom. It just so cute when Mom sits on the couch and Alice comes up, pulls up her shirt, lays down on Mom’s lap and says “my back needs scratching!”. At least she’s not trying to charge Mom for the privilege.

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Saturday 13 March 2010

Mom explained

We were discussing Mom’s dominance of family dynamics at dinner.

Charles: [to Dad] You should be afraid of Mom.

Dad: Why?

Charles: Mom always gets her way because she so beerfull.

Mom: Because I’m fearfull? You mean fearsome?

Dad: No, I think he said “beerfull” [points at Mom’s dinner beer bottle]

Charles: Yes!

Dad: Hmmm, maybe I should look in to that.

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Friday 12 March 2010

A boy and his car

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Thursday 11 March 2010

Financial affection

After Charles stated his preference for splinters over Mom smoochies Mom was a bit put out. Later, at dinner, Charles offered to give Mom a hug for a small fee (originally $5000 but reduced to $5 when sales were not as good as expected). Somehow this didn’t make Mom feel any better (or maybe she just didn’t have the $5 at hand).

It didn’t get much better for Mom later. She, Alice, and I were sitting on the couch and I was trying to get at Alice’s grapey toes. Alice claimed “they’re not ripe!” even though she had told me that they would be “ripe tomorrow” the previous day. I decided that perhaps I should try something different, so I offered Alice $5 for permission to go after Mom’s toes. Alice immediately agreed and I handed her a $5 bill out of my pocket. She was so happy! (Mom, not so much). Alice spent the rest of the evening either clutching the money or carefully putting it in her pocket (then pulling it back out later). Mom figured that she’d win in the end, when Alice left the money in the pocket and Mom collected it while doing laundry, but Alice fell asleep with it in her hand which left it on the couch for me to find. So I got Mom’s toes and kept my $5! Dad rulez.

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Wednesday 10 March 2010

Splintery smooch

As we were leaving the Pinewood Derby Charles came out clutching his thigh and crying. A quick check revealed that Charles had a medium sized splinter embedded. Somehow, very mysteriously, it happened during or right after he was sliding around on a wooden bench. I suspect a crack splinter implant space monkey attack squad, but we’ll probably never really know.

Anyway, I didn’t have the right tools so Charles had to suffer while we drove home. I laid him out on the couch (Mom wandered by and wondered why Charles was laying on the couch, moaning, without any pants, but decided she was better off not pursuing the matter). The actual operation went well, once I sat on Charles’ leg so he wouldn’t jerk it around as I tried to get a grip on the splinter with my tweezers. Once I had that it came right out without a problem.

Afterwards, I offered to have Mom give him a smoochie to make him feel better. He refused, claiming it would hurt worse than the splinter. So I gave him a spritz of Bactine.

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Tuesday 09 March 2010

Family talk

Alice had quite a bit of potty trouble (containment failures just short of the toilet) over the weekend. We had to clean the bathroom floor a couple of times a day from Alice’s accidents. i found it very odd that it would just be in the bathroom but never earlier than that. More annoying was when Alice wouldn’t mention it to us afterwards, until someone stepping in it.

On Monday Mom took her in to the doctor because of that and because she had some blood in her urine. The doctor said Alice has a urinary tract infection. The doctor gave Mom some anti-biotics for Alice and told us to send her back to school the next day. So far Alice hasn’t had a failure at school.

At least the kids are open with each other. On Tuesday I heard Charles and Alice talking as they arrived home about urinary tract infections and “pink pee”. I distracted them with other conversational gambits when Alice started to tell Charles about other bodily emissions. It’s good for siblings to share but perhaps not quite that much.

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Monday 08 March 2010

Corwin Bloody Tooth

At Corwin’s last visit to the orthodontist I was told that he needed to have 6 teeth extracted. Yes, Corwin still had 6 baby teeth procrastinating.

However Corwin for once is helping out his family. Just today he managed to do an extraction by himself, pulling out a massively bleeding tooth. Alice and Charles thought it was very cool. I pointed out that had it been Charles he would have already been negotiating a split of the cost savings. Corwin was stunned to realize that it was actually going to cost money to have his teeth taken out. I think Charles is already making plans for when it’s his turn.

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Sunday 07 March 2010

Pinewood Derby

Today was Pinewood Derby Day. We didn’t start on Charles’ car until last Monday, when we put a coat of primer on the block. The real work started on Thursday, which was doable only because Charles had picked to such a simple design. I did indulge myself a bit by fiberglassing the wheels on to the car. That turned out nicely.

The race itself was very long. There were 18 cars which is more than I have seen at the event since Corwin’s first one. We went ahead and did a round robin which was 153 races, each of which was two runs. I was nominated to handle the race organization. I shouted myself almost hoarse about 15 minutes in to a 3 hour set of races. Fortunately one of the other dads helped out so I was able to remain vocal until the end.

Charles’ car did good but not great. Interestingly the top car didn’t dominate, winning 12 of 17 races, while Charles won 9, along with 3 or 4 other cars, which wasn’t good enough to place but was a decent showing. I think Charles had a good time although I think he regretted not putting more work in the car as the day wore on. Perhaps we’ll get started earlier next year.

Charles is car #8

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Saturday 06 March 2010

ISAT a lot

My mom is making me write this even though I had ISAT testing last week. You’d think I would get a break after all that testing, but nooooo.

I can’t really write much about the ISATs except that they were really boring and hard. However during ISAT week I got no homework! In social studies, we worked on flash cards for a constitution test. In science we got to watch a Simspon’s episode and part of the Jetson movie. We didn’t have most of our electives that week, including strings so I didn’t have to bring my violin to school most of that week. That’s pretty much all I can say about my ISAT week.

On Saturday I went to a merit badge seminar at Holy Cross school. I was working on a chemistry merit badge, a dog care merit badge, and a photography merit badge. I had to wake up at six to get there. The flag ceremony was around 7:30 and lasted around ten minutes. My first class, chemistry started at eight, but the U of I students who were supposed to teach us were late. When they got there, the class was okay, and I should have most of the requirments done.

My next class was Dog Care. The teacher, an animal cruelty investigator, mainly talked about how dogs evolved and the types of dogs for the first hour. Then we had a break to walk around and meet Sport, the dog the teacher brought (more on the dog later). After the break the teacher talked about how to take care of a dog and the ailments of dogs. The teacher also talked about some abused dogs. One dog was owned by a mentally disadvantaged woman who had no job. The woman said that she fed her dog treats and table scraps. The dog wasn’t groomed and about a foot and half wide. The dog was about three feet from head to tail and weighed 50 pounds(Poly weighs 50 pounds). The teacher took the dog away, and sent him to the animal shelter where the dog got got fit again. The dog weighs 18 pounds now, and the dog’s name is Sport (does that ring a bell?).

After Dog Care was lunch, then photography. My dad said said that if I get the photography merit badge I get to keep his old D70 camera. Charles was enthused. The class lasted about four hours, and I learned about the camera, the rule of thirds, how to take a good picture, and probably more stuff, but I forget. I passed the final test so I guess I got the merit badge. Charles is so happy.

Charles had a pinewood derby today, but I didn’t go because I’m writing this. Oh well.

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Friday 05 March 2010

Personal Best

Charles and Alice were messing with me the other night so I decided to get some payback, announcing that I was going to get a “triple”. Previously I had achieved several “doubles”, pinching two different child butts at the same time (which is harder than you might think). For the triple, I started with a double and added rubbing my 3 day stubble on a tummy. Charles and Alice were very squirmy but after some strategic arrangement I managed, with Mom as a witness! Alice, of course, tried to deny me my well deserved glory afterwards by claiming first, I hadn’t pinched her butt, and two it wasn’t much of a pinch. Mom backed me up, however, and so I have that on my list of fatherly achievements.

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Thursday 04 March 2010


I was helping Charles to work on his Pinewood Derby car and inquired as to what design he was thinking of. He wanted a plain white rectilinear solid with black spots and a smiley face on front, to look like Mr. Cowie. Not a particularly challenging project and I sked Charles about that. He replied that he wanted something simple so he didn’t have to work on it much.

Dad: Don’t you want to have a nice car?

Charles: Not if it’s a lot of work.

Dad: You don’t want to accomplish something with your car?

Charles: I do accomplish things. Simple things, which are easy.

Dad: That’s not much of an accomplishment, if something’s easy.

Charles: That how I like it.

Dad: You’re not going to do very well in life if you don’t try to accomplish stuff. How will you get by?

Charles: My big blue eyes.

Dad: You plan to marry some rich girl and have her keep you like a pet?

Charles: Yes. But not one that likes me.

Dad: Why not?

Charles: She might try to hug me and stuff.

Dad: Well, I am just not seeing why she would keep you around in the first place if she doesn’t like you very much.

Charles: Big blue eyes.

Dad: I think you might want to work on a Plan B.

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Wednesday 03 March 2010

You can tell he's almost a teenager

I am beginning to regret upgrading the kids computers. I was playing Battlefield 2 with Corwin and Charles over the weekend and I was just not competive anymore. Corwin is getting to the age when his first person shooter skills are maturing (if only his math skills were doing the same) and I just don’t have the time to learn the micro-optimizations that make the difference in the game. I wasn’t totally owned but still it was very depressing. At least I can still beat them at strategy games.

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Tuesday 02 March 2010

Dinner wtih finger buddies

One thing we have had problems with is “finger buddies”. Corwin or Charles will start with a finger buddy and the other will respond in kind. It escalates from there with laser cannons and other advanced weaponry. Alice tends to join in at that point which makes the whole “eating” part of dinner a lower priority. We have tried banning the finger buddies but that’s been only partly successful. Not infrequently I have to invite Knuckle Evil to join us to help keep the finger buddiness down to levels that permit continued consumption.

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Monday 01 March 2010


Alice pens the great American short story

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