Monday 31 January 2011

They got to me

Because of Alice’s issues Mom has been feeding her fiber gummies and now Charles has started taking them as well, leading to yet another dinner conversation —

Charles: Can I have a fiber gummie?

Mom: Sure.

Charles: Waaaa! I still have to eat corn!

Mom: Yes.

Charles: But the fiber gummie is equal to one cup of corn! [holds up fiber gummie bottle, pointing out the relevant passage]

Mom: Eat your corn anyway.

Dad: Yeah, you’ll have enough fiber that you’ll poop so hard you’ll launch right off the toilet.

Mom: Thanks for the image.

The kids thought this was so funny that Charles and Alice literally fell out of their chairs1. They got me laughing too, even though it was painful due to my chook rescue injuries. Mom had no apparent sympathy, cruel taskmaster that she is.

1 Admittedly not a high bar for dinner time when they’re looking for any excuse to get out of their chairs.

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Sunday 30 January 2011

Out to Pastor

The Pastor at our church, Pastor Donna, had her last day today. There was a reception which Alice enjoyed and the boys endured. I had some camera problems but managed to get a few good pictures.

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Saturday 29 January 2011

Dashing Charles and Flycatcher Alice

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Friday 28 January 2011

Mom strikes

I have been out most of this week with a very bad stomach flu which I think I got from the field trip and all those unsanitized children. Just as I on the road to recovery Corwin brought home another more standard type of virus (one that kept him home from school for a day). Maybe someday, like in the spring, I will be fully functional again. On the other hand, this kind of thing has Mom’s evil conspiring finger prints all over it. I can only imagine what nefarious purpose she has in mind …

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Thursday 27 January 2011

Chickens on Ice!

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Wednesday 26 January 2011

Fire bond

At least a good fire can bring the kids together

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Tuesday 25 January 2011

Too much naky

I was tasked with forcing Charles to cleanse himself in the shower. After I passed on this command to Charles, he took his clothes off in his room in preparation for a shower over in the master shower. I didn’t inquire as to why he got naked before transit. However, Alice was hanging about at this time and naturally Charles hadn’t closed his door. When I looked in to see what he was doing, he became concerned and tried to cover himself. When Alice noted that she didn’t mind seeing a naked Charles liked to look at him, Charles was only mildly concerned. I did mention to Charles that he could use a towel to wrap himself before walking around naked for future reference.

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Monday 24 January 2011

Fatherly reward

As a birthday present today, Mom let me be a chaperon for Charles’ fourth grade expedition to the Museum of Science and Industry. Because of the number of students I couldn’t ride on the bus and so had to drive myself there and back after waking up at 5:30 AM to get ready. Originally I had been scheduled to watch over Charles, Josie, Patrick, and Miles. Erica was added when a couple of other parents didn’t show up for their child bonding opportunity.

I would have greatly appreciated the ability to fill this post with a long list of disasters but the trip was mostly uneventful. The roads were bad for the first 50 miles or so, with noticeable sludge, but that cleared up. I even remembered how to activate the wind shield wiper fluid in the car (it’s not automatic with the momentary wiper activation). The trip timing was such that we missed the heavy parts of rush hour both ways. I also had good traction. During the original planning Mom didn’t want me to take the car because the tires were near bald and Mom figured I would end up under a semi, given the heavy traffic, poor conditions, and my level of driving skills. So back on Satuday I got four new all weather tires. I will admit, I could easily tell the difference just driving around town.

I let the kids go where they wanted, although they had to so the “Storm Center” exhibit because that was related to their current area of study in class. It is a new exhibit and quite interesting. The kids did well in terms of negotiating amongst themselves on which exhibits to see. During lunch they created a common prioritized list of exhibits which we followed in the afternoon until it was time to leave.

We got home around 5:30, and I just crashed out after that. Mom had thought perhaps a movie but she was tired too so we called it a day. At least I got my french silk pie!

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Sunday 23 January 2011

My business idea

I was thinking about Mimi and realized that I could have a great business — “Kitten of the Month”. Subscribers would get a brand new little bundle of love every month. Surely there’s a large enough supply of crazy cat ladies out there to get a good set of customers. I decided to do some marketing investigation on Mimi who’s right in the target demographic. But for some reason she didn’t think it would work on a larger scale. She wouldn’t even sign up as my first subscriber!

Oh well, I will have to find fame and fortune some other way.

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Saturday 22 January 2011

Rigellian Bloodworms

Mom’s been cooking up conchiglie stuffed with tomato sauce and ricotta cheese. The kids weren’t overly enthused with this culinary adventure, until I referred to them as “Rigellian Bloodworms”. Corwin immediately dug in and the other kids followed suit. Now even Mom uses the term. It’s just one the little ways I help out around the house.

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Friday 21 January 2011

Weekend notes

It’s been a cold week but the chickens seem to be surviving. They can apparently tolerate some rather cold temperatures if they’re out of the wind. It’s been snowing on and off so there’s been a continuous snow cover which is a bit unusual. Sadly Mom and I have been very busy at work with some time critical tasks so we haven’t gotten the kids out sledding again.

This weekend isn’t going to work out well either. Corwin and Charles had activities during the day then Mom took Alice and Charles off for a quick visit to Grandma for her birthday. Corwin is trying out for a local string orchestra that Mom has been bugging him about for a year or so. Then on Sunday he is going to another church as part of his confirmation work, which has two hour services. Corwin does plan to spend all the time he’s not scheduled playing XBox. So he’s got that going for him.

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Thursday 20 January 2011

The price of performance

Alice had her first dance / acrobatic related injury today, twisting her ankle a bit. Mom had mentioned to me earlier that the best student at the studio (who danced lead in all the mini-operas and got scholarships) had just graduated from high school and quit dancing entirely. She had apparently had multiple foot surgeries and as a result she had little chance of a career of any length. Then the previous week when picking up Alice another young girl (13 or 14) came in and talked with one of the moms there. During a casual catching up discussion she casually mentioned that her knee hadn’t fully healed and she wouldn’t be dancing in one of her routines for the annual performance. Hopefully not too much of a preview of what’s to come.

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Wednesday 19 January 2011

Tech upgrade

Dad got a new laptop this week. He’s been using a netbook for the last year and it just didn’t work out very well. For the things Dad likes to do, it was too slow and didn’t have enough screen. So now Dad has a laptop with a quad core hyperthreaded CPU, 6 gigabytes of memory, and a 1920×1080 display (which is likely larger than the one you’re reading this on). Of course, it’s heavy and doesn’t have much battery life but that’s generally fine. I don’t travel with it as much as Mom does with hers. Not to mention that I’m way more buff and can handle the extra weight.

P.S. This post was typed on the new laptop while Corwin played XBox and Mom watched some HGTV.

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Tuesday 18 January 2011

A bit too much planning ahead.

Dad: See, they have to stop her because otherwise she might up kissing that guy. And that would be wrong.

Alice: I thought they were already dating.

Dad: I think this is an earlier episode. You know we’re not going to let you date anybody.

Alice: Yes you will.

Dad: I think not. That would be wrong.

Alice: Yes you will. I’m not worried about that. It’s the pregnant part that worries me.

Dad: Really?

Alice: Mom says it really hurts when you take the baby out.

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No looking, either

Quite a while back, we had to forbid physical contact at dinner. First just for Mom, then for everyone. Now we’re at the point of having to forbid eye contact because Boyen like to have fun making Alice lose control through funny looks. Why Alice finds this irresistibly amusing is a mystery, but there it is. While this is going on none of the kids are eating and it already takes Alice and Charles in particular extremely long amounts of time to finish dinner (over 30 minutes of eating isn’t unusual). The outdoor trough is looking better all the time.

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Monday 17 January 2011


Today was the long drive back. It was snowing heavily again so the first 50 miles or so was rather tense but it mostly cleared up after that, eventually turning in to rain.

We stopped at the “Machine Shed” in Rockford for lunch, then made it home by 5 PM for a low key and (for me at least), sore evening. Mom said her thighs were sore but my entire legs were and especially my calves, which hovered on the edge of cramping until the next morning.

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Sunday 16 January 2011

Ski Two

Sunday morning was similar to the day before, a brisk walk through the cold morning air over to the cafeteria, a hot breakfast, and then loading up for the slopes. It was about 10°F colder than the previous day which was noticeably but there wasn’t much wind so it was fine once we were out and moving. We took Alice out for her first real run on the green slope. That went well — Alice didn’t fall until her final turn at the very end of the run. Mom and I sat on either side of her on the ski left and managed to keep her upright (although I had to grab her coat as we came down the ramp, without dumping myself).

Charles and Corwin were little speed demons down the blue slopes. I could keep up with them on the green but wasn’t willing to go as fast as they did on the blue. Eventually this wasn’t enough for Mom and she tried to get Boyen to do some runs with here. Corwin passed but Charles was game for it and did quite well. Charles had a better different attitude about falling down. Instead of crying, he would laugh like a maniac and say “did you see how far I slid?”. Of course, he only fell every now and then, most runs he took without incident.

We sent Alice off to ski school in the afternoon again, who took her on a couple of green runs now that she had used a chair lift. The big difficult was apparently trying to teach her to turn to lose speed, which Alice thought very bizarre — “why would you want to slow down? I like going fast!”.

The best part of the day was skiing along behind Mom and watch her wipe out, having not fallen myself. Haha! The second best was rescuing a cute young Japanese female who had gotten herself stuck on the edge of the slope. She hadn’t fallen but there was a good 4 or 5 inch drop at the edge and trying to back up over that was quite challenging. I had to pull on the back of her coat as hard as I could while she polled to get out. I was proudest of not immediately skiing back over the edge myself as soon as she was out.

We left a little early to avoid the 5PM rush (when the slopes close for grooming before the evening session). We drove back to the cabins, got some supper, did a devotional, and then it was time for the “tube chute”. I went along even though Corwin and Charles wimped out declined to participate.

The tube chbute is a run near the cabins (about 2/3 of a mile away) with inner tubes down to a frozen pond. The main problem we had was a ramp at the bottom which caused some rather sore tail bones (a couple of people left at that point because it was too rough). A small group of us tried to remove it but it was heavily frozen. Instead we backfilled it so the tubes only got a couple inches of air instead of a foot or more. The kids still seemed to be landing hard to me, but when I asked them they said it was fine and didn’t need any more backfill. It wasn’t my tail bone so I left it as it was.

Then it was time for bed, at least for me. Charles and Corwin were already asleep when I got back. Mom stayed up later, probably partying and watching late night professional wrestling.

Alice running the bunny slope, chase view

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Saturday 15 January 2011

Ski One

In the morning we had a hot breakfast and then prepped for the drive over to the ski resort. The roads and weather were better than the previous night so the trip was uneventful. After all the joy of checking in and getting our skis we managed to get on the slopes around 11:30.

The boys tried out the bunny slope first but I, dare devil and perfection in physical form that I am, went straight to the green slope. Alice had some struggles that Mom tried to work through, although the worst part for her (and Charles) was trying to get up some of the slopes while wearing skis. They lacked the ability to not slide backwards when shifting poles (the idea of always having at least one pole set never quite took). At one point I told Alice to just side step up the slope. She responded that it was “too much work”. I countered with the idea that endlessly pushing forward then sliding back would turn out, in the long run, to be even more work.

After some bunny hill trials, I was sent to take Charles up for his first green run. This did not go well. Charles crashed getting off the lift, then crashed again on the first curve (which is quite steep on the inside curve that Charles took). We got moving again and Charles was doing quite well until near the end when he crashed again and melted down. He seemed far more upset that his body wouldn’t ski as he wanted than any actual injury. After some calming, Mom took him up again and, while he crashed off the lift again, he made the run without any falls, which helped.

Around this time we had lunch and then parked handed Alice off to an afternoon ski school. Mom, Boyen, and I then spent some time on the green and blue slopes. I worked with Charles on the lift dismount and got him to crash less often, although near the end of the day he dismounted nicely and then got smacked in the back of the head by the chair, which layed him out for a minute or two. By the end of the day, however, Charles was zipping down blue slopes and becoming a speed addict.

We had dinner there, and then it was time for some night skiing. Corwin abandoned us to go back to the cabins and only one other person in the group stayed. While we missed the sun and it was noticeably colder, the wind completely died out so it was actually more pleasant than the afternoon. It started snowing part way through and the snow in the sky was lit up by the lights. I told Alice it was Jesus and the Apostles having a pillow fight but I don’t think she believed me.

Charles and I did a green run then I hung out with Alice doing the bunny slope. After a dozen or two runs Alice was doing well and getting excited about going fast. The ski school apparently taught her how to do a final turn to stop at the end of the run which she did well. We headed back around 7:30, did an evening devotional, and then our family went to sleep (I think Charles and Corwin were the first people asleep, and I wasn’t far behind).

Charles on an early run

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Friday 14 January 2011


The long weekend’s big adventure is a ski trip with the local church. We left late afternoon for a long drive up to our primitive cabin. Unfortunately the weather turned very nasty, lots of blowing snow and ice on the highway. Mom found it a rather challenging driving experience. Still, we arrived without incident at a gas station plaza at the turn off from the highway to a local road. They had some very nice meat snacks there. After verifying everyone had made it, we drove another half hour or so to the cabin. This had three rooms of bunk beds and two bathrooms. Two bunk sets were designated for boys and one for girls, but the bathrooms were split evenly. We all used sleeping bags because there were no sheets for the beds (I think next time, bringing some sheets might not be a bad idea, although I would still bring a sleeping bag).

The big change for us was that movies are no longer such a big deal while driving with all three kids having Nintendo DS games. The three of them slept and gamed most of the way up, with just a bit of movie watching.

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Thursday 13 January 2011

Slow art

Snail by Alice

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Wednesday 12 January 2011

A day out

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Tuesday 11 January 2011

Relativistic help

Charles asked me about some project where he had to relate space and time. Naturally I sat him down and started explaining relativistic physics so he could understand how these are related and that relationship altered by movement. It’s the kind of important talk a Dad needs to have with his sons when they are of age, so that don’t get their metric signatures confused. While I was doing this, Corwin kept trying to interrupt with inane questions. I had to threaten to help him with his math homework to get him to be quiet.

On the other hand, he’s been studying basic set theory and set relationships. Perhaps a discussion of how event ordering and temporal paradoxes that arise from supraluminal travel can be modeled using partial orderings. That should clear things up. Or at least give me a new threat for obedience.

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Futile hope

After yet another typical dinner conversation, Alice suddenly piped up with “I hope I don’t have babies like us [the kids]”.

Dream on, little girl.

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Monday 10 January 2011

The road to ruin

I have tried to guide Corwin to a life of moderation and propriety, but it can sometimes be hard to overcome Mom’s influence. The latest case in point is that Mom has introduced Corwin to Diet Coke. In one sense this is not too bad, as Corwin frankly could stand to be revved up a bit. Still, I have seen what this addiction obsession habit has cost Mom over the years1 and I don’t know if Corwin will be strong enough to resist the downward spiral. I am worried because to help with a weather station Charles received for Christmas, Mom bought me a 2 liter bottle of Cherry Coke (the station needs the empty bottle) and I noticed that Corwin was dipping in to it as well. Not many steps from there to Hollywood style detox.

1 Mom was weaned on started out hooked on Tab, which I think gave her the tolerance to handle Diet Coke non-disastrously.

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Sunday 09 January 2011

More birthdaying

Today, we celebrated Alice’s birthday as a family because it was her actual birthday (when did we switch to having two day celebrations? It must be some plot of Charles’). Alice recieved yet another pile of presents, which made her cry because there were things she wanted that she did not get! Not every … single … whim … was satisfied! The horror, the horror …

Alice did eventually deign to accept her poor fortune and managed to bring herself to play with the center piece of her array of gifts, a metallic rose Nintendo DS. She also liked the big pile of cash she got from her grandmothers. We drove out to Best Buy in the afternoon so the kids could also purchase electronics with their Christmas / birthday stashes. Alice and Corwin found things to their liking, but not Charles. Alice, among other things, got a Hello Kitty case for her new DS and some game cases (-required- suggested by Mom).

After dinner we had yet another cake (making 3 for Charles in 2 days). Mom also got cupcakes for Alice’s class tomorrow, so that Alice can hit the magic 3 cake product mark too. Poor Corwin had to make do with only 2.

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Saturday 08 January 2011

Birthday Girl

Today we had Alice’s birthday party, from 11:30 AM to 3 PM. Yes, Mom really planned for a 3½ hour birthday party for 7 year old girls. Alice had about 10 kids or so show up, including one boy from her class. The other girls were from school and her dance class. Alice was very excited about getting so many presents. We managed to fill some time with pizza, and then cake, and then opening the presents. The kids also spent some time outside, playing with ice and the chickens. Alice came out with a plate of left over pizza for the chickens but walked right in to the wagon handle and fell on her face. She fled back in to the house in tears, and had to change dresses to get in to something dry. There was also a piñata which the kids enjoyed. It took several rounds of all the kids whacking on it to break it up but after the first round some of the hits would cause candy to fly out, sending the kids scambling for it. At some point, Alice became sad about this activity, although I never found out quite why (possibly because she didn’t want the piñata smashed). However, afterwards Alice demanded that she get to keep the head (and was OK with the idea of mounting it like a trophy on her bedroom wall).

After that I left to take Charles to Josie’s birthday party (it was almost a good day for Charles, having pizza and cake for lunch and dinner) and when I returned there was only one guest left, who was picked up shortly afterwards. Alice spent the rest of the day playing with her toys while Mom collapsed from nervous exhaustion.

P.S. Mom noted that Alice needs to work on sounding pleased when she gets a present she doesn’t particularly like, rather than exclaiming in a dismayed voice “Oh, not a book!”.

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Friday 07 January 2011

Once more in to the dinner conversation

Mom, frustrated at trying to talk to Charles who answered everything with “maybe”, asks Alice how her day is. She responds with a bright and cheerful announcement “I’m constipated!”. Just what I wanted to hear during dinner. At least her vocabulary is improving.

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Thursday 06 January 2011

Comfy Dog

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Wednesday 05 January 2011

Following the rule

One day, after pestering visiting me in my office, Alice complained that I messed with her everytime she did so. Naturally the next time she was in my office, I messed with her again and when she complained I said “you told me that I messed with you every time you were in here and I wouldn’t want you to be wrong!”.

After that, I didn’t do anything the next time Alice was in my office, which earned me the reward of Alice taunting me as she left, “Ha ha, I was in your office and you didn’t mess with me!”. Well.

Since then I have tried to remember to mess with Alice when she comes in my office, but sometimes I forget and Alice flings her taunt at me as she departs. I think I’m still ahead on points.

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Tuesday 04 January 2011

Time to set some boundaries

Charles: Give me my phone so I can play some games on it.

Dad: “My” phone?

Charles: Uhhhh. [pause for careful thought] Please may I borrow your phone?

He’s such a cynical yet greedy little brat.

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Monday 03 January 2011


Yes, the kids are back in school once again. Now, once Mom’s classes start up again life will be good.

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Sunday 02 January 2011

Gimpy Dad

This is part of the bruise I got from my little sledding accident a few days ago. There’s actually more all the way up to my butt dimple but I figured that would be TMI.

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Saturday 01 January 2011

Bringing in yet another year

Yesterday we went over to Laurie’s parents’ house for New Year’s Eve. It’s been several years since I have stayed up for the New Year. We mostly just hung out and talked, but we did bring a couple of activities. We fired off some bottle rockets and roman candles in the backyard, which the kids liked.

Mom brought a sugar cone so that we could make some sort of mulled wine that involves pouring rum on top of the sugar cone while it’s on fire. Mom hadn’t done it before but Laurie’s brother Dan and his girlfriend had, so we let them take charge of the operation. They managed to get it done without setting anything else on fire. They did note they had done it before once with another person who didn’t quite grasp the connection between the ladle of rum and fire, who, having spilled a bit. waved the ladle around while looking at the fire, spreading it around the rest of the area. It was pointed out that you really want a metal ladle, as opposed to plastic (melty) or wood (flammable). It takes a while for the heat to travel up the handle, although it’s something to watch. The bottom of the ladle gets hot enough that it makes the rum boil as it is dipped whcih was interesting.

It was also Laurie’s birthday, complete with a cake and candles, after which we partied until it was the New Year.

Bottle rocket trail

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