Monthly Archives: May 2010

We’re in the UK

Misty and I are in England! We’re taking a nearly two-week vacation in the UK, driving around with friends and being amazed at how old everything is. We’re mainly relieved to be done with packing. It took a while for us to turn our pants into trousers and our underwear into pants.

If someone wants to swing by our house in a week or so and refill the automatic dog food dispenser for Eli and Liza, that’d be keen.

Eli’s Kindergarten Graduation was Very Wet

Last Thursday we celebrated Eli completing kindergarten.

Eli and his kindergarten teacher, Ms Vandiver

Some schools treat this as a full-blown graduation with caps and gowns and all kinds of formality. I am not down with that; I appreciate marking Eli’s transition from kindergarten to grade school, but it’s not really a graduation. Fortunately, Eli’s school didn’t do that. Instead, after everyone got their certificate, they went outside to have sponge races!

Eli runs with a sponge on his head

His class divided into two teams. Each team had a bucket full of water at one end of a stretch of ground and an empty bucket at the other. They had to transfer the water from the full bucket to the empty one using sponges. The first team to fill their bucket won.

Eli’s team didn’t win, but he didn’t care. He got to run a lot and get very wet.

You know, I kind of wish they’d done this at my doctoral graduation.

The Light! The Light!

We live near the eastern edge of the US’s Central Time Zone, which means we get light earlier in the morning. I’m sure it has something to do with relativity and perhaps warp drives. The upshot is that, in the summer, sunrise occurs at 5:30 in the morning.

Eli and Liza care nothing for arbitrary time zones. They’re on local solar time. When the sun rises, they get up. I know some of you don’t have children, so let me put this in a more familiar context for you.

Wandering Toddler Table

Before going to bed, roll percentage dice and consult this table to determine what encounter you will have in the early morning.

d% Encounter
01-20 At 6:00 Eli comes in to show you his latest Lego creation before going back to his room. You are Awake; saving throw before your 6:20 alarm ends.
21-40 Liza knocks on the wall to let you know she’s awake. Pass a DC 15 Bluff or Intimidation skill check to convince her to go back to sleep for a while.
41-60 Eli gets up and goes to the bathroom. When he returns to his room, he shuts his door loudly and wakes you up. You are Awake; save ends.
61-80 Eli pads quietly into your room multiple times. Each time he walks in, pauses, and then leaves. Each time you wake up. The fourth time, when you ask him what he’s doing, he says, “I’m seeing what time it is on your clock.”
81-90 You wake up to discover that Eli is staring at you in a very “Children of the Corn” manner. Suffer a surprise round, during which Eli will say, “Dad. Dad. Dad. Are you awake?”
91-99 Eli gets up and goes to the bathroom. When he returns to his room, he shuts his door loudly and wakes Liza up. Liza begins knocking on the wall. You are Awake; no saving throw permitted.
00 The sun goes supernova. You’re dead, but at least you got your sleep.

Fear of Banking

This past week I went to the bank to pick up our passports from the safety deposit box for our upcoming trip to the UK.

This is where I am going to confess my irrational fear of banks. I hate going inside the bank because, wait for it, I’m afraid there will be a robbery.

It’s completely stupid, I know. The chances of something like that happening in the 15 minutes I am inside the bank are incredibly low. I know it and yet, I think about it every time I have to go to the safety deposit box. I actually plan my inside bank visits for when I know I won’t have the kids with me. Again, completely irrational. I think this must be why the drive-thru was invented.

Anyone else have fears they know are completely ridiculous and aren’t afraid to share?

To Liza on Her Third Birthday

For your birthday this year we let you pick what you wanted to do and where you wanted to go. This led to us celebrating your birthday on Friday at Chuck E. Cheese with Mumsy, your friends Josh, Kate, Jordan, and some scary clanking animatronic animals. I watched you climb up the kid habitrail all by yourself and marveled at how coordinated you are and how much you’ve grown in the last year. On Monday you demanded lunch at McDonald’s and Red Robin. Then you went home, fell asleep, and woke up to discover that you had been transformed in your bed into a monstrous hamburger.

You got many cool presents. I bought you a shirt from ThinkGeek because I’m that kind of dad. Mom got you a bag. But your favorite gift of all was a bug catcher. It’s a clear plastic container with a magnifying glass built into the lid, so you can scoop up bugs and stare at them while they cower, frightened by your giant magnified eye.

Liza wearing her "Self-Rescuing Princess" shirt

This year you’ve grown to love stuffed animals in a way that would make your uncle Andrew proud. Ellie the elephant is by far your favorite, but you also love Big Ellie the other elephant and Pinecone the other other elephant and Two the puppy dog. You named most of the animals, though I’m responsible for you calling one baby doll “Scary Baby”. It turns its head and makes frightening crying noises and clacks its eyes open and shut and it freaks me out a bit. If this were an 80s horror movie then it would be into the knives in no time.

You enjoy drawing and reading. Sometimes you wander into your room and pull books off of your shelf to read them. When I sit down in my overstuffed red recliner you take that as an invitation for me to read to you. You grab a book and run to me, crying, “Read to me, daddy, read to me!” You throw the book in my lap and climb up my legs like they were a ladder. I read the book to you and you toss the book aside, climb back down, and run to get another book.

Liza wrapped up in her quilt

Nothing, though, dims your overwhelming love of Dora. “I wanna watch Dora!” you shout. “Dora Dora Dora the exploraaaaaaaah. DORAAAA!” Sometimes you dally with other shows, like Team Umizoomi. “Pattern Power!” you say as you run madly around the house in no discernible pattern.

You’re extremely active and sometimes frighteningly coordinated. In your mind you’re a six-year-old boy, which gives you courage beyond your years. As soon as we open the back door you’re climbing up onto the trampoline of death and jumping and jumping, your blond hair spreading around your head like a dandelion puff, before swinging yourself down. You climb up the side of our jungle gym and clamber around its exterior in ways guaranteed to take years off of my life.

Liza swinging on our jungle gym

You’re an “I can do it” child.You want to dress and undress yourself. You go to the bathroom by yourself, which gives us hope that your potty training will be so easy that maybe it will happen without us noticing. One day I’ll look up and say to your mom, “Huh, I haven’t changed Liza’s diaper in a week. What about you?” She’ll shrug, at which point angels will descend and everyone will war no more.

After talking at a very young age, you’ve decided that words are overrated. Sometimes you’ll stick your tongue out just a little, like a small pink flag, and say “Thaa thaa thaa thaaaaa” instead of talking. You also screech a lot. When you spill your milk, you screech. When Eli takes your toy away, you screech. When an episode of Dora ends, you screech. It’s much funnier when you deal with your anger by talking. When Eli thwarts you, you clench your tiny toddler fist and say, “Eli! That makes me so angry! That makes me angry, Eli!”

Liza sticks out her tongue while she concentrates

Some words you say in an unbearably cute little kid manner. “Yellow” comes out as “lellow”, which means it’s easier to understand you singing the first verse to “Lellow Submarine” than the chorus. “Water” comes out as “wah-tuw”, something I hear most any night that I put you to bed. “Daddy, I want some wahtuw. I want watuw, daddy. I want watuw.”

Your sleep issues have returned, though in a new form. When we put you to bed you sing or talk loudly to your stuffed animals. Some times we come back into your room and tell you sternly, “It’s bedtime now. No more talking.” That works about half of the time. The other half of the time you ignore us and go back to singing shortly after we leave.

Liza (with scraped-up face) and Misty

You also have occasional nightmares. Every few weeks or so you wake up crying. Oftentimes I’m the one who goes in to comfort you. You sob and throw your arms around my neck. I help you sit all the way up and give you a drink of water. “Do you want to hug Ellie and go back to bed?” I ask, and you nod solemnly. I wasn’t sure whether or not you remembered those half-asleep moments until you told Mom one time, “I miss dad. When I’m scared he makes me feel better.”

I’ve been traveling a lot this month, which means I’ve seen you far less than I’ve wanted to. But even when I’m away, I can close my eyes and see you. You’re running in the sun, arms swinging, your face alight with the joy of being alive, and I’m reminded how privileged I am to be your dad.

Liza and me

Nostalgia Web Hosting

Dear The Internet,

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I was going to open a business offering nostalgia web hosting. It would be where people who really wish their sites looked like a 1998 Geocities page would come.

The question: what features should this company offer? A free Under Construction .gif with every new account? Frames so you can have a scrollable side menu?

Eugie Foster Won a Nebula!

My friend Eugie won a well-deserved Nebula1 for her novelette Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast. If you’ve not read it, Apex Magazine reprinted it online for free. You can also listen to an audiobook version of it courtesy of the Escape Pod podcast.

1The Nebula Awards are given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and are voted on only by members of SFWA. In short, Eugie’s story was selected by a jury of her peers.

Still crocheting small things


The three cacti I crocheted for Kat and Sean. If only I could crochet little sombreros for them they would be perfect.

Excuse me a sec, while I go look for a pattern…


Eli and Liza demonstrating how sharp the needles on a cactus can be.


This critter doesn’t have an owner yet but that’s only because Eli hasn’t gotten home from school and seen him.


I didn’t crochet the dog but Liza sure wishes I would make one for her.

Friday Night Supercuts: Get Out of There!

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of supercuts, where someone takes every instance of a phrase they can find in a TV show or movie and smushes them together. The first one I ever saw was just about every instance of Buster saying, “Hey, Brother,” in Arrested Development.

After that there were all of the people who weren’t here to make friends.

A few months ago I was fascinated by “Let’s Enhance”, a montage of a tremendous number of “freeze it! zoom in!” sequences from TVs and movies.

Now I have a new favorite. For today’s entertainment, I give you an insane number of examples of people shouting, “GET OUT OF THERE!”

See how many of the movies you can identify!