Friday, June 29, 2007

Shooting Aliens

A couple weeks ago I got my first "real" PS3 game.  I've actually bought several games from the online store, but none of the full $60 games really seemed worth it to me.  Finally Resistance got down to under $30 used so I picked up a copy, not coincidentally before Rachel's brothers came out for Chris's MTC induction -- Brian introduced me to Halo a couple years ago; I figured I should return the favor.

I'm hooked.  The plot isn't as gripping as Halo's (whose is?), but it's above average for the genre.  And the game itself delivers.  I'm enjoying myself immensely.

Rachel even played co-op with me for one session and admitted that "it wasn't as bad as I expected."  Which for her is pretty high praise of an FPS.

Flying with a two year old is hell

Matthew is pretty good on the airplane now. Give him his gameboy, or put a Superman DVD in Rachel's macbook, and he's good to go. I got him a pair of Sony noise-cancelling headphones -- under 20% of the price of the Bose ones and almost as effective. (But the Maxell ones I also got kinda suck.)

Melissa is another story. She didn't like headphones, so the DVD only worked for about 10 minutes. Then she went through the books and activities Rachel packed in about half an hour. Which left only another 4 hours of hell each way to New Jersey. She did NOT want to be strapped in her seat; when we unstrapped her, she wanted to climb over the seat to say hello to the passengers behind her, or tromp up and down the isles, both of which get old for the other passengers in fairly short order. So on the way back we decided strapped-in was the way to go, despite her protests. And did she ever protest.

I told my mom we'd fly out again when Christine gets married. (This does not seem likely to occur in the near future.) She thought I was joking at first; when she realized I was serious, she said hopefully, "But she'll grow out of this; Matthew did." "Yeah," I replied, "and by that time we'll have another one again."

Monday, June 25, 2007

David is married

David got married Saturday. I didn't really get a chance to spend much time with his wife, Dielha, so perhaps for that reason it still feels kind of abstract to me. Or maybe it's because he dated her less before their marriage than Telitha did Nolan or Grant did Lisa.

Dielha does seem to be a gentle soul.

Most of the family friends that I know, the Princeton ones, didn't make it to this reception; they were on the "must look up addresses" list and didn't get looked up. Too bad, I was looking forward to seeing some of them again.

But, the wedding cake was definitely the best I have had. Most wedding bakers don't spend much effort making it actually taste good as long as it looks good. This one was excellent.

We stayed to clean up; fortunately it ended at 8 so we weren't there too late. But Mom was up til one washing tablecloths. (I helped with the first batch but went to bed before it hit the dryer.)

Grant wrote about some more details of the reception on his blog. I'm going to shamelessly crib one bit here:

Last night I gave my (now four-year-old) nephew a pitcher of tang to carry into the party when we were setting up, under the theory that he (a) wanted to help, (b) an element of risk makes the sense of accomplishment greater, and (c) nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Grandpa Ellis, who caught us, explained that this was added to the list of Things I Was Not Allowed to Do.

What I didn't tell him was that he didn't catch us until the second pitcher.

Addendum: My wife points out that she caught us earlier, but what she said was, "That one is really, really full," so I just went back to the kitchen and gave him a less full one.

I'm an obedient husband!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On being a little sister-

of big brother...

How many 2 year old girls do you know that can accurately name batman, spiderman, and her favorite, "SOUP-Man!" [superman]?

Most recently Melissa has started to chatter about "trackman".

Matthew checked out a book from the library titled Tractionman about an action figure that goes on numerous adventures around the house. Currently it's his favorite book and he's even taken to calling his GI Joe "man" doll tractionman. He filled the sink up with water and put tractionman in scuba gear to go rescuing sponges. Daddy's shoes are now space ships and he saves his farm animals from various nefarious villains found around the house. This doll goes with him everywhere and Matthew reads the book to his tractionman each night. (And who says boys don't play with dolls? Boy dolls just have super abilities and a liking for big weapons and/or daring deeds to save the day.) He now wants to make some more clothes for tractionman because his (tractionman's) favorite colors are orange and blue. Or so Matthew has informed me. Guess I'm going to have to stitch up some tiny orange Bermuda shorts...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Things that go bump in the night

Scene: Matthew and Melissa have been put to bed, but are not asleep.

Matthew: Thump.

Matthew: Thump.

Matthew: THUMP.

Rachel: What is he doing? Jumping off the dresser!?

Me: ...

Matthew: THUMP.

I get up to investigate. He is, indeed, jumping off the dresser. I put him back to bed.

Melissa: [cries]

Back in the saddle

The diaper saddle, that is.

The last straw was when Rachel caught Melissa about to poop, and spirited her away to the potty in time. Matthew was yelling for something Right Now, so Rachel left Melissa there for a couple minutes. When she got back, Melissa had gotten off the potty so she could poop on the floor.

So Melissa's back in diapers for the time being.

Good karma saves a bad day

Thursday we were supposed to have our new hardwood floor installed in the master bedroom. (This is the floor we bought after Melissa smeared indelible rouge into the carpet.) When the installers arrived, we discovered that the lumber we'd been sold was cut into uniform 12 inch pieces, useless as flooring. Technically, you could use it; it would just be horribly unsightly.

I was at work. Rachel called Lumber Liquidators. They said it was the mill's fault. Rachel called the mill. They said you get what you get and that's that. She went back to LL and they said we could exchange for something else but pretty much everything in stock was twice the price or more. We were pretty annoyed. We could go through the credit card company but I didn't look forward to trying to explain that while yes, we did get something that, technically, matched the description of what we paid for, it was unfit for its intended purpose. I didn't picture a low-paid claims worker necessarily being capable of that sort of distinction.

Fortunately, our installer, Rich Wood, was in our corner. He and his wife had installed our floor in the main room last year, and we were pleased enough with their work that we paid them more than they charged us. They remembered Rachel, and when she told him of the runaround she'd been getting, he called up LL and arranged for us to exchange for a lot of seconds at the same price. We're not sure why he had more influence with LL than did Rachel; perhaps some of his clients have him take care of ordering the lumber as well as installation. At any rate, he arranged for the exchange, and even took care of transportation. (We don't have a truck so I'd had to borrow a friend's on Saturday to bring over the original lot.)

So, everything ended up working out. The seconds look fine; Rachel says they look like they have about 10 Matthew-hours of wear, versus pristine wood. No big deal for us. And the Woods will be getting another bonus.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A letter from Matthew

Dear Uncle Elder Chris,

When I grow up, I want to be a missionary. I want to have my own wife and my own kids. I will have lots of jobs. I will cook dinner and start the [barbecue] fire. When Jackson was 5, he helped start up the fire. I will get charcoal and put in stuff that has fire and put it on top of the charcoal and start the fire.

I love my family. I have my own garden where I planted seeds. Flower seeds. Pumpkin seeds -- and you should see the plants in my garden; it's a surprise, when it gets bigger.

I play with my friends.

Now I want to write about dinosaur bones. Dinosaur bones are fun to see at the museum. It's really fun, and there's dinosaur bones. And sharks hanging from the top [ceiling]. All of them died.

Did you know about snakes? That's kind of silly, snakes in a dinosaur museum.

That's all.



Sunday, June 10, 2007

Power struggle

Melissa pooped in her pants today. A couple hours later, she peed her pants for good measure.

Both times we had her "practice" by putting on the underwear, going back to the scene of the crime, and going back to the potty, 10 times. Rachel and I took turns doing the practice because it's really a chore, with Melissa kicking and screaming and generally making it very clear that she does not want to practice.

I told my mother about this and she said "Sounds like a power struggle," and suggested we just wait a few months. But, Rachel points out, we're already in the power struggle and Melissa is already stubborn enough. Encouraging that by appearing to capitulate in this might not be a great idea.

(Edit: oops, didn't realize that Rachel already posted about this. First dupe in over two years isn't bad, though.)

All sisters need a brother...

Yesterday our first niece was born (congratulations Lisa and Grant!). Upon hearing the news Matthew asked if his new cousin had a brother like 'Lissa does. We told him no, not at this time, but maybe someday. He thought for a moment and declared that his new cousin should have a brother when she got big like him.

Potty Training Update

Melissa was potty-trained, but decided it was too much effort (or something). She went from staying dry with very rare accidents, perhaps one or two times a week, to several times in one day. There is no medical or other reason that we can come up with for the regression. The child knows exactly what to do and how to do it, she just chooses not to...

(This is what happens when two stubborn people meet, marry, and procreate.)

I tried voicing disapproval, bribing, and even a swat on the rump- to no avail. I wish I had not resorted to spanking, not only did it not work, but it goes against my principles. I planned on resorting to corporal punishment sparingly and only for flat out defiance. Sigh.

So today we took a new (old) tack. We went back to "practice sessions" for dirtied undies. In the event of an "accident" she must take them off, sit on the potty for a few seconds, put the wet pair back on, and then return to the scene of the crime. We then have her check her pants (still wet) and repeat the process 10 times. There is no yelling or punishment, just the repetition of quickly getting to the bathroom. She HATES to practice. Almost as much as we do directing the practice sessions. We'll see if this works... Meanwhile I think I'm going to have retrain her dolls and see if that helps "The Importance of Staying Dry" sink in.

Toy lust

This sounds like so much fun. And safer than a "real" motorcycle. (Much safer, Rachel.)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The blame game

There was a puddle under the table where there was no reason to have a puddle. Melissa stepped in it. Rachel, watching from the sink, sprang into action. "Oh, no! That better not be what I think it is!" Melissa had indeed peed on the floor.

Sensing impending butt swattage, she pointed a finger at Matthew and cried, "Yoo di' it!"

Mommy wasn't fooled, and administered the called-for butt swattage to the dismay of the pint-sized prevaricator.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Things I didn't realize parenting involved

  • Butt checks: your son is ostensibly wiping his own bottom after discussions with City Hall, but while his work may be good enough for government, part of the bedtime routine is now cleaning up what he missed during the day

Singing time

Melissa likes to sing, even more than her brother did at 2 (and much more than he does now).

The first song she sang recognizably was "Happy Birthday," around 6 months ago. Then she added "Are You Sleeping," "The Wheels on the Bus," and "Once there was a Snowman," which I remember was her aunt Telitha's favorite when she was a little girl. But Melissa's favorite right now is the Bus song, probably because it has rolling arm actions. (Round and round...)

Now I'm trying to teach her "Horsey, Horsey," but she hasn't really taken to it. Maybe I should try a different song instead.


in Matthew-speak or "congratulations" to the rest of us.

Matthew loves to compete, but hates to lose. He would dissolved into a soggy (and noisy) mass of tears after losing. Lately, after much coaching, he has become more gracious in defeat. We have drilled it into his skull that he needs to congratulate his opponent after the game. When he wins he needs to say "good game" or words to that effect.

Matthew really loves the tennis game on the Wii and practiced while his Daddy was at work. Previously Jonathan beat him easily, but Matthew learned a few tricks...

On a Saturday they played their rematch of three sets of three. Matthew served the ball and sent it smoking across the net. Daddy's mii's swung aimlessly. (Jonathan still hasn't worked out how Matthew does his power serves.) In short Daddy got pounded. Matthew was literally dancing with glee, but he remembered to congratulate his Daddy when one of his serves was returned or Jonathan won a game. Despite Jonathan winning a game here and there, Matthew took home victory of all the match sets. The game ended with a very pleased little boy, and a somewhat chagrined Daddy.

A cry in the night

Last night, just as I was settling into bed, I heard Matthew yell, "NO, 'Lissa! NO!" in his sleep. Poor guy, his sister even harasses him in his dreams.

(I talk in my sleep too, but Rachel says I'm usually unintelligible.)

A Mother's "Purse"

An inventory of random stuff that has accumulated in my purse/kid paraphernalia depository

1 portable potty seat
2 pairs of training pants
1 pack baby wipes
1 Scooby-doo "Mystery Machine" bus
11 pens
1 colored pencil
2 fat crayons
1 AA battery
1 plastic grocery bag
2 tiny hair bows
1 hair brush
1 Candy Land playing piece (red)
1 tooth brush
1 sample diaper rash cream
3 chap stick tubes
1 clothespin
1 bottle hand sanitizer
1 wooden top
1 tractor notepad
1 small wrench
1 (bear) clothing patch
1 used band aid
1 beaded coin pouch
1 purple diaper "snappi"
Assorted receipts, grocery lists, and recipes
$ 1.51 in change
2 elastic hair bands
1 rubber band

And a wallet and keys if I can find them...

(To think that I used to get by with just a wallet, keys, and a tube of lipstick!)

Three's a crowd

Matthew's new best friend is Mason, who lives two houses down the street. Mason just turned 6; Matthew is 4 1/2, but they mesh pretty well despite the age difference. On days when Matthew doesn't go over to ask if Mason can come play, it's because Mason came over to ask first.

Their favorite indoor activity is playing The Incredibles on XBox. I'm sure they'd have beaten it by now but they keep overwriting their saved game by starting over.

They play Incredibles off the xbox, too. Sometimes Matthew is Mr. Incredible; sometimes he is Frozone. This involves a lot of jumping, chasing, and punching of imaginary foes, and is best kept outside.

Sometimes McKay next door plays, too. McKay is 7 and used to being in charge. He and Matthew get along okay when it's just the two of them, but when Mason is over too, the two older boys mostly play together and Matthew gets a little left out. Matthew doesn't really know how to deal with this, so he usually ends up starting a fight one way or another, and Mom or Dad has to send everyone home.