Archive for January, 2014

The Difference Food Makes

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The boy and I were killing time while the lass was at her dance class. He was reading and I was checking some thing on the web when I offered to work with him on his math. He’d asked me if we could practice it some more this morning. I think he’s getting bored with the current math curriculum at school.

I’d been helping him learn how to do long division as well as perform multi-digit multiplication. The nice thing about these two are the reinforcing nature of their operation. In order to multiply multi-digit numbers, he has to know his single digit multiplication cold, plus he get practice with addition. Same thing for division, which covers the other 2 operations.

The experience working with him was most unpleasant.

He griped about the problems. He was constantly looking for short-circuit answers rather than practicing the algorithms for performing the multiplication or division. He snapped at me. He kept making simple mistakes with his multiplication and addition. He kept forgetting the steps to take.

The Wife called while we were doing this stuff and she almost hung-up on him.

Mercifully, the time arrived for us to go get his sister. So I told him we’d try again after dinner.

When that time arrived, the difference was amazing. No grumpiness or moodiness. He remembered how to perform the operations. When he made a mistake, he took the correction constructively and without complaint. The simple math errors were gone and the only mistakes he made were process ones. And even those were associated with the curve ball problems I gave him, which I wouldn’t have bothered with earlier. In fact, I was actively trying to simplify things earlier, whereas now I felt I could increase the challenge a bit for him.

It still amazes me the difference a little food can make with them.

The Lass’ Day

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The lass’ day started with an early rise to go to breakfast with Mom. Mom does this with each kid exactly once each year. She had to have her lunch packed and ready to go because the arrival time back at home is tough to predict. Today, they got home with plenty of time to spare and she even got to watch some cartoons before we headed off to school.

Rather than dropping them off at the school door, today I was bringing them in the front door. I had to drop off a snack that the Wife and the lass worked on together last night. It’s something that the Wife and her Mom used to make together. I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s a combination of chocolate cake and chocolate pudding with M&M’s for a topping. There’s not a lot to dislike there, especially if you’re a kid.

The force of habit is a strong one and I whiffed when we arrived at school. I actually proceeded to the normal drop off point. The lass pointed out my error, so I had to execute a circle to re-enter the parking lot and then park so I could drop off the kids and the snack.

The afternoon was spent in preparation of the lass’ dinner. She wanted stromboli. In fact, she wanted 2: one with pepperoni and cheese and the other with ham, pineapple and cheese. I wasn’t totally keen on either, so I through a third one in there for the meat lovers at the table made with sausage, hamburg and cheese. So I had to prep 3 batches of dough with plenty of rise time for them.

The kids arrived home at he usual time in the usual way. Although, the lass was missing something as she trotted down the driveway. She informed me that in her excitement to get home she’d forgotten the tray with the treats on it. No biggie though, since I’m sure she’ll remember it tomorrow.

Shortly after the kids got home, the Grandparents arrived. That was a surprise for the lass. And then a little after the Grandparents arrived the Aunt arrived. That wasn’t a surprise for the lass since she had called to invite her over. I was busy completing the stromboli so I had the kids greet them at the door as well as take care of the dogs. The rest of the evening was pleasant as her Grandparents visited, ate, watched her open presents and then had some sundae’s for dessert.

The lass was high on the attention from the day. Her brother was a good sport today as well. He didn’t pull any jealous routines and was willing to let the lass bask in her glory for the day. There was one hiccup in the evening when they went at each other’s throats. I just attributed that to coming down from the sugar high from dessert. Either way, things settled down as quickly as they had flared up.

From that point it was a short trip to bed time. The Grandparents and Aunt had left by then and everyone was settling in from the bustle of the early evening. The kids had exercised a few of the goodies the lass had received. Done with that, they went upstairs and got ready for bed. The lass went to sleep a happy camper. She’d very much enjoyed her day.

Part Time Dad?

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When the Wife finished reading the job listing to me my first reaction, truthfully, was “Meh.”

The listing was for a “Math Enrichment” position at the school. The lucky individual would have the privilege of working with bright 4th and 6th grade students in math. I assume to give them more to think about where math is concerned. Other than that, there was not much else to go on. No mention of a curriculum or if the students just show up and ask questions. The mentioned that the position was for 6 hours a week, consisting of a couple hours per day. No mention of numbers of students. It seemed to imply that the position might also be asked to help others having math trouble.

So after thinking about it a bit, my thinking went from “Meh” to “What have I got to lose?” I’ve got an engineering background with a fair amount of math thrown in there. I’ve got a kid in the 4th grade, so I know I can do 4th grade math. I’m willing to bet I can manage 6th grade math as well since I vaguely recall that being a pre-algebra year back in my day. I’m assuming it will be less than that nowadays.

So I spent Sunday night cobbling together a teaching resume from a background in technology, volunteer work with Cub Scouts and with coaching Little League and finally my past couple of years of tutoring students in chemistry and physics. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! Even if there’s not much sugar to work with.

I turned the letter in by hand on Monday and today I received confirmation that the envelope was at least opened in the form of an email stating the review process has begun and they’d be in touch, maybe.

Regardless of what happens, I doubt my SAHD status will be changing much.

That’s About Right

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We arrived at the rink today for the boy’s game and the Wife wanted to know if he could hear her when she cheered him on. He gently informed her that he could not, which I think was a relief for the Wife since she now didn’t feel the need to scream herself hoarse since he couldn’t hear anyway.

He went on to say that he could; however, hear me.

So as we walked in, I asked him if he actually hears me and listens to what I’m saying or if he just kind of thinks “There goes Dad again…”

He turned to look at me and said with a grin “Yeah, it’s more like that.”

I may have to get more creative with my yelling.

Pinewood Derby!

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Cub Scout’s favorite event of the year! And not just a few Dads as well I suspect…

Our racing starts at 3:30 this afternoon. I won’t be the MC for the first time in years at this point, so I’ll try doing some live blogging when things get rolling. Hey, “things get rolling”. I made a funny…

Tune in later for results!

UPDATE:

The Derby makes for a long day for me. It’s a bit different from most of the folks who show up since I’m responsible for setup, so I’m the first one there and the last one out. Roughly 6 hours spent at the school getting things ready, watching the racing and dealing with whatever, then breaking things down and making sure the school is in good shape when we leave. Most parents come for their race and, if their Scout doesn’t move on, often leave. So maybe that’s an hour. The ones that do stay are only there for a couple of hours.

All that said, it’s still a fun day for me. It just takes a bit before I’m ready to write it up.

Bottom line, we have a 3-time champion now. The same Scout has won our Derby 3 years running. As for the boy, he made the finals, along with 4 other cars, but didn’t win any of his races in the Finals. That doesn’t really tell the whole story though. The 5 cars in the finals were separated by thousandths-of-a-second in every race. I’ve never seen so many good cars at our Pinewood Derby.

The lass finished 3rd in the Sibling Race. Though, in all honesty, she couldn’t care less how her car does.

The boy was a different matter. We had to ignore him, basically. He pouted and mourned, I think it’s fair to call it, his loss. Even though he made the finals for the first time ever with a car that he had more to do with than any other year. The Wife and I felt he had a lot to be proud of, despite not winning. He eventually started coming around after he’d been home awhile, without any real intervention on our part.

So in that way, it seemed fitting on a day with so many 1st. This was the first time we had 5 competitors in the Derby Finals. It was the first time we had to have a run-off for the top spot in the Sibling race (we only had 1 blue ribbon). It was the first time we had to have a run-off for 3rd place in the Derby Finals (we only had 1 3rd place trophy). And it’s the first time the boy managed to reign himself in from the bitter disappointment of defeat.

Promises You Can’t Keep

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My big mistake with dinner tonight was not deciding on something to make. The kids got home and settled, the Wife finished up with work and I had no idea what to do for dinner.

That meant we’d be heading out for dinner.

The kids were enthused, they always enjoy it. Then we decided to go for some Chinese food at a local place we hadn’t been to in awhile, and the boy started pouting. He didn’t want to go. He didn’t like Chinese food. He’d made up his mind that he would make everyone else pay with a bad attitude.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, that brought out a bad attitude in me.

I didn’t yell, but I had that parental tone and demeanor where it was clear I was mad. I told him “Eating out is a privilege, not a right. I’m sick and tired of you or your sister deciding that they don’t like something about where we go out or what is available when we get there. It ends tonight.” Unable to contain myself, I went one further to “prove I was serious”: “If you or you sister pulls this again, I will NEVER take you out to eat again. Do you understand? Think about that. You’ll ask me if we can go to Subway and I’ll tell you no. You’ll ask me if we can go to Burger King and I’ll say no. Never again. Am I clear?”

He sheepishly said yes. I then went out to the car and, out of a sense of fairness, I gave the lass the same speech and made her the same promise and made sure she understood as well.

I’ve been regretting it ever since because it will be impossible for me to follow through on that promise. How do I know that? Because they’ll both forget at some point. Hell, even I’ll forget. We’ll go through a routine like we did tonight and then one of them will remember. At which point, I’ll have to explain why I didn’t follow-through this time. Worse yet, they won’t say anything and just note it to themselves.

In other words, I’ll likely have undermined myself somewhere down the road as far as delivering on punishments. I’ve always felt one of the cardinal sins of parenting is lack of follow-through. Don’t say or threaten anything, especially when it comes to discipline and punishment, that can’t be stuck to. Failure to do so simply leads to kids that are willing to call your bluff all the time because Mom and Dad forget or they know Mom and Dad weren’t sincere.

In this case, I might have been better off canceling the whole dinner outing in favor of cooking something he hated. Of course, that punishes everyone so it’s not exactly optimal. But then, when I get mad I’m not completely rational. It’s a character flaw I’ve been working on for awhile now.

With any luck, it won’t happen for a long time. It would have been better not to have to rely on luck though.

Richard Sherman in His Own Words

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Richard Sherman:

Whatever beginnings you come from just understand that your circumstances don’t dictate your future. Your circumstances don’t control your limits. You’re limitless, you’re a limitless person, you’re limitless by your faith, your abilities, your trust in yourself, your hard work, you can do as much as you want to do. If you go to school and get good grades and work as hard as you can, if you don’t have the materials, the school books, the things like that, people can help you with that. There will always be people out there that want to help kids like that, and I’m trying to help as many as I can. But to not go out there and work as hard as you can and give yourself the best possible chance to be successful you’re doing yourself a disservice. That’s really what I want the kids to know.

There’s a lot more to Richard Sherman than his end-of-game, adrenaline fueled rant.

This Year’s Derby Cars

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I think last year’s Derby cars pretty much tapped out both kids in the creativity department. I also didn’t have much interest in fashioning fancy cars for them yet again. I told the boy that he would be doing all the cutting for his own car. I knew I’d have to help the lass one more time this year, but I told her she had to pick something simple.

It worked out well for both of them. Having done this for 4 years now and having helped with 8 Derby cars, I have to say I’m always pleasantly surprised by the end results. They don’t always look great when the cutting is done, but somehow a little paint and those 4 wheels consistently pull the cars together. This year is the first year neither kid went in for stickers either.

The boy did in fact construct his car this year. He intentionally went with a modified wedge design because he knew that would be easy for him to cut. He even drill out the holes for the weights we added to the rear of the car. I just had to help him put the wheels on.

We’ve already taken the time to make the cars track well, so now it’s just a matter of running the wheels in over the course of the week. Race day is Saturday. We’ll see if we have any overly happy kids then.

A Lesson in Hustle

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Neither the Wife nor I have ever tried to force the kids to do sports they don’t like. The furthest we’ve pushed them is to complete seasons. We take the approach that if they sign on to something, they need to see it through. If they really didn’t like it, they don’t have to sign up for the next year.

The one thing the Wife and I both stress is effort. We want them both to give their best effort when they are out there. Where hockey is concerned, it’s pretty easy to tell when they are doing that.

This past weekend was the first time where they both gave the kind of effort we’d like to see from them all the time. The lass was rewarded with a breakaway goal in her game. It was well earned for her. She’d skated hard the whole game and was really good with her positioning. Rather than crowding her teammates when they had the puck, she’d position herself in front of the goal in hopes of a pass. She was close a bunch of times. Her breakaway was well earned.

The boy’s reward was less tangible, and I had to explain it to him afterwards.

First, it was obvious he was tired by the end of the game. He was taking breaks when he could get away with it and during faceoffs, he would hunch way over and rest his elbows on his knees. His line was shorthanded and playing 4-on-4 on full-length ice will sap the energy out of the youngest legs.

The game was tied going into the final 2 shifts. The boy’s line started with 3 minutes to go and they had their back against the wall the whole 1:30 they were on the ice. They played in their defensive zone pretty much the entire time. With about 10 seconds to go on their shift, the puck squirted out from the corner across the goal mouth where an opposing player picked it up and skated across the goal mouth, with only the goalie in front of him.

I was sure it was going to be a goal.

I was so sure, I didn’t notice the boy had been busy chasing him down. The player was taking his time for the shot and it ended up being a moment too long. The boy caught up to him and from the backside, stripped the puck and flicked it into the corner. A few seconds later, the buzzer sounded ending their shift and they’d escaped. His team’s final shift went out and scored a game winning goal with a minute left.

The boy wasn’t aware of how his hustle had paid off until after I’d explained to him how it looked. I’d witnessed the whole thing from right behind the net. He still tries to count things in terms of assists and goals. Hustle plays like the one he’d perpetrated he just doesn’t pay attention to.

I was happy to let him know about it though.

Go Seahawks!

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Bummer about the Pats. I thought for sure Manning would give them some gifts like he typically does in big games. He played great all day though. Tough to beat him when he’s playing like that. The Patriots just didn’t have the horses.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, certainly appear to have the horses. This is another one of those great defense versus great offense matchups. Another chance to answer the age old question of what happens when an unstoppable force meets the immovable object.

A Quiet Day

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Our morning consisted of hockey practice. After that, we just kind of took the day as it came.

I worked with the boy and the lass to get their Pinewood Derby cars a little closer to completion. This year, they’ve both gone small. The boy didn’t have much choice and the lass was going to have a tough time topping last year’s car. I told the boy early on that he would be responsible for the majority of his car, including the cutting, weighting and painting. He deliberately kept it simple as a result. As for the lass, she wanted a pretty simple curvy car design and then just wanted it one color. So she too, completed the painting today. Tomorrow, in between hockey games I suppose, we’ll get the wheels installed as well as get the cars running straight. Then they’ll be ready for race day.

I got some archery practice in this afternoon. I’m actually starting to get to the point where it looks like I can aim at different points on a target bag. As opposed to just hoping I could hit the target bag. It’s definitely a satisfying feeling to have attained just that rather meager level of control.

After dinner, the kids watched their own movie and I made some brownies so we could assemble brownie sundaes. While the kids watched their movie, I watched Jack Reacher.

It was good. Tom cruise definitely nailed the Reacher character. My only quibble was his face-off with the bad guy at the end. Jack Reacher would not have put his gun down and then beat the guy to a pulp. Jack Reacher would have beat the guy to a pulp with the gun, then finished the job with this fists. Regardless, it was still an entertaining movie and Cruise, despite his lack of physical qualifications, pulled it off.

After that, the Wife went to bed. We’d already put the kids to bed during the Reacher movie. We had to shoo them out of the room a couple of times since that kind of violence wasn’t something we wanted them seeing. At one point, the boy walked in during a flashback of sniper shots and I told him to look away. Luckily, there were no gunshot sounds and he looked away, so he doesn’t know what he missed. Though I’m sure he’s curious.

I worked on a web sign-up page for our upcoming Pinewood Derby. I’ll let the Wife test drive it in the morning and assuming she has no trouble with it, I’ll go live with in tomorrow night.

And as I sit here, the fire in the wood stove has rekindled and the house is heating up for the night. Time for me to hit the sack.

Good night all.

Learning to Deal

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“Dad, did you ever play on uneven teams? Is that something that happens all the time?”

In typical the boy fashion, he posed a question completely out of left-field. No segue to speak of, no hint it was coming. Not that this was a subject that I have difficult dealing with. It would just be nice to have a heads up for once.

So the deal is they were playing Capture the Flag. When the teams got formed, all the fast, athletic boys were on one team while the boy’s team had a couple of girls and other less athletic boys. Frankly, it was a fairly classic situation on school playgrounds around the country that I’m sure has been happening ever since the first recess was held at a school. In this particular case, the other team formed because they are a group of boys that hang together a lot and they basically just declared themselves all on a team.

The problem came up because the boy put up a stink. He started arguing with the players on the other team and he ultimately ended up calling them “big, fat, sore losers” which, in my book, rates about a 2 on the insult scale. But, it’s a new generation and apparently that’s pretty serious stuff. I’m also not quite sure the other team was the “sore loser” in this instance, but I’ll ignore that.

So the games were played and ultimately the incident was resolved when a couple of the offended boys told their teacher about the incident and the boy apologized.

So what was the boy after? I think mainly, he wanted some kind of affirmation that he was in the right. He wanted to know that he’d been correct to confront the other team like that. But, I also think he suspected he could have handled it better.

One obvious angle was him losing his temper and calling them names. But that was easy and even he understood he shouldn’t have done that. Another possible angle was sportsmanship. Yet another possibility was to remind him the best way to deal with people you think are cheating is to just beat them.

He’s heard all that before, though. So I wanted to come up with a different angle.

I asked him if, if he complains about all the “best players” being on the other team, how does he think that makes the players on his team feel? By arguing so hard about the unfairness of the teams, he was basically saying the players he had on his team were worthless. I went on to try and explain that to be a leader and to try and get the most out of teammates, he couldn’t start by insinuating they were worthless.

He was quiet for a bit.

Which was a good thing, because I knew that meant he was thinking about what I’d said. At that point, it was the best I could hope for.

Trust Issues

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With the Wife away until late this evening, well after the kids were done with school, the lass had to make an important decision: what would she wear to school?

She’d been planning to wear a “cat” outfit consisting of a favorite shirt a cat necklace and cat earrings. The problem was she isn’t proficient enough yet at putting in her own earrings. With the Wife away, that meant she’d have to entrust me with putting her earrings in.

She opted for a different outfit today.

Shockingly, I’m not too offended she didn’t trust me with her earrings.

Monologuing

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The boy made a big show of of stomping off and abandoning his breakfast.

Why did he do that?

It’s really pretty much irrelevant since it could have been anything. The Wife might have asked him if his homework was complete. I might have asked him to feed the animals. The lass exists. He might have dropped a fork. The dog might have farted in his general direction. At this point, it really doesn’t matter because the list of things that could set him off is so long and undistinguished.

Since you probably have to know now, it was my “fault.” He had started trying to tell his sister how to do something and was acting like, well, he was her parent. If there’s one thing the Wife and I have consistently stepped on since he was old enough to develop the delusion of being in charge, it’s that he has no place bossing his sister around. At this point, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve told him not to do it. Yet he persists. This time, convinced of his righteousness after I stepped on him, he stomped off to demonstrate that he was really good at putting his foot down. Literally. Over and over. Even going up stairs.

I finished my egg and sausage breakfast and then went after him. Not like I was shot out of a canon and hell-bent-for-leather, mind you. I wasn’t overly upset because, as I’ve alluded to already, I’ve done this before. It’s hard to get too worked up over the same-old-same-old.

He was waiting at the top of the steps with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face. I stopped two steps down from him, where I was still taller than him, and stared him down for a moment. Then I started speaking. No yelling, just a stern talking to and reminder of his place.

Afterwards, I realized that I had been monologuing.

The term was originally conceived for what the bad guys do when they think they’ve got the good guy pinned down and finally defeated. The bad guy reveals all his evil intentions and brags of his superiority and what not, completely unaware that the good guy is taking advantage of the situation so the bad guy can finally be defeated. Watch The Incredibles for some good examples.

Parental situations aren’t quite so dramatic. But they can come close, sometimes.

The basic circumstances are the kids are old enough to have a basic grasp of reasoning and rationale. They’ve typically crossed some parental line that needs to be enforced, but doesn’t necessarily require punishment. Enter, the monologue where the parent takes the child aside and attempts to discourage behavior by explaining why it was unacceptable.

It happens with older kids for a couple of reasons. First, they already know the big things that will definitely get them into real hot water so they avoid those things like the plague. But, there are all sorts of gray areas that arise where they decided to test the waters. I’ve found that many times a situation that ends up with monologuing had a prior history. That is, they’d tested the water previously and there was no repercussions, so they test it a bit more, and a bit more, until finally an undesirable response is generated.

The other reason these areas come up with older kids is because they have developed the smarts to always have some kind of plausible-deniability or rationale to keep them from getting in real trouble. You know, like “My sister started it” or “She was doing this and I was just trying to keep her from doing that” or “He never gets in trouble and you always blame me.”

Now that I’ve realized how often I do it, I’ll have to start keeping some kind of informal tally to track the effectiveness of monologuing. I suspect it will be somewhere in the vicinity of “not very.” But we can always hope.

Th Difference a Week Makes

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After last week’s shenanigans involving the lass, I thought it worth noting that this week is a complete 180 degree turn. She’s been eagerly doing her homework. She hasn’t been complaining or particularly disagreeable. She hasn’t been fighting with the Wife. She’s basically been a model child.

Next week is gonna suck.

Maybe Laughter is the Best Course

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Today, it was silverware that got the boy’s temper to flare. Certainly, spoons and forks can be difficult. Having to pick them up with your fingers and then manipulate them to put food in your mouth can be pretty tedious stuff. Then doing it over and over again until a meal is complete is just asking for trouble.

Just ask the boy.

He was already a bit sour, likely for a couple of reasons. First, he’d just completed a hockey game, so he was low on energy. Low-energy is always good for weakening the coping mechanisms when things start going bad. He was also upset because his dinner didn’t taste exactly like he expected it to.

So when he dropped his fork on the floor, it was a perfectly reasonable response for him to scream at it and then start stomping around. He eventually picked it up, marched to the sink and slammed the fork into the sink. He certainly taught that fork a lesson. He grabbed another fork out of the drawer and went back to his seat.

Several seconds later, the familiar clatter of silverware hitting the floor rang out. The boy was even more infuriated this time. Once was bad enough, but having it happen a second time seemed to be almost unbearable. He repeated his antics and when he sat down, he put a scowl on his face that could have curdled milk.

And that was when I laughed.

I couldn’t help myself. He was sitting there with a mouthful of food. His face was hovering only a few inches above the plate. He had a death-grip on the fork. His brow was furrowed and he chewed angrily. Frankly, I wouldn’t have believed it possible to “chew angrily” until I saw that face. So I laughed.

My first thought when I did it was it would upset him even further. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the boy wasn’t without a sense of self-awareness though. He saw me laughing and his scowl actually turned into a smile. He tried to look away at that point, but it was too late. Apparently, some part of him realized he’d gone overboard a bit and was now correcting.

Even better, that was it. His rage disappeared and he completed the rest of his meal without incident. I guess once you’ve laughed at yourself, it’s impossible to keep up the pretense of anger at the world. Or silverware.

Sounds Like Bitter Griping to Me

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Saw this item this morning ahead of the Saints and Seahawks and was intrigued.  After reading it, I’m disappointed.

The claim is the Seahawks secondary commits interference or holding penalties on every play and dare the officials to call the penalties.  The big “secret” is they know the zebras won’t make the calls because officials don’t want to be seen determining outcomes of games.

So what’s the evidence?  A bunch of egg-spurt testimony, a couple of bitter OC’s and a dubiously used statistic.

The stat is the Seahawks had 20 pass interference and holding penalties called on them this season, most in the NFL.  I call this dubious since it could simply be that they play aggressive and got called a bunch.  It does not follow that they are breaking rules on every play.

As for the egg-spurts and OC’s, do I really have to mention they’re obvious bias?  Offensive people think the defense commits penalties every play.  Kinda like defensive lineman accuse offensive lineman of holding on every play.

The only way something like this can be made credible is by breaking down every defensive play for the Seahawks, and then every defensive play for every other team.  If the Seahawks have statistically higher occurrences of fouls, then there’s something to the claim.

Short that, it’s just sour grapes in a pass happy league from parties used to getting there way.

The Boy Follows Suit

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The boy’s greatest enemy is himself. He isn’t self-aware enough to realize it yet.

He was working on his laptop going through the chapters to write a new program from his book. He had already worked through a bunch of minor problems with his code, basically stuff that he didn’t copy correctly from the book onto his computer. So by his standards, he was ahead of the game. Not having gotten so frustrated that he started getting mad at his computer.

It was shortly after that when the computer started giving him a little trouble. He was trying to save his file and the computer wasn’t responding as quickly as he expected. His frustration started building and I told him to just give it a minute. Unfortunately, he couldn’t contain himself.

The Wife told him to walk away at that point and that was when he snapped at her. I snapped back at him in turn. The Wife remained calm and tried to say something else. She never got to finish her comment because the boy rudely cut her off, assuming he knew what she was going to say.

That was when his compute privileges were revoked.

Things continued to get worse for him. He was mad because he felt we were being unfair to him. He didn’t understand what he’d done, he claimed because all he did was “say something.” He accused me of not listening to him. Finally, he attempted to stomp off up to his room.

He eventually calmed down, but he didn’t get his computer privileges reinstated.

For the now, his temper continues to be his greatest weakness. He makes all kinds of poor decisions under its influence including yelling at us, smart mouthing us and generally displaying an inability to contain himself. To some extent it has to do with his age, but it’s also a part of him as well. The Wife and I have to keep that in mind while he sorts out how to deal with it.

The Lass’ Difficult Week (So Far)

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Perhaps it’s because it’s the first full week back from Christmas vacation. Perhaps it’s because it’s been so cold. Perhaps it’s because there’s not enough snow on the ground.

Whatever the reason, the lass has been a royal pain in the ass this week.

It begins with complaining about “nothing to eat for breakfast.” This is after she eliminates eggs, sausage, waffles, bread, peanut butter and cereal. Perhaps our morning selection is a bit thin by restaurant standards, but she’s complaining to a guy that’s been eating eggs and sausage for breakfast every day for the past 15 months or so. I’m not terribly sympathetic and at 6:30 in the morning, neither is the Wife.

It continues with complaining about all the personal hygiene stuff. She doesn’t want to comb her hair. She doesn’t want to brush her teeth. She doesn’t want to do anything that she deems as inconvenient, which can be anything depending on which direction the wind is blowing that morning.

Life doesn’t get easier when she returns from school. She doesn’t want to do her homework. It’s stupid and boring, or boring and stupid for a variation. She doesn’t like practicing her math. She doesn’t like to do her reading and the writing is dumb. Come dinner time, she typically hates whatever it is.

So yesterday, she returned home from school with her brother whom sat down and started playing with his laptop. The lass immediately began hanging all over him. I let it slide initially, but then the two of them started yelling at each other while I was on the phone and I had to interrupt my phone conversation to shut them down. The women on the other end, when I resumed our conversation, said “Wait until their teenagers.” I retorted “They may not make it that far.”

Shortly after I got off the phone, there was more bickering. Fed up, I looked over and once again the lass was hanging all over her brother while he was trying to work on his computer. I told her to get away from him and go find something to do. She huffily planted her fanny on the couch, put on a grimace and growled “I don’t want to do anything else.”

“If I have to separate you again, you’ll go spend time in the corner, then the rest of the evening in your room,” was my reply. I turned my attention back to what I had been working on and left her there on the couch.

Less than 30 seconds later, the boy is screaming at her to get off of him. I looked over and sure enough, she’s literally sitting on top of him again.

“Alright,” I announced. The lass whirled around at me, eyes wide and went immediately to the couch. “I guess you thought I was joking, so now I have to show that I meant it.” She started crying as I took her to the corner.

I completed what I had been doing and then started working to get some dinner going. I kept tabs on the lass to make sure she wasn’t cheating on her stint in the corner. After about 15 minutes, I sent her to her room. She stomped upstairs.

She came back down for dinner where she frowned at what I put in front of her. She ate it though, without any comments. After she finished, she grabbed some reading and went back upstairs.

I checked in with her a bit later and her general attitude was much improved. I tried to talk to her about what’s been bugging her. There was no illumination to be had, she simply rehashed that she though everything at school was boring. Before I left, she offered me her math flash cards and I went through them with her. As I left, she asked “Dad, can I come downstairs for a little while?”

I softened my tone, but was unyielding “I’d like to kiddo, but I told you what would happen and I meant it. I don’t know why you insist on being so difficult this week, but its finally caught up with you tonight.”

She then tried to blame her brother for whining and getting her in trouble. I knew this was coming and was ready for it. “Your brother did not make you come and sit on top of him. I did not warn your brother about consequences- I warned you, clearly. You either forgot them or chose to ignore them. It’s one thing if you had been standing behind him, not even touching him. You were literally sitting in his lap. The only one at fault here is you.”

She was silent at that. No comebacks. No arguing. No “but but but’s.” I left her there in her room.


The lass came downstairs this morning. She put her lunch together. She made her mother breakfast (eggs) and herself breakfast. Cereal with strawberries. She got dressed without complaint, brushed her teeth without being told and combed her hair without complaining. She even emptied the dishwasher without having been asked.

Newly reformed? Or rebounding from her low last night?

I know which way I’m betting.

The Bat Who Couldn’t Fly

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The following is a short story the lass wrote for homework today. As always, I have endeavored to reproduce the story in it’s original form as written by the lass.

Once there was a bat named Bruce who was scared to fly because he was afraid of heights. One day his mother said Bruce had to fly to find his own food because he was old enough. He didn’t want to but his mom had some advice for him. She told him not to look down. Bruce went to the entrance of the cave that night. He ran, then jumped and then flapped his wings hard to fly! From that day on, he never looked down again.

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