Archive for February, 2014
Even for kids.
Our driveway has a large sheet of ice on it. It’s the logical outcome of all the snow we’ve had. I couldn’t remove it all with the snow thrower, so the snow that is left behind gets crushed and compacted by the cars. Throw in a couple warm spells with some rain and everything is there to turn the snow pack into ice.
The state is, literally, out of salt. I’ve tried several hardware stores on multiple occasions and they have none and further, they don’t know when more is arriving. So the only option at this stage is sand, which I finally did after an infuriatingly embarassing spectacle I made of myself while trying to get our car up the driveway earlier this week.
It snowed a bit last night. Not much- a good coating is all. But that amount of snow on top of ice is like throwing ball bearings down on a marble floor.
I’ve told the kids not to run down the driveway on the ice so many times now that I don’t bother anymore. So when we were walking down from the bus dropping them off after school, their usual shenanigans barely registered. The lass paused for a moment and the boy and I continued towards the house.
I heard the lass start to sing a happy little jingle as she started to skip.
Then I heard the unmistakable sound of a food slipping, followed by the thud of the lass hitting the ground. I have to admit, I was a little surprised.
I turned and there she was, on her side. A little whimper popped out of her as the pain from the impact began to register. She had fallen on her hip. Not badly though, as when she got up to clean herself off, there were no holes in her stockings and there were also no blood stains from nicks or scrapes.
Nonetheless, she continued to whimper.
I consider it an “I told you so” moment but did’t say anything other than to ask if she was going to make it. She answered by nodding while continuing to whimper.
We made it to the house and she went to her room to change and assess her injuries. She came downstairs and showed me a slightly dinged knee, followed by telling me that she had all these scrapes on the side of her leg. I asked her if they were bleeding and she replied “No, but they are all red.” I told her if they weren’t bleeding then they didn’t count. The look on her face was enough to let me know she wasn’t buying that.
But if nothing else, she knows now that ice is slippery.
I and my Den of Cub Scouts WEBELOS built this little gem about a week ago. I actually built a prototype ahead of time so I could have a plan of attack for directing them through it. It is made almost entirely of Popsicle sticks and tape. The cup is made of paper and obviously there’s the rubber band to make it work. I used 2 inch packaging tape which makes the joints a little stronger, rather than the Scotch tape shown in the pictures.
When completed, it’s actually strong enough to fling a marble a decent distance, and I didn’t even try to seek out an optimal rubber band. Makes for a good half-hour project that kids can do with a little direction. The good thing is the same building procedures are repeated several times over and the only skill required it the ability to wrap tape around the sticks. So I simply demonstrated how to assemble a part and then told them “Do that X more times.”
It’s perfect for completing part of the Engineering WEBELOS Acitivity Badge requirement.
Full directions are here.
At last night’s Blue and Gold Banquet, there was an appetizer table with a variety of food stuff from Rice Krispy Squares to pretzels to carrots. We held the kids off from the table for as long as we could, then allowed the stampede to begin.
The lass had a bunch of cookies to start. Then, she went and had an equal number of carrots.
She said the carrots were to balance out the cookies.
This year’s Blue and Gold was, on balance, a much less stressful one for me. That’s in large part due to the fact that our Pack had a conscientious WEBELOS leader who took care of the business of planning the event well in advance of today. As opposed to last year when it all got dropped in my lap with 1 month to go. For the most part, I just had to show up and help a bit with setup.
Not that I was entirely without duties. I had to run the show again, like last year. It’s hard to gauge how well these thing come off from that perspective. Trying to figure out the proper pace for the evening is a bit of an art it seems. In some ways, I felt I did a better job last year. Not that things didn’t go well tonight, things just feel different. One good thing was on balance, I was less nervous than I was last year.
Which is to say, that’s one of the neat things I’ve gotten out of Scouting. Sure, I’m supposed to be teaching the boys some things about self-reliance and other Scout related qualities. But back when I had a job, I would have been content to sit back and let someone else take care of steering the Pack and running the show. In fact, I would have sought that outcome out because I would have considered myself too busy to be able to contribute as I am now.
But by contributing, I’ve stepped into some unfamiliar territory. I’m preparing Den meeting plans, running an entire Pack (with a lot of help for sure- but I’m still the final word), playing the MC at “big” event like tonight. Standing up in front of 70 or 80 people is not something that comes naturally to me. Yet, I’ve found that I can do it. I’m not saying the Grammy’s will be calling me anytime soon, but it’s a shell I’ve been forced out of at the least and I’ve found that I can do it.
Probably the nicest moment of the night was after we had finished and were busy cleaning up the cafeteria. One of the boys who had crossed over to the Boy Scouts, thereby leaving the Cub Scouts behind, came up to me and thanked me and said “I’m going to miss you guys.” He’s a good kid and had only been with our Pack since the fall. To his credit, he’d jumped in with both feet and was an enthusiastic and a willing participant. In my closing comments about him I said my only regret with him was that “he hadn’t been a member of the Pack longer.” So the feeling was mutual.
It’s nice to think we’re doing some things that will be missed. But that’s growing up, I guess.
The kids went to bed around 9 last night. After saying my “Goodnights” to them, I came back downstairs and laid down on the couch. The Wife sat down in her rocking chair. I recall closing my eyes…
… I woke up and it was dark. The Wife was not in her chair anymore. I glanced at the clock and it read 10 o’clock. I glance at the fire and saw it was still in good shape. So I closed my eyes again…
… and opened them to see the fire was way down. I glanced at the clock and it was midnight. Bleary eyed, I got up and tended the fire. I noticed the lights were still on outside so I turned them off. I then went back to the couch, laid down and closed my eyes again…
… and woke up at 3AM to see the fire was a bit sluggish. I was still bleary eyed, but I got up and stoked it a bit to get it going again. Once it was burning, I wandered back to the couch. The dog got up and changed his position as well. I saw that my phone was lit up telling me the battery was low. I plugged in the charger and set it down. I laid down and closed my eyes…
… and woke up about 6 feeling great. The fire was down and ready for a new load of wood, which I took care of. The light of the morning was coming through the windows now and the birds woke up. I went and got a drink of water. I took the dogs out for their morning pee. I came back in and made myself a cup of coffee, then went back to the couch and sat down. No need to close my eyes this time.
I heard this from an instructor at a martial arts seminar a couple of weeks ago. The instructor used it in the context of explaining an approach at improving ones martial arts practice.
It struck me as an apt phrase for dealing with life and a great lesson to try and instill into kids.
Get used to being uncomfortable. It’s a phrase that’s simple, yet seems applicable to so many situations.
Moving out of the parent’s house for the first time. Now you’re responsible for paying bills, buying groceries, dealing with trash, cleaning clothes and so on. It’s uncomfortable walking away from the comfy confines of Mom and Dad’s place and into the world and being responsible for yourself.
How about that first job? New people, new ways of doing things, new problems to solve. All with, likely, minimal training. If you want to excel, you’ll have to figure all that out. Of course, that’s just the job. What if a move was involved? It’s stressful and uncomfortable.
How about athletes training for a sport? Their entire life revolves around being uncomfortable. Constantly stressing the body to push it for performance improvement. Suffering pseudo-injuries that aren’t enough to sideline, but are enough to be a nag. Being tired all the time. Going to events and competing and putting your training to the test. It’s all uncomfortable.
Going to school. Learning how a new teacher operates. Learning new material. Practicing the new material and getting tested on it.
Having a kid and learning what their needs are. Deciding that one wasn’t enough and having a second. Dealing with the two of them and trying to raise them properly. Perhaps having more kids and dealing with that new reality.
Most of the major things that happen in life come with discomfort. Getting used to being uncomfortable may be the best life lesson a parent can teach.
This is so indescribable that I had to link it here:
Alright, it’s not indescribable. It’s just a dot matrix printer playing Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. Yes, you read that right. It’s a dot matrix printer playing Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.
Having watched it a couple times, I wonder if it isn’t a gimmick of some sort. It sounds so musical I’m having a hard time believing a dot matrix printer could make those sounds. You don’t even have to squint to hear it.
On the other hand, if it’s legit, then that’s a virtuoso programming performance.
(hattip: Outside the Beltway)
Where we live, we haven’t had a “big one” for a storm this year. If memory serves, we haven’t topped 10 inches yet in any single storm.
With the consistent cold though, none of the snow has melted between storms. We’ve had 3 or 4 that have dumped anywhere from 4 to 8 inches and the cumulative toll has added up to about the same as a single big one.
There’s supposed to be a warm up over the next few days with temps consistently above freezing. If that pans out it, this will likely be the high water mark for snow.
“You are so disappointing on so many levels,” intones Lego Batman to the movie’s main protagonist, Emmet.
Thankfully, the same could not be said for The Lego Movie. I laughed from the opening scene until the movie’s final moments. I laughed at scenes shown in the previews, because in context they were funnier than the preview promised, and I laugh harder at scenes that weren’t in the previews. The kids enjoyed the movie as well, although I think they were more amused by my level of amusement than the movie itself.
It’s a not quite classic good guy- bad guy story, with Emmet serving as the out-of-his-depth good guy trying to upset the evil plans of Mr. Business. Don’t let that name fool you into thinking this is some anti-corporate screed. In this case, it’s more about business meaning serious, rather than capitalism and the like. Mr. Business is trying to use a “super weapon” called “kragle” to freeze the Lego world in his image. He’s slowly been winning against the forces of the “Master Builders” whom have been trying to thwart his evil plans. Master Builders can make anything out of Legos without instructions and use their abilities to build fantastic devices to battle the forces of Mr. Business.
Into this battle steps Emmet, a plain-as-can-be sort of chap, with no building expertise to speak of. His only skills lay in following directions. He accidentally stumbles across the “piece of resistance” which is the one thing that can foil Mr. Business’s plans.
The movie features appearances from seemingly all of the Lego worlds: Star Wars, Batman, Superman, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the 1980’s space Legos, and many more.
While the humor keeps the movie going, there is a cleverly disguised story arc which is revealed in the last portion of the movie. The arc is predictable, but serves to tie the whole movie together while delivering a nice message as the same time.
Good story and nice messages aside, what makes it work though is the humor. I think the combination of hilarious dialogue paired with the unconventional animation make for a potent combination. The Lego characters move with the restrictions of the actual Lego pieces, plus there is a blocky quality to the movements that fits the subject matter.
The bottom line is The Lego Movie is an immensely entertaining movie that works for any age.
The Wife, the boy and I are currently watching National Treasure. We were looking for something fun to watch for a movie tonight and, since it’s Saturday, the kids get a little leeway on their bedtimes. The Wife and I figured this was a fun movie to watch since it was a mystery-puzzle type movie with a little action and nothing overly objectionable for a younger crowd.
Perhaps you noticed someone is missing from that list of viewers.
The lass wanted nothing to do with it. She doesn’t like mystery movies. She doesn’t like puzzle movies. She huffed. She puffed. She pouted. She harrumphed.
And when the movie went in the Blue Ray player, she left the room.
She went into another room with a couch and laid down with a blanket and did… nothing.
After the movie had been on awhile, I went in to check her. The blanket was wrapped around her head and laid across her body. She was facing the back of the couch with her arms crossed. She was fast, asleep.
I left her there in the room and turned the light off. Best to let sleeping monsters lie.
The lass has been sleeping on top of her covers (and backwards) now for a couple months. Can you guess why?
So we got the call early this morning around 5AM that school was cancelled. The boy woke up when he heard the phone and turned off his alarm. The lass, sleeping reversed on her bed and on top of her covers, was oblivious to everything. I shut her alarm off for her.
This particular weekend was already scheduled to be a long one. They have both Monday and Tuesday of next week off for a Winter break. I’ll be making up some extra homework for them to work on so they don’t go completely stale. I find it remarkable that after 4 years of school with the two of them, neither has had any weekend homework assignments. I don’t get that.
Aside from a few more chores, today’s main accomplishment was shoveling the deck. After the bulk of the snow came down yesterday, we got some freezing rain late in the night into the morning. I hadn’t shoveled the deck yesterday and there was pre-existing snow from some of the previous storms. All told, there was about 16 to 18 inches of wet snow sitting on the deck, which was more weight than I thought was prudent. It took me a couple hours to ease the burden significantly.
Oh, and we’re supposed to get more snow tomorrow.
The kids got to watch a little more Olympic action tonight, watching the woman’s skeleton. They asked what the “skeleton” was and I said it’s basically sledding on your belly down a sheet of ice. The cheered on the two American competitors and were bummed out when the one was bumped out of the medals, and then bummed a bit when the other was bumped from gold to silver. But they got to see her excited reaction, so it all worked out.
So now we prepare for a weekend of hockey and martial arts. The boy has a technical review for his junior black belt this weekend, as well as his hockey game on Sunday. He won’t be at practice tomorrow. The lass, on the other hand, will be attending all of her hockey.
Of everyone, the storm hit the Wife the hardest. She was on a business trip and was supposed to return yesterday. The storm blew that out of the water and after jumping through hoops to rearrange things, she was supposed to be home earlier this evening. That too got blown out of the water because another storm delayed her flight from taking off and she missed her connector. She’s now waiting for her flight to take off in another hour or so and she’ll be home some time after midnight. But, she’ll be home and that’s the main thing.
As for my my opening question for this post, the reason the lass sleeps on top of her covers is that way she doesn’t have to make her bed in the morning. She stopped sleeping under the covers the after we cleaned her sheets and she’d remade her bed. She hates it that much.
Its winter in New England and that means “snow days.”
We’ve had a bunch of them already this Winter. The first one was a big time “oops,” as the predicted snowfall amounts never materialized. We weren’t jackpot winners for accumulation today either, but we got about 8″ which is easily enough for the school to justify the closing for the day.
For me, it was a day of chores. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, meals all had to be dealt with. The big one, of course, was plowing the driveway, which took me a couple hours. It didn’t help that the plow broke down half-way through. The idler pulley for the auger jumped its pulley, so I had to break it open to take care of that. Thankfully, it was a one time event. Turns out that being handy is a good quality in an SAHD.
As for the kids, the hardest part of their day was the hour or so I had them practice math and do some reading. The boy, particularly, was annoyed because I had him practice multi-digit multiplication and long division. He hasn’t quite mastered the algorithms for solving those problems, so he brings the drama until I help him remember how to do them. The lass groused about her math practice, but ultimately relented.
Aside from that, there was outside in the snow, board games, wrestling and DS time. Along the way they had a bit to eat and they might have even done a chore or two. Their day ended with some Olympic action, watching womens
sledding. I mean skeleton.
Right now, it’s raining out. It’s supposed to change back to snow a bit later. Whether that means tomorrow will be another snow day remains to be seen.
So, starting some time after midnight, our local NBC weather forecast is for 4-8 inches of snow with a changeover to sleet and freezing rain; our local CBS forecast, last I saw, was for 8-12 inches of snow with no word on a changeover; and my weather app indicates 6-10 inches with a mix of sleet.
So I’m prepared for 2-20 inches of crap to fall from the sky starting any minute now…
School is already cancelled for tomorrow. Forecasts haven’t really converged much though, other than that something will be falling from the sky tomorrow.
The boy came downstairs wanting me to fix the lass’ marionette. It’s a simple little thing with a 4 strings attaching a ‘t’ to a puppet’s head, body and 2 legs. There was a twist or something in a couple of the strings and neither of the kids wanted to deal with it.
So naturally, in their minds, I was supposed to fix it.
And I said “No.”
The boy sat and worked at it for several minutes while I sat and read. I purposely avoided watching him because it makes him self conscious. I could tell it wasn’t going well based on all the noises emanating from his general direction. When I finally, did glance up at him, there were tears of frustration building. Finally, we flung it down on the ground, giving up.
I was a little disappointed with the antics, so I told him that wasn’t his toy to do that with. When he grumpily, and rudely, asked me “WHAT!!? I didn’t do anything,” I told him it was time for bed. Further protestations from him led to a brief reprimand for his attitude and making sure he understood “what” he’d done.
After he went upstairs to get ready for bed, I took the marionette and spent a couple minutes untangling the strings. I then headed upstairs and handed it back to the lass, whom thanked me for fixing it.
The boy was in bed by then but was unaware that I’d fixed the puppet. He called to his sister that it was hopelessly broken beyond fixing. The lass then informed him that Dad had fixed it. At the same time, knowing he wouldn’t believe her, I picked it up and brought it over to his room for him to witness that it had been fixed.
He was in a state of disbelief.
I didn’t bother saying anything because there was nothing I could say.
Situations like this actually crop up pretty frequently now. Some problem crops up which the kids try half-heartedly to fix and then it falls to me to fix it. I do so and then they are amazed and want to know how I did it. When I tell them I worked the problem, tried things, observed what happened, tried more things, they claim that’s what they did but it didn’t work.
It calls to mind the memorable scene from The Empire Strikes Back on Dagobah where Luke’s x-wing has sunk into a bog. Yoda tells him he can use the force to get it out, Luke tries a bit and fails. Yoda then does it for him.
Too bad I don’t get the lightsaber though.
“Dad, what does ‘U’, ‘R’, ‘A’ spell?” the lass asked me.
She was staring at a piece of candy. One of those soft sugar kinds that melts in the mouth. These also have little notes written on them.
“Does it have any other words on it?” I asked.
“Yeah, it has ‘STAR’ on it. But what does ‘U’, ‘R’, ‘A’ spell? I don’t get that..” she trailed off.
How best to get her to see the light?
“Read it again,” I told her.
“Letter ‘U’, letter ‘R’, letter ‘A’, STAR,” she said.
Should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. But perhaps with just a little more coaxing…
“Read it again without saying ‘letter’ before each letter,” I said.
“‘U’ ‘R’ ‘A’ STAR,” she read.
She then stared at the candy for a moment and said “Oh.”
Or perhaps it was ‘O”.
The first article I read about Michael Sam, a defensive end from Missouri, becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL was this one.
There’s a long excerpt from another article, which I just wanted to highlight a particular section of:
….The potential distraction of his presence — both in the media and the locker room — could prevent him from being selected. “That will break a tie against that player,” the former general manager said. “Every time. Unless he’s Superman. Why? Not that they’re against gay people. It’s more that some players are going to look at you upside down. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in the media is going to show up, from Good Housekeeping to the Today show. A general manager is going to ask, ‘Why are we going to do that to ourselves?’“
While this unfolds, remember that this story is entirely driven by the media and their perception of macho locker room antics. Since the media isn’t anywhere near a locker room when it’s, well, a locker room (as opposed to their controlled access where players are on their guard), they have no idea what it’s like to be behind those doors and therefore really don’t have any kind of feel for how players act now or will react then.
I’m willing to wager that a majority of players could care less. He’ll be a rookie. If he can play, that’s what they (the players) will respect.
While the boy was getting ready for school this morning, he happened to glance at the thermometer and saw that the outdoor temperature was 3 degrees. His reaction?
“YES! No outside recess today!”
My reaction, “Huh?” I was only halfway through my first cup of coffee, so I wasn’t sure what I was hearing.
“If the temperature is less than 20 degrees, we don’t have outside recess,” he explained.
So, I’d heard right. The boy didn’t want to have recess. That seemed, completely wrong.
He went on to explain that the 4th grade boys had gotten in trouble because of the actions of a few. Apparently, “the few” were throwing snowballs. Not at anyone, mind you (and the boy says he wasn’t involved), just throwing them out into a field. The teachers then yelled at the boys, rounded up everyone (including some 3rd graders whom the teachers told “Blame the 4th graders, it’s their fault”) and cut the recess period short.
This isn’t the first time the boys in his grade have been singled out for this kind of treatment under seemingly flimsy or even dubious circumstances. There have been other lunch related incidents where, in the Wife’s and my judgment, it was merely the action of 4th-grade boys being 4th-grade boys.
That’s not to say that 4th-grade boys are cherubs or entirely without fault. I’m well aware that I’m getting 1 side of the equation here.
Recess was, quite possibly, my favorite thing about elementary school. That was the one chance during the day to run around and be basically free of the classroom until I got home. I can’t imagine it not being a favored time for any 4th grade boy. And yet, here’s the boy saying just that. For the moment, he’s more worried about getting in trouble at recess than having fun.
I’ve read often about this notion of “a war one boys” but I’ve often dismissed as a result of oversensitive political types trying to whip-up partisan frenzy. But some of the things the boy has had to deal with this year in how teachers and his school have dealt with disciplinary items bring the notion a lot closer to home. The simple fact is, I’m starting to not trust the school’s judgment where these things are concerned.
And that’s a problem. How it gets resolved remains to be seen.
6 hours of flurry followed by a few hours of fury. At my snowblower. For crapping out before the job was done and generally making getting the job done a real PITA.
It’s too tedious to go into details, despite this being a blog and thereby designed for tedium, but I had to finish digging out yesterday, literally, by digging out. This wasn’t the most pleasant snow to be shoveling either.
The silver lining in the whole thing is the boy chipped in. Unasked- as far as I’m aware anyway. It’s possible the Wife asked him to do something. But he cleared the cars off for me and shoveled the front walkway and also shoveled a path across our deck over to the grill. So it was nice that I didn’t have to take care of that stuff.
After I was done, I fell asleep for about an hour. The boy was working on his computer and the lass had fallen asleep doing battle with the latest disease running through the school. I think she picked it up from the pool party she was at over the weekend.
I was recovered enough by yesterday evening that I was able to rally and go outside with the boy for about 45 minutes and have a snowball fight. He was amazed at how quickly I could manufacture snowballs out of the snow. Large hands definitely helps. For the most part, I pelted him pretty good. Including one moment where I’d ducked down behind our wheelbarrow to wait for him. He cam barreling around the corner and I pelted him with a barrage of snowballs I’d been manufacturing while waiting for him. He was taken completely by surprise and in trying to dodge the snowballs, he fell flat on his back in dramatic fashion. I then just started scooping snow and throwing it on him as he flailed about trying to protect himself. He kind of resembled Ralphie’s brother at that moment.
A little over a week ago, the boy scored his first hockey goal of the season.
This past Sunday, he scored 2 more and helped lead his team to a victory over the other top team in his league.
The first goal was the more pedestrian of the two, but demonstrated some of his growing understanding of how to play offense. He camped out in front of the goal and a teammate fed him a pass. The boy finished the play from there.
The second one, the boy created all on his own.
There was a scrum at center ice, with a bunch of players poking at the puck. This happens a lot in these games. Typically, the teams as a whole are smart enough to figure leave a few players out in case the puck squirts out unfavorably.
In this case, the boy was on the outskirts of the scrum. Occasionally, he’d half-heartedly poke his stick into the scrum. To my eye, it initially looked like he was loafing. Instead, he was waiting for an opportunity or, more correctly, trying to create one.
A few seconds later, he had it. He’d reached in a poked the puck out and towards the opponents goal and he was able to pounce on it before anyone else could react. He got to the puck first a punched it ahead into the offensive zone, splitting a couple of defenders. At that point, there were 3 players who had a chance to get to the puck, to opposing players and the boy.
That’s when the boy hit a gear I hadn’t seen from him before. I was situated behind the goal and could see the three of them racing for the puck. The boy simply powered ahead of the two defenders and caught up to the puck at full speed half-way into the offensive zone. At that point, it was him and the goalie with no chance for anyone to catch him. He steered the puck towards the center of the goal, coasted in close, and then lifted the puck into the left-side of the net, cleanly beating the goalie’s glove hand.
That score pushed his team to a 4-2 lead with half of the third left to play. While no lead is necessarily safe in hockey at this level, this one was and proved to be the final score.
Aside from his goals, I’d still say it was his best game of the season. He was more assertive than I’d seen him before. When he was on the ice, he was constantly flying to the puck, especially putting pressure on opposing players with the puck. When they were in the offensive zone and a teammate had the puck, he worked to get open for a pass and frequently went to the front of the net. He was clearly playing with confidence and a purpose, like he finally understood what to do, where to be and when to get there.
When the game ended, I congratulated him on his goals, particularly his break away. But I also to time to emphasize that he played well all around, hustling around the ice and skating hard every moment he was out there. At this point, he seems to be getting better with each game. I don’t know if he can keep it up, but if he does he’ll be a real asset to his team when the playoffs come up in a couple weeks.