Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good morning.

I know that sounds rather more formal than is typical but I don't want to alarm you.

I believe Little Man has been abducted and replaced by a short, angry psychopath called Lightning McQueen...asaurus.

Seriously, either that or the kid has gone nuts. In all fairness, the creators of the replicant have done a great job. It looks just like Little Man and sounds just like Little Man. But a couple of things are amiss. For example, he now talks more than Princess and hasn't taken a breath for twenty three days straight. The best Princess was ever able to manage was eighteen hours and she was in peak form.

The Little Man we knew would give hugs and kisses and say "I love you Daddy" all the time, but the new one kicks, punches, bites and screams blue murder when the ads come on TV. He's even worse when something REALLY annoys him. He's a menace!

I am calmly told by those who are more calm than I, that I should calm myself and try to maintain a calming atmosphere for Little Man so that he too might calm down. My response is below:

For your information
Until now I have been
Calm and I do
Know exactly how to cope with this

From now on, please keep your
Foughts to yourself.

Or words to that effect. A measured response if ever there was one, I think you'll agree. I should mention that very occasionally the real Little Man pops back and gives hugs and cuddles and says "I Love You" and makes DW and I feel less like the parents of an angry velociraptor. We treasure those brief moments and use them to steel ourselves for the maelstrom that is Little Man Unleashed.

In case anyone is wondering about the Lightning McQueen reference earlier, Little Man has been obsessed with the hero of the Cars movie for ages. He is also obsessed with dinosaurs, hence the "...asaurus" addition. He alternates between flying his cars around the room, blasting everything in sight, ala Angry Blue Lightning McQueen (cf. Cars dream sequence) or roaring and leaping about like a dinosaur. He chops and changes which dinosaur he is at any given moment, depending on which one he thinks would inflict the most damage in a particular scenario. He really commits to the role as well.

It is not just during play that he is completely crazy. He deliberately rejects any suggestion of Princess' when it comes to deciding what to watch on TV. The only food he admits to liking is noodles and screams his replicant head off (ok, it doesn't come off but it does seem to turn further than it should be able to) whenever something else is served. He still eats whatever is put in front of him eventually, and will occasionally admit to liking it, but its still not noodles, dammit!

It is DW's considered opinion that the behaviour is not that of a changeling, but rather a result of Little Man giving up his day sleep before he is really ready to. I have applied the principle of Occam's Razor to her argument and decided that it is more likely he is a short, angry psychopath replicant, rather than just being overtired. I mean, how else can you explain the inhuman strength and super spit?

I don't remember Princess going through a similar phase. DW offers two explanations for this supposed lapse. Firstly, Princess did go through the same phase and I am simply repressing the memory. Secondly, and seemingly at odds with the first, Princess is a girl and girls are different to boys and go through different phases. It was unwise to suggest she should just pick one and stick to it.

To her credit, DW is the one who bears the brunt of dealing with the replicant-freaky-monster destructo-boy. The fact that he still lives is a testament to her self-control. Thank God he hasn't touched her knitting.

Now if I reach my mind out to the most extraordinary possibilities I must concede that it is possible that the horrible little punk monster is actually our beloved son, Little Man. I admit it may be, however unlikely, that he is going through a phase and it is exacerbated by him being overtired. Maybe. But I doubt it.

I'll keep you posted.


Thought for the Day: Never rush doing up your fly.

Friday, May 08, 2009

"Let them eat cake", she said.

Princess has been making this world her own for seven years, as of yesterday, at about 1:01pm. And she made nearly as much fuss as she did on arrival.

Well, we had already had the birthday party but Princess was just about beside herself pending the actual anniversary of her birth. She was humming with anticipation the night before. I don't mean humming like most people hum. I mean her whole body was shaking almost imperceptibly and she appeared in a constant state of motion blur.

While DW worked on what must be said to be one of her best birthday card creations, I set about wrapping the presents. I am pretty proud of the presents I chose, bar one. DW suggested a series of kids books about the adventures of Tinkerbell, which Princess loves, but I chose the rest of the presents on my own. I think I did pretty well considering my lack of shared interests with a seven year old girl. I bought her a microscope. Ok, we have some shared interests. She calls it her science thingy with the bits and other stuff. Ok, so I got her something for me to play with, but you know, quality time and all that.

I also got her a board game called Cluedo Jnr, where rather than solving a gruesome murder, the kids are called upon to solve a far more insidious crime - who ate the last piece of chocolate cake. Are we preparing our kids for the real world or what? I also bought her Monopoly Jnr (a great deal on the double pack) but DW decided that along with all the presents she had already received and are still coming, we would hold off on that one. I'm not sure how that is preparing Princess for the Global Financial Crisis but there it is.

Now, those all sound like responsibly, well thought out gifts, yes? I agree. It was the last gift, or rather the one we let Little Man give to Princess, that is the questionable choice. For the last year or so, Princess has been asking for a "yada yada yada." It turns out this is actually the name of a toy, and not me just hearing her say what I always hear when she asks for something. It is a little voice recorder that can record all of six seconds of whatever and then play it back. It can only record one clip but the real magic, at least for Princess, is that it can play it "high and fast or slow and slow". She evens says the slogan in those voices.

I love Princess dearly but her voice can be a little piercing and she talks A LOT so that can get a little annoying after a few seconds. Imagine what its like after seven years. And now, she can record herself and play it back "high and fast". As her voice is already high and fast, it is difficult to explain what we are now being subjected to, but suffice it to say, DW would probably have preferred I'd bought her a sports whistle.

Because it was Princess' 7th birthday, I took some flex time to stay home yesterday. As luck would have it, it was also the day DW was scheduled to do classroom help in Princess' class, so what better opportunity for Dad to "see first-hand" just what goes on in the grade one classroom. What joy! What rapture? What a funky smell a room full of grade ones make.

Princess was terribly excited that I would be with her for the first couple of hours of the day, and pretty much wanted to cuddle me and sit on my feet the whole time. However it was good to see how well she does in class and how she really listens and works hard for the teachers. Now I just need to learn their secrets and get her to do it at home. "Not likely", she tells me. So I wandered around, helping the odd kid with their writing, chatting with the normal kids and practicing my pasting. I've still got it, by the way. It was an experience, and by and large a rewarding one. I'm very proud of Princess and I've discovered I can hold my breath for nearly two minutes when it's really necessary.

Then it was cake making time. DW had a couple of cake mixes that she said I could have a go at making. And yes, she said it a little condescendingly if you ask me. Anyway, I set about trying to make the birthday cake. I would have followed the instructions to the letter if DW hadn't informed me that she does it differently to the instructions and proceeded to modify the recipe. I, being a dutiful and sensible husband, followed her instructions up until the point of the discussion over which cake tin to use. Our opinions diverged slightly and in a rare display of backbone, I chose a different cake tin to DW's "highly recommended" one. In my defense, mine was what the original recipe called for. I guess having survived the morning with Princess' class and so little oxygen, I was feeling brave and slightly light-headed.

All appeared to go well until the cake came out. From above, it looked perfect, just like the packet. Unfortunately, it nearly disappeared when observed from the side. It had certainly risen in the oven, but some mysterious thing happened when it cooled - it compressed itself into a thin, firm disc. I was able to add some height with, I guess it could be said, too much icing, and I made it rather pretty with, again it could be said, too many smarties. The result was a very pretty cake, especially with candles and such, but not the best eating. Unless you thought of it as more of a tort, which was closer to the mark, but still, pretty hard going.

The kids had a fair go at the smarties and ate their way down through nearly a cakes-depth of icing, but couldn't proceed past what we were now calling the base. I think DW must have felt sorry for me and ate her whole piece. She started laughing toward the end, but it took nearly twenty minutes more before she could explain why she was laughing. Apparently she had been trying to speak after putting in the last mouthful and it had taken her that long to clear her mouth to speak. It did have a slightly clagging effect, I'll admit.

We discussed its various merits later. The possibility of using it for roof insulation looked good until you consider the cost of reinforcing the ceiling to support the weight. It could also be used as a bullet-proof vest, with or without the smarties, and with the added bonus of being able to stick the wearer to a wall, or a reinforced ceiling. It could also be used as a Frisbee of mass destruction or for weight training. We also considered that we could market it as the closest thing to Elvish Lembas bread. I ate four pieces.

Anyway, the most important thing is that Princess had a great day, and is now counting the days until the next present epoch, Christmas. And we all survived the experience. Little Man made his presence felt yesterday but that will have to wait for now. Stay tuned.


Thought for the Day: Highly concentrated chocolate goodness. Doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hello World!

Time for another blog.

In two days it will be Princess' 7th birthday! I find it hard to believe that this girl has been with us for such a long time. I also find it hard to believe how quickly seven years can go by. You would think that I could average the two out and have it feel like seven years but No! No matter how I think about it, seven years just seems wrong. But seven years it is.

Because its is Mother's Day on Sunday coming, we decided to have the birthday party last weekend. DW did her usual stellar best and organized an excellent party. If I ever have another 7th Birthday party, I want her to organize it. However, this year, Princess decided to help. She found herself a clipboard and discovered the joys of making lists. She made lists of her lists and stuck them about the place with various ticks besides those she deemed accomplished to her satisfaction.

I also make lots of lists, but I lose them. I found a list I made in 1992 and I hadn't done anything on the list yet, but I figured if I've gotten by this long without doing those tasks, I probably don't need to worry about them. I can't find the other lists.

During her list making, Princess would come up to DW and I and ask politely in her most demanding voice, what we were going to do about such and such. We would give some answer and she would stare at her list and apparently tick things at random. I'm sure it all made sense to her. DW was concerned that bad weather might interfere with our plans but Princess declared the she and I had come up with an "Inside during Wet Weather Plan". DW was impressed and asked what the plan entailed.
Princess replied that we would be inside if there was wet weather. Good plan. Aptly titled as well.

As it happened, we had an almost perfect day for the picnic. In fact, it was a little too hot if anything, but that only ruined the jelly cups. Everything else went according to plan. Kids running madly. Eating like locusts. The occasional tears which disappeared as quickly as they started. More eating. Cakes and candles and "Happy Birthday to you"s. More tears. Did I mention the red cordial? (Actually we didn't have red cordial - Princess likes to get her face really close to other people and tell them that red cordial makes her go nuts - and at that distance they truly believe her).

Perhaps the most amusing thing for me was that as the only male adult in attendance, I ended up as the unofficial MC. I didn't mind. At one point all the kids were running in all directions and I was reminded of gas particles in a contained space. So I yelled at them all to "run much faster!" and bless them, they actually did. Pretty much until they fell over. The other parents might have thought I was being a little mean, abusing my power like that, but I'll bet when their kids fell into bed and went straight into a deep sleep that night, they filed that little trick away in the back of their minds.

Anyway, on Thursday there will be no party as such, but a family celebration. No doubt another blog will ensue.


Thought for the Day: Initial experiments indicate that frisbees are attracted to birthday cake.

Friday, May 01, 2009


I've never started a blog with G'Day and I promise I will never do it again.

I have recently been tempted into the world of Twitter. Obviously many people already use Twitter and I signed up a while back wondering what the big deal was. My first instinct was that there was, in fact, no big deal. Basically, for those not in the know, when using Twitter, you "tweet" whatever you're doing at any given moment, whenever you feel you have something of interest to tweet. Actually, even if it is not of interest, you can tweet. In fact, especially then, if judging by the current world of Twitter is anything to go by.

This is slightly different to FaceBook, which asks the question "What's on your mind?" Now that is a dangerous question to ask me, seriously. So mostly I just post little inanities and the occasional plug for my doritos ad at (Spies Like Us) but nothing too challenging for my small array of friends.

Fortunately there is a FaceBook app called Twitter which allows me to post simultaneously to both with the same entry. But it is often not the case that what I am thinking is the same as what I am doing.

I am left with the distinctly uneasy feeling that I don't actually understand social networking online. What makes me uneasy is the fact that my track record in social networking in the real world seems to be following me into cyberspace. But cyberspace is supposed to be my domain. It's where nerds are cool and geeks are hip. Or is that have hips? Not sure but it is supposed to be the one place you can meet other nerds and geeks while wearing a cape and carrying a broad sword or magical staff and actually command some respect in a pub.

For what its worth, don't try the broad sword thing in a real pub. People don't seem to feel threatened. But I think they respected the cape, at least a little.

So, back to my social ineptitude. I have cleverly masked my dysfunction in the real world (my cape has a hood) but the real people have stopped going to pubs and now drink at home while Twittering and telling their friends on FaceBook what's on their mind. Now you may laugh or shake your head at me for my comments about swords and capes, but who throws sheep, honestly? And what are you to do with said sheep?

I had someone hug me the other day. Not for real, not a hug like DW or the kids can give. Just a message that someone had sent me a hug. Wow! That is so nice! Someone cared enough to send me a hug, along with the other 2342 people in their friends list. I felt so special but couldn't help thinking, if you're going to send me useless intangible crap, why not send me a million imaginary dollars. Or a bazillion dollars. Why not send me a bucket full of dirt? Why dirt you ask? Why the hell not? I could lie in it while I wait to become a vampire. You see, apparently someone else, who didn't think I deserved a hug, set a vampire on me instead. Honestly though, I couldn't tell the difference. In fact, the next person who sends a hug to me may well find themselves beaten on the head with a sheep and have a spike rammed through their heart. And a million imaginary dollars because I care.

There are probably a whole bunch of people who read the above (I wish) and think that maybe I have missed the point of online social networking, and perhaps the hug was just a nice thought, and the sheep is only harmless fun. I think you are probably right. If you remember, that was my initial point. I don't understand online social networking. I don't have time to find out just how many mothers from eighties sitcoms I can name, or to prove I have a decent IQ to whoever it was claimed I'm the dumbest person they know. There are damsels what need savin', don't you know. And that IS a sword in my pocket.

However, I do try. I blog, for instance. Actually, I mostly do that for the catharsis but sometimes I actually try to make someone else feel better about themselves or voice my consternation about an injustice. But blogging is different. It is a much broader expression of self, but maybe not everyone needs such an expression. And so I also use FaceBook, though not to hurl sheep or discover which planetary region I come from. I have found some small measure of satisfaction in knowing that several friends who have seemingly drifted away a little are back in touch, even if its only to say they like my status.

Its funny, but I find I have no interest in what someone's Bejewelled score is, or how many citizens they have in their very own little metropolises(?), and yet I am very interested in what they are thinking. I read recently that a friend was sad. Another person unknown to me but close to my friend asked what was wrong and my friend confided her pain, not just to the one asking, and not to the whole world, but to those who are interested in what she is thinking, her friends. Obviously some things need to be kept private but it made me more aware of my friend who is living a long way away.

And in that lies the heart of the matter. Online social networks, while no substitute for real interpersonal communication, allow us to fill some of the empty moments in our day with thoughts of our friends. You don't need to spend more time in front of a screen, because many of those active online are spending less time in front of the TV, watching imaginary peoples' lives unfold. Those little messages, and hugs I suppose, are a tiny glimpse at people we would otherwise see only rarely. I know there are nay-sayers who condemn these communications as taking people out of the real world, disconnecting humanity from personal interaction. While they have a point, it is proffered without consideration of the benefits. Their are also proponents who are quick to bring those arguments of how socially inept people can find some measure of meaningful communication with others they might not enjoy in the "real" world. But in my opinion, those that potentially suffer most and also those that stand to benefit most greatly are those of us in the middle.

Technology is change and all change brings with it both promise and warning. It is up to us to work out how to progress rather than regress. It is certainly up to us to educate our children in practices that will see them reap the rewards of these developments and at the same time be mindful of the dangers that lurk. It is a brave new world and I suppose I can get used to it.

Now, I must go. Someone sent me a dragon egg and I'm told it needs tending if it is to hatch into a ferocious weapon that I can wield in my quest to save damsels and get respect in pubs. Gotta love the respect.


Thought for the Day: I can't express my thoughts in Twitter's 140 character limit.