Sunday, November 27, 2005


Since my 5-year-old was old enough to have an opinion, she's expressed it about many a movie. I understand this is common among many youngsters, but there are certain movies that she would just REFUSE to watch, on the grounds they were too scary. Now, these are movies she has never SEEN before, but somehow, somewhere, she got wind of the fact that a certain movie might have a scary subject in it and therefore has vetoed it.

For example:

Incredibles - okay, that one is reasonable. though a fantastic movie, I could see it being a bit extreme for young kids

Snow White - I find this one odd. As you know from earlier posts, my daughter has completely assimilated with the massive Borg that is Disney. so why wouldn't she want to watch this over and over? Scary guy in the enchanted mirror, that's why.

Monsters, Inc - she used to watch this as a toddler, until she started understanding it for more than just the pretty colors. Then one night she had a nightmare about it, and told me I had to return it to the video store immediately. as far as she knows, I did.

Toy Story 2 - Evil Emperor Zurg...nasty guy. Shoots scary ping-pong balls.

So that's a simple, not-so-surprising list of movies she won't watch because they are too scary. However, it doesn't explain why she absolutely LOVES Lion King, which is chock full of death, destruction, and mean uncles.

This weekend, we discovered the movie Madagascar. Now, originally she had heard that "the lion bites the zebra in its butt" and for some reason that forced a veto on her part, but we just got a new Plasma TV and decided to watch it anyway despite her. After the first ten seconds of the movie, both she and her younger sister, as well as her parents, were laughing their butts off throughout the entire movie. Crude jokes, animal slapstick, and lots of wild creatures screaming made for quite an amusing time.

So my point in this long-winded blog entry is that I highly recommend Madagascar for preschoolers. The animals are beautifully animated, the humor is simple, not too crude, and there's enough giraffe injuries, Martial-arts-practicing penguins, and fart jokes to keep kids entertained from start to finish. Oh, and it looks gorgeous on a 37" widescreen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Working from home

Natalie has issues with me working for a living. Like most kids her age, she wishes daddy could be home all the time. Understandable, though sometimes I think she wants a butler more than a father figure. But that's another blog entry.

Recently my wife and I have begun making plans to build an addition to our home. We decided that, among other things, a separate room to serve as an office was a necessity. Given that I had to remove a Fisher-Price Little People Dragon, five miscellaneous Mega-Blocs, and a naked Barbie doll from my desk before I could get to the keyboard and start writing, I'm sure you could understand. Of course, all but the Barbie gets tossed in the toy pile. She stays by the desk lamp.

So once Natalie heard we were adding an office, natalie was very excited. "You mean daddy won't have to go to work any more?" she was devastated when we told her that wouldn't be the case.

A few weeks back, I helped a new employee move into an apartment in the area. when I told Natalie that he would be working for me, she said, "Great, he can do the work so you don't have to go anymore!" Again I started to tell her that this wasn't the...wait a minute, maybe she's on to something....

Recently her desire to have more of me around manifested itself in a different way. She decided to hang out a shingle for herself. Anyone who's been in our home recently knows that, in the living room, we have two crappy couches in an L-shape. At the corner of the L is a small corner table. Natalie has turned that table into her "office." We discovered this when we started noticing certain regular office supplies missing. Post-Its, the stapler, stamps, tape, the phone...all these things mysteriously disappearing. One day we discovered all these items neatly lined up on this end table, with her Winnie-The-Pooh chair tucked in and ready for the next day of work. Inside the cigar humidor (a box that I use to hold remotes) was almost a full ream of paper, with random scribbles on it representing her note-taking for the day.

Gee, maybe I need to take some time off?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Goldilocks and the The Three Martians

Hilary picked this book up at the library the other day. It's a laugh-out-loud take on the classic fairy tale, but I warn any parent planning on reading prepared to have to explain the REAL reason why Uranus would be the "gassy" planet.

Wait for it...

Creative Playthings - a great store

Anyone in the Pittsburgh area with kids (or stuck in their own childhoods) would be well-served to pay a visit to a new store called Playthings, Etc. the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had an article on it that intrigued us, so we paid a visit a few weeks ago.

As you can see in the links, the building is made out of welded sheet metal and designed to look like a space ship. When we got there, the owner was sprawled on his back in the parking lot under the chassis of his "shuttle craft", which seemed to be a miniature version of the store destined to be parked out by the road. He told us that by next week it should be fully functional and ready for takeoff.

The front door is designed to look like a blast door of some sort. Yank it open, wait for your eyes to adjust to the spacey darkness inside, and you are greeted with a world of odd, forgotten, educational, and classic toys. Oh, you're also greeted with a pummeling from the kid working behind the checkout counter, who proceeds to smack you with fast-moving pockets of air from a toy air cannon until you duck behind the rack of GeoMags.

Every ten minutes or so, a member of the staff calls everyone out to the parking lot, where he will proceed to demonstrate a toy rocket, a wind-up airplane, or some sort of a rock-em-sockem-robot. his demos don't always go as expected and he lost a rocket on the roof of the store, but hey- that's childhood.

The greatest thing about this store is that there ain't no Disney. no princess crap. no Buzz Lightyear. Just real, honest to goodness toys. Kites, ride-in cars, model airplanes, and science stuff. They even have an excellent collection of sleds and toboggans, something you can't seem to get at your average Toys-r-Us or Wal-Mart these days. of course, I happened to discover that some lady on eBay has a collection of classic toboggans for sale at hugely discounted prices, so I just picked up two on eBay for a third the price of one at this store, but still it's cool to see.

We spent about two hours there, left with our wallets empty and our trunk full, and look forward to going back before the holiday. Hmm, maybe I will buy something for the kids next time.

Competitiveness and illness

The other day we attempted to explain the game "hot potato" to Natalie. We said it was like musical chairs, but instead of running around and sitting in chairs when the music stops, you pass an object around and whomever is holding it when the music stops is out.

Natalie told us she never wants to play it because she doesn't want to lose.She's SO competitive, she won't even compete. how 'bout that?

So, in a tune that's probably familiar to many households right now, I'm currently "working" at home listening to two sick children hack and cough while a sick wife goes to the doctor. The four of us have passed around the same cold for about three weeks now. It's been a minor cold all around, but bad enough that we've probably spent Natalie's first year of tuition at CMU on cold meds. (By the way, I HIGHLY recommend Tylenol's new cold medicine with "cool burst" technology. It's like taking meds with an entire box of Altoids as a chaser, and it does a great job.)

For the past week or so, Jessica has said one thing to us, over and over. "I need a tissue". Her nose is constantly drippy, and of course no 2-year-old has any clue how to blow his or her own nose effectivly. so the most we can do is wipe what's dripping, and squeeze her nose together in hopes of getting a little more out. her nose is so red, she looks like a leaky fire hydrant.

At least she's not puking.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I can't be expected to remember everything

It's not that uncommon that I give my wonderful wife grief for forgetting and/or not getting around to things. Heck, as a former lawyer, it took her several years of me endlessly hounding her before she managed to coordinate the writing of our wills. Our kids came this close to being state property should the unthinkable happen. Usually it comes down to her explaining how I "just don't understand what it's like around here all day."

I have a little more understanding today.

Hilary was away all last night and today for a conference. It was one of those extremely rare moments (only happened once before) where I was in single-parent mode for a full 24 hours. Really, it was a breeze. Nary a whine, a whimper, or an injury. No one got lost. There were no screams. They were even well fed and their outfits matched (more or less). Heck, even the kitchen was clean and the lawn was mowed.

But I did miss one important step in the whole stay-at-home-mom process today. I put Jessica down for a nap in the afternoon, and she went right down with no complaints. Slept for two hours, and woke up jabbering and playing. When I went up to get her, she was standing in the crib waiting for me. As I walked in, she said, "I'm wet!".

Huh? did the diaper leak? Where's, crap! I completely forgot to put a diaper on her before she went for her nap. Nothing like sleeping in a pool of your own urine for two hours to really make you smell fresh.

Well, at least they are both still breathing, and there was no loss of blood. All in all, a productive day,

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thought for the day

Be good to your kids. They will be in charge of choosing a rest home for you.

The Uriel won't stand up

Jessica's birthday was October tenth. Since that day, she has been playing non-stop with her Fisher-Price Little People animals Zoo, only taking breaks to poop, to eat, and to ask for help getting the Uriel to stand up. You see, it comes with a collection of 26 animals A-Z along with a mat where you can place each animal on a letter, and there's a little bump under the U that causes the Uriel to fall down. I know what you are thinking, "what's a Uriel?" I'm still trying to figure that out, but it looks kind of like a yak. So, about 15 times a day Jessica will come running in to ask us for help standing the uriel up.

She makes up for it by giving the rhino a great name, "Nocerus".

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The questions begin

My 5-year-old hit two major milestones this month. First, she is reading. In fact, she reads better than I do, I think. I realize that this now means that the sponge which is her brain has stopped it's one-way path of absorbing everything in its wake, and is now providing output as well. We can only hope she uses this new-found power for good rather than evil. I already know that Kid#2's plans focus on an evil-only lifestyle, but I think with Kid#1 we've tried to steer her down a simpler path.

The other milestone was that she has asked her first questions of me that I actually had to look up to find an answer. First, she asked why the sky is blue. No really. And she caught me off-guard, so I wasn't prepared to tell her the real story, about the horrible mistake God made on laundry day by mixing his white clouds with his favorite blue hat. The other question she asked was what three things made mammals unique. Okay, she was quizzing me on this one, because she learned it in preschool. Of course, Google came to the rescue by explaining that mammals all have mammary glands, the presence of three middle ear bones, and hair. Hah-betcha didn't get the ear thing, did ya.

How did dads save face before the internet?