Wednesday, May 30, 2012


As I was carrying DF earlier today:

Me: I love you, buddy.  Do you know that?
DF: (matter of factly) No, I don't know that, daddy.

When putting him to bed we go through a little thing right at the end.  We say 'good-night' and 'I love you' and 'sleep tight'.  Then I close the door and wait for a minute.  He repeats one of the, usually 'good-night' and cries for a second.  Then I open the door and 'good-night' him back.  Then, and only then, he settles in.


Yesterday I took Relia for her three year old screening.  This is the screening that happens before school so they can have a handle on where a student is before kindergarten actually starts.  They also check vision and hearing.  (Relia wanted them to check 'smelling' but I told her they don't do that.  The mind reels at what that test would look like.)  She aced the tests, of course.
They also had a questionnaire for the parents.  It was mostly questions about social behavior and was designed to see if we had any concerns. The last question asked parents what they like about their child.  I wrote that I like how she wants to be friends with every one.  I also wrote that I like how smart she is and how enjoyable it is to watch her explore the world around her. 
There was one more thing that I really like but I didn't want to put on the questionnaire.  I like that she wants to be sneaky and clever.  Relia absolutely loves to try and outwit people.  This can be a pain (of course) but every time she does it, I smile a bit inside.  Probably because it reminds me so much of myself.
There is a trap in being clever though, and I hope I can guide her past it.  If you try and outwit every problem you never learn how to do the hard work that is sometimes necessary.  (I've fallen prey to this myself.)  I'm sure it will be a struggle but it will be worth it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Have a Great, uh, Tuesday

One bonus point to anyone who can tell what country this is from (and yes, I know the answer).

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Today we followed our Memorial Day traditions.  We raced down to Austin this morning for the parade.  (Dear future Peder, the parade starts at 845a.  Please refer to this next year and forever after.)  This meant that we left our house at 630a.  I was done with work about 130a, so you do the math.  Ugh.
Anyway, we made it there on time and met up with gobs and gobs of family.  We might have made up 10% of the parade attendance.  The parade, by the way, took an entire 14 minutes.  DF liked the fire trucks most of all.
Then off to the cemetery.  My dad took over chasing duty with DF and Relia waited anxiously for the spent shells of the 21 gun salute.  She got two of them and gave one to DF.  Leo didn't care for the loud noises but he took it all in stride.
After that we looked at my grandparents graves.  Got to see where mom and dad will be at some faraway date.  And again told the FP Gal that I am to be cremated and the ashes should be spread in the shortstop area of Comiskey Park (or wherever the White Sox are playing then).  She isn't sure this will be allowed.  I told her that she may have to hop the fence during a game and do it anyway.  (The best way to picture this, is if she is in her 80s by then.)
Next we needed to go to a park so the kids could run around.  It was bright and sunny and we very much wanted some shade so it was off to Todd park and the giant robot.  Relia climbed it like a champ.  I expect next year she'll climb it on the outside or some such.  DF went part way up but he's just a bit too small to really do it.  Especially the climbing down part . . .
Lunch time and we met my mom's side of the family at Culvers.  Between them the kids ate about 1/100 of a cheeseburger and two orders of fries.  Leo was passed around and around and held and held and held.  He seemed fine with it.  I haven't mentioned this but he has striking dark blue eyes right now.  The FP Gal says that they will probably change but I hope she's wrong about this.
Time for more family and that's what we got at my aunt and uncle's house.  Well, not the only thing.  The two older kids scored a big wheel and a scooter from my uncle's bicycle reclamation project.  And we did get some brief (too brief!) time with cousins and such. 
Even though it's a holiday, I still have to work tonight.  The FP Gal gamely drove us back up.  We got here just in time for me to kiss them all good night and go upstairs.  It was a good day and frankly we're all tired.

I spoke a bit with Relia about Memorial day and why we remember our soldiers and sailors.  I don't think she really gets it yet but I'll keep working on it. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Today in the car, the FP Gal mentioned Will Hale.  He is a musician who goes to the kids' preschool on a regular basis.  After some general discussion, the conversation went in this direction . . .

Relia: He'll probably die pretty soon.  He's pretty old.
FP Gal: He's not that old, I've seen his picture on his website.
Relia: He's older than anyone I know.
FP Gal: Do you know how old he is?
Relia: He's older than Nana and Grandpa. 
FP Gal: Is he older than Pop-pop?
Relia: Yes.  (pause)  He's 64!
Me: How old are your folks?  65?
Relia: I mean he's 66!
Me: Let's see.  Pop-pop is (mentally doing math) . . . 67.
Relia: I was tricking you.  Will Hale is 68.
Me: (chuckling) Oh.  (pause) Actually, I think he might be 69.
Relia: Well, I have a surprise for you.  Will Hale is actually . . . sixty-ten!

Conversation ends as we collapse in laughter.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Travel Times in Ancient Rome

The internet continues to amaze me.  Today's wildly cool thing is a map from Orbis which calculates travel times in ancient Rome.  For instance, to take an oxcart from Roma (Rome) to Londinium (London) would take about 78 days in January and only 34 days in August.  By modern jet, it takes about three hours. 
Very cool stuff.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Have a Great, uh, Tuesday

Ok, one more eclipse thing.  This is shamelessly stolen from Win.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Next Eclipse

(Sorry if you're tired of this topic.)

Yesterday I mentioned that I'd make a greater effort to get to the next eclipse, especially if it would make sense to bring the kids.  A little Wikipedia help shows me that the target date is August 21, 2017.  There is a picture at the link but if you don't click through, this eclipse will cover a swath from roughly Portland, OR to South Carolina.  In the midwest and plains states, it will go from one end of Nebraska to the other, through Missouri and into Kentucky.  According to Wikipedia, the longest duration of totality will be in the Bainbridge/Sinking Fork area of Kentucky. 
So I'm thinking of taking a road trip.  The cherry on the top is that this will happen two days before Relia's tenth birthday.  DF will be seven and even little Leo will be five.  That makes all of them old enough to appreciate this in some way. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012


We were lucky and the clouds left today so we could see part of the eclipse.  The show started late enough that the sun was in the extreme western sky.  We're thick in the city so we could only see that far if we were up high.  The FP Gal brought the kids up to the third floor so they could get a glimpse.  Unfortunately, I had the timing wrong and they had to troop back down again.
DF was in bed before it started but I don't think he really understood anyway.  He had been thrilled to come up and visit the third floor.  The kids rarely get to do so!  But he didn't really understand that something was happening with the sun. 
The FP Gal brought Relia back up again later and we made some pinhole cameras so we could see what was happening.  (She has pictures on her blog.)  It was hard to really tell what was happening from those, they produced a moon shape.  Well, I showed her some pictures online, so she had some idea.

Eclipses go in cycles and this cycle will match up again in 18 years, 11 days and 6 hours.  The six hours is the key here, since that means that the eclipse will happen on the other side of the world.  It will be the middle of the night here. That will be in 2030, the year that young Leo is scheduled to graduate from high school.  Let that sink in for a moment.  The cycle after that will be in 2048, early morning.  I'll be 64. 
Not that there won't be other places to see an eclipse before then.  Even places here in the United States.  I was very tempted to find some way of taking Relia out west to see this one but I could never get the numbers to work.  Tonight, I regret that.  I'm sure I'll get over it though.  And, as I said, there will be other opportunities. 
Still . . .

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thunder Boomers

Yesterday was a warm day, especially warm for mid May.  (Well, maybe not.  By mid May, we are in that zone when it can be summer like with no warning.  So . . . never mind that first sentence.)  Yesterday was warm.  So warm, in fact, that last night we had a brief discussion about turning on the AC.  We decided that we probably should.
Today was hot.  Especially this morning.  It got hot early.  We did some garage sales down in Savage and then retreated back home.  Late in the afternoon we were invited over to the neighbors.  They were having a big party and there were some kids about the same age as Relia and DF.  Lots of fun!
We came back home about 6p and almost immediately after we got in the house the clouds let loose.  Some nice rolling thunder and a minute or two of sheeting rain.  This passed quickly and it rained off and on for an hour or so.  It sounds like more rain in the forecast for overnight.  Man, I hope so!  Give us some of that good ol' thunder and lightning!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Every spring, when we get outside, we learn what new skills the kids have picked up since the fall.  For instance, Relia has become quite the accomplished hitter.  The FP Gal taught her, I think.  She takes batting practice with a large red ball and she can absolutely rake.  Every time she connects, I'm afraid that she'll clear one of the walls to our yard.  Or that she'll put one off of my face. 
Naturally, I'm very proud of her.  I'm very ready to be the proud daddy who goes to all of her games. 

(Yes, the title refers to a 'Big Bang Theory' joke.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


DF is truck and bus obsessed.  Every time we drive somewhere he has to point them out.  "School bus!  City bus!"  He got a book about trucks for his birthday and now he knows about various kinds of 'diggers'.  So we get to hear about them, as well. 
This is much better than having him tell me how to drive.

This has nothing to do with trucks, but I should say that I'm just astounded at how his vocabulary is growing.  We have an alphabet book where each page represents a letter and has various objects that start with that letter.  He 'discovered' it this past weekend and even from the first he knew about half of the things in there. 
He is always surprising us.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Upcoming Eclipse

This coming Sunday will bring an eclipse and I've been meaning to mention this.  The path of totality here in the US stretches from Oregon/Washington border, all the way to western Texas.  We'll get something less than totality here in Minnesota.  To see it you'll want a good clear view to the west as the eclipse will be right before sunset.  I'm sure news reports will give some very exact times to view, so keep an eye out.  As of right now, the local forecast is for 'mostly cloudy' so cross your fingers.
While looking around for a good map, I ran across a wonderful graphic at Wikipedia.  It shows the eclipse area on a global scale.  Click through for some serious coolness.

Snack Time

We hit snack time this morning and I asked DF if he was ready for a snack.  He said yes, and then proceeded to pull two pieces of bread out from under the blanket on the couch.  These were quickly shoved in his mouth so that he could eat them before the snack.  Looked like a chipmunk. 
Never a dull moment with kids.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


While in the car today, at a stoplight:

DF: Go Momma!
FP Gal: I can't go.  I have a red light.
DF: (pause, while he processes this) Daddy, you drive!

Early color education for our children has almost exclusively been stoplight related. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Avengers - 2012

Last night the FP Gal and I had something of a date night.  We farmed out kids to various grandparents and did dinner and a movie.  We intended to go to 'Hunger Games' but for scheduling reasons, went to the Avengers movie instead.  Went to the 3D version, in fact.  We've been curious about the 3D movies but have avoided them.  We weren't sure how it would fit my one eye and the FP Gal wasn't sure she was interested at all.  Well, I could see the movie clearly enough with the glasses but it looked 2D.  The FP Gal didn't think it added much. 
I loved the movie while she merely liked it.  It had the one quality that so many recent superhero movies have lacked: fun.  It also had some top notch action scenes.  Ones where the action made sense.  And banter, lovely, lovely banter.  Bullet points to follow:
  • The movie did a great job of making four strong characters work against each other.  Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk all seemed to be complete.  One of the best things about the movie was the interesting dialogue between them.
  • I'm shocked that the Hulk is included on that list.  Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner) absolutely steals this movie.  Even more than Robert Downey Jr.  I've never really cared for the Hulk.  Thought that the Hulk movies looked terrible.  Here he was a compelling character, especially in the early going when he was so clearly trying to keep the Hulk in check.
  • The whole idea of a Captain America adjusting to life after decades frozen in ice was very well handled.  I don't remember the comic books ever really doing much with this.  In fairness, the time span in the movie universe is much longer but still, they deserve credit here.
  • Robert Downey Jr is still great as Tony Stark.  The way he needles those around him is wonderful.  It probably helps to have seen the two Iron Man movies but frankly, those are both pretty good anyway.
  • I haven't seen the Thor movie so I didn't know what to expect.  Loki was excellent as a villain.  The way he moved from strong to weak and back again is very difficult.  Tom Hiddleston deserves massive credit.
  • The movie could have been tightened a bit.  It didn't really take off until they got the heroes together and they took too long to do that.  It wasn't dull by any means, but the overall feel was 'long'.
  • The power imbalance between the Big Four and Hawkeye and Black Widow is so big as to be ridiculous.  During the big fight, you've got the big guys knocking out scores of enemies while the others are helping people out of a bus.  Not the writers fault, the same imbalance was there in the early Avengers run.  They didn't really have a powerful woman until what, Ms Marvel?  Maybe some time down the road they'll add in She-Hulk or something and fix this.
  • Apparently if you shoot a car it explodes and flips up on its nose.  Not just any car.  Every car.  This has become so much of a cliche that it's distracting.  Also, the death toll in New York must have been incredible.
  • That bit with the Hulk and Loki?  Genius.  Pure genius.  
  • Samuel L Jackson was enjoyable as always.  I've never really been fond of S.H.I.E.L.D in the comic books and the movies haven't made me change my mind.  Still, he brings just the right touch of gravity and humor to the role.  I approve.  
I don't know what the plans are for a sequel but I'm excited for it if/when it happens!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


While in the car . . .

Relia: Leo, you've won a prize.  You get a free breastfeeding!

I'm sure that the eligibility requirements were very limited. 

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Tonight at bed I told Relia a story.  She always wants to hear stories from when I was young.  That's tricky, because the stuff I remember most is when I was getting into trouble and . . . I don't really want to share that with her.  Tonight I told her about how my house was different when I was her age. 
  • We only had five channels.  She doesn't really understand numbers so she doesn't know quite how much of a difference this is.
  • We had encyclopedias but no computers.  (She said "oh no!" when I told her this.)
  • Our cameras had rolls of film.  You could only take that many and then you had to take that into a store and have them develop the film.  I forgot to tell her that we couldn't even see the picture until we got it back. 
  • Calling someone on the phone long distance was expensive.  Now it's no big deal.  We would write letters to other people.
  • In order to change the channel we would actually get up and walk over to the TV.  (She laughed at this.)
  • Then she asked if we even had Tivo.  I told her no, we had to watch commercials.  We couldn't fast forward or rewind.  We couldn't pause it.  If a show was on and we weren't home we missed it entirely.
  • The only way we could watch a movie on the TV is if it happened to be shown on one of the five channels that we got.  We had no DVD or VCR.  Certainly no Apple TV.  (This seemed to rock her world a bit.)
  • Finally, I told her that we didn't have a microwave.  To heat something up we had to use the oven or the stove.  She told me that sounded awful.
After this conversation, I resolved that we would read through some of the 'Little House' books at some point.  It's easy to forget just how much things have changed and how quickly those changes have taken place.  

Monday, May 07, 2012

Happy Monday

This is from the ISS.  The spots of light are lightning, as seen from orbit.  To the left you can see a thin shell of aurora. 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Derby Day

As has been our tradition, we will choose horses for the Kentucky Derby today and lustily cheer for them. Feel free to do so as well. The choices (Name - odds):
Daddy Long Legs - 23/1
Optimizer - 35/1
Take Charge Indy - 10/1
Union Rags - 9/2
Dullahan - 10/1
Bodemeister - 7/1
Rousing Sermon - 36/1
Creative Cause - 11/1
Trinniberg - 39/1
Daddy Nose Best - 12/1
Alpha - 20/1
Prospective - 60/1
Went The Day Well - 20/1
Hansen - 13/1
Gemologist - 9/1
El Padrino - 26/1
Done Talking - 31/1
Sabercat - 33/1
I'll Have Another - 13/1
Liason - 53/1

Have fun!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Proper Zoo Atire

This is why we don't let the kids dress up like zebras or elk when we go to the zoo.

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, May 03, 2012


Relia was talking to DF as he was going up to bed.

Relia: I love you more than cheese.  More than chocolate cake.  More than hearts.  (To parents)  Isn't that a lot of love?
Me: Yes, it is.
Relia: Oh!  And I love you more than french fries!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Happy Birthday DF

Two years ago today, DF, our dear Dragon Fire, entered our life.  Since then he has grown and grown and is now a Big Boy.  He constantly amazes us with how much he talks.  Not only how much, but how clearly and with such vocabulary!  You're a constant joy and I love you very much.