Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Vacation

This year we took our first Christmas vacation, at Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia.

Pete took two ski classes, and we were very proud that he persevered through 7 hour classes on Saturday and Tuesday. He was able to take the Skidder lift and ski down the small hill by himself.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays

We are off for our Christmas vacation to West Virginia. Happy Holidays and we will be back with new posts on December 28.

Most Rockinest Christmas Song Ever

Pete and I have been checking the mail every day for a new CD coming from LaLa. It finally arrived the other day, and we were not disappointed by what we had been waiting for - the most rockinest Christmas song ever - Oi To The World by No Doubt (cover of the original by The Vandals). (Video)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Karate Santa

Saturday was the holiday party at karate school. Sam graduated to his "black" belt, which is a white belt with a black stripe.

There was also a surprise guest, who gave a gift to Pete and Sam (a little stuffed bear with a black belt). Sam, of course, calls the bear "beary".

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Blue Christmas

I don't know what they're feeding him, but this is how Sam arrived home from church on Sunday.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Helping The Needy

Pete wanted to help give out food to the needy again this year. He went to Christ the Redeemer (same distribution location as last year) with mom. They did mostly re-stocking the shelves with food as people went through and took the items for their families.

Here is a picture of Pete wearing his "Lending Hand" t-shirt that he got for volunteering.

Also, here is Sam. He wanted a picture of how he can help, too.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Kids Just Don't Appreciate Quality Humor

Me: What book did you bring home from school today for bedtime?
Pete: All About Magnets
Me: Well, it's pretty late. I think we need to change the title of that book to Half About Magnets
Pete: Grrr

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A True Patriot

It is undeniable that Sam is a true American patriot. As you can see, he sleeps with an American flag and bald eagles on his pillow. Also, he has a special power which is not well-known but you can see it if you watch him sleep. Any time someone anywhere in the world discusses an attack against the U.S. while he is sleeping, Sam sits up and rolls over.

I predict that at age 11, he will become the first person in history to simultaneously defuse a bomb with one hand while signing a peace treaty with the other. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Deal Or No Deal

Pete loves to watch the TV show Deal or No Deal. He is ahead of his time in this regard, since based on the intellectual content I think the target audience is ages 8-12.

Towards the end it gets exciting, so he can't watch. He closes his eyes and says: "If it's a low number, give me a smack and if it's a high number, give me a punch."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dinner Spelling

Sam decided that he didn't want to finish his dinner last night because "it has mustard and ketchup on it" (it didn't).

So the challenge is on - to keep Sam entertained long enough for everyone else to finish eating. We tried asking him to spell some words. He was able to spell P-e-t-e, but he had trouble with dad. He said it was m-s-e-e-e-

Pete thought this was pretty funny, the prospect of a word with three consecutive e's.

Then we bought some time by having him go count the presents under the tree. However, we were disturbed to learn upon his return that he did not count the presents with his hands, but rather "I counted them with side kicks". I'm not sure what this meant - so far I have been afraid to go check.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Piano Lesson

Pete had his first piano lesson on Saturday with Ruth Ann.

Here he is practicing at home. You may be able to see the tape line on the floor. Sam is not allowed inside the tape when Pete is practicing. Then Sam gets a turn, and Pete needs to stay outside the line. As you can imagine, there is still quite a bit of debate as to whether you are allowed to touch the line, reach over the line, etc.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Karate Ornaments

Pete wanted to put an ornament with his picture on the Christmas tree at the karate place. We took a picture of Pete pretending to hold his bow staff, then printed it out and glued on a toothpick for a 3-D effect.

Sam wanted to make one too, so he held up his horse as his bow staff.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Frozen Pancake

Sam likes the little mini-pancakes that you toss in the microwave for 30 seconds. He dips them in a little bowl of syrup.

Somewhere along the line he figured out that he also likes to eat them cold, right out of the freezer. Here he is enjoying a frozen pancake.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Just Checking

I noticed a few times this week that Pete was feeling around in the stockings by the fireplace. He said he was just checking to see if anything arrived early.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sam is 3

Sam wanted to have a carnival party (like Pete) for his 3rd birthday. On Saturday a week earlier, it was 70 degrees and sunny, but the forecast for his birthday was in the 40's so we decided to move the carnival into the living room.

The games we did were Mystery Machine, Tic Tac Toe, Super Putt, Bucket Bash, and Fishing Frenzy. And of course we had the calliope music, tickets, and prizes.

The festivities then spilled over to Sunday (more presents from Nana) and Monday (presents from Mom and Dad on his ACTUAL birthday). All in all, we did better than last year. The only known evidence of Sam's birthday last year is a single photograph of him blowing out a candle on a cupcake.

Here are some pictures from the party:

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Last night I showed Pete how to play Linerider, one of the more fun and addictive games on the web. The only problem is that it made him laugh too much, then coughing, then waking us up every half hour because his throat hurt.

Anyway, it is a fun game.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A New Tradition

We started a new Thanksgiving tradition this year, which is to go on a hike in the morning. Perhaps this is to maximize the room available for gorging ourselves later in the day.

We tried going to Claude Moore Park, which was closed via barricade. After some discussion, we "agreed" not to walk around the barricade and drove to Algonkian park, which was open. The best part of the Thanksgiving hike is that the "no mud" rule is suspended, and you are allowed and encouraged to walk through all mud puddles, shallow water, etc.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ball Tower

Pete's new creation. This one pretty much speaks for itself. Click image to play the video.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Without Looking Under Your Chair

I think maybe Pete has been watching too many game shows. During dinner last night, Pete said "Hey, without looking under your chair, guess where these chairs were made".

About 8 minutes later, after various hints, I came up with the correct answer of Thailand.

I enjoyed thinking about this later. First, there is the uniqueness of a sentence that begins with "without looking under your chair". Then I imagined Pete (for some reason) lying on his back on the floor under the kitchen table, looking up at the bottom of the chair, and thinking "hmm, this will make a good trivia question".

Friday, November 24, 2006


I tried to find a picture of the kids eating Thanksgiving dinner where Pete did not have silverware in his mouth, but clearly such a photo does not exist.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


If there is one thing you quickly learn when everyone you know starts having children, it is that every kid in the universe is a rare genius.

It seems that everyone wants everyone else to know what a gifted prodigy their child is. This is the keystone principle of blogs (yes, like this one), YouTube, etc. It is just like the old joke that 90% of people say they are above average drivers.

Given this observation bias, below are some tips to help you objectively determine whether your child is closer to Stephen Hawking (genius Physicist) or Stephen Baldwin (ordinary idiot).

Stephen Hawking
Able to read any book at age 3
Perfect score on DDR at age 5

Writing musical composition at age 5
Composes music on the spot with random notes

Stephen Baldwin
Figured out how to open the pantry door and remembers where the cookies are
Can remember patterns - e.g. pretty good at the game Simon
Can do 3 different types of arm farts
Learned how to count

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Head, Shoulders, Teeth, and Nose

Sam's bedtime routine gets updated from time to time. Lately we replaced his tape with a Veggie Tales tape, so we have to listen to these three songs before bed:

1. Take Me Out to the Backyard
2. Bongo
3. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Pete came up with the idea to perform the latter song, with Sam holding a flashlight as a spotlight. More recently, Sam has decided to act out the song himself. However, he is usually a few body parts behind the pace of the song. By the time they get to toes, he is still thinking about where his shoulders are. It ultimately degenerates into a meltdown where he starts spinning around and then falls to the floor.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Disenfranchised and Waiting

Update of Pete's school disenfranchisement:
(as discussed earlier here)

Pete wrote the following letter to the school Principal, Sharon Keegan-Coppels. (click to enlarge)

We sent the letter almost a month ago, and so far no response. This Principal is going to be leaving the school next month. I suspect that she was so disturbed about the voting situation, she had to go to a school where there is a more equitable system of selecting school officers. So I guess we will have to try our luck with the new Principal. Too bad we didn't save a copy of the letter. Well, at least we have the picture. I guess this blog is good for something.

Update: We never heard anything back from Sharon Keegan-Coppels

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fighting Entropy

One of the challenges of parenting is trying to clean up a room while Sam works against you to keep it messed up. (Actually, he doesn't do this so much anymore - it is more of a memory from when he was 1 or 2. ) While you are cleaning, he is making more of a mess. So you have to work to clean faster than he can un-clean. It is a bit like trying to walk up a down escalator. It can be done, but takes time and hard work.

The reason I bring up the above, is that I've recently observed a similar phenomenon when raking leaves. You need to try to gather them faster than Sam can re-distribute them.

Monday, November 13, 2006

7 Ate 9

Everyone knows this old joke:

Why was 6 afraid of 7?
Because 7 8 9.

I told Pete that joke when he was three years old. He thought about it for a minute, then posed this:

Why did 2 buy 3?
Because they were having a sale, 3 4 5.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Knock Knock

Pete told me this joke Friday night as we were driving to watch his teachers play in a charity basketball tournament at Briar Woods High School:

Pete: Knock knock
Me: Who's there?
Pete: Somebody
Me: Somebody who?
Pete: Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend who looks like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Poster and Speech

Pete's assignment for the last cub scouts pack meeting was to make a poster about one of his interests, and speak about this topic to the group. Here is his poster. He was the first one to speak to the group.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Eagles Clothes

Here is Pete in his new Eagles clothing. It is never too early to get ready for this weekend's big game against the Redskins.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Leaf Pile

The first Saturday in November means it's time to rake a leaf pile.

Click the picture below to see a video of Pete and Sam jumping into the pile.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just Out of Reach

Sitting in the basement the other day, I observed one of the ironies of parenting. As you can see in the picture, Sam's games are perched on the highest shelf about 7 feet above Sam level.

This was not pre-meditated. I just started putting 1 or 2 of them up there so he couldn't dump them out and make a mess. Perhaps this is a cruel storage strategy. However, I still think this is better than many basements or playrooms I have seen where all of the toys have been dumped and co-mingled so extensively that they are no longer of any use until the parents dedicate the semi-annual Saturday to a full clean-up.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Space Derby

Yesterday was the Space Derby at Pete's cub scouts pack meeting. This was similar to the Rain Gutter Regatta, but the craft was more difficult to assemble and the event was more chaotic.

Our key objective was to let Pete do as much of the assembly as possible all by himself.

Here is Pete's finished racer:

Here is Pete getting it wound up for the race:

Here is Pete getting ready to start the race (his is the second one in, and he is waiting for the other two to be loaded onto the apparatus):

There were four ships in each race. In Pete's first race, his was the only one that worked so he got first place. They fixed the other ones and re-did the race. Pete got second place. Then they did a race of the 1st and 2nd place finishers and Pete got second place again. There was one racer that was clearly faster than Pete's. It was white and looked like a mini Space Shuttle. I found out later that the dad works for NASA.

We learned these Space Derby Tips during the building process to remember for next year:
  • Try to use all four rubber bands for maximum velocity
  • Make the ship as small as possible
  • Sand the ship as finely as possible
  • Lubricate rubber bands
  • Use graphite powder to minimize friction
  • Make sure plastic tube covers entire hook
  • Make sure flat part of propellor faces forward

Next event is the Pinewood Derby in December!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wacky Wednesday

When I came home from work the other day, Pete and Sam were sitting together reading Sam's favorite book, Wacky Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Blue Belt

Congratulations to Pete on getting his blue belt on Saturday.

In case you are not familiar with Tae Kwan Do, The belt order at Pete's school is as follows:


Sam appointed himself as the photographer at the belt ceremony. So here is a picture of the ceremony: