Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Pete and Sam both have a "treasure box" where they can keep all of those valuable trinkets they pick up here and there. Pete's treasure box has about two dozen objects of various origin. Too much to detail here - perhaps he will write about them on his blog sometime.

Sam's box currently contains these two objects:

We found the army man on the beach in Nags Head, and the silver keychain guy was found lying in the parking lot of dad's office. We think he may be the offspring of an unholy union between the Michelin Man and the Pillsbury Dough Boy. As you can see, the situation in the treasure box has grown a bit tense for this little guy at the moment.

Of course, Sam has developed an attachment to these objects, so he does not want us to get rid of them. It is interesting to think about the concept of intrinsic value vs. market value for objects. My old toothbrush has $0.00 value, but if Paris Hilton used it to murder Clay Aiken it would instantly become one of the most sought after objects in the known universe. So it is fun sometimes to take objects and attach sentimental value to them.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Starburst Spinner

Here is one of Pete's recent K'nex creations. I think it is called the Starburst Spinner, but he will correct me otherwise.

Here is what they are thinking in the picture:

Pete: "Oh no! Sam is deviously planning to destroy my Starburst Spinner!"

Sam: "I am planning to destroy this Starburst Spinner."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Today's Assignment

Snow Bath

The boys were not interested in going outside yesterday to play in the 7 inches of fresh snow, so I brought some in for them to play with in the bath.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Rea's Party

Pete went to a party Friday night at Chuck E. Cheese. It was for Rea, a girl in his class.

Fortunately, there was another boy at the party too (one of Pete's friends, Mitchell). Pete shared his extra tokens that he brought with Mitchell. He informed me later that in fact he gave most of his tokens to Mitchell. Of course, this brought back memories of the vending machine from camp last summer.

It is a tricky concept what to teach children about sharing. For me personally, I often get more joy out of giving something away than from using it myself. Of course you want to teach sharing, and giving. But on the other hand you don't want them to give away most of what they have to others. Or do you?

This raises the broader question - do you always teach what you believe is right, but more difficult? Or do you teach what is the norm in society, if perhaps that will cause less heartache? What about other beliefs that go against the prevailing sentiment of society? Do you teach those things? As another example, do people endorse the vesre of the Bible where Jesus says "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well."? How many of these people do you think honestly teach that principle to their children?

Next Friday Pete has another birthday party at, you guessed it, Chuck E. Cheese's.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Although this may appear to be part of a karate routine, Pete and Sam are actually doing an exercise video that we checked out of the library. This particular exercise utilizes a move called the "tiger claw". Now if we can just get a DVD which includes an exercise called "go outside", then we would have something.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bad Strategy

When I put Pete to bed last night, I said "don't call me for anything, I still need to eat dinner." Usually this is enough to keep things quiet, but 20 minutes later I heard him calling me.

So I had an idea. I would bring my sandwich with me to his room. Then I would cover him up, point to the sandwich, and head back downstairs.

I was just exiting his room, when I heard a faint "hey, what kind of sandwich is that?" 15 minutes of questions later, it was clear that the sandwich strategy had backfired.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hair Hair Everywhere

Do you remember the poem about "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out"? Well, replace Sarah with Pete, and replace garbage with "get his hair cut".

Here is a picture of Pete from about a week ago:

Here is my computerized projection of what he will look like by Friday:

We've been trying to explain to him how dreadfully long and messy his hair is getting. But he always twists it around to not be a big deal. Example:

Me: Did your cousins tease you about your long hair when you saw them last weekend?
Pete: No, in fact they only asked me one question about it.
Me: Oh. What question was that?
Pete: They just wanted to know how many months ago was the last time I had it cut.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Something Wonderful

Something wonderful happened this week.

It began with a nasty ice storm. It sleeted so hard on Tuesday evening that Sam was awakened at various times during the night. School was cancelled for the rest of the week. Of course, this means karate is cancelled also. We had to shovel heavy ice in frigid temperatures. While shoveling, we noticed that one of the car windows had shattered. We had to make many phone calls to get the repair scheduled. The repair place cancelled at the last minute, leaving mom and the boys unable to take the car to Virginia Beach. The best remaining option was to meet for lunch and swap vehicles, so dad could work on clearing out the shards of the broken window and patch it until such time that we can re-schedule the repair.

So we all met for lunch to swap vehicles, and had a wonderful family lunch together. I am overjoyed that a broken window gave us an unscheduled opportunity for a great lunch together.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Interactive Bedtime Stories

Once in a while I make up a bedtime story for Pete instead of reading an ordinary story. When there’s time, we do it “Choose Your Own Adventure” style, so Pete gets to determine the course of the story. The characters in the story are usually two young boys, with names like Jete and Yam or Geet and Spam.

Here are some examples of choices Pete would have in the story. See if you can decide which one Pete would choose in each example:

Jete’s mom calls him in to the house for lunch. If he puts his bike away in the garage, turn to page 35. If he leaves it out where Yam might try to ride it, turn to page 40.

If Yam puts the vegetables onto his plate, go to page 52. If he puts them into the blender, go to page 57.

If Geet sits to wait for someone to bring a key, go to page 80. If he tries to use Spam’s head as a battering ram, go to page 86.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Deliberate Practice

I thought this paper about "deliberate practice" was interesting. It addresses the myth that massively superior achievement is predicated entirely upon being born with a genetic gift. The true differentiator, according to the study, is an individual's ability to apply deliberate practice. This essentially means practicing something for many hours a day, for years, with directed goals toward greatness.

At first I found this discovery to be encouraging. This means that our children can achieve greatness, even if they are not at the top of their field at the youngest age.

But then as I thought about it, I was discouraged. You still need to be born with a rare gift. It is just the wrong gift that people look for. The gift is not skill. The gift is a rare sense of dedication.

I have come across many parents who feel that their child is one of those gifted geniuses in one field or another. Of course, it is almost impossible for them to see through their own bias. So something I would suggest for them is to think about whether they objectively find that the child will work at an endeavor for hours, pushing through frustration, showing marked, self-directed improvement over time. If so, then they really do have something exceptional.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Spotted on the Marquee

Once or twice on each episode of Drake and Josh, they flash a marquee prior to a scene at the movie theatre where Josh works. It is only on the screen for about 1-2 seconds, so I never paid any attention to the various movie names that are displayed. But yesterday Pete noticed something and asked us to rewind it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Spelling Practice

Over the weekend, we did some spelling practice at the dinner table. I printed out a list of the all-time most popular tags on Flickr, and Pete and Sam would take turns with a word. On your turn, you need to spell your word and then give a definition (without using the word in the definition). I was pleased that Pete knows how to spell words like Chicago and landscape. Sam did not fare as well.

Me: "Sam, your word is car"
Sam: "b-e-q-u-p-l"
Pete: "Well, at least he did u after q"

Then Pete gave me a word to try:

Pete: "Your word is San Francisco"
Me: "San Francisco. A large, coastal city in Northern California where the 49ers play football."
Pete: "Pretty good. Except you used the word in the definition."

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Patriotic Song

Click the picture below to see Pete singing a song he learned for a show they will be doing at school.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lo and Behold

Went searching for something on Youtube yesterday and found a surprise.

1. Go to Youtube

2. Search for "Drake and Josh". This is the name of a popular kids' TV show.
3. Scroll down on the first page of results.

When we tried this, we saw the following video with a history of 7,646 views:

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mosh Pit

If the concept of a Mosh Pit did not already exist, there is no doubt that Pete and Sam would have created it. Specifically, if you play any song by My Chemical Romance between dinner and bedtime, the living room will be instantly transformed into a mass of injury.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Spyro Skateboard

Pete called me at the office this afternoon to let me know the important news that he set a new record on Spyro Skateboarding II. He successfully performed the following moves in 2 minutes:

Half-pipe Leap
Triple Twisted Lime
Gnasty Gnorc
Double Twisted Lemon
Triple Towers
Quad Back Flip
Dr. Shemp
Thrash Master

Monday, February 05, 2007

Pretty Cool, Huh?

It does not take much for Sam to get excited. For example, a random lego creation will do.

The interesting thing I noticed when I looked back at this picture is that at the bottom of Sam's shirt is says "Pretty cool, huh?" - like a little caption for his lego thing. Too bad the shirt doesn't say what exactly it is supposed to be.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Greg Crittenden Memorial Park

We did a geocache last Saturday that was in a park just a few miles from the house.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

First Snow 2007

Last Sunday we got our first bit of snow for the year. Not much, but enough for a little bit of sledding on the driveway and a snowman.