Sunday, October 30, 2011

Scare Tactics

Ever since Avey really started getting into movies and such, she always showed a preference for the more intense scenes - or at least as intense as it can get in a G-rated flick. We let her watch something brief whenever we need her to hold still so we can do her hair. For a long time when we would ask her what she wanted to watch, she would respond, "Something really scary!" It seems our daughter is a bit of an adrenaline junky. It should come as no surprise, then, that she has been into Halloween in a big way. For example, she requested a "really scary" jack-o-lantern design this year:
 My own creation is below, largely plagiarized from The Nightmare Before Christmas:
 Of course, Avey is still a princess at heart, so she chose to be Rapunzel this year. Luckily she opted to leave her frying pan at home. I, never breaking from the formula, stuck with my nerd ensemble:
 Kira chose to dress as a modest Flamenco dancer:
Lately Avey has developed an interest in all Halloween-themed monsters and spooks. She wanted me to tell her a story about zombies during dinner the other day, and begged us to wrap her up with toilet paper so she could pretend to be a mummy. She's also frightened our local relatives with her Frankenstein's monster face. It's quite terrifying, let me assure you.

Naturally, her favorite part of the season is the candy that has suddenly become available. As any good parents would do under similar circumstances, Kira and I will help her get her candy stash under control.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Man vs. Machine

A few pairings come to mind here: Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence, Johann Sebastian Bach and "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight, and few others. The pattern here is brilliance completing a masterpiece - where mere mortals begin to mingle with infinity, where the raging potential within our humble frames can no longer be contained and must come bursting forth, demanding to be free. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we may now add to this exclusive list, "Eli and his PC". 
This bee landed in my andric version of a bonnet several weeks ago when I got thinking we really need two functional computers now that I'm in school and Kira has a calling that is heavy on the paperwork. As I got looking into what's on the market these days I just wasn't finding anything that was quite right. Finally, I took to heart the old adage, "If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself." After (a lot of) emails consulting my younger brother, who has tread this ground before, I took it upon myself to build a computer from scratch. Hours of research yielded the proper parts, and when they all arrived, I (panicked a little bit and then) confidently performed the nearly surgical procedure to build the perfect machine. When the moment of truth came, my heart beating like a bass drum, my palms sweating, and not a breath escaping my diaphragm for fear of the tension in the room... nothing happened. No fans turning, no lights blinking, no tones beeping. No fireworks bursting. No parades jubilating. I could feel the stroke coming on until I decided to reexamine my work before tossing the whole stupid tin can into the garbage and fleeing to my room to sulk and binge. Within a few seconds it occurred to me that I may have wrongly connected the fan's power in two places, thus preventing any current from flowing. I unplugged one end, and pulled the switch again, this time shouting to the heavens, "Give my creation life!" a la Dr. Frankenstein.

I then drank the sweet nectar of success, squeezing out every last drop into my parched mouth. And I was filled. My machine lived. It and I were instantly bound - two beings of one mind and purpose - our only goal to produce hyperbolic blog posts with slightly faster speed than had ever been experienced by humankind (or so I assume). Consider yourselves warned.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reverse Psychology

It seems that most parents resort to reverse psychology at some point in their care-taking careers. The idea is that you behave as if you want the child to do the exact opposite of what you really want her to do. Avey caught on to this about 6 months ago, but she always treats it like some kind of game (which it is, I suppose). These days she insists that we use reverse psychology with her. 
 At meals, for example, she calls to me from her chair while I'm preparing my meal. In that melodic, I'm-up-to-something tone of voice she sings, "Oh DAAAAaady, come look at my plAAAAaaate." I will cautiously approach, feigning ignorance at the reason for such a beckoning. Avey smiles a knowing, naughty smile and gestures toward her plate, which is apparently missing a minuscule fragment of beef, chicken, cracker, or broccoli. She directs me, "Now get mad."

I muster up an Oscar-worthy performance; "What are you doing, eating that food right in front of you! That food is just to look at! You spit that out on the floor right now!" All the while Avey giggles with delight at successfully getting my goat. I return to my preparations, and this mystical dance continues a dozen times or so until the food is finally gone.
At this point, of course, we're willing to go along with whatever, just so long as the food gets in her stomach somehow.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


As languages go, English is a pretty quirky one. You may have received one of those emails jesting about the inconsistencies of our plurals (e.g., mouse = mice, but house = houses), or the double and sometimes triple meanings of some words (e.g., "Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present."). But one thing that really sets English apart from other languages is the rarest phoneme in the world. The "r" sound we make every day with words like "road", and "farmer", and others is far rarer in language than even the clicking sounds found in some southern and eastern African languages. While many languages have the letter "r" in their lexicon, the English "r" makes a different sound than the Spanish or German "r", for example, and is the rarest vocalization as far as its prevalence in languages.
The unfortunate result of this linguistic oddity is that those who attempt to learn the language have to master the subtle muscle movements of the mouth and throat that produce that sound on demand. That's quite a bit of pressure to put on the little ones who are already attempting to master a thousand other things. The "r" is one thing that our Avey has put on the back burner so far while working on items such as planning her career (princess), organizing her inventory of toys (anywhere on the floor), and conning her father into telling her stories off the top of his head.

Just in the last couple of weeks we've tried to draw her attention to the tiny detail of the English "r". She didn't seem to hear the difference at first, but then she could get it if she tried really hard. In the last couple of days she's caught her misuse of the letter "w" in places it doesn't go. She's getting better at correcting herself, and slowly words like "real" are beginning to sound less like "wheel".

* * *

Avey's Nana made her a beautiful quilt for her birthday and had the brilliant idea of making a "magic" pocket in one of the squares. In this square will appear a prize of some sort on mornings after Avey has been particularly obedient. Her biggest prize thus far was a magnifying glass! She's been running around the house checking everything out with it. Yesterday, while she and I were waiting to go on a drive, she wanted to inspect things outside. She asked how the magnifying glass works, and I tried to explain that it bends the light. Then I noticed a discarded Popsicle stick in the rocks. I showed her how the sunlight, when bent to one small point on the Popsicle stick, can make it so hot that it burns. She was awestruck at this magic, so at every stop on our outing she requested to burn another little spot onto the stick. Luckily she hasn't got the hang of it yet to do on her own, but I'm beginning to worry I've lit a spark (pun completely intended) in her for pyromania. We'll just have to keep an eye on her to make sure she's not setting fires in her car seat while we drive.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Quite possibly the best birthday ever! Avey decided that to celebrate she wanted to go swimming. We didn't think this would be much of a problem because, hey, we live in Texas. However, our limited experience in Texas has involved mostly temperatures up to and including 103 degrees. The day we chose to swim it was a balmy 83 or so, and the pool water was freezing! Luckily my 12-year-old cousin came along and was able to put lots of energy into Avey's games while Kira and I moaned and groaned and shivered. 

She is thrilled with all of her generous gifts! Here are a few highlights we got on video (we didn't record all of them):
As one might imagine, she requested a chocolate cake with green frosting. As I was coloring the frosting to get it the right shade, she told me to stop at a very light, mint color. I'm not sure the picture does it justice, but it looked more like key lime pie filling. Tasted great though, thanks to Pillsbury
She was also pleased to receive a Rapunzel costume, so that she can be a more authentic version of her latest obsession. Later while she was playing she gasped and turned to me, "Daddy! I don't have a Pascal toy to help me be Rapunzel!" We found a stand-in and she could continue her fantasy.
Probably what she loved the most was the love and affection from her relatives. Thank you for the cards and notes. She is so glad to have you in her life!

Now let's hope this next year is longer than the last...