Oh! That’s why!

Originally Posted in Dec. 2010

If you answer enough “But why?” questions, you get a prize, apparently.

A few months ago we were riding in the car for what ended up being a 30-40 minute drive and Owen was hitting me with rapid fire questions the entire trip. It’s a stereotypical scene we’ve all heard about kids. They ask a billion questions, many of them starting with “why?”. But as a parent, a.k.a official tour guide for new arrivals to Planet Earth, I feel it is my responsibility to answer as many questions as I can, as accurately as I can. And if the answer ends up being “Look buddy, Daddy really needs to focus on driving right now, I will answer all of your questions later.” then so be it. But as a rule, I try to answer them all, as they happen.

As we passed a hay field about three quarters of the way to our final destination I had to answer about 8 of them about the bails of hay in the field. What are those? Who made them? But why?

But why? But why? But why?

After my answer for the last one, Owen said: “Oh! I didn’t know that!” And he had no further questions (your honour).

So what? For the other fifty million question that day, he was just testing me. But on question #8 about hay, I rocked his world!?!

Too funny.

Interesting facts about hay (should you ever need them):

The most common way to store hay is called the square bale. These are actually rectangular and can weigh anywhere from 50-70 lbs. These are both easy to handle and to store. They are bound with either baling twine, a very strong multi-ply synthetic twine, or wire.

Tower-Bridge-hayA weird use for hay out of London. Whenever there is work being done on the Tower Bridge (which spans the Thames river near the Tower of London), the Port of London Authority by-laws require that a bail of hay be suspended from the bridge.

Also, hay is not a single crop. It is cut from legumes such as clover, alfalfa, and soybeans and from grasses such as timothy, upland grasses, and midland grasses. Even cereals such as rye, oats, and barley may be cut and cured as hay. Some hay fields, such as alfalfa and red clover, produce two…

Alright that’s enough…

…you’ll have to do your own research about hay. I’m done.

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From the Mouths of Babes. Episode 485

Originally posted in Nov 2010

My wife was putting Owen to bed one night last week. She told him to have a good sleep and that we’d give his Grandpa a call in the morning to wish him a happy Birthday.

“Mommy, how old is Grandpa?”, he asked rubbing his eyes sleepily.

“Well, Grandpa is 65 years old.”

He sat up and exclaimed, “You gotta be kidding me!”

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The Moment of Truth Approaches

It’s time…almost.

I’ve resurrected all of the original blog posts that I want to save. I have extracted them from the weird voodoo web code from the site the blog was previously hosted on, that I could neither understand nor use. All that remains to polish up the last 4 or 5 posts worth recycling.

Then it’s time to produce some new material.

No problem.

I hope.

Thanks for being patient as I’ve trotted out all these oldies. I will try to write some material about the years in between these old posts and the here and now, but the bulk of what you see after this week should be all new stuff, regardless.

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Too much…

Originally Posted Dec 2010 

One day a couple of years ago, when Owen was two years old, he’d had ice cream for a snack at Day Care and he was very excited about it when I picked him up.  He was trying to convince me that we should go home and have some more ice cream right away.  While I’d normally be down for such a delicious endeavour, we had some errands to run that day.

I told him we needed to go and get groceries and that we might go to the book store too and play with the train set there.  That got his attention – trains are crack for toddlers, in case you didn’t know.  Especially a certain steam engine whose name rhymes with Lomass.

Then there was some discussion about the order we should make those stops in, but he finally agreed that my plan (book store and then Groceries) would be fine… …as long as we went home for ice cream first.  And here I’d thought he’d been safely distracted away from the ice cream!

I agreed (since, if I was honest, I wanted ice cream too now that he’d made me think of it) and so we did that.  After our ice cream we headed out for the book store.  While we were driving, Owen suggested that we come back home after groceries and have another ice cream.

I told him that if he ate too much ice cream he’d turn into a frog.  I expected this to confuse him.  Instead, as I glanced in the rear-view mirror, I saw him smirk and then he said that if I ate too much ice cream I’d turn into a bird.  I chuckled at this game I’d inadvertently started and told him that birds can fly, so that might actually be fun.  He agreed and added, “Owen turn into a froggy, he go swimming in da water, might be fun too!”  He still talks about himself in the third person, which is cute at this age… douchey in adulthood, but we’ll worry about that if he’s still doing it in five years.

At the book store, he played nicely with the other kids there and he was very well behaved in the grocery store too.  After we’d shopped and got back in the car Owen brought up ice cream again, and insisted that if we ate too much ice cream it would now be HIM that turned into a bird and ME that would turn into the frog.  He also speculated that it could be possible that he might turn into an elephant.

I assured him that this only happened when one ate too much spaghetti.  After which he reasonably assumed that if he were to eat too much pizza he’d turn into a monkey; a fact which I confirmed for him.  And too much peanut butter, of course, would turn him into a squirrel.

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Charities and Older Women

Originally posted Nov 2010

A canvasser came to our door tonight for a very worthwhile charity.   I won’t name it here because it doesn’t matter.  But if you think of a well-known international charity that specializes in championing human rights causes you could probably guess it in three tries (first two don’t count).  And while their cause is a very good one, I’ve decided long ago that I don’t give anything to anyone who comes to my door.  Not because I don’t give money and/or time to Charities and not because I have any trust issue with door-to-door sales or pitch people.

I don’t give anything to anybody who comes to my door for the same reason that I don’t give food to squirrels.  Because they’ll only keep coming back.  And they’ll tell their friends to come too!  And eventually, they’ll become a problem and start nesting in my attic and stealing cable from me.

While I try my best to never give them anything or sign up for anything, the odd time I may let them do their spiel.  If they seem really nice and aren’t too pushy I might ask them questions and in the end I’ll ask about a website.  If what they were talking about really did seem worth looking into, I might even use the website they give me.

This might seem cold, but like I’ve said above I already do give to worthwhile charities, I just prefer to find them on my own.  Because, squirrels…remember?

I have been weak and given money the odd time…kids are tough to say no to.  Chocolate bars are hard to say no to as well…      …besides, those are usually one-offs. They don’t keep coming back or tell other school fundraisers which houses are more likely to pay out.

Tonight it was just Owen and myself in the house. My wife was out for the evening learning the mysteries of glass bead making.  So when I answered the door tonight, I had a curious 4 year old peaking around my legs at the young lady who’d rang our doorbell.  As I listened to the spiel, Owen was sneaking around me, jumping outside in socked feet, trying to push the door I was holding open even farther open, running back and forth to his toy box to present more toys to our visitor and, in hindsight, doing just about everything possible to get himself noticed by the young lady at the door.

She was friendly, polite and very tolerant of this short person interrupting her spiel and in fact it barely seemed to throw her at all.  She’d just smile at him and keep on going.

So I asked questions and let her talk. And at the end I pulled the web site tactic. She told me the website and we said goodbye. Before she walked off I asked Owen if he wanted to say goodbye. He did and she smiled and turned to leave.  Then Owen pushed the outside door open quickly and blew her a big noisy kiss! MMMmmmwaaaaaah!  She turned back and rewarded him a big smile and we closed the door. Little charmer…

Once we came back into the house Owen suggested we invite “that girl” back to our house again and next time we should let her in.  She had to be at least 16 years his senior.  So when she’s 40, he’d be 24.  Sort of a Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher thing…

It’d make for a good story at their wedding reception!

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Things that used to be awesome

Originally posted 15 Dec 2010

Do you have fond memories of a certain toy? Maybe it’s a game you used to love playing or a tv show you loved as a child.  Have you ever had the chance to revisit that show or game or toy and only to find that it’s not nearly as awesome as you once thought?  One surprise (among many) for me, as a new father, was that some things that used to be awesome, somehow seem to suck now!

Either time had done something to these things or it had done something to me.

Play Dough

This could easily have beat out Lego for the toy that I played with most as a child and over the biggest range of age groups.  My Mom would even make play dough for us to use.  But for some reason, as a Dad, Play Dough seems to suck and I dread having to get it out for Owen to play with.Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.57.38 AM

For one thing, it stinks now.  Literally.  I never remembered such a strong chemical smell to my Play Dough we had as children.

And then there’s the mess! Even once you’ve put it all back in the containers, there are still little tiny chunks of it that turn up afterwards. No matter how careful you are! I’ll be sitting at the table having breakfast two or three days after we played with Play Dough and as I lift my arm from the table to bring food to my mouth I see the bottom of my arm has a case of green and blue measles!

Cartoons

Remember that show you loved when you were a kid and your parents always hated to watch it with you?  Man, were they ever stupid for not liking that awesome show right?

WRONG! They didn’t like that show, because it sucked. You were just too young and didn’t care about things like plot, dialogue and a show that makes sense. They were adults and it drove them bananas.

There are a few exceptions in every generation, I suppose (Animaniacs comes to mind), but overall you’d be better off leaving your favorites from the past safely buried in your rose-coloured memory.  Don’t believe me?  Go ahead and revisit one or two of your favorites but be warned: you might want to do it when your kids aren’t around in case they take a liking to it before you realise how incredibly right I am about this.

Not that new cartoons are any better. Super Hero Squad snagged Owen’s interest about a year ago. Luckily I got him diverted on to other things before my wife and I gouged our own eyes out. And don’t even get me started on the Animal Mechanicals, that Sasquach guy is such a douche!  I just wanted Komodo to totally go mechana-crazy on him one day…

Or how about the Smurfs?  Ok, the Smurfs might never have been “awesome.” But I did enjoy them. As an adult, I’ve watched some of the old cartoons and I was shocked by how much I hate that show. There’s one main reason: those Smurfs are a bunch of A-holes! purple_smurfs_papa1They’re mean to each other! And at first I thought maybe I was just viewing it through modern PC goggles. I’m not a particularly PC guy, but maybe my modern sensibilities were colouring my experience. But as I watched more and more, I came to hate them all. Even Papa Smurf, who supposedly loves all of the other Smurfs. Bastard.  I hope Gargamel and Azrael eat every last one of them. The new movies rehabilitate them of course. But I know their roots, they’re not fooling me.

Transformers.  There was pretty much nothing cooler when I was 9 or 10 years old. Whether we’re talking about the toys, the tv show or the movie (I’m talking the 1986 animated one, not one of those Michael Bay ones). As an adult I find the toys ridiculously difficult to transform (I swear it’s not just my age!). As a kid, I remember following the instructions once…maybe twice and then you had it down. As an adult, I can follow the instructions and it still doesn’t work out right. The TV show is still mildly fun, but very badly written and often has many of those glitches that are unique to the pre-computer age of animated cartoons. Like repeating sequences over and over in different contexts and hoping we don’t notice the scenery and action are exactly the same, only the dialogue has changed. The movie holds up the best overall, despite its many flaws. But still not as cool as it was that time I saw it in theater in ’86.

Games
When I was a kid, we had a lot of board games. I LOVED to play board games. And my favorite to play was Mouse Trap because it had this big elaborate machine and, if all of it went right, the mouse trap cage would fall and hopefully catch one of your opponents underneath it.  My parents for some reason, never seemed to want to play it with me…

The trap was of course the whole point of the game for me.mousetrap

You turned a crank, which rotated a vertical gear connected to a horizontal gear, that gear pushed an elastic-loaded lever, which hit a swinging boot. That caused the boot to kick over a bucket, sending a marble down a zig-zagging incline which fed into a chute. The marble then hit a vertical pole, at the top of which was an open hand, palm-up, which knocked a larger ball through a hole in its platform into a bathtub, and then through a hole in the tub onto one end of a seesaw. That launched a diver on the other end into a tub which was on the same base as the barbed pole that supported the mouse cage. The movement of the tub would (hopefully) shake the cage free from the top of the pole and allow it to fall.  Was that a bit complicated sounding? Was it a bit of a pain to read?  Now imagine setting it up for your kids. Now remember that one of the points of the game is that the mouse trap doesn’t always work.   So imagine setting it up 15-20 times for a single game! No wonder my parents never wanted to play it!

Another game I loved as a kid, but we never owned, was called Hungry Hungry Hippos.  I had played it at a friend’s house when I was 6 or 7 and it was on every Christmas list I had from then until I turned 10 or so. And I never got it.  So when Owen was three he got it for Christmas from my wife and I. It didn’t take long for me to regret that decision.

THE NOISE! Marbles rolling around on plastic, plastic hippos slapping down on the plastic game top, the extendable plastic neck pieces scraping by each other, the plastic handles being slammed down by little hands! I could go down to the basement and still hear it like it was on top of my skull!

I HATE Hungry Hungry Hippos!
Hungry, Hungry Hippos = Grumpy, Grumpy Daddy!

Having said all that, I do realise that my son enjoys these things, just like I enjoyed equally annoying things when I was a child.  So I remind myself of how happy it made me when my parents would play Mouse Trap with me, or allow me to watch that really awesome (at least to me) show that I liked. And so I suck it up and we play the game or watch the show. I even pretend to like it.

Sometimes I even do.  And sometimes I get to introduce Owen to something that was awesome then and is still awesome now.

Star Wars anyone?

How about you?

I there anything you used to love as a kid, that just doesn’t live up to your memories?

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False Alarm!

Originally posted in September 2010.

I was driving Owen to school this morning.  As he was climbing into the back seat, he paused and bent over to pick something up off the floor of the car.  I did my best impersonation of a patient father, as the time until I would be late for an important meeting at work ticked closer and closer.  What he’d found turned out to be an insert from a Discover magazine I’d purchased a couple of weeks before.  You know, those little cards that offer you a sweet deal on subscriptions for you and your family to the magazine you’re reading and possibly fifty others.

He insisted that he needed to read this as we drove.  I had no reason to object.  Discover magazine doesn’t touch on anything more violent than the Large Hadron Collider or racier than an article about male water striders summoning predators to blackmail females into mating with them.  And even those are not likely to be covered in depth on this subscription insert thingy.

And also he’s three years old.  He can read four words and one of them is his name.

So I strapped him in with his reading material and off we went.  About half way to school he told me to drive faster because the city was going to blow up in 3 seconds!

“Really?”, I asked.

“Yup, it says in this book.” he said, holding up the subscription insert for me to see in the rear-view.

That was almost two hours ago, so if you haven’t already evacuated you’d better move fast, as it’s sure to happen any second now!

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