Today is World Thinking Day for the global Girl Scout/Girl Guides movement, and what that means in practical terms is that, during my six-year-old’s Daisy troop meeting last night, several of the parents got drafted into making swap items for the girls to swap with other Girl Scout troops at the event all the local troops are attending tonight.  (The girls themselves couldn’t make the swap items because, firstly, they were busy making Valentine’s Day crafts, and perhaps somewhat more importantly, the swap items involved melting poker chips on a grill and then drilling a hole through them with a power drill.)

The chips had already been melted when we got there, into flat metal discs; so now, they needed someone to drill a hole through the centre of each one, through which yarn would then be strung and tied into a loop.  (The end result is rather cute.)  The other two or three mums there immediately volunteered to do the threading and tying, so since clearly none of them wanted to operate the drill, I figured that I as the only male there should step up and volunteer for that job.

I want to be clear here: this was a really easy, unchallenging drill job.  Each plastic piece just needed to be held firmly in place and have a small hole drilled through its centre.  What happened next is due entirely to my own incompetence.

Reader, on my third plastic disc, I power-drilled a hole straight into the palm of my hand.  Specifically, into the fleshy bit right below my index finger.

It hurt (it still hurts now), but it didn’t go deep enough to cut into sinew or bone.  It just bled.  And boy did it bleed.  I could not get it to close.  It soaked through the band-aid pretty quickly, and blood just kept streaming down my fingers.  Also I felt incredibly foolish and just wanted us to stop talking about it while I kept on drilling (as I insisted on doing), but all the mums were exceptionally freaked out by it and kept asking if I was all right.

(As Lisa said when I told her later how dumb I felt and that I really just wanted everyone to stop talking about it, “Honey, they all have husbands.  They expect you to be that dumb.”)

Anyway, the upshot of this story is that a hundred or so plastic discs now have holes drilled in them, almost none of them have blood stains on, and I’m now completely up to date with my tetanus shots.


Birthday quiz

It’s my birthday today.  Lisa and the kids wrapped my presents in brown paper bags, which they decorated themselves.  On one of them Lisa wrote a quiz about me and recorded the answers the kids gave when she asked them.

photo(4)Q: What’s Dad’s favorite color?
Girl: Orange
Boy: Red

Red and black are the correct answers.

Q: What does Dad like to eat?
Girl: Dinner!
Boy: Tortellini

Q: What does Dad like to watch on TV?
Girl: I don’t know. I just can’t right now.
Boy: Soccer

Q: What does Dad like to drink?
Girl: I don’t know I said!
Boy: Tea

Q: What did you get Dad for his birthday?
Girl: I know–a card!


Girl and the secret world of crossing guards

Girl and I go up to Boy’s school twice a day, when we drop him off in the mornings and pick him up again in the afternoons, so as far as she’s concerned, the crossing guard is always monitoring the intersection at the school car park.  The first time it snowed this past winter, on a Sunday morning, we took her out for a walk, and our route ended up taking us to the school.  She expressed confusion and dismay that the crossing guard wasn’t there.

She had the same reaction this past Friday when we went up there around lunchtime, to eat lunch with Boy on his birthday.  “Hey!” she exclaimed as we crossed the deserted intersection onto school grounds.  “Where’d the crossing guard go?”

“It’s not time for the crossing guard to be here,” I said.  “Probably she went home.”

“Yeah!” she agreed.  (She’s in the habit, if you provide her with information, of acting like she is the one informing you.)  “She’s at home with all the other crossing guards!”

Then this morning, we had two crossing guards at the school entrance–one standing on the corner, supervising, while a trainee directed traffic from the centre of the intersection.  Some time after we dropped Boy off and returned home, Girl came up to me.  “There were two crossing guards today,” she told me.  “They love each other!  And they’re girls!”

I gently corrected both of these assumptions.  (The trainee crossing guard had, in fact, been a dude.)  A short time later, Girl came up to me again.

“There were two crossing guards!  One’s a girl, and one’s a boy.  They’re friends.  Just like Mum and Dad.  And they have baby crossing guards!”


And as a housecrasher, he has really poor manners

We’ve just moved. We closed on a house last weekend, and we moved all our stuff over this weekend.  It’s a local move, but it’s a move from a two-bedroom flat to a three-bedroom house, so we’re very happy with it.

Today, in addition to Moving Day, was also Girl’s third birthday.

And it was the first match of the new season for Boy’s soccer team.  In fact, the movers were still bringing stuff into our house when it was time to leave for the match, so Lisa took him on her own while Girl and I hung out at the house.  After the movers finished and left, it was just the two of us.  She was in the basement watching TV while I was doing a little unpacking on one of the upper levels.

She came running up to me.  “There’s an alligator downstairs!  Dad, there’s an alligator downstairs!”

Of course my immediate assumption was that she was playing pretend, but I gave her a second glance when I realised how genuinely frightened she looked.  “Can you show me where the alligator is?” I asked.

She looked at me like I was a moron.  “No.”

So I headed down to the basement.  And stopped at the top of the stairs, when I saw a little guy who looked very much like this on the bottom step.  Her alligator.

I went to get a couple of cups to trap and release the thing, but it had vanished by the time I got back–presumably into the AC vent that’s right next to where it was scurrying around.  So I told Girl it had gone, but she wouldn’t return to the basement without me holding her hand.  My luck, she’ll be the one who finds it again in three days.

I’d actually seen one of these lizards (very possibly the same one) crawling across our front doorstep last night, and I took note of it because I’ve lived on the banks of the Potomac River for eight years now, and this was the first time I’ve seen a lizard like that around here.  Like a little, creepy-crawly piece of Florida running around my yard.


Hopefully she won’t end up murdering my father-in-law, then being possessed by his ghost

After posting

to Twitter last week, it suddenly occurred to me–hey, it would be awesome to dress Girl as St Alia of the Knife for Dragon*Con this year.

Not sure how we’d do the Fremen eyes. The rest of it should be pretty straightforward, and she loves dressing up


The Zero Hour
Words yesterday: 4792
Words total: 19,250

Time spent writing: 2pm-4pm; 6pm-8.30
Reason for stopping: tapped out
Darling: She gave him a smile–a sad one–to acknowledge that he had at least attempted subtlety in asking about her husband.
Words that boggled Word: catalogue, doorframe
New words today: spats, dwelling, fingerless


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This weekend we headed down to Williamsburg for MarsCon.  I can’t do a pictorial overview like I did for DragonCon, because there’s much less spectacle and therefore fewer pictures.  But everyone had a great time.  Lisa, I think, liked it especially because it’s such a smaller scale than DragonCon–there were about twelve hundred guests–and therefore she didn’t have to deal with crowds, of which she’s no fan.

Lisa and a lifesized Cassandra
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We went to a few things we wouldn’t have gone to at DragonCon, like the bellydancing show and the charity auction (both at Boy’s instigation), and really enjoyed ourselves.  Girl especially enjoyed herself at the auction–she figured out the game and started raising her hand every time a new bid was called for.  And the kids’ programming we went to–a kids’ science activity session and a how-to-draw Star Wars characters session–were small enough that the kids actually got to interact with the presenters.

Three Doctor Who cosplayers
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I was gratified at the profile Doctor Who had around the con.  The most common costumes were zombies, because that was this year’s theme, and steampunk, because that’s the trendy fashion nowadays.  But once we get into the specific franchise costumes, there were about four or five Star Wars costumes, four or five Star Trek costumes, and at least two dozen Doctor Who costumes.  Who was also the only TV/movie franchise to get its own dedicated panel, albeit one that was rather dampened by the one attendee who shouted down anyone who mentioned the programme’s current production era without expressing hatred for Moffatt’s approach to Doctor Who.

A Dalek cosplayer
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So we’ll be heading back again next year–and hopefully we’ll have the sense to book a hotel room when we pre-register for the con, in which case the hotel won’t be sold out by the time we go looking for a room.  As it was we stayed two miles up the road from the Holiday Inn where MarsCon was held, and yet somehow there two more Holiday Inns between us and them.  Seriously, three Holiday Inns in a two-mile stretch on one road.

The bellydance show
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Elmo pyjamasAs Lisa tells the story, she was wandering through the men’s department at Target, wondering what the kids could get me for Christmas, when Girl suddenly started shouting, “Elmo!  Dad, Elmo!  Elmo, Dad!”

She’d spotted a set of Elmo pyjamas (she’s obsessed with Elmo despite never having seen an episode of Sesame Street) and had been able to tell that they were sized for me, and not for, say, Lisa.  So that became my Christmas present from Girl.

I often wear sweatpants at home, so I figured the pants could just be another pair of sweatpants to add to my rotation.  The shirt is essentially just a t-shirt, so I decided it would be the Elmo t-shirt that I, as a funky, ironic guy and a cool dad, happen to own and occasionally wear.

Boxing Day night, after Boy and I had got home from seeing Tintin, I went into the bedroom and changed into the Elmo pants, then headed out into the living room to see if Girl noticed.  She did–her face split into a huge grin.  And then it started.

“Elmo!  Dad, Elmo shirt!  Elmo t-shirt, peas!  Elmo shirt!”

“Do I … have to wear the shirt as well?”  I was kind of surprised she even remembered that there was a shirt to go with them.

“Yes peas!  Elmo t-shirt, Dad!”

So I went into the bedroom and got the t-shirt and put it on over the t-shirt I was already wearing.  Half an hour or so later, I happened to be in the bedroom again, and I took the Elmo shirt off.  I headed back out to the living room and sat down at my computer.  Girl gave no reaction, and I figured she hadn’t noticed.

A few moments later, though, she was at my side, and I assumed she wanted to sit in my lap.  Without really looking away from the computer screen, I reached out to pick her up.  But instead, she pressed a bundle of fabric into my hands.

The Elmo shirt.  Which she’d gone into the master bedroom to retrieve.

“Here go!  You’re problem!”  (That’s her mishmash of you’re welcome and no problem.)

So I wore the shirt until she went to bed that night, because really, that was clearly the most painless option for everyone.

So glad I have a member of today’s youth monitoring my look.  Now I’m dreading when she’s thirteen and decides to give her mother and me makeovers.


The todder and the wasp

Over the past few days, Girl has learnt most of her body parts, so this morning, when I had her stood up on her changing table, I was reviewing them with her. “Where’s your nose? Where’s your head? Where are your feet? Where’s your tummy?”

She got them all right, including one or two I didn’t know she’d know, so I said, “High five!” and she gave me a high five with her hand at shoulder height.

Then, out of the blue, she held her hand up for a successive high five, stretching her arm as high above her head as she could reach.  “Up high!”

A few minutes later, as I was busily typing this adorable story to Diane over the Instant Messenger, Girl got up from where she was sitting playing with an annoying talking toy on the floor, ran over to me, and handed me a giant piece of carpet fuzz or something.

Absentmindedly, I took it from her and deposited it on the table next to me.

And at that point, noticed it was a wasp.

Like, an alive wasp.

I’m not going to lie.  There may have been a bit of screaming like a girl, and a bit of running across the living room flapping my hands in terror.  When I got back, the wasp was trying to climb inside my laptop by way of the USB port.  So I killed it dead.

I’m going with the theory that it came in when I told Boy off for standing with the front door open on the way out to school this morning.  Because the only alternatives I can think of are that we’ve had a wasp in our home all night, or that wasps have free access to our home.

So, when he held the door open this morning.


Contact with my lens

Girl likes to point at people’s facial features and name them. “Nose! Ears! Cheeks!” Her favourite is, “Eye!”

Last night, she walked up to me while I was lying on the couch, and like lightning, her little dagger of a finger snaked under the lens of my glasses and stabbed me right in the eyeball. “Eye!”

If you’re ever in a bar fight against someone bigger, I recommend striking them right in their eye. If I’d been standing, she’d have dropped me right onto the floor. As it was I jerked back and then writhed on the couch, hands clutched over my eye, screaming in (manly) pain.

Lisa tells me that Girl stared at me for a long time in silence. Then her lip began to tremble. Then her whole body started quivering. Then she, too, started screaming, and ran into Lisa’s arms. She didn’t know what had happened, but she knew she’d hurt me.

After ten or fifteen minutes, the incredible, (literally) blinding pain subsided, but not really. It continued to feel like I was being stabbed in the eye, at a point midway between my pupil and the bridge of my nose, every time my eyelid moved.

Which meant that this afternoon, I ended up at the doctor’s, to be diagnosed with a scratched cornea. It was actually feeling much better, though I was given an antibiotic eye ointment that makes it sting again pretty badly for an hour or so. I have to take that four times a day.

I’ve spent a lot of time today lying down with my eyes closed, basically for lack of anything else to do. I can’t read, and I can’t look at a screen, and I can’t go outside–the eye is damn sensitive to light. TCM’s Memorial Day marathon of twentieth-century war movies took on a whole new dimension (actually, I guess, lost a dimension) when watched with my eyes closed.

I excerpt here from the ointment’s application instructions:

Pull the lower eyelid away from your eye to form a pouch. Squeeze a thin strip of ointment into the pouch.


When Nana happens: PINKIFIED

My daughter before my mother and sisters visited for Thanksgiving:

Abigail in Gator coat, jeans and sneakers

My daughter after my mother and sisters visited for Thanksgiving:

Abigail in pink leopard print coat, black leggings and pink boots


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