Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Holidays - an Interlude

I will continue with my saga, but want to talk about a couple of things first. I bathed the kids again this morning, which was a good thing because Sam had been wearing his same pajamas for the four days running since Christmas and I was worrying about them actually sticking to his skin.

PJ has been on an extended Xbox bender. He's been living in the basement and has actually started to look a little like Gollum, with his big eyes and pale skin. He said to me this morning after taking a shower, "Dad, do you know what sport you'd be good at?"

"No, what sport, PJ?" I said, thinking to myself, this ought to be good."

"You'd be a good Sumo Wrestler."

"Why a Sumo Wrestler?"

"Because you're fat, and you have lots of energy."

You can not make this stuff up. (smile) I am just surprised he didn't follow up the fat part with "no offense", his favorite saying of late.

Mike and Loretta and Molly and Andrew are visiting us this morning, for a few days, which should be fun. We also need to do some cleaning, and I need to prep the kids cars for the pinewood derby. But more on that later. Back to the saga.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Holidays, part one

Let me start with a time line for these Christmas holidays. The weekend before Christmas we packed up everything and headed down to Swoope, Va for the weekend at the 'cow house', or Ed and Rita's property just west of Staunton, Va. We had a great time, and hung out with all of Kathleen's family, and I even got a chance to play some poker. Other than that we just hung out (all of us, about 20 or so) and ate food all weekend. Love that country ham. Yum.

Then, I went to work for a couple of days. I took Wednesday off for Dad-day. Dad-day is what the kids call it anyways. Third year running in the tradition of taking the little crazies out and leaving mom at home to cook, or decorate, or clean. Who's kidding who, she's got that bottle of Amaretto under one arm is watching House re-runs. Meanwhile we all went out breakfast at IHOP, where the kind waitress who looked to be about 25 told us how nice are kids were, and she should know, she has five at home herself. After breakfast we went shopping. Anna had to get Kathleen a mixer, she had burned up the previous one a few weeks ago.

"Things you break always make a good present" I told her. PJ and Sam went in on some kitchen accessories from the 'ten and under' isle.

Then we went to the movies. We say "Bolt" in Disney 3-d, which was actually kind of cool, and I really liked the movie. I was astonished at how expensive movies have gotten. For a matinee and one large popcorn and soda for the four of us cost like sixty bucks!

After the movie we went to Chuck-E-Cheese, another fave, and killed another hour, catching and spreading disease in what must be one of the germiest places known to mankind.

Armed with some prizes from the cheapest basket in the ticket prize counter, we finally headed home, where we proceeded to bathe everybody, feed them, and go look at Christmas lights. It went something like this.

"hey! look at those lights kids? Are you sleepy yet?"

"no" they all say unison. Then repeat about a thousand times. We saw a lot of lights.

Home, kids in bed. Another holiday tradition follows. Mom and dad stay up late drinking on Christmas eve. I don't know why, its really a shitty time to stay up late drinking. Must be all the peace and joy and goodwill and such, they just make good mixers.

Then came the big day. The kids come down, after waking us up and patiently waiting for dad to fumble downstairs and to grab the DVD player. Stay tuned, because next comes Christmas day!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mom, there's a guy named John on the phone!

Kathleen was at home today and the phone rang. PJ answered the phone.
A few moments went by.

"Mom! There's a guy named John on the phone. He's a stranger. He
wants to auction off unwanted household items, on December 24th.
Could you talk to him?"

It turns out someone was calling from Value Village and wanted to pick
up donations, and this is how PJ translated it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sitting around on a Sunday

I am sitting by the fireplace on a rainy Sunday when Sam walks up to me.

"Dad, please don't tell mom that you made me my first chocolate milk."

"Don't tell mom I made you a chocolate milk this morning?"



"No reason."

Sam is only allowed to have two chocolate milks per day. He then starts to slowly back away from me.

"And there is nothing behind my back." He says, continuing to back up.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sneaking a little Ice Cream

Last night the kids had already been put to bed before I got home, but I went upstairs to tuck them in anyways. First I went into the boys room. Sam said "Dad, we're not supposed to tell you about the ice cream." Sam is terrible about at keeping a secret.

"What ice cream?"

Sam looked at me and covered his mouth with his hands. So I asked PJ. "PJ, what is this about ice cream?"

PJ looked at me, and thought for a second. "I, uh, don't know about any ice cream."

Sam blurted out, "Mom told us not to tell you about the ice cream because you would eat it all."

After tucking the kids into bed I went downstairs. Kathleen went to bed around ten. Around Ten fifteen, I was getting my second bowl of ice cream, when I heard this voice echoing down the stairway. "NO MORE ICE CREAM!" Had she been lying in bed waiting to here me open the freezer door? I stood there for a while staring at the fridge. I waited half an hour, snuck up to the freezer door, carefully opened the door a half inch. "NO MORE ICE CREAM!" The voice echoed down.

The next morning at breakfast, Kathleen scolded the children. Sam looked at me and said "Mom said to say " and he hooked his fingers into quotation marks "nothing about the ice cream."

"What do those quotation marks mean, Sam?" I asked.

"They mean you're lying!" He said proudly, smiling and nodding his head.

"I didn't eat that much ice cream." I protested.

"Look, at how much ice cream is left." Kathleen said, and showed the kids how much was left. They all looked shocked, like someone had told them the world was running out of air, or that eagles had become extinct.

"That wasn't all me!" I protested, but sensed I was losing this battle.

"Yeah, but a lot of it was." Anna said.

"Plus, the night before last you ate all the cookies." PJ said. Well, that was true.

"I have to go to work." I said and slunk out of the kitchen, ending any chance of further abuse.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Telling Jokes

I told a joke to the kids on the way home on Saturday. It was a joke I had heard on the Blues Brother album back in the seventies.

I said, "Hey, when he get home, who wants to have a wish sandwich?"

"What's a wish sandwich?" Anna asked.

"A wish sandwich is when you have two slices of bread, and you wish you had something to put between them."

Nobody laughed. Then Anna said, "Dad, when we get home I'm making lunch."

I think the kids are laughing less and less at my jokes. As they get older they are starting to become more embarrassed by me.

PJ tells a lot of jokes. Some time ago I bought him a book of "1001 Stupid Jokes" at a thrift shop for fifty cents. He has read and re-read it to the point where the pages have become dog-eared. He tells all of his jokes in a complete dead pan way.

"Dad, what happens to a lion who eats a comedian?"

"I don't know, PJ, what happens."

"He feels funny."

"That's pretty funny, PJ." I force a little laugh.

"Dad, what's a comedian?"

"That is someone who tells jokes for a living."

"So I guess I am a comedian, huh."

"Well, sure, PJ, kind of."

Then there is Sam, who doesn't know that many jokes, but has an infectious laugh and says things that are unintentionally hilarious. But on this particular occasion, he decided to tell a joke to a woman who happened to be at our house. It was a joke, that he had heard Anna and PJ telling each other during the day.

"Hey, " he said, "did you know that Uranus is a gas giant?" and then he started laughing.

Now that was pretty funny, but of course I had to hold it in and tell Sam that that wasn't an appropriate thing to say to a grown up.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

happy halloween!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
PJ and Sam were Mario and Luigi of course, while Anna was a Spaghetti Dinner. We went to the parade, and then trick or treated. My mom was down for the weekend and got to enjoy the night with us. What fun!

happy halloween!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Monday, October 20, 2008

Billy Goat Trail, MD

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
We went on a hike yesterday, PJ, Sam, and myself. The weather was magnificent. Look for PJ in the gray, and you can just catch Sam in the bottom left climbing around on the rocks.

Friday, October 17, 2008

nothing to write about

Anna was looking at my blog tonight, going back to posts I have made when she was four year old and laughing about them. She was reading some of the quotes to PJ and Sam, and they were all cracking up.

Its hard to remember to write stuff down. Something happens and its funny or cute or poignant, and you think "oh jeesh, I've really got to write that down" and then you blink and its two weeks later. Then its too late to go back and write about stuff that's already happened.

So there has been a lot happening, actually a ton of interesting stuff, so much that I don't know where to start. PJ and Sam have been doing little league, Anna has been in lacrosse. My job is changing, after a contractual dispute gave me basically two weeks paid vacation to stay at home in my pajamas with a mug of coffee and avoiding anythign productive. Every morning I would wake up and go downstairs, and Sam would ask me, "daddy, could you help me play Paper Mario?"

I would think to myself, "well, I could say no, but I really don't have anything else to do" and so I would say yes and I would 'help' Sam -- really this just means he wants me to watch him play, and occasionally read words for him.

I had a rush to the emergency room last week, thinking that I had a kidney stone. No one actually ever figured out what was wrong with me, and after a couple of hellish days i got better. Then the next week my finger got infected.

I had a chance to hang out with some friends in Las Vegas for the weekend of fun, and two weeks later Kathleen and a friend had a 'Thelma and Louise' weekend down in Charlottesville, leaving me to do further solo bonding with the children. I cut a lot of corners when its just me with the three of them, I say stuff like "you can brush your teeth when your mom's home" or "you can eat vegetables when your mom 's home."

But my vacation is over now though, and I start at my job on Monday. Kathleen's brother Edward is getting married next weekend down in Roanoke, this will be our first wedding with children in tow. Halloween approaches, one more blink and we'll be there and past into Thanksgiving. But that's all there is going now. Nothing much really. Blink.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I'll take words that mean 'said' for 800$,Alex!

Finally got the kids to bed around 9pm tonight, after a long day of hiking, followed by a wonderful barbecue with friends. But I am whipped.

"Dad" Anna was yelling down the stairs at me.

"What is it Anna?"

"What does ejaculate mean?"

What? Many thoughts raced through my mind at once, all carrying bleak connotations. "Just stay calm" I thought to myself.

"What is the context, Anna?" I said, and bounded up the stairs in maybe three steps. The context turned out to be a passage early on in the book, Pollyanna. The passage went:

"'What is going on here?' he ejaculated, waving his hands in a gesture of impotence."

So it turned out only to be a case of an author looking for just the word to replace 'said' and using something that may have had slightly different meaning when the book was written in 1913.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Samson State Park - Labor Day 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
There is something different about these last two pictures - can you spot it?

Samson State Park - Labor Day 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
If you look closely, you can sometimes see the elusive toe-headed wine-dwarf skulking about in the distance.

Samson State Park - Labor Day 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Anna borrowed my camera and took some photos of sunflowers.

Samson State Park - Labor Day 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Anna borrowed my camera and took some photos of sunflowers.

Samson State Park - Labor Day 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Anna borrowed my camera and took some photos of sunflowers

Samson State Park - Labor Day 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Samson State Park - Labor Day 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Samson State Park - Labor Day 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First day of School 2008!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
And here they are, the happy go lucky students. Wait, one, two three, four? Oh yeah, we had an extra this morning, Alec, PJ's friend.

Shouldn't Sam have shoes on?

First day of School 2008!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
... the older children, on the other hand, are much more sullen looking.

First day of School 2008!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Sam and his fellow kindergartners. They must be assuming that since their parents are so happy, this school must be a great place!

First day of School 2008!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
First year that incudes Sam, also.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Anna's room makeover!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Back in August Anna spent the week away at summer camp and Kathleen painted Anna's room, replaced the furniture and the lamps, and generally fabulized it. Anna was very pleased.

Anna's room makeover!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Friday, September 05, 2008

friends of the animals pt 1

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Anna received this note from the assistant principal, saying that she needed to go through the PTA to get permission to start this club. He also said that while food might be permissible, bringing live animals into the school would not.

Also, maybe its just me, but I have some issues with the club name.

friends of the animals pt 2

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Thursday, August 28, 2008

PJ and the Eternal Sunshine of the Wandering Mind

PJ is Zen.  He has a very Zen-like way of thinking.  He has this ability to disappear into what he is doing or what is going on around him.  In addition he also has been either blessed or cursed with the empathy of the middle child.  You can scream at Anna or Sam until you are blue in your face and they will just stare at you and blink like you area bothersome insect making noise, but if you yell at PJ and he takes it to heart.  PJ listens.  He actually hears what you say.  He'll say "I don't like it when you yell at me."  and he'll try and do what you tell him, at least until he moves on to the next thing that strikes him, eleven milliseconds later.

I love watching PJ brush his teeth.  I could do it forever.  For most children, brushing your teeth is a matter of getting it done as fast as you can possibly get away with so you can move on to the next thing.  For PJ, brushing your teeth is something to get lost in.  He stairs at himself in the mirror.  He stands there with his big eyes staring at his reflection in the mirror, his chipmunk cheeks working as he slowly and methodically brushes each tooth.  Then he just... forgets where he is.  I can come back ten minutes later and he'll still be there, staring at himself in the mirror brushing his teeth, his mind adrift in the cosmos.

One of PJ's jobs is to water the plants in the back yard.  I love to watch through the kitchen window as he goes out on the deck with his little watering can.  He'll walk out, and suddenly a bird, or a butterfly, or a bug will catch his eye and he'll become distracted.  Once distracted, there is no knowing how long he will just stand out there staring at things.  He could be out there for hours.  Then you need to remind him to finish the job, and he'll say "Oh yeah!" and snap back to the real world for a moment.

One time I asked him, "PJ, what are you thinking about?" 

He looked at me without hesitating at all and said "When I was playing Oblivion yesterday I found  a rusty shield, which doesn't have as much protection as a steel shield, but it was magically endowed with the power to ward off fire attacks.  Because my character was a Krug I had a weakness to fire.  With this shield I think I can defeat the grand champion in the arena!"

I said, "Oh."  So maybe his mind isn't vacant.  Maybe he likes to daydream.  Maybe his mind is moving around so fast that real world cannot keep up with him.   But I still like to watch him brush his teeth.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Concerts, Arcades, and other things

We took Anna to see Eddie from Ohio play at Wolftrap last night, as mentioned earlier. It was a great time for all of us. The concert started with another band I enjoy a lot, Great Big Sea.

We actually saw GBS warm up for EFO a few years back at the same stadium, but GBS must have grown in popularity, because they were sharing equal billing. Plus, GBS is a Canadian band, from Newfoundland actually, and their part of the concert felt like some kind of Celtic Canadian pride rally. There was a very prim looking fortysomething year old lady two rows behind us who started waving the Newfoundland flag and shreaking "Eeeeeeeeeeeyaaaeaaahhhhhh" in an ear splitting high voice (Anna was actually putting her fingers in her ears because of this lady). So the first part of the show was a great show made more interesting by an eclectic mix of enthusiastic northern fans.

On to EFO. Eddie From Ohio is this bluegrass-pop kind of band that Kathleen and I and some friends of ours have been going to see for some fifteen years now. They used to play at this joint in Arlington called 'Bad Habits' every Wednesday night, and it was that crowded smelly beer-soaked place that you probably remember as being more fun than it actually was. But so now, fifteen years later, they are playing at an ampitheater and we are bringing our children to see them. Life marches on I guess. It was a great time.

On Saturday I got a chance to meet someone who is way more into video games than I am. This gentleman, by the name of Peter Hirschberg who has taken his hobby of collecting arcade games to high art. He built an outbuilding outside his house to house his collection and turned it into an actual 80's style arcade. Not only that, but instead of selfishly keeping his treasures to himself, he occasionaly opens the arcade to the public. I spoke to a collector who came down from Boston, these people are serious about there games. Peter has about 60 games and houses , them in the "Luna City Arcade". But these aren't just games, these are classics, and in mint condition. The arcade is bathed in black like and retro stuff and its all beautiful. I felt like I was skipping school in 1981 and playing Missile Command down at the mall. Anna , PJ and Sam all came with me and behaved miraculously well, which worked out well because I was terrified of not being invited back.

Peter was having a fundraiser at this open house for Shawn Haines, a 21 year old who has Hodgkins disease and is having trouble meeting his medical expenses. You can read more about Shawn and how to help him here. We had a fantastic time, and I got a chance get my retro-gaming fix.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A letter from Anna at Camp

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Anna sent me this card while she was at summer camp. She evidently misses Dana more than me, but probably figured that Dana can't read, so I get the card.
Dear Dad,

Its almost my birthday! Did you like NASCAR? I love camp!! I really miss Dana!!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Drinking Games, Swallowing Quarters, and Google

Some time age I blogged about when PJ swallowed a quarter, and thankfully everything worked out fine (although I never did find that expensive coin).

I recently had the following email exchange with someone who left a comment on that old web page.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post
"PJ CHOKES ON A QUARTER -- 4.29.2004 ":

um i really hope this works...i'm pretty sure you
havent used this in like forever but i just swallowed a quarter and i
googled 'swallowing quarters' and i came across your blog and i was
just wondering if you ever found the quarter...??? like i called my
doctor and he said everything would be fine...but i'm kind of
worried...maybe if you read this you could email me at [REMOVED]

i know that this is probably like sooo bizarre to you...but i would
really find comfort in knowing everything turned out fine with your son?
thank you

How did you..? No wait I don't want to know. Anyway, now worries, if it can make it into the stomach, it can certainly find its way out. You might want to eat some small amount of white bread, as it can help move things along.

Also, I am not a doctor, so please don't think of me as any kind of authority on this. And PJ was fine.

good luck to you
--Pete Shaw

when youre 19 and playing stupid drinking games with your friends, stupid things happen...
but oh my gosh, thank you so much.
like i talked to my doctor and everything but like its totally relieving to hear that someone whos probably like 15 years younger than me was ok.
i guess i'll just wait it out. haha
thank you!!!


No problem. Maybe you should be have some bran? ROTFL.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Random links and things I have been doing...

First of all, many thanks to those who have wished me happy birthday too early!! I frequently put down my wrong birthday on public websites to make identity theft a little more difficult to perpetrate on me. Instead, I use my birth year and my daughters birthday, which happens to be a couple of weeks before mine. So if you sent me an email or a card, thank you! And its totally cool, you're just a little early. (grin)

I spent the past weekend at the Pennsylvania 500, and was simpy awed by its NASCAR awesomeness. Of course I was also without the kids and spent the weekend pretty much sitting in a chair, drinking beer, and randomly hooting and hollerin', so it was pretty hard to go too far wrong.

I am almost finished watching the movie Into the Wild, a movie by Sean Penn, based on a book by John Krakauer, about a boy named Chris McCandless, sung about by the band Eddie from Ohio in the song Sahara. Chris was from Northern Virginia and loved the outdoors, and books and reading, and his story is at once tragic and inspiring. I haven't read the book yet but the movie was awesome, as is the band EFO, who will be playing at Wolftrap this August 22. Kathleen and Anna and I will be attending. Yeah!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The basement is clean

Last night I bought the boys a version of Super Mario Brothers 3 for their WII, which cost five whole dollars. I made them promise to clean the basement today in exchange. When I got home, surprisingly, they had done so. They had done exactly what they said they would do. What a shock, and a very nice one at that.

People have started asking my wife if the boys are twins. PJ is 18 months older than Sam, and taller, but Sam is stockier and he weighs more. Now that they have been out in the sun all summer Sam's reddish hair has lightened up to the same Billy Idol blonds color PJ has. The boys are in day camp this week and loving it. Anna isn't even here, she is at sleep-over girl scout Camp down in the Allegheny mountains. Kathleen is loving all the quiet time I think.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I'm an electronics professional

We were camping this weekend.  At one point, PJ and another child were trying to watch a dvd, but it kept skipping.  (I know, if you are watching a DVD then it really can't be called camping.)

I took the DVD and washed it with soap and water.  The other child said "Hey!  My mom only uses water to wash the DVD!"

Then PJ said, "Its ok!  My dad is an electronics professional!  And if you ever have a computer virus, he's your man."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Schroon Lake 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
more photos from the beach

Schroon Lake 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
more photos from the beach

Schroon Lake 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
more photos from the beach

Monday, July 14, 2008

Schroon Lake Vacation July 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
What goes up...

Schroon Lake Vacation July 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Must come down!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Schroon Lake Vacation July 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
the water was very nice to swim in

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Getting my children to clean the basement

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
... its like herding cats.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I like the Video Games...

Sunday night Kathleen was off somewhere (probably on a bender, or possibly looking into our apartment building) and the kids and I decided to stay up and watch a movie.  The movie was "My Neighbor Totorro," a strange Japanese animated film that my kids love. 

Since we were watching a movie, I decided to make some popcorn.  Since regular butter is so greasy, sometimes we use "buttery topping", which is this buttery seasoning which comes in a spice jar and is a fine sticky powder.

I disappear downstairs for a minute or two to check on a conversion job my computer was doing.  Suddenly, I here Anna's voice through the floor.  "Dad?  You better come back up here and see this."

I run upstairs.  Sam has taken the top off the buttery seasoning and dumped it all over the TV room carpet.  The sticky powder is everywhere.  I start yelling, and take Sam and send him up to his room.  We get the mess cleaned up.  Its close to bedtime now anyway, so the remaining two kids got to watch the movie for a few more minutes before it was time for bed.

Finally I get everyone in their pajamas and into bed. I am saying goodnight to Sam, and talking to him about his misbehavior.

"Sam, You know when you behave badly like that, it makes me sad."

"That's okay Dad, because I really don't like you."


"Except for the part that likes video games.  Other than that part, I really just don't like you."

"Well, I'm sorry about that Sam, because I love you."  I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing until I got downstairs.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

a Wednesday Night without School or Anna

PJ had a tooth pulled at the dentist today.  Surprisingly, he got the novocaine, had his toothe pulled and it was no big deal.  He is such a sensitive little guy, he can be surprisingly tough and it always catches me off guard.  Sam, on the other hand, is much more thick skinned, even now.

PJ, brought home his tooth in a special plastic box from the dentist, and he was very excited about leaving it for the tooth fairy.  Sam got into the box while it was left alone for a moment, and dropped it on the kitchen floor, where it promptly dissapeared.  "Oh, sorry!"  Sam said, and raised his arms in the air.  Sam does that about forty times a day now.  Its infuriating.

We could not find the tooth.  PJ was very upset by this.  I told PJ he just needed to write a note to the tooth fairy, which he did, in his scrawling, left handed letters.  He drew a small stick figure on the right hand side of the note.  "What is that?"  I asked him.

"That's me with a sad face."  He told me, his shoulders slumped. 

"Its okay PJ."  I told him.  "Here, I'll sign the note too so the Tooth Fairy will know to believe you." 

Anna was gone for all this, sleeping over at a friends house for the second night in a row.  Despite her grating personality, she always manages to find lots of friends to play with, perhaps through force of will alone. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Lies we tell Kids

I only rarely link to external articles, but this one struck a chord with me.

Kathleen says that I have almost zero credibility with my children. They never no whether I am telling the truth or not. Consciously or not, I think that I ever wanted them to grow up trusting anything I say at face value. I want them to question me, question everything I say, question the world around them. Look for truth but expect lies at every corner.

Mostly, when I lie to my kids it is with a wink. I say to Sam, "Sam, come here I want to tell you something." and when he gets near I tickle him.

I tell PJ that there are dinosaurs at the national zoo. He knew I was wrong. I tell Anna that New York was settled before Virginia. She later finds out I was wrong. It's just a game to them. Sometime, lots of times, dad doesn't tell the truth, so listen carefully and be careful.

Its like the X-Files. Trust no one. The truth is out there.

EDIT --------------------------
(In response to Gagi's comment) To clarify -- I don't just outright lie to the kids about things that matter. For instance I wouldn't say that it's okay to cross the street without looking, or that homework doesn't matter, or its okay to hit your brother. Yes, its more to make a point, if they ask me a question I'll either answer it outright, or say something wrong, hopefully with enough information so that they can tell that its wrong. And usually I end up saying what is correct anyway.

The whole point of the article was, I think, that may times parents lie to their children without thinking about the reason for it, or that sometimes it is unnecessary. My thinking is that its important to get your kids to question everything they see and hear around them, including you.
That said, I guess its not that simple after all. It never is, is it? You need to have trust in the first place in order to play games with the truth. Hopefully Anna and PJ and Sam know to trust me. They can always ask their mom, she never lies. :^)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Found on our front porch...

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
I thought this was cute. I especially liked the "put stuff here" in the corner.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

No more old tomatoes

Yet another Sam-ism. Sam has been trying to put his foot down about
various things, usually not eating dinner and not going to bed.

We have been telling him to stop giving us ultimatums.

Tonight Sam announced proudly last night that he was giving us an "old
tomato", and that he wasn't eating his meatloaf.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How I feel by Anna Shaw

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Anna gave me this story she wrote last night. She was very mad at me because Mom planted seeds in Anna's garden and didn't let Anna plant any. My crime was that I told Anna she was over-reacting, and that she was taking a small problem and making it into something worse.

The reason I said that is because she dug out all of the gardening stuff Kathleen had used, and brought it up to her room to look for seeds. In the process she spilled several cups of topsoil on her bed. She also emptied the garbage can in the kitchen and left the contents on the kitchen floor. She also forgot that the downstairs bathroom was clogged and used it anyway, spilling toilet water all over the bathroom floor.

But clearly she disagreed with me, and this is how she explained to me how she felt. Anna is so awesome.

How I feel by Anna Shaw

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Here we see Anna and Dad, with a magical 'poof' coming from Anna, which I guess is exacting a magical spell contingent on her exacting her revenge on poor old Dad.

How I feel by Anna Shaw

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Now dad has been transformed into a frog...

How I feel by Anna Shaw

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
And on this page Anna has dissected the Dad-frog and is going to eat him for dinner. I am unsure of the psychological ramifications of all this.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Get in line, Dana

Kathleen was waking Anna up this morning, and she first had to get
Dana out of her bed. Dana used to jump out of bed at first sight of a
grownup, but she has figured out that Anna's bed is okay, while the
couch and chair and other beds are not. This morning Kathleen said
"Here, Dana!" and instead of getting out of bed, Dana wagged her tail,
but just stretched out and curled in closer to Anna, who was sleeping
on the inside.

"I don't think Dana wants to get out of bed this morning, Anna." Kathleen said.

Anna, the perennial morning grump, said "Get in line, Dana!"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Trampoline snares first victim!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Anna and PJ were on the trampoline. PJ dropped to his knees and was bouncing up, when Anna fell towards him. The back of PJ's head collided with the front of Anna's and frankly, the back of PJ's head won. The black eye looks worse than it is though, and Anna will be well healed shortly.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Twenty Questions

Sam and are driving to the Eye doctor for a follow up appointment to
my LASIK surgery this Saturday.


"Yes, Sam"

"You wan't to play twenty Questions?"

"OK, sure."

"I'm thinking of something."

"Is it an animal?"


"Is it a vegetable?"


"Is it a mineral?"

"No. Ask me if its a place."

"Okay, is it a place?"

"No, but do you want to here a hint?"

"Okay, sure, give me a hint."

"They sleep all day and work all night."

What? Now I'm curious. "Ok, Sam I give up. What are you thinking of."


Note to self: Ask Sam what he thinks Chinese means. "Well, okay, I
guess you got me that one, my turn now."

Then a pause, then he says "Nacho"


"I said Nacho!" he said, "When I say Nacho you miss three turns."

It was then I knew it was going to be a long drive.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lasik, Mothers Day

On Friday I had i-LASIK surgery that has pretty much removed the glasses that have been affixed to my head for the last thirty years. Pretty awesome. The procedure was quick and pain-free although it freaked me out a little bit.

On Friday PJ's class had a special Mother's Day presentation. One part of the presentation was the whole class read "Love You Forever" by Robert N Munsch. Just before the presentation, Kathleen whispered to PJ, "PJ this is the book that makes Dad cry."

PJ whispered back, "I know, I told EVERYONE!"


PJ also filled a Mother's day paper with questions and answers.

My mom is special because: I love her.

I like it when my Mom: Catches Anna hurting me.

My mom is as pretty as: A flower.

I like to make my mom smile by: Doing well in School.

My mom is smart! She even knows: What 10^6 - 32 =

My mom can do many things. I think she is best at: Math


Sam asked me this morning. "Dad?"

"Yes Sam"

"You know what I want to get Mom for Mother's day?"

"What, Sam."

"Breakfast. Can you cook it for me? Becaue thats what I want to get her for Mother's day.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

School Days are so hard

PJ woke up earlier than I did this morning, and the first thing that
he asked me was if there was school today. I told him there was and
he made an "awwww" noise and went back into his room.

A few minutes later, as I was packing up my gear for work I walked
through the kids playroom in the basement. He as sitting in the
corner of the couch curled up. PJ is such a skinny kid that he can
really curl himself into a small little package. I sat down on the

"What's wrong, buddy?" I asked him.

"I just don't like school days, they are so hard for me."

"Well, they are hard, but aren't they fun too?"

"No, I always have a headache and there is a lot of noise and stuff."

The funny thing is that PJ is a lot like me. He is introverted, and
likes video games and computers. He doesn't like being in big crowds.
I felt like I must have gone through the same thing as him, but at
the same time I couldn't do anything to help him. I had to go to
work, and he had to go to school, and all I wanted to do was hug him
and make it all better, but some times you just can't.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

trampoline madness!

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
I may have mentioned putting together a trampoline for the little gnomes, but here is a picture of the three of them having a good bounce.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

unwelcome guest

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
This guy was sleeping inside the hot tub when I started chopping it up into many tiny pieces. Anna was very excited, and chase it all over the deck with a pair of kitchen tongs until it finally disappeared under the deck.

No, I'm alright

PJ and Alec went camping Friday night. As we were packing at one point PJ paused and looked at me and said "Dad! I'm wearing two pairs of underwear!" which he thought was pretty funny.

But I figured, he was going camping so it was no big deal. Alec's mom, was taking the boys camping. I would have gone along, except I had the monumental chore of cutting up the old broken down hot tub on our deck into arm sized pieces and schlepping them out to the curb. I
rented a sawzall, a reciprocating saw that can cut through fiberglass, plastic, nails, wood, pretty much anything, for the job and spent all of Saturday working on this.

Sam and Kathleen were down at 'the cow house' in the Shenandoah's this weekend. Anna was bouncing around between friends and on the trampoline, so she kept busy. Several hours and blisters later the hot tub was on the curb.

Anna had a sleepover at a friends house Saturday night. PJ and Alec came back around 2pm and hung out much of the day, then around 7PM or so, PJ went to sleep over at Alec's house, so I had a quiet house for a few hours that night.

Sometimes there is so much activity around you that you can't keep track of it all, and it feels like you are just part of a storm, and every once in a while you catch a glimpse of something.

Sunday morning, at around Ten AM, PJ comes in the door while I am repairing the screen on our porch. I ask him if he had a good time overnight.

"Dad, guess what?" He asks.

"What, PJ."

"I'm, still wearing two pairs of underwear!"

"Well, maybe you should take one, or both of them and go upstairs and put some clean clothes on?" I ask him.

"No, I'm alright." He says, and the goes to sit down in front of the computer.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I can't take it any more

This weekend I tackled a task I had been putting off for as long as I could. My in-laws had given our children a trampoline for a Christmas present, and the 200 pound coffin shaped box had been ominously sitting in the garage since then. My children, even my wife had been after me to assemble this thing, but I knew what it would entail. Lots of small pieces, and a fold out sheet of cryptic directions, written by a man from far away who has only at best a passing knowledge of English.

But a friend came over to help (thanks Neil!) and a short, painful, three hours later it was done. But the kids love it. They spent Saturday bouncing away into oblivion.

Another Sam quote: In the kitchen Sam walks past me, saying to no one in particular, "I need to have desert now! I can't take it any more!" It was about Three O'clock in the afternoon.

"Sam, what can't you take?" I ask him.

"All the guilt. I just can't take all the guilt." He says, shaking his five year old head as he walks out of the room.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Anna demonstrates flexibility and non-agility

This is my first attempt at posting video, so lets see how well it works.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Greetings from St. Martin

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Just a couple of photos from our cruise. And I know what you are thinking-- what the heck is wrong with his face? I can't remember what I was thinking, maybe "open your eyes, show a big smile, and ACT NATURAL!"

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

While we were on vacation

Kathleen and I got back from our cruise on Sunday, and already this week has turned out to be pretty exhausting. I have a ton of great photos to show from the trip, and some good stories too, but for now I would like to share with you some of the funny things that Sam was saying last week. Evidently, the Grandmothers decided to keep a log.


"So do you say 'Now I lay me down to sleep?'" Gagi asked Sam, wondering what prayer to say before bed.

"No, we say the one about the bread."


Sam ended his prayers with "...and thank you for Easter, and raising the dead."


Just before Gagi left to go home, Sam said to her, "I am sorry I have to tell you this Gagi, but I am afraid I really don't like you." Evidently he was unhappy with her rules.


Another random Sam quote: "There are no fairy god parents and that's why you wish on a star."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Greetings from St. Thomas, USVI

Kathleen and I have been on a cruise this week, so forgive me if I am not posting as prolifically as I have been doing in weeks past. I would have posted more except for the fact that the Internet access on our cruise ship, the Princess Cruise Line's Caribbean Princess, was shockingly, horrifically expensive. For a mere 75 cents a minute you can enjoy slow satellite connectivity! Yikes! Luckily, in port towns you can find a cheaper deal and today I am writing this from the Enid M. Baa Public Library St. Thomas, which is two dollars and hour. Yeah public libraries! Boo greedy cruise ship lines!

Today we are in St. Thomas, and yesterday we were in St. Martin. For the most part though, are itinerary has consisted of something like eat, rest, eat, rest, drink, rest, drink, eat, rest, gamble, drink, gamble, gamble, drink, rest, rest, rest and repeat. What a fabulous way to spend the week!

I have only a few minutes left so I need to cut this short, I will be posting more photos and stuff in the days that follow. Cheers, and have a great week!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

bedtime on thursday night

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Just puttin' the kids to bed. Nothing out of the ordinary. The dog is in bed with Anna. PJ takes 45 minutes to brush his teeth, and then spends an equal amount of time on the john. Sam, meanwhile, feels unhappy and cheated by the whole process, though he is at a loss to explain exactly why.

bedtime on thursday night

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

bedtime on thursday night

Originally uploaded by peteshaw

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

from the archive

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Anna, in front of the Glens Falls, NY Public Library, a couple of months before PJ was born.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Anna has a slumber party

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
This was last Friday. Anna invested much planning, preparation, and active campaigning in the execution of her party for her and her friends. Here they are putting there hands into a bowl of something icky. I think originally you were supposed to be wearing blindfolds, and you were supposed to guess what it was. So one thing was grapes, and you would think they were eyeballs and so forth. Instead, they just put all of this icky stuff on there hands and just jumped and danced around, making LOTS of noise all of the while. This went on for quite some time. Kids find the strangest things entertaining.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Home Alone

I am enjoying a quiet home for the next few days, which is awesome because it gives me a chance to catch up on all of my various projects around the house, like watching awful movies like Turistas and playing Online Poker.  Single guy stuff like eating tuna right out of the can (everybody does that, right?).  I am sure there is a bunch of stuff that needs to be cleaned, fixed or whatever but it will wait.  Its eerie when the house is quiet like this.  It is in one way awesome, but in another its sort of depressing.  I spend so much time complaining about the commotion around here, but when it is gone I miss it. 

Friday, March 14, 2008

Psychodoggy continued

As of this morning, my comment, about how I should be grateful she didn’t get into the milk, no longer applies. Dana grabbed a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch from a carelessly unlocked pantry this morning, brought it into her downstairs bed. She also grabbed a Nestle Chocolate Milk box from the same shelf (!!!), spilling chocolate mile onto her bed, and over the cereal and the carpet in foyer. Miraculously, when questioned about the incident, Dana had no recollection of any of the events and denied all accountability. But she did lick my face. Repeatedly.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Our dog Dana is appearing to have a split personality. Most of the time she is your normal dog; happy, lazy, friendly. When we first got her I used to joke that she was a little lacking in the brains department. Maybe she heard me.

First off, Dana is extremely friendly. When kids come over to the house I tell them I tell them that Dana is an attack dog and they all laugh at me. She has never bitten anyone, is extremely affectionate, and if no is generally very needy of affection. She also is a little timid. She sleeps in Anna's bed, but sometimes will hide under Anna's bed during the night. This is pretty funny because Dana weighs probably 80 pounds, and can barely fit under her bed. When I wake up Anna in the morning, I hear the "thump-thump-thump" of Dana's tale, as she squirms out from her hiding place that is only barely larger than her torso.

But Dana has a dark side. She's kind of like Batman. Well not really. Maybe if Batman was a dog and really liked cereal. When no one is around to watch, she likes to get into things and chew stuff up. Last night, for example, she went downstairs, got into the pantry, got an opened box of Lucky Charms off of the shelf and brought it up to Anna's room. As if that wasn't enough, she also brought a roll of paper towels still in the plastic wrapping. Then she opened the box of Lucky Charms while up in Anna's room, and chewed up the paper towels. I guess I should be grateful, if she had gotten the milk there could have been a real mess.

Another time Dana was left at home by herself. She went upstairs and into Kathleen's office, and opened the closet door, and retrieved a skein of yarn. She then took the yarn downstairs, and only then began to methodically chew it up into pieces. What I found interesting is that I am not sure how Dana knew the yarn was there. I mean, did she methodically go through all of the closets upstairs until the she found the yarn and then say, "yeah, yarn, I can work with that" to herself and take it downstairs? On occasion I have been known to wake up and go downstairs to the kitchen and have a midnight snack. Dana usually wakes up and comes down to join me, but not until I either open the refrigerator or pantry door. I can be knocking around for half an hour, but when that fridge door opens, I can here the strange waddling noise as she un-squeezes herself from under Anna's bed. So I half to revise my original assessment of Dana, that maybe she isn't lacking in the brains department. She just chooses to appear a little simple, at
least until you're not looking. I can live with that.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Note from the grounding - Part 2

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
And this is what I wrote on the other side.

"I love you forever,
I'll like you for allways,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.

Which is of course taken directly from the book "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch, My kids call it the book that makes dad cry.

Note from the grounding - Part 1

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
A couple of weeks back Anna was behaving horribly and so was grounded for all of Sunday. When she is grounded she likes to throw notes down over the stairway. This one reads:

"How much time left? Can I have 2 batteries and a light? Can I have my my tape box?

P.S. You HATE me and you know it.

P.S.S. Write on the back of this."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Anna's big Play - Willy Wonka Jr.

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Here poor Mrs. Gloop (Anna - center) is beside herself at the sight of her son turning into a chocolate covered mess.

Anna's big Play - Willy Wonka Jr.

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
Here is Anna after her big night. Just behind her feather you can see poppa in the background. She played Augustus Gloop's mother in a musical adaptation of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mom is selling your shirts and should be punished!

Kathleen and Sam and I were in the car on some errand. Kathleen had
to run into the supermarket for something, so Sam and I were waiting
out in the supermarket parking lot. Sam leaned over to me
conspiratorially. "Can I tell you something." He asked.


"About mom." He was still whispering.


"She sold your shirts in that store." He pointed across the street to
a dry cleaner. I figured Kathleen must have dropped off some of my
shirts to be cleaned earlier that day.

"Wow, she sold my shirts?"


"Well, what should I do about it?"

"You should hit her in the bed with a bat!" Sam said, and he had this
weird little look in his face. To be honest it freaked me out a

"I should hit her in the head with a bat?"


"Maybe I should just give mom a time out."

"No, that would be mean."

"Not meaner than hitting her in the head with a bat!" I said and we
both broke out laughing. Kathleen came out of the store a few moments

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Sam! February 23, 2008

Sam turned 5 on Saturday, and despite his having to fight off a Strep infection, he was a little trooper and went to the Dulles Sportsplex for his party, where there was much bouncing about, followed by cake.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A week without Video Games

PJ has been abstaining from all things relating to videogames for a
week, after an incident last week when he lost his temper and hit Anna
in the head with the Wii controller. For the third time. I think he
has learnt a lesson, but all I'm really sure about is how much he
wants to play video games again. This was a recent conversation.



"Uh, do you think I can start playing video games tomorrow."

"Didn't we say a week without video games, PJ?" And by we I meant
Kathleen. I wasn't there. "When was it exactly that you hit her?"

"I can't tell you that. I can't tell you that, but what I can tell
you is that I am sorry for hitting Anna in the head, and that I love
Anna, and that I am glad she's ok. That's what I can tell you." He
looks at me with large unblinking eyes. He seems sincere. I feel bad
for him.



"Not until Friday, bud."

"Dad!" He yells, suddenly not at all sorry. "Its not fair!" He stomps off.

Anna wants to design a game

Anna has been playing on Disney's online game for kids, "TooonTown"
lately. This is a large immersive 3-d world created for children to
play, and it has toonishly realistic 3d graphics, a slick user
interface, andlots of neat design features. Clearly some team of
rockstar software developers have been hard at work designing this
game, probably for several years.

This morning, Anna tells me that she wants to design her own onliine
game. Its going to be like ToonTown, she says, only it will be set in
Antarctica, and have Penguins and Walrus's. She shows me a few pages
of sketches she has drawn, and asks me to help her build this game.

I explain to her that building an engine to drive an online
multiplayer role playing game is something that takes many skilled
developers months if not years to develop. She doesn't care. I
tried to convince her to start by designing some kind of smaller game,
but she didn't want to here it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Father Daughter Sweetheart Ball February 2008

Originally uploaded by peteshaw
This Friday Anna had the annual girl scout dance, and we went and had a wonderful time. Where did this curly hair come from? She and mom spent a good deal of time using pieces of cloth and experimental chemistry to make it very curly.

This year the theme was 'glam' and so all the girls got all dressed up. Seeing Anna all grown up made me think about how it won't be too much longer before she is a teenager. This is a frightening thing to think about but at least for now she is my sweet little girl, if at least for the ten percent of the time when she is not being evil.