For the record, I no longer wonder where Sam gets his looks (and by that, I don't mean his "good looks," as he clearly gets those from his mom).



"Wait. You're wearing the same clothes as before?"


"Do you have clean clothes to put on?"


"You don't have any clean clothes?"


"You brought two pairs of clothing with you for a week?"


"Are you wearing clean underwear?"


"Do you have another pair of clean underwear?"


"Go put them on."


Sam walks away. A few seconds later...

"Oh wait! I DO have clean clothes."

Yeah, I thought so.

Fooled you, kid


Sam declared today at dinner that he doesn't eat vegetables. Aside from the "I hate asparagus" comment, followed by my eating all of his aspargus from his stir-fry, he ate all of the vegetable-only meal I gave him, thereby disproving his notion he eats only meat and dairy.

I'm not telling him otherwise.

We went to Trader Joe's for precut vegetables for the stir-fry. He selected a curry rice dish as the side, while I selected mixed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), asparagus and bell peppers for the stir-fry.

I wasn't sure he'd eat it all, but throw in the vegtables, some sauted tofu and a ginger-soy sauce, take out the asparagus, and the kid willingly ate it all.

With no meat.

Maybe tomorrow we'll have salmon fajitas. See if we can go two days as pesci-vegetarians together.

Don't believe him


Note to self: when an eight year old boy says that his nintendo is enough to keep him occupied on a two hour flight, don't believe him.

Sam and I flew back to California today. I had flown over to Phoenix yesterday to spend a brief time with Mom and Eric, before whisking Sam away back home for a not-quite-week-long week at Auntie Kitt's. I tell you, "Auntie Kitt" is the dumbest incarnation of any "Auntie" name I know of. Though, nothing will ever beat "Auntie Em," "Auntie Kitt" is particularly unsavory. Doesn't have a good ring to it.

Maybe it is time to switch to Kathryn. Or Kate. Kate McQueen. Now that has a ring to it.

Except that it's also REALLY close to the name of the character Cindy Crawford played in her one and only (and thank goodness ONLY) acting role. *shudder*

Yeah, so, Sam.

He did an okay job keeping himself entertained on the plane. We did play a game of dot box, though.

I thought he did really well, catching me off guard a few times. 43 / 112 boxes? Not bad, given I have probably 400 games of experience up on him.

Sam also took some good photos out the window:

We're not planning on doing much today. We'll see how the day goes.

Set the tone


Flew out to Arizona today to pick up Sam for this not-quite-annual-but-we're-getting-there visit to California. Because the timing of my flight out didn't really work well for both our normal Velocity class and any work time for Kris, I asked Andy if he could take me to the airport. I'd even make it as easy as possible on him, by driving my car to his work, and he could keep my car for the day, as I'm returning with Sam tomorrow.

That worked for his schedule, so before lunchtime, I headed over to his work, and he headed out to drive me to the airport, noticing as I did the twelve squirrels running around the tree next to my car, under my car, and near my car. I've never had four squirrels pause three feet up on on a tree trunk and stare at me, wondering what I'm about to do.

So, Andy pulled to the exit of his work's parking lot, an exit which happens to be one side of a four way stop. He made some comment about how a coworker was almost hit at the intersection, as he looked to the right to verify the car to the right was stopping. He looked to the left, to see a fire engine stopped at the stopsign. He looked right again to confirm with the car on the right, and pulled forward, accelerating into the intersection.

Just as a moron in an black SUV flew around the fire engine and into the intersection to our left.

Now, not only did the SUV run the stop sign, he went straight through in a left turn lane.

Andy was still looking right when I yelled "WAIT! WAIT!" Now, technically, "STOP! STOP!" would have been a better call to make, but even "Wait!" is better than "UHN!" and a lot of pointing. I was pleased I was as coherent as I was.

Andy hit the brakes hard just as the SUV (driven by a man of Indian descent, and not, as you might stereotypically think, an Asian woman) also braked, and we missed each other by a foot.

As Andy accelerated away, the SUV driver looking sufficiently sheepish for his moronic move, I commented, "Well, I hope that doesn't set the tone for this trip."

It didn't. My plane landed safely.

Andy, on the other hand, was nearly hit in the same intersection on his way back to work, by another driver running the stop sign by going straight through the left-turn only lane.

Sam-a-rooni returns!


A few years ago, Sam came out to visit me. Honestly, I've lost a year, because I thought he visited me two summers ago, but the blog says 2005, and the blog never lies. Well, that's not true either, so the blog was lying there. It mostly speaks the truth, and it matches well with the photo time stamps, so, there we go. 2005.

The following year, I stayed in Phoenix with Sam, to spend my week with him in Mom and Jackson's company. That was a disaster, since the two of them are thick as thieves and never seemed to form separate identities when the other is close by. That, and I had other personal issues I was trying to deal with at the time, that prevented me from being able to take care of him in California.

I have no idea what happened last year. I think maybe the grandparents trumped the aunt last year.

This year, though, Sam is heading on out, and I have the free Southwest ticket to prove it, since it'll cost me enough to fly him out. I think he's old enough to fly out as an unaccompanied minor, but his parents are freaked out by this prospect, so I'm flying out to get him, flying back the next day with him, flying back at the end of the week, then back home again. Phew! Lots of flying. Too much flying.

So, what do we have planned this year?

In no particular order, we're going to

  • figure out a Father's Day present for Chris
  • learn to program using Alice
  • learn to throw a disc, maybe learn to play ultimate
  • ride bikes, if I can find one for Sam
  • go on a hike, or two
  • garden, like we did last time he was here
  • cook, or at least bake
  • walk the dogs
  • swim
  • and Great America! Because Sam loves coasters now. Booyah!

How we're going to manage all of that in three, maybe four days, I have no idea. We might have to remove one or two from the list, depending on how interested he is in some of those.

For the programming part, oof, might be biting off more than I can chew on that one. Having seen Randy Pausch's Last Lecture video (of course, you've seen it, right? of course you have), I took a second look at Alice, and decided, well, we'd give it a try. The idea of teaching programming through storytelling is compelling, but will an 8 year old be able to learn it? I think so.

Besides, how cool would it be to say, "I started programming when I was 8." ? I mean, really! I can't say that, though I can say I started programming in the 8th grade. Might have been the 7th. I don't recall. Jessica, can you help me out here? When did I have Mr. Osborne for math?

So, we'll try the programming lessons. Of course, this means that I'll need to take time to learn Alice before helping him along. I bought a book, which should help, but, gee, finding the time? Right. Focus.

Time, and the right computer. I suspect the program is a Windows program. I doubt it'll work on my Linux box. Maybe on my MBP, but, well, do I really want Sam using my laptop? Nah.

As for cooking, Mom suggested making waffles, ice cream and cupcakes: lots of stirring and putting stuff into the fridge, less so chopping and the like.

Maybe we'll make bread, too. Oh! And something that uses the food processor. That'll be fun: using the kitchen power tools.

I'm looking forward to the visit, though, very much so. I wonder where I can find a couple kids to practice with...

This is how he greets me

Daily Photo

Gift of a 7 year old


Arizona is hot. It's just hot. Hot, hot, hot.

Which is why everyone is inside, or in the pool. Like us!

Eric put up a very Frank Gehry-like structure over the pool to keep the pool in the shade so that we could be in the pool during the heat of the day. Previously, we couldn't swim from around 10 until around 3 because the pool was in FULL. BRIGHT. SUN. One step out there during that time, and we'd all melt.

With the Frank shade structure up, we could be out at any time of day. The downside is that the pool stayed in the shade, too, and never really warmed up. Cold pools and me? Not so much.

Today, however, I decided that yes, I could get in the water and play with the boys. So I did. Usually, Sam and Jackson just splash around, or jump into the pool seeing who could make the biggest cannonball splash. I figured I'd splash around with them, fetch the water toys that end up at the bottom of the deep end, cool off and get out.

At one point, I was fixing the band on the goggles I was going to wear. The band was pulled tight enough to fit on a 4 year old's head, which meant it was just about perfect for my puny head, but not quite. As I stood on the pool steps adjusting the band, Sam swam up to me, pulled off his googles, and said, "Here, use these. They're bigger."

Now, the goggles I had in my hand were actually the same size and style as the ones he was offering me. The band was already a little looser, but they were the same style.

I accepted them, said thanks, and watched with suspicion as he went over to the other side of the pool, plucked up another pair of goggles, put them on and went off to swim again.

Having just spent the last two days with Sam, watching as he cheated his way to some allowed victory or bitter defeat, I couldn't help but wonder, how am i getting the bum end of this deal?

I never did figure out how. The goggles were good, they fit well. I'm not sure when I became cynical of the generosity of a seven year old.

Mindless eating


Sam, Jackson and I went to the movies today to see Shrek the Third. I can't say I can watch any Shrek movies without having flashbacks ("Layers? Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. Parfait! Everybody loves parfaits!"), or without trying to analyze the techniques and effects during the whole movie. This one was the closest I came, but I still watched with a critical eye. I'm surprised at the number of human characters in the movie, but they started that trend with the previous sequel, so I shouldn't have been so surprised.

When we arrived, I didn't know the movie-going rules, and said, "Sure!" when the boys asked for popcorn and pop and a Slurpee/Icee. I did draw the line at candy though. I can't say that drinking a large class of Sprite is much better than not having a candy bar, but hey, slightly less sugar is better, right?

We arrived about 20 minutes before the show actually started, so the three of us sat there watching commercials and advertisements. We were in the front of the top balcony, smack dab in the middle of the theatre. Sam wanted to be in the very back, at the very top, in the last row, but, well, he lost that argument with me. I wonder how many more years I can win those arguments with him. I give myself another 5.

As we were sitting there, Jackson on my left drinking his Slurpee/Icee, Sam on my right drinking much of his ginormous Sprite, and me in the middle with a large bag of buttered popcorn. After a few minutes of muching on popcorn, and vaguely gazing at the movie screen, I looked down at Sam.

Sam was eating popcorn, too. Rather than taking a few kernels at a time as I was, Sam was taking giant fistfuls of popcorn and shoving them into his mouth as quickly as he could. He was gazing at the movie screen even less focused than I was.

Watching him reach for the popcorn, grab a handful and shove without being aware of what he was doing, immediately annoyed me. I don't know why I reacted as strongly as I did, but watching this small boy mindlessly consuming high amounts of sugar, fat, salt and media, all unconsciously without awareness, frustrated me.

I tried moving the bag slightly. Instead of reaching into the bag of popcorn where it was before, Sam's hand grasped nothing. Again without awareness, he reached around for the bag, grabbing at the air, finding nothing. After a few moments, he became aware of the missing bag, and turned to look. When he saw the back was moved, he leaned over reaching in, grabbed a handful of popcorn and continued the fistful eating.

So, I moved the bag again.

With the same results.

A few minutes of this, and he became frustrated. He looked at me and asked me why I kept moving the bag. I explained he was grabbing handfuls of popcorn, instead of eating a few at a time. If he ate a few at a time, I would keep the bag still.

My compromise worked for two popcorns grabs before the fistful feeding returned. I closed the bag and told them we weren't eating any more popcorn until after the movie had started, and maybe not then either. Both of them accepted my statement really easily. They're both good kids, I just wish the American model of full consumerism wasn't taught to them so young.

Especially the mindless consuming part.

Oregon Stop Pizza


Last night, I flew into Phoenix to spend the week(ish) with Mom and Eric. That Sam and Jackso-own are also here is just icing on the cake.

Well, maybe they're the cupcake. That Beej drove up from Tucson to visit with me and the fam also was the icing on the cake. I think I can never get enough of Beej: he has to be the best brother a girl could ever have. Can I say that without Mom getting mad at me for not saying something about Chris, too? I mean, sure, parents aren't supposed to show bias to a particular child. Heh. Me. Without bias. Who are we kidding?

We talked all day, watched the boys in the pool as Mom went to work in the afternoon, played games with them, and generally relaxed. Watching two boys play, and keeping them entertained, is definitely easier with two people having man-on-man defense, rather than one person having to play zone defense.

In the evening, Eric came home from work, then Mom came home, and both asked where we wanted to go for dinner. Beej immediately piped up, "Oregon Stop Pizza. Andy was telling me about it, and ..." Turns out, a friend of his had gone a lot when he was still at home in high school, but B had never gone. Tonight, with two kids in tow, would be a great time to go.

So, into the car we pile, and off we go to the Oregon Stop Pizza. I had a few calls I needed to make to arrange portopotties for the weekend's tournament, the Sunnyvale Savage Seven, which I've been wanting to host at the local school for years now. I offered what I wanted on my pizza and wandered outside to make my calls. Guaranteed, I was the only person in the Phoenix metropolitan area wearing a hoodie outside at that point.

I walked back in after my calls, as Eric was walking out to find me and make sure everything was okay. As we walked back to the table together, flashing lights and loud music blasted from the dining area. I looked up and around and realized we weren't at the Oregon Stop Pizza place, we were at the Organ Stop Pizza place. The restaurant has one of the largest organs in North America (putting even the one at St. Paul's to shame), complete with spinning organ that drops into the stage and pipes that make the upstairs balcony rumble (recommended for anyone to try).

Mom had never been to the restaurant, so Beej asked her what she thought.

"Well, we've had worse pizza."

"How's the wine?"

"Well, we haven't had any worse."