Merry Christmas

We have a tradition every Christmas Eve. The kids read “The Night Before Christmas” before heading to bed. It carries on from a tradition I had with my parents when I was a child. It makes me happy that the tradition is continuing for another generation. (At least this far. I realize the kids are growing!)

There were a lot of milestones this year. Literally and figuratively. This year, our family participated in the Centennial Bay to Breakers. That’s about 7.5 milestones right there! We mostly walked the course, but we still managed a respectable time.

For my father-in-law’s birthday, the whole family went to Las Vegas, and it gave me the opportunity to take the kids to see Hoover Dam, just like my dad did for me when I was a kid. I’d always wanted to be able to do that – share something amazing like that with my own kids.

Otherwise, Vegas isn’t really our style. So we went to our favorite hotel in San Diego, and spent some relaxing time poolside and at the beach.

Maddie continues to play the piano, and performs at our little community recitals. Aaron’s a voracious reader and excels at a sandbox computer game called Minecraft. As a matter of fact, Aaron and I took a father-son excursion to the first ever Minecraft Convention.

A little before Thanksgiving, my father passed away. It was unexpected and sudden, and we all take some comfort in that he didn’t needlessly suffer. We’re going to celebrate this Christmas in his memory, and we’ll live our lives in a way that would make him happy and proud. That’s how he raised me.

We hope you have a happy holiday season, and that you let your loved ones know how special they are to you.

David Allen Blume

My father unexpectedly passed away a week ago. While going through his many books, a newspaper clipping with this poem fell out of one:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

I can’t help but feel that he’d have wanted me to find it.

The newspaper clipping attributed it to “Author Unknown” but it has since been attributed to Mary Elizabeth Frye.

What Makes You Smile

I revisited an old website that asked, “What makes you smile?” This was in March of 2005. I answered,

Lately, watching my 2-year-old son, squat down to pick up his stool that he’d just used to stand on to reach the sink, pick it up, stand up, move it six inches, gently put it down, stand up, climb on it so he could reach the lights to turn them off.

All that work, for such a simple thing. But it makes him so happy to do it himself.

It’s six years later now, and that memory is still easy to bring back. I remember relishing the moment while it was happening, too. Funny how the little things can be the most enduring.

Identity Disc Protocol

I love that the following is an actual discussion we had today:

“Daddy, can we play with your Identity Disc?”
“OK, but don’t actually derez each other. Play nicely.”

If You Want To Be in His Dreams

Aaron told us about his dream last night. His sister and I were in it, and we were all playing Minecraft in his dream, as we sometimes do in real life. He didn’t want his mother to feel left out, so he gave her this advice:

Mommy, you should play MineCraft if you want to be in my dreams.

Email to the Kids

Why hasn’t this nine-year-old blog been updated as frequently as it used to be? Let’s take a look at the most recent email I sent to the kids:

Hi Aaron and Madison!

Here’s what Notch says about the latest Minecraft update:

http://notch.tumblr.com/post/2730532961/minecraft-beta-1-2

–Dad

The kids are fully wired, now. They’re learning about different aspects of online activity. I’m honing their bullshit detectors and their netiquette. They read blogs, watch videos and play sandboxed video games.

I love this blog, and I’m going to keep it around. It may even be updated occasionally.

But for now, I’m going to log in with the kids and we’re going to update our 1:1 replica of our real-life house in Minecraft with the new things in the game.

This is no longer an online journal about life with the kids. My life with my kids is now online, too.

Our Venus Flytrap Pet

We went to Golden Gate Park on Labor Day, and visited the Conservatory of Flowers. The special exhibit was carnivorous plants, and we bought a Venus Flytrap plant for the kids. You’d think my son won the lottery, he was so happy.

Venus Flytrap

That night, this is what he wrote on his calendar:

“We have a Venus Flytrap pet!”

Spot Quiz

I bought an iPad for my wife, and loaded it with Plants vs. Zombies.

My son seems to love the game more than her. During dinner tonight, I decided to ask him a question out of the blue.

“How much sun does it cost to deploy a Doom Shroom in the daytime?”

“The Doom Shroom costs 125 suns and you need a Coffee Bean to wake it up. That costs 75 suns. So you need 200 suns. Easy.”

He got the math right and the strategy right. Not bad for a kid who’s just beginning the second grade.

Now if only school can capture his interest like that video game.

Click on the Blue Square Thing

My nine-year-old daughter was typing up her first book report for school.  She’d already written a draft on paper, and was transcribing the report to the computer.

I decided to have her do it in Microsoft Word.  She’d written the title, and had gotten the first paragraph down when I decided she should learn how to save the document.

I pointed to the image of floppy disk and said, “Now click on the… the little blue square thing here.”

That’s when it hit me.  She’s nine years old, and already Microsoft Word’s graphic for save is so out-of-date as to be meaningless for her.  What was the point of explaining what the picture was of?  We don’t have any floppy disks.  She’ll never see one.

It’s Not There

Aaron, our six-year-old, was browsing instructional art videos on YouTube.  The art subject of choice was Mario, of course.

He knows how to do this sort of thing himself.  After logging in to his account, he launches his web browse, and types “youtube mario” in the Google Search field to get to YouTube.  After that, he’ll type “draw mario” into the YouTube search box, and he’s off and running with his instructional videos.

His mother and I were in another room when we heard him get frustrated a few minutes later.

“It’s not there! I can’t find it. It’s not anywhere! I can’t find MS Paint.”

I knew right away what had happened.  He’d navigated from a YouTube clip of somebody drawing Mario with a pencil to one doing it in Microsoft Paint, and he wanted to try it out himself.

I ran to him.  He was on a Windows PC, so he obviously had Paint, but there was no telling where he was looking for it.

When I got to him, I saw that he’d typed variations of “ms paint” into the Web Browser’s search box and into YouTube’s search box about a dozen times.

Poor kid. He was searching for Microsoft Paint in the only places on the computer he knew. Wasn’t everything on the web?