Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"The Glowing Gem of Peace"

Z did this the other day:

Oh my, that's funny.  He's clearly an alien there in his spacesuit with it's really cool flying neutron logo.  I was informed that that is a jet pack (the snail-shell looking thing) actually integrated into the suit.  And he's carrying the "glowing gem of peace."

Or is he a little teapot, short and stout? I mean, I see his handle and there is his spout.

In either case it's still the "glowing gem of peace."

(You know, I do not remember showing him how to make a peace sign.  Honestly, I have flashbacks to the early Seventies when I try.)

From Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

N:  (during a storm) "Daddy, I am trying to remain calm."

I hear ya, little dude, I hear ya....

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stencil Bear and Willaum

This is a detail of a larger panel in what is apparently a graphic novel N is putting together:

A squirrel named Willaum, "ooooh nut!s." Here's the whole page:

I must tell you (in accordance with "The Truth in Silly-Ass Blogs Act" or SABA) that the smiley moon and stars and teddy-bear guy are not original, a stencil was used.

Just to give you a lot more information than you will ever need about this picture I'll use my decoder ring.  Near the top is what I can only guess is The Stork (remember the drunken one from Looney Tunes?) saying "babeys are caming" (babies are coming).  Stencil Bear is saying "Wee!  I am having to much fun."  He seems like a happy little recovering Dead-Head. 

To the left of Stencil Bear is an ancient and sadly stunted oak tree where most of the action is taking place.  A bird's nest near the top whose occupant seems to scream at The Stork, "I am laing aggs here!" (I've got her doing it in a screechy Edith Bunker sort of voice).  Now it took me a while to figure this part out, but, what I think is going on here is a voice, presumably the squirrel below's mother, is calling him:  "Time to come inside Willaum."  'Willaum' is the forest-creature dialect spelling of William, of course.  They must live in that hole and his mother uses his whole name because there are no nicknames in the forest.

I can't help but chuckle at "ooh nuts."  I am like that and so is N. We tend to let bright and shiny things, food, pretty girls and trucks, just to name a few, quickly distract us.  I also notice that N often has the narrative of a story circling through his head as I do.  The genetics thing is sort of creepy sometimes.

On the other hand Z is remarkably task oriented.  Yesterday he sort of sniffled and sobbed for a half hour when he couldn't win all the races in a Mariokart cup he needed to open a new level.  It was sad, and, frankly kinda cute.  Children have an earnestness I didn't know until I had my own children, or, as I have mentioned before and is more likely, I had  forgotten.  I am not at all sure what's going on in Z's head.

I really do want to know what is going on in their minds.  Truly not because I think they are thinking things malicious or unsavory, in fact, precisely the opposite.  Their thoughts and dreams seem so pure to me, so honest and hopeful, so happy and silly, so sacred and simple, so genuine, that my own thoughts and dreams pale in comparison, tepid and ordinary.  I need to think more like my sons, I think it would make me a better person.

A very recent '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...' from Marci:

M: “Bill, remind me to tell you something when they are out of ear-shot.”
N: “We’re going to a beer shop?”

A beer shop?  Really... when has he ever heard of a beer shop?  Ohh, right...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


First a short video:

This my take some 'xplaining, especially for  those not watching or playing Wii MarioKart or New Super Mario Bros. Wii (pronounced "newsupermariobrosweee") on a regular basis often daily constantly.  The first three dudes are regular players on Mariobros and so is Toad, however, he does not come in quite so many colors.  Nick got a little eager about these. 

Now a drawing straight from Z's drafting table:

I think it's one of those cutaway perspective drawings of the interior of a house, perhaps our house, I submit.   He got the location of the garage correct, it is on the left, other than that...  I... well, I laugh aloud every time I look at this carefully.

I'll be damned if I know why there is a baseball field in the living room (I think it is the back of the chair and the floor molding around the carpet), or why the television is on the roof (it's not, it's on the other side of the room so the perspective attempt is there).  In the kitchen there is only a faucet (although to the left of it is, I think, the fridge).  Things go horribly wrong now, oddly Escheresque, those are steps there on the right, going up to a doorway, then into the upstairs, well, er, basement where there is another doorway a ways down.  I am unaware of this area in my house so I can only assume he's working on the re-model.

Why are these two things together in a post?  What am I getting at?  Simply put:  It's all in the trying.

There are probably ten or twelve of these perspective fails by Z, and probably more he threw away.  He drew cubes for about a week when he was first shown how to draw them.  N has long made multiples on a drawing theme, in fact there was quite a series of animals he drew when he was very small, all virtually indistinguishable from the others.

But, man, just look how hard they worked on these things.  There is probably a couple of kidhours of labor put into all those Mario characters, scissor-work is not his forte, and I've seen Z working on one of these perspective drawings, erasing and replacing, for a half hour or more.

When do we loose that ability to react positively, eagerly, when we feel compelled to do something, something positive of course?  I sort of felt compelled to begin this blog but lately it has been difficult to find the time I feel I need to give it justice.  But, as I watch their intent faces, their stuck-out tongues, their little groans of frustration, their cute smirky smiles like we all get when something goes surprisingly right, as I see that intensity, I remember sitting on a bed and learning to play the guitar, flying through the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, spending a week learning to make a cube out of paper, or endlessly tossing a ball against a wall and catching it, and, nothing seems impossible anymore.

I think, when we are young warriors at heart, like these little guys, we feel we have to learn to get some things just right, practice things endlessly, explore possibilities until there are no more.  It's hard to watch because it seems to hurt a little for them, but it is necessary.

I am proud of my boys, they fail well, they fail honorably, nobly.  And, they keep trying.  My kids have so much to teach me.

Look again at Z's house, am I the only one that finds the floating window there on the far right creepy.  Oh, and it's on a bit of an angle there, in perspective.

From Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

N: "Raise your hand if you like Thanksgiving!"
Z:  "Raise your hand if you like Christmas!"
N:  "Raise your hand if you like Halloween!"
Z:  "Raise your hand if you like Your Birthday!"
N:  "Raise your hand if you like Lent!"

Really, Lent ranks fifth, who knew...?

(For more on how I feel about failing see the post "Dabby Peedles." )

Monday, February 20, 2012

Backpack Finds

Sometimes it really is too easy.  Case in point, these two gems from the folders the boys bring back and forth from school, the school calls them "communicators," I call them blog fodder.

First this from Z, talk about perspective fail, this is priceless:

And then this from Nick:

My god.  If I were given this assignment I would whine, a lot.  I mean really, all of that.  Four categories, five answers each, attempt to spell correctly, multicolored pictures, and lastly, you have to pick the last one yourself.  Come on!  Honestly, that would take me hours, agonizing over the answers, man.

From Marci's  '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

(silent pause)
Mom:  "Why are we being quiet, honey?"
(long pause in silence)
N:  "If you are really quiet sometimes you can hear God."
(even longer pause in silence)
N:  "He says, No"

I know the feeling, Nick, I know the feeling...

Friday, February 17, 2012

acsis and sords

Well, lets see... to continue the saga of the Playground Crusades (begun in the post Nonversations), N and Z and a number of the other kids are in a "playground club" called the Lovees, they battle the Hatees on whom we now have some critical surveillance information.  I can only share this with you if you pinky swear not to tell:

(I'd really like to say the dog chewed on this, but, uh... we don't have a dog and it's not something a cat would do, so, truth be told, N was chewing on it.  My imagination, at times overly lucid, had him trying to eat the evidence before the counter-revolutionaries found it.) 

I'll use the special order, over-utilized, under-appreciated, kid-to-parent decoder ring:  "hates (whom I've dubbed the Hatees, it's more poetic), below that, defense, next line, throwing, brains and horns.  The next column is:  foods, there under the bite-marks, food again, plants, hearts and brain (singular)."

There is an ominous propaganda picture underneath the recon brief, a Hatee in full battle regalia; horns, a shield and what was reported to be a "vest of strength."  Lightning flashes and thunder "booms" in the distance.  All pretty interesting stuff.

In the same packet there was an assessment of the Lovees weaponry, consisting of:

"acsis (axes) and sords"  Looks like they are well prepared.

Of course I had a conversation with N about all this, mostly out of morbid curiosity, and found out that the Hatees not only eat brain (singular), but throw it at the enemy as well, "but they don't throw hearts" it was emphasized, I guess that would just be gross.

I finally found out today that they are no more Hatees, they either dropped out or were assimilated into the Lovee cult.

Recess is weird.

from Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

"I only know two presidents, Obama and George Washington.  I need to tell someone."

George who... ? 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Valentine's Day Post

I didn't do it right.  I didn't get my wife a bunch of limp roses at the supermarket.  I didn't hang up beautiful little notes full of wise and encouraging words for my boys to find on their dressers and read this morning.  I didn't make a "love song playset" on the computer, complete with images, to slideshow during our romantic "living room picnic"  (not that I'd know how).  I didn't make Valentines for all of the lunch staff at the boys school, or the busdrivers, or the trashlady, or the postal workers in my life.

I didn't bake heart and Cupid-shaped cookies and ice them with pink icing (actually I made a stirfry the boys didn't even like so they had rice and sliced turkey).  I didn't get a Pajamagram or send a Teddygram, hell,  I didn't even buy a single card.  I didn't write my wife a love sonnet or a song (although I've been known to) nor did I "spend time meditating on those I have loved" as someone suggested on some TV show today.  I didn't really do much to celebrate this Valentine's Day.  I've always been a bad consumer.

And yet I got this...

and this...

You know what, I did get my wife those little packets of hummus she likes from the supermarket the other day, and I send little silly notes in the boys' lunches when they pack.  We have picnics, indoor and out, with some frequency and, we often sing songs together.  I always smile and thank the lunchroom staff anywhere I am  The busdriver is as sweet a woman as I've ever met and I have thanked her, and her superiors, for her dedication in writing, I always chat with the trashlady (and leave her a note when there is loose, broken glass in the trashbin) whose hard work is often underappreciated. And our mail-carrier always waves.  I acknowledge and treasure these people frequently and openly.

You see, every day is Valentine's Day here.  Every day is Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter and Martin Luther King Day and New Year's Day and whatever Holiday you've got.  Every day is a day to say 'I love you.'  Just as every day is a day to glorify new hope, appreciate our many gifts, consider forgiveness and resurrection, proclaim and honor our heroes and make new resolutions.  Everyday there's something to celebrate.

Actually, we did have leftover heart-shaped cookies that my wife brought home from work, but, we pretty  much eat cookies any shape, any size, any time around here.

From Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

"The Town Hall has been robbed.
Signed, The Hopper."

Curse you, The Hopper, curse you...

Monday, February 13, 2012


Marci got this on the camera maybe two years ago.  I don't know when we "big guys" stop dancing like "little guys."  It's a shame we ever have to.  They make up their own moves (surely you don't think I dance that well), it's as though moving to music is in their very genes, which I happen to think is true.  They look so happy, joyful and free.

I've been thinking a lot about that:  Happy, as in "Hey, I'm alive,"  Joyful, as in "I'm happy and I will show you," and Free, as in "I have no restraints, I will do it this way because it pleases me."  Should it always be that simple and easy, boys?  I hope so, for your sake.

I've been wanting to post something other than pictures and such.  I am still working on conversations which are hard to sometimes record.  I am glad to show you this, I am glad it is here.  Of the over sixty posts I have done in the past few months, I suspect this is one the ones I will come back to most often.  And cherish most deeply.

From Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

Me:  "Goodness, when did you get so big...?"
Z:  (matter-of-factly) "Friday."

It was Friday, I was there...

Saturday, February 11, 2012


(nonversation(n):  a dialogue between two people in which, although thoroughly convinced otherwise, both parties are not in agreement as to the topic)

N came home from school the other day and rushed in, rushed through his homework and his take-home folder and rushed for a piece of paper and wrote this:

It says, using the decoder ring:  "What I need to do.  1. recess play Loveys.  Defense with horns, punching.  Foods we eat: cheese, pretzels.

(I say watchagotthere a lot.)

"Watchagotthere?" I ask him.

"Oh it's a list of the things I need to do tomorrow," he says handing me the sheet which he had ripped the bottom of off, presumably because he doesn't like seeing so much empty space.  Who does?

"I see.  What's a 'Lovey?'" I ask.

"It's a bunchakids on the playground and we're called the Loveys and we run around together and we like to eat stuff."

Now here's where it gets a little confusing, you see I figured that this 'bunchakids' had in common the fact that they all had objects of significance, i.e. Teddy Bears, Linus-style blankets, a wooden screwdriver, a silky scarf, you get it.  I saw it as a sort of book club, discussion group, juice-box sipping type of thing.  My bad...

"What do some of the other kids have for Loveys?"


"Well, you know, like you have Kitty and Zack has Bear-Bear, what do the other kids have?"

"Uhm, Dad, it's a club for kids, there are not cats or bears allowed... or girls, I think, except for (as i have said I refuse to implicate others in this whole mess of a childhood I am describing), they're girls, actually."

In a moment of inclarity I ask, "Why are you called Loveys, then?"

"Because we love stuff.  Like pretzels and cheese, and turkey.  Oh, man, I forgot to write that."

"Well that's great," I say, actually pleased that love is even a topic of interest in my poop-joke-loving, punch-kick-throwing, constant-kill-referencing nearly seven-year-olds.

"So what's this defense with horns and ponchos?"

"Dad," he says very slowly, treating me like the idiot I must appear to him to be, "We're the Loveys, we chase other kids around and some times we need to use our horns," here it puts fingers up by the side of his head in the universal gesture for horns (and ironically, idiots), "and we need to get better at punching."

"Uh, right.  What kids are you chasing, and why?"  And why are 'Loveys' punching?

"We chase the Hades, the kids who aren't Loveys."

In a moment of exasperation I blurt out, "What's Hell got to do with it?"

Finally Z, sensing the confusion, chimes in.  "Dad, Loveys chase Hatees."  Again very slowly, "Like love is the opposite of hate, Loveys, Hatees... get it?"

Uh, yeah Zack, I am caught up now.

What is this, Playground Crusades?  Honestly I still don't get.

From Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

"I am going to POW you into dead-ness... (the bad guy said that to you, Mom, it wasn't me)."
I have actually been 'POWed into dead-ness,' it ain't that bad...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Retrotoaster, The Food Palette

The USDA or FDA or FEMA or somebody is soon introducing a new approach to balanced nutrition for children:

A little explanation is due here.  You see, I got a new purse, fanny pack, manbag, messenger bag, murse... oh who am I kidding, it is a purse, even if it is rich, chocolate brown leather.  Anyway, when I went to switch out from my old bag the above fell out, folded and tucked in a back zipper pocket.  I don't remember when, although I suspect it was at least two years back, or why I put it in there.  I most have found some humor in it and I still do.

This will replace the Food Pyramid or Food Pie Chart or whatever it used to be. They are calling it The Food Palette.  It includes, and is limited to, these main items, which I had, thankfully, already labeled:  mac-and-cheese, apple sauce, white milk, french fries, chicken nuggets (which I assume they were out of, or 86ed, at the time because they are scribbled out), burger and chocolate milk.

A cannot be sure why it says "Zacl + (circled)2" there at the bottom nor why one branch of the palette is labeled "nana" and the other "(backwards)papa," but, who am I to question the mysterious and always profound wisdom of the federal government.

Any of you who have toddlers and pre-schoolers are probably saying that you have already adopted the Food Palette, and those of you who are still trying to feed your youngsters cauliflower, egg-white omelets and tofu will soon be following this, I guarantee.

They boys have been sick on and off now for over a week and that makes it difficult to spend the time posting on ihopeiwinatoaster here, but, hopefully, they are finallty getting better and I can get back into the rhythm of things here again.  It's funny, I follow a few parenting blogs and some are so far-reaching, so well edited, so clever, so well-tended with Facebook pages and links and the like, that I wonder:  when do these people find the time to be the perfect, clever, vigilant, loving, crafty and flawless parents they portend to be?

Well, my blog sucks a little so you must know I am spending time with my kids.  Right?

From Marci's  "...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat..."

Z:  "But, Nick, you have to *tell* me when you change my mind."

I, too, need to be told when my mind is changed, it's only fair...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Domestic Bliss

N drew this the other day, it's pretty standard issue stuff:

It's a house with a beautiful dormer, roses, nice landscaping, a working fireplace I see there, mountain setting, a nice Dr. Suess sun setting behind the Dr. Suess tree there on the left and, in the tree, a baby bird or a bear cub with a toothache.  Oh, and there is someone there to greet you.

I think we are looking at a whole lot more here, though.  It's sort of The American Dream, I thought for a while (they get fed a lot of that in public schools, in a good way), but I don't think that's quite it either.  It's more.  It's a sort of brief peek into a forming psyche in a way.  And what do I make of it?  Alright, I'll play...

I see a love-instilled view of nature.  I see contentment.  I see sunshine-yellow warmth rendered perfectly in black and white.  I see light where darkness could be.  I see a door opening.  I see open arms.  I see an awareness of happiness.

An awareness of happiness, does that make sense?  It is from the knowing that we can be happy, not simply in happiness, that we draw our strength as family, as tribes, as communities, as humans, as a species.

Happiness is not something to be poo-pooed or taken casually, it is very real to a nearly seven-year-old boy. And, we must be sure that he sees it falling off of us like rain, dripping in his eyes, blurring them to the petty meanness that life can be, and assuring him that this is his inheritance, his entitlement, his destiny.

I feel sure that this is a self-portrait, that man there to greet you, greet me, is Nick.

On another note, I made some bread today in the machine:

"Dad's ugly bread."  Yeah, thanks Zack.  Honestly, that's how it looked, dead-on; pasty, lumpy, and fallen.  We all suffered through  two hot slices a piece somehow.  Slathered with real butter and honey, giggling over how positively pathetic it looked, there's nothing like a hot yeast-bread.

From Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

"Dad, can we dance?"

"Yes son, you can always dance."

I said that...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Twin's Towers

Just an example of just how different two kids, raised under the same roof, sharing the same DNA, and treated as equally as possible can be.

Marci and I are going away for a few nights to a cabin in Hocking Hills to celebrate our ten-year anniversary so, I won't be posting for a few days.

From Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

"Yeah, Nick, it's not rocket science."

It just seems like it...