Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Captain America Saves the Day (Again)

Victory is ours!
Playing with my son, WWII looms large in his imagination, thanks in part to recent major motion pictures. The good guys still win but with the help of a costumed superhero.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kids Give Feeback About Blog Content

The seven-year-old wanted his Star Wars-themed Hood River, OR shirt to be posted. The bottom line reads, "May the Forrest be with you."
Today is my housekeeping day in the blogosphere where I tidy up all those random things that need to be posted, but may not be worth an entire post on their own.

First up, my kids have sat me down and given me a strict talking to. I must NEVER again refer to the act of a child coming to our house, or one of our children going to another house, as a play date. For the ten-year-old, this will be called a "get together." For the seven-year-old this will be "hanging out." Severe penalties will result in the event of a slip up.

The older kid sent me this heavy metal cat video. This is viral in her fifth grade class.

Also, the younger one has started calling my didgeridoo my Holy Staff, which gives you an insight to how we do things here. Let the chanting begin!

Monday, August 27, 2012

East Meets West Over Allowance Rules

My brother has used this form to good effect. But I'm chasing a different dream.
My brother, who lives in the Eastern Time Zone, drafted the above document to incentivize good behavior for his seven-year-old. The above shows a daily list of chores that when successfully completed translate to a point system. More points equal more weekly allowance cash.

This is a fairly new system in his household, but he reports that so far it has brought a good level of compliance, especially for subjective areas like "Demonstrate polite and respectful behavior to parents and adults" (under bonus points).

Our allowance system is detached from household chores and its main purpose is to breed some sort of self responsibility. Our weekly allowance rules are as follows:
  • Kid must ask for allowance on Friday, if he/she forgets then cash is forfeited
  • Amount equals half age minus 10 percent for charity
  • If money is not put in safe place, it will be taken away
 We get compliance on chores the old fashioned way -- by making parenting faces of concern and disappointment (and then screaming) -- and eventually threatening a reduction in screen time.

Readers of this blog are given all sorts of sociological and cultural ammunition to craft theories on differences in parenting styles between the Republic of Portland and the Eastern Time Zone.

Obviously I like our system best because I don't have to take out the clipboard and make official inspection rounds, interview witnesses, or call up educators every night. But our system does have some obvious drawbacks.

This past Friday I was on the verge of slumber in my darkened sleep chamber and I hear the door open. Illness? Nightmare? I wonder as I quickly become alert. "Daddy, can I have my allowance?"

I ruled she could have her allowance this time only, but the new rule was the Friday window of opportunity ended when the lights went off.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back To School and Lance Armstrong

These are cute, but I need to rant about ill-advised policy at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency

My daughter bought some excellent shoes yesterday in preparation for a joyous return to school. However, my mind is running riot on the news that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)  stripped Lance Armstrong of his tour titles and banned him from Olympic sport.

My first thoughts about this were that the USADA, frustrated about not catching enough dopers in the present, is turning to the past, and will perhaps go as far back as 1868 when James Moore won the first ever bike race in Paris (Witnesses saw him imbibing a “pep” tonic of an undisclosed nature). When time travel becomes possible, the USADA has plans to journey to the future to have athletes pee in digital jars.

Obviously I’m upset, mainly because I make these bar bets that professional cycling can’t get any more ridiculous and absurd. (I’m now hearing my drinking buddy, known as The Spaniard, taunting me in his nasal voice, “You lose again, seƱor!”)

Calming down I realize it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get to work figuring out what blanks to fill in now that Lance is erased from history books. Taking the 2003 tour as an example here are the general classification rankings:
  1. Lance Armstrongguilty, guilty, guilty! Of loving (cycling) too much
  2. Jan Ullrich – All his 2005 cycling results were annulled due to issues relating to performance-enhancing drugs. So let’s skip this one
  3. Alexandre Vinokourov – Caught blood doping in the 2007 tour, next!
  4. Tyler Hamilton – He beat Olympic doping charges in 2004, but failed drug tests later that year. Best to keep moving
  5. Haimar Zubeldia – Congratulations!
 A rigorous searching for the word “doping” on Haimar Zubeldia’s Wikipedia page has turned up clear. Hail the new 2003 champion. (Note to The Spaniard: Zubeldia is Basque, not from other, nearby countries).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kids Ready For Bed

After quietly reading and talking in subdued voices the kids were set for a gentle transition to the land of nod.

Unfortunately my ability to read a situation and act appropriately has diminished as of late. I entered the room and made some unwise choices. Here is the result:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Camo Cargo Shorts

My family is tired of seeing these as well as hearing about them. I figure if PhD candidates could write dissertations about Madonna in the 1980s I get a few more weeks of comments about the pants.
Generally I'm a poor dresser and have to be prodded to update my wardrobe -- so when I do decide to make a purchase not only is it a big deal, but I usually make poor decisions as the act is so alien.

So at the start of the summer I wanted to buy a pair of cargo shorts. I went on-line, found a camo-print pair on special and figured I would bond with my son over them as he loves to dress head to toe in camouflage clothing.

The shorts fit me well and I especially like the side pockets for phone storage, as such is required on any family outing. The side pockets also solve the nagging summer problem of what to with sunglasses when entering a shop. I find putting sunglasses on my head like solar panels unacceptable. The cotton fabric absorbs sweat well and is of a rugged nature.

The camo-print jazzes up my otherwise bland dress as I neurotically wear T-shirts without logos or printing on them.

LSS believes I have given way, way, way too much attention to the shorts issue this summer. In response I would underscore how cool I look wearing them. She would beg to differ, pointing out how very much NOT a teenager I am.

We've discussed having all family members get such shorts. Assuming next year my shorts haven't "disappeared" and retail options are similar to this year's, we may very well have a really excellent blog post.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cutting the Cheese

The proverbial cheese?
I am undone. We are all undone. Help us before we all blast ourselves into oblivion!

I have been vaguely searching for a philosophy or direction here, but have come up short. I've heard that some parents forbid farting, upon pain of banishment, at the dinner table -- sounds like a good start here. My initial direction is to encourage silent release of energy and discourage dramatic posing, songs, loud declarations, and poetry (unless it's Chaucer).

Part of the problem is that farting, under the correct conditions (such as outside, for example), can be a rich source of comedy.

Our family has enough comedy for the moment. School is starting. We need to just get a little bit serious.

Well, maybe we've got a week or so left.

So go ahead, pull my finger.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Urban Portland Hike Video

Portlandia herself looms preeminent in majestic splendor, admonishing any confusion of neurosis for virtue or other general lameness.

No volcanoes this weekend -- strictly in the Hood (rather than on it) hiking the local asphalt byways. The triple digits have broken, bringing the feeling that we've got to enjoy the fair weather before it's gone. A big carpe diem using outside voices and away we went!

Friday, August 17, 2012

We've Come a Long Way, Baby!

Single-handedly our family kept the sippy cup industry strong by losing on average one cup per day for over six years.
So often as a parent I don't appreciate the stages of childhood recently completed. Yesterday it occurred to me how great it is that my kids don't need sippy cups.

Instead of losing sippy cups we now are amassing a large collection of water bottles, whereby we routinely forget them at home and speed the destruction of the planet by buying bottled water wherever we go.

You can guess it's another hot one in P-town as hydration is first on my mind. Live, love, hydrate!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dog Days

A dose of mid-America  reality temporarily eradicated our smugness.
Today I checked the calendar more than a few times, wondering when school would start. The kids slept late and languidly picked up the devices, acting like every biblical pestilence and a few new ones awaited them beyond the couch.

For most of the day the weather wasn't crazy hot, but perhaps it was the humidity that killed any desire for creative play.

LSS took the kids somewhere to jump on trampolines giving me an opportunity to get some things done -- blogging!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When House Guests Depart

Fiercely proud of his desire to have our guests remain.

The seven-year-old taped the doors shut to prevent our house guests from leaving -- the perfect statement of an excellent visit. We will miss them!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stoke Proclamation

Intrepid explorers on route to the Cooper Spur, a feature of Mt. Hood.
Sometimes life is so good I just need to proclaim (from a mountain top!) my stoke and gratitude for all the blessings.

I love being outdoors. This is what I want to pass on to my kids. Religion? Why not. Politics? Can't hurt. But the big thing, the one I think about more than others, is teaching the kids to enjoy themselves outside.  The purity of solitude, the beauty of the land, the joy of being able to be really, really loud and not have anyone tell you to be quiet -- these are only a few of the benefits.

As an adult I realize that I will be happier not to stake so much emotional capital on this outcome. I joke that I don't want to be a "football dad," someone who berates his kids to pursue his idea of a life well-lived. My daughter has picked up on this, somewhat, and tells me not to be a football dad when I tell her to clean her room.

Since my kids were born I wanted to go on a long hike, where each participant carried his/her own water, food and gear. Saturday we achieved this goal by hiking up to the Cooper Spur, a feature on Mt. Hood. We hiked four hours up, two coming down.

Thing got dicey when a kid got frustrated with loose rock and a steep slope, coming dangerously close to a cat 4 meltdown when a bug flew into the water bottle. Cooler heads prevailed and the day went well (I got the bug out and traded water bottles).

If all continues to hold we are on track to attempt Mt. St. Helens next summer. I can't wait.
Pre-hike logistics and organization courtesy of the seven-year-old.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Interview With a Peace Educator

Peaceful coexistence of the feet. 
An opportunity arose to interview a bone fide peace educator. I immediately rounded up the Portdaddida crew and we leapt into action. Enjoy:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Something I'm Proud Of

Eggplant and pork, a fine meal.
Booyah! Totally guessed the right-sized container when putting the food away. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why I Love Being a Parent

"Yes, penguins can fly," was the explanation..
When I came downstairs yesterday morning this greeted me -- life is generous!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Interview With a 10-year-old iPad User

"Whatever you're doing you should stop!" I might have said, but was too busy checking my email.

Perhaps my generation fought for its right to party, but for those born after 2000 the struggle is for more, and better quality, screen time. But when the kid gets the device what does she do with it?

The following video attempts to answer that question and is an interview with my 10-year-old daughter.

 Reviewing the video with the kid, she said she forgot to mention that Facetime is great for chatting with friends and she frequently uses the iPad as a reader – Mad Magazine is a favorite. I can’t fault her with liking Mad, as she is the third generation in our family to enjoy it, even if it prompts her to ask what’s a “Brazilian” when we’re on a plane.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What the Kids Wear When Traveling

Choice traveling duds for a 7-year-old wannabe ninja: sweat pants, dragon T-shirt, red hoodie.

Last week I enjoyed a vacation with the other members of the Portdaddia clan, venturing outside of my region and philosophy –  a literal journey to the east where we were all spoiled with great company and food and drink.

Before going I imagined having a spare moment here and there to update the  blog, but when those moment came I preferred to develop new catchphrases and harass my children.

Before we actually boarded the plane the kids insisted I photograph their traveling clothes the same way I did.
The purple cap and jean jacket reflect the 10-year-old's  theatrical bent -- Lady Gaga watch out!