Jordan and I went canoeing on the Bushkill River on Mother's Day as part of an effort to get Jordan, Luke and our friends Jess and Dylan's two-year-old twins used to the idea of being in a boat. We started off putting all four kids in the boat, and then Sue and Jess dragged them up and down the brook for a while (exceedingly cold work, given that it was only about 70 degrees out, the water was far colder, and they were standing in it). Once the little kids had had their full of the water, I took Jordie out in the (slightly) deeper water. The water was about two feet deep in this picture, giving us just enough clearance to go paddling.
The dent you see in the side of the canoe is not from me; rather it's a legacy of a disastrous family canoing trip on the Delaware River when I was a kid that ended with said canoe colliding with a rather rock after our first encounter with rapids. The canoe is in good shape in spite of its Titanic moment, and Sue and I have had it out on the Delaware a bunch of times, though not much since the kids were born.
"How many Harry Potter movies are there?" Jordan asks me from the back seat of the Wrangler as we drive around Easton. The question isn't surprising; she's just watched Chronicles of Narnia and has decided she's ready to watch the first Harry Potter movie.
"Well, there are seven books," I said, "but there are going to be eight movies, because they're splitting the last book into two films."
There's a pause, then Jordan says "Eight minus two is six."
My dad was a science teacher, and I spent many a day going to work with him, on Saturdays or summer days, while he set up his classrooms, rebuilt bulletin boards, and generally did teacher stuff. I have pleasant memories of wandering through empty schools, exploring new corridors, and taking the occasional break to draw epic space battles while my dad put the finishing touches on a display case packed with jars of preserved crittees caught at Sandy Hook.
I’d settled into a good routine. Get off work at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., go to the gym, and then get home by 6:00 to 6:30 in time for dinner with the family. Take care of the kids – giving them baths and cleaning up the house – and help herd them into bed by 8:30. Then my wife and I would have the evening to ourselves. That was the theory, and it was also the practice for a good long while.
And then Luke became a toddler.
I look like death warmed over. There are deep bags under my eyes, my neck muscles are vise-tight despite a massage on Saturday, and my face has that hang-dog, puffy look that comes from one too many nights spent sleeping far too little.
This is actually an improvement.
Things were worse in December and January, which were hell on sleep in the Newquist household as the kids forgot how to sleep through the night, family emergencies smashed our piece of mind, and a nasty stomach virus had my wife and the baby fighting to keep food down. And while it feels like we’ve been under siege for the last three days fighting this virus. Not all of my sleep deprivation is family induced though. There was a marathon session of Civilization IV of Saturday night, and more than a few late night DVD forays to watch the two Resident Evil sequels, the first two discs of Doctor Who, Season 3, and the Futurama movie Bender’s Big Heist.
Some days, I’m my own worst enemy.
T'was a very geeky Christmas once again this year, and the Geek Tree's rocket tree skirt is filled with all manner of games and toys for thirtysomething boys.
First up, this year's Hess truck goes off-roading with a huge engine-revving 4x4 with two motorcycles. Very cool, and an instant hit with the kids. My annual Star Trek ornament was the bridge of the Enterprise from Wrath of Khan, with the Reliant depicted on screen. It has dialog from the movie, which just makes me want to pop the DVD in and watch it.
The Advanced Players Guide, by Green Ronin, with new spells, new classes and the big surprise -- a mass combat system compatible with D&D. Another big Green Ronin book is the Ultramodern Weapons Guide, which is a d20 Modern-compatible hardcover detailing hundreds of weapons with descriptions, pictures, specs and game stats. I know, perfect for Christmas, but I've heard nothing but good things about the book from my fellow gamers.
The Geek Tree has spawned. With my 18-month-old son Luke obsessed with putting almost everything he finds in his mouth, we decided that hanging up my various mini (and easily swallowed) ornaments wasn't a good idea. At the same time, my parents discovered my old Christmas tree from high school, a 18" tree that I used to setup in my room.
A string of white lights later, and the Spawn of the Geek Tree was born.
Like the Geek Tree, the mini-Geek Tree is decorated with a variety of science fiction and comic book ornaments (no fantasy ones though -- I didn't have any small enough for this tree; even the hobbits are out of scale). It's decorated with Hallmark's miniature Star Trek ornaments (the Enterprise-E, Defiant and Voyager) as well as their Star Wars collection (Imperial AT-AT, TIE Fighter and X-Wing).
It's the 23rd of December, which is a date my four-year-old is having a hard time grasping. She's mentally willing for Christmas to be here tomorrow and the whole "Christmas Eve" thing just isn't making sense to her. But she can tolerate Christmas Eve ... it's the Day before the Eve that's really getting to her.
I'm an uncle again. My sister Kristen had a baby boy earlier this week -- Benjamin Francis weighed in at 8 lbs. 8 oz. and measured 22.5" long. That's an inch and a half longer and about 5 oz. heavier then Luke when he was born ... and about 2 lbs. bigger then Ben's sister Sydney. (Ben came 8 days late, Syd 10 days early).