Friday, December 31, 2010

Rockin New Year's Eve.

Happy New Year to everybody. Here's how we spent ours.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wii fit.

Beth achieving "Professional" status on the ski jump.
Beth flapping her wings like a little bird.
Beth getting knocked off the high-altitude obstacle course.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bite Mii.

If anybody other than the friendly, animated Wii Fit Balance Board told me I was 15 pounds overweight and physically 8 years older than my age, that person would likely get smacked upside the head. Thankfully, the same gaming console that shares this information also provides opportunities to shoot, stab, kick and blow up people safely without anyone really getting hurt.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

My dog likes candy canes.

This post is not interesting.

My dog doesn't like bones. She is very picky about dog food, unlike Lydia. But she's very open-minded when it comes to people food that she can snatch off the counter. We bought an extra box of candy canes to put on the Christmas tree. Elizabeth came home to find them gone, the evidence stuck to Cassie's paws and face. Later, I smashed up 30 candy canes to make peppermint bark (which didn't turn out so great) and split the pieces between two plastic bags. I left the house and remembered just as I left, car full of children, late for a Cub Scout field trip, that the candy canes were still on the kitchen island within paw's length. She ate one of the bags. Funny thing is, Cassie is always teased about her awful breath, which reminds me of what my pet turtle's tank used to smell like when I didn't clean it as a kid, and she won't eat those "greenies" because they are too much like bones. So I guess I shouldn't complain if she likes people food that leaves her breath sort of minty fresh.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflections on Boxing Day.

Ambrose spent much of Christmas Eve making clay people. He's taken a new interest in making things. This is a snow man.

We have started a new Xmas Eve tradition: mashed potato bar. Ezra won "Most Toppings." Ambrose won for presentation. I won for being a fuckin' glutton. The boat bottom right is Beth's signature Thai peanut curry gravy. 

It wasn't MY idea to give a nine-year-old an iPod. However, I have enjoyed going through my library to find songs to fill it up with.
Along with sooty fingerprints on the mantel, two distinct sleigh bells were found lying in the cold ashes.

Each kid got a "big" present. Ambrose really needed a bike. Ezra did not need an iPod.

At our house, Santa Claus leaves Jack Links beef sticks in the stockings.

Santa only brought one present this year, everything else was from parents and grandparents. That present was a Wii. The adults vowed to use it for its fitness capabilities. This adult has ended up playing a lot of Lightsaber Duel.

Of the clay figurines, Ambrose made one specifically for me, a cute little devil. For some perverse reason this gift stood out as one of the most touching gestures of all the gifts given. It was a sign he really knows his dad's tastes, and doesn't realize how twisted they are.  Overheard: "No, he's not dead. He just lives in Hell."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Bearing gifts, we traverse afar.

Here, Jesus, I brought you this cat.

December 24, 2010.

It was the boys' first Christmas Eve here, since I've been living with Elizabeth. The magic is high --- they are really feeling the Santa energy crackle like moonlight on the new fallen snow and such --- earlier tonight Ambrose made a series of paper ornaments for the elves, who he says don't get presents, and a paper sleigh with a sign reading "Be Happy Santa."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010

The boys begged to sleep on the family room floor together. Ambrose is reading to Lucas. Lucas thinks I am taking a still photo.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Just made the kids pancakes covered in bananas and syrup, crisp hash browns, bacon at that perfect moment between burned and undercooked, and sunny-side-up eggs with the white part soft and intact, not burned. The fast has not been broken, it has been fucking nuked. And everyone is happy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My son and the piano.

The other day we went caroling for this cub scout event at an old folks' home. It's a real nice one. They have a Steinway piano in the carpeted banquet room where all the kids gathered after we were done. I encouraged Ezra to go play. He wasn't shy, he was just concerned whether or not we were allowed to use it. I told him it was fine. Ezra started to play "Canon." I stood behind him watching him sway as he played it and noticing the graceful way his hands landed upon the keys. As beautiful as the sounds were it was also the sight of him that surprised me with a clutching in my throat. He was so clearly not only feeling the music, but, as you can tell from the way his hands fell upon the keyboard, adoring it. Parents paused from bundling their kids up and wandered over to listen.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19, 2010

I'm still working on a couple of proper posts so in the meantime, here are some  pictures of dogs spooning.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18, 2010

Holiday-appropriate activities. Took the kids caroling at the old folks' home for Cub Scouts (ha, I mean WITH the Cub Scouts we went to carol at an old folks' home, not one just for Scouts). I hold tight to any moment when the kids still really act like kids (e.g., innocent, sweet, full of wonder) so hearing them sing carols without complaining, or miraculously, without replacing the Jingle Bells lyrics, qualified.
Later that day, cookies were made.
Followed by collaboration on a gingerbread house.
At night the boys asked if they could all camp out on the floor of Ezra and Ambrose's room. Elizabeth and I retired upstairs to watch Inception. The movie is disorienting; after it's over you look around the room at the objects in it and your sense of what could happen in reality is stretched. I fell asleep wondering exactly what type of dream the day had been.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Readership here at frominbetween is way down. However, so is writership.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ted, just admit it.

Time to quit that job as an art students' sketch model.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12/12/10, 6:37 pm: Why I let my kids use email.

Dear dad we miss you so.we  no you do to.we just cant wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 from ambrose


Saturday, December 11, 2010


My lady was brave enough to go outside today and I was not. Though I was busy braving studying for a final exam on 65 Chinese medicinal plants.
Photo credit: butnevertheless

Friday, December 10, 2010

Couch Olympus.

Yesterday Ambrose thunders into the room and holds up each of his palms which have orange disks drawn on them with magic marker and says "Look Dad, I have God powers." He poses, crouched low with his arm straight out looking like Iron Man about to fire his repulsor or the villain from Iron Monkey, a corrupt monk who has mastered the deadly Buddha's Palm. He makes whushing sounds. "And look at this," he says, rolling up his sleeve to show me his upper arm. He has multicolored rings and patterns colored in around his elbow, forearm and bicep. "When I bring my elbow down like THIS," he says, miming the gesture of crashing it onto the table, "it creates a force like BOOOOOSH." He moves his hands as if to represent a shock wave.

He kept asking me to play with him last night and finally I agreed. We played "gods."

I was Poseidon. The couch was Mount Olympus. Apparently Lucas and I were Greek gods but Ambrose was THE God. (Fitting his role, he is pretty bossy and controlling). I wanted to be Hades but he wouldn't let me, because Hades is a bad guy, but I like this--usually his imagination is pretty violent. Now, every time I want to destroy villages with tidal waves he stops me, using his God powers to reverse the flow, because we are gods and we are supposed to be good. I don't want to discourage beneficence, however, I like the boys to have a sophisticated understanding of human morality so Elizabeth and I try to explain that gods are just like people, with powers, not necessarily "bad" or "good," and I quote Voldemort: "There is no good or evil: only power and those too weak to seek it."

The distinction is lost on Ambrose whose name, by the way, means "immortal."

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hell = other people.

In the play No Exit Jean Paul Sartre said "Hell is other people." I was puzzled by the quote at first. However, in different ways, I'm reminded each day of its inherent wisdom. E.g., the man sitting across from me is massively chewing on his tongue while he types. And of course I can't stop looking, because my brain craves things to be annoyed about.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Whoop-ie. A sick day.

Ambrose is "sick" today which, with him, has proven the same as always. He throws up violently a few times and then is with me the rest of the day completely animated, talking non-stop, and so cute and engaging I feel guilty working, which I do on a laptop. I've mastered the art of saying "Oh, really?" and repeating back the last few words he said so it isn't totally obvious I'm preoccupied by what's on the screen, mundane crap that pays the bills.

I do take frequent breaks to hang out with him though. Just now I showed him the proper way to inflate, place, and trick someone into sitting on, a whoopie cushion.

Monday, December 06, 2010

om my god that is sweet.

Brothers and sisters: If you are having a shitty Monday, stop fighting it. Close your eyes, listen to this, and simply become the blues.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Mad Beth Beyond Thunderdome.

After the zombie apocalypse the Internet was down and Beth tried and tried to get it working but she couldn't so she and eric had to use their phones to blog for one night and she also found that frustrating.

Kids say the darnedest shit!

Trying to clean up the dark and forgotten places in the kids' room I found a Luke Skywalker action figure whose head was trapped under the post of their bunk-bed. I told Ambrose to pull him out when I lifted it. This particular series of dolls have rubbery heads, and its face was squashed flat.

Ambrose laughed. "He looks like a douchebag!"

"WHAT did you just say?" I said, shocked and amused. He repeated it.

"That is not a good word for kids to use Ams," I told him, "it's one of the 'bad' words."

"But you called me a douchebag last week," he said, smiling.

"No way. That is not possible. I would never call you that."

"You did!" he said.

I went back in my mind and, yes, hazily remember an episode of him not doing something I asked for the nineteenth time and me being late to drive them to the bus and a few of the adults-only words flying out. I've said some bad things to, or in front of, the boys, but calling them douchebags goes past the our-free-spirited-dad-and-his-colorful-temper level of acceptable and closer to the I-burn-my-children-with-cigarettes spectrum.

"Oh, shit" I said.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Odyssey's end.

Good bye to my traveling companion of nine years. The family as you knew it was not quite meant to be, but while it was, you kept us safe.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Now, what do you say...?

Over and over again I remind them.

I swear to god there is a neuron in the human brain for saying "please" and "thank you."

Children simply do not have it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


The cliff walk in Pembrokeshire.

Runing Gaag

Every time Elizabeth and I go to Ikea I make the same joke. We're usually discussing and strategizing. Which material do we like better, the metal or the fabric? Is this bed going to fit under the low ceilings upstairs? When we get to this sign in the showroom, I point to it:
"Hey hon," I'll say to get her attention, keeping the same tone of serious discussion, "What about these? I hear they really make things go quickly." This is a stupid joke. The knowledge that it is stupid makes it very, very funny to me. At this stage if I'm lucky Elizabeth is amused, or at least indulgent. It goes on.
"This one is the furniture for hyper kids."

A joke is funny the first time, and then it's funny one more time. The next time, the joke is not funny. At that precise point it is ready to become part of a running gag. So goes the remainder of our trip to Ikea.
This one is nice, but I can't seem to figure out what shape it is?
This would be perfect for the mantel, but it already belongs to somebody!
I like this table for the family room except it feels like it's missing something.
This is the same table, last week.
 This is that new robot Ikea makes, the one that's always checking things out?
Ooh these are defective. Their mom and dad intermarried from the same product family.
This table? It always holds the door open for me --- and I like that.
I really crack myself up, audibly. If I still get the indulgent smile from Beth, that's a plus. If she gives me a slightly strained smile (we have a code for it, it's the "you're so cute and funny" or YSCAF smile) that's a real plus. I am a total sadist.

I'm also like a stern martial arts teacher who wants to see the mystical realization that happens when, after turning a joke into a running joke and telling it over and over again, like the Karate Kid hanging up his jacket 600 times, it crosses a threshold and the original joke becomes funny again. (to me). There is a reluctant pupil in that analogy which is where it fails to parallel my relationship; the only thing Beth learns from me about comedy is how to endure it. However, this Sunday, we were at Ikea getting a bookshelf. I also wanted to find something the kids could use to display all the new shells they picked up last week. Beth suggested specimen jars. We found some. I was just about to pick one up. "Don't take that one honey," she said. "It's Burken."
The furniture and laughs at Ikea are cheap. My lady? Priceless. (Read that three times).