Friday, March 28, 2008

The Excuse Difference

We were driving to Ohio for Easter when Gamble piped up from the back seat, "Excuse me."

"Yes, Gamble?"

"Nothing. I burped."

"Oh, I thought you needed to interrupt."

"No. If I needed to interrupt, I would say, 'Excuse me, please.'"

Oh, I didn't know. Please excuse me...

Triple Dice Set and Other Moments of Brilliance

So given the situation we've been in with Gamble, we decided to take him to a neuropsychologist. I mean, we don't want to mess around. Given my history with academics and how he's demonstrating his learning ability already, coupled with the new weird feelings he's getting, and his newfound eye trouble, we just want to get some answers.

They did three days of testing, two hours each day.

I'm still not sure of everything they tested. They asked us a lot of questions about behavioral patterns, but he often didn't remember what they asked him by the time he got home.

What we do know is that on the last day, Nicole was in the waiting room at 11:00, when the appointment was supposed to end. A couple minutes late, one of the staff came out and asked for a little more time.

The time ticked away until Gamble emerged, almost an hour late. When asked about it, they said that they were trying to find the limits of what he knew, and every test they threw at him, he kept exceeding. I don't know if they found the boundary, or whether they gave up, but we should find out April 11, when we go back for the results.

When he got home that night, we were bribing him at the table to tell us what they asked, offering him his favorite bites for each thing he remembered.

"They asked me what words were."

"Words?" we asked

"Yeah, I had to say what the words were, like 'triple.'"

"And what does triple mean, Gamble?" Mommie, this time.

"It means three."

At this, I got a smug thought. I don't know if it made it to my face, but I knew right where to probe this one: "Where did you learn that?"

"From the DS."

From playing Mario Party DS, to be exact. It's a video game where you're a character in a board game (yeah, I know), and you roll dice to move. If you buy a triple dice set, you roll three dice.

And it's not the only positive thing he's learning from the DS, the eye doctor actually recommends playing the DS. He's farsighted, and the close-up focusing is strengthening his eyes.

But one of the most interesting knock-on learning effects the DS has had is in addition. When he gets a double or triple dice set, the numbers show up at the top of the screen, and they come together and form the sum before the character starts moving. Every turn is a little math lesson. I was caught off guard by this, when we rolled, and Gamble saw the second die come up and immediately said the sum, before it was displayed. Memorization, sure, but good for four.

We're very proud of our little guy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

We Went Bananas

Yesterday we had another open house. I don't know how people with small children ever sell their houses, to be honest. It's hard enough to keep a house relatively clean, but showroom spotless? On a moment's notice?

Well, you know us. It's hard to get moving on the weekend, and we typically can't be expected to get out before noon.

The open house started at 10. We woke up and mad dashed to get the kids dressed fed, and us showered, and the house scrubbed (well, Nic scrubs. Daddie keeps the kids quiet and out of the way).

We went to "Go Bananas" in Arlington Heights ( to keep busy. We've been wanting to go for months, and that seemed like a good day to go. Too cold to be outside just yet.

Well, it's like a very big, clean, nice, Chuck E. Cheese. They have food that's better, drinks that are a little better, mostly the same games, but they have a pretty decent selection of rides.

That's right.


For example, they have a roller coaster shaped like a dragon. It's very like what you'd find at a county fair, but nice, clean, and for $7, you can get a discount pass for unlimited rides.

Gamble did what any kid would do.

He rode, then got off, ran to the entrance, rode again, and again, and again. Reminds me of the last half hour before closing at Cedar Point when I was in high school. On and off the Gemini as fast as our legs would carry us.

We were there for several hours. I played video games, Skee-ball, and rode with Gamble (they have the kickingest bumper cars. They drive like tanks (two handed control)!). Nicole even got to play "Deal or No Deal" for tickets (she was awesome at it and handily trounced this Daddie), and claims to have suffered a Skee-ball injury from playing so much.

And towards the end of it, I had to cash in the tickets. Six hundred tickets! Oh my, it took a while to feed into the machine.

And then I got done, receipts in hand, and went to find my little buddy to do a little of "Wheel of Fortune"-style shopping (for those of you who remember the shopping they used to do. "And I'd like the rest on a Service Merchandise gift certificate, Chuck.").

Except he didn't seem to be on the coaster. This had happened throughout the day, but always turned out to be just us not seeing him as he was ducked down, too short, etc.

Not this time. He was most definitely not on the coaster.

I found and told Nicole, who was sitting in the cafe area. He'd not come to see her, and that's where we would have expected to look. I went back to the back of the arcade, where they had another ride, one in which the kids could control the height of their banana-planes. Nope. Not there.

And then I had a thought. Earlier in the day, we'd been lucky enough to catch Mommie just as she was going out to the car. We'd not known she was leaving. What if he thought that we were outside and wandered out there into the parking lot?

Panic rose, and I made my way to the front of the place.

He wasn't at the front. And he didn't appear to be outside anywhere.

I wasn't comforted. Not one bit. I went back inside, back towards the coaster. And I see Mommie walking with Gamble. She sat down in the cafe and we talked with him, and I got the scoop on what happened.

Gamble was worried when he got off the coaster. He didn't see us where we were, and walked up to the front so he could see if he could see the car through the front window. Someone guided him to the counter, and they asked him for his name and his Mommie's name, which he gave correctly.

They called her on the intercom, and she picked him up.

Scary? Yes. Our first real scare. And the reason parents give their kids cell phones. We got off light, and I learned a valuable lesson.

At the first sign of trouble... cover the exit. That's a rookie mistake for a four-year veteran of the parenting force to make. I won't make it again.

SpongeRandom Squarepants

We're a Squarepants family. We've been watching Spongebob for a couple years already, and since it seems to be on Nickelodeon thirty times daily, Gamble will default to it if there's nothing on.

Spongebob has a pretty annoying laugh. It really gets Squidward's goat, and Gamble thought that was funny. So he'd run around the house laughing like Spongebob, "Daaa-aaa-aaa-aaa-aaa!"

Turns out Nicole and Squidward share a distaste for that laugh.

But she's way smarter than Squidward. Oh, yes.

She combats laughter with laughter. She started doing the Spongebob laugh back at him.

And this just became one of our things. We occasionally will bust out with a Spongebob laugh whenever we're frustrated, stressed, or angry. Truth is, it's even outlived him doing it. Now it's more our thing than his.

Well, interestingly enough, I was talking to Nic from the drive home today (hands-free), and something came up where Nicole shouted out "Daaa-aaa-aaa-aaa-aaa!"

And from the phone I hear a distinct echo. Random: "Daaa-aaa!"

We cracked up. And to prove it wasn't a fluke, Nicole did it again. And again and again Random echoed the Spongey laugh.

I can't wait. "Dada? Daa-aa-aaa!"

Movie Time

Well, we took Miss Random to see her first movie, "Horton Hears a Who" (or as I called it, "Hot Ron Hears a Ho").

She was excellent. While she liked parts of it, it was during a time when she often sleeps, and she passed out on Nic's lap. We traded kids on and off throughout, but overall we had a great time, and didn't even have to leave the cinema!

Her favorite part was the song at the end. She loves music and singing. More on that in another post.

Gamble liked the movie, too! It was the first time that he ran out of po'corn, and was really sad that I wouldn't go get a refill for him.


So I was getting Gamble ready for the shower. Those of you who know him know he's famous for the whole Naked Boy thing. Running around like a sun worshipper.

So I don't think anything of him coming waltzing in naked to take his shower. Except we've started teaching him modesty.

You know, in preparation for school. I can't imagine how they'd take Naked Boy there.

So he comes in the other night to get into his shower. He says, "Daddie? You need to leave!"

"Gamble? Why would I need to leave? I'm getting your shower ready." Every night I set his jammies out, get his towel ready, and prep his toothbrush.

"Daddie! I need my privacy! Remember?" He gestures downward with both his palms open. "My wiener?"

Oh yeah. I remember now.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Circus Act

What is it about kids and stunt work? I mean, I've never met a kid that didn't like to be tossed about, whirled around, held upside down.

Random's a circus girl. She finds the strangest things funny. Tonight, I lay down on my back and I rolled from side to side. When she landed on my right, she was sitting on her butt. When I rolled to my left, she was upside down.

I wasn't permitted to stop. Roll to my right, and she would stretch up and say, "Aahhhh!" going up at the end like a question, and I would roll to my left, and she'd giggle to be held upside down. She's already been noted to like spinning around, of course, but we had fun tonight for about twenty minutes straight as I gently turned her on the Sit and Spin that Aunt Shannon got Gamble for his first birthday. Turns out she likes it too!

And she got all jiggy with it. She started getting daring, clapping her hands while she was spinning. Occasionally she'd tip over backwards gently, but I'd catch her and push her right back up.

Tonight, I tossed a ball into her lap. She clapped and handed it back when I put my hand out. I tossed two balls into her lap, and she grabbed one in each hand and handed it back to me. She didn't throw them, so it's not a back and forth, but she was really happy to play. I also juggled just these two balls, and she got all excited, clapping her hands and saying "AaaahhH! AaaahhH!"

On top of that, she's started trying to sing. She sees Hi-5 on TV, and she tries to sing along with it, and Nicole says that over the weekend, after a lot of the alphabet song, she sang "A-B-C" along with her.

She's on the verge, people!

Also, Happy Birthday to Grandma Pat today! Twenty-nine and still delivering mail!