Sunday, 29 August 2010

Return of the D-word.

On Monday night we received a message from Nanny. Kizzy, Nanny's cat has been put to sleep. Kizzy was 20 years old, she had very bad arthritis, was going blind, deaf, and was very, very grouchy. It seems her kidneys finally gave out and it was all just too much. Nanny is both relieved and sad. Kizzy was becoming more of a burden by the day but she'd still been a member of the family for 20 years or so.

Considering how emotional Jack tends to get about this particular subject Helen and I thought it best to break the news to him before he got to Nanny's and started looking for her. Nanny was likely to still be upset. So we sat him down and explained that Kizzy was up in heaven now. She was very old and poorly and now she was better and happy up in heaven.
Jack took the news as we expected.
When will come back?
She's not coming back.
*sob* but I will miss her.
I know honey, we all miss her.
But I loved her.
Jack broke into a series of cries and wails that lasted for about 15 minutes. Kizzy! Kiiiiiizzzzzzy! I miss you, come back down.

The next morning Jack came into our room still thinking about Kizzy.
I still miss Kizzy.
I know you do. But we need you to be strong for Nanny.
I know you're sad hun but if you keep thinking about how much you miss her you'll just make yourself miserable. You need to think about how much you loved her and how happy she is up in heaven.
I was mizablee all night long.
I'm sorry hun.
Last week, Kizzy scratched me and I cried. I put my hand up and she went *swipe* and scratched me. Then I put my hand up and she went *swipe swipe* and she couldn't get me.
She was pretty grouchy.  Since Jack started visiting Nanny Kizzy made it clear that he wasn't welcome. If she wasn't hiding somewhere in the house she was hissing and spitting whenever he got near her.

But sometimes when she wasn't being grumpy, I petted her.
She was pretty fluffy.
In 5 years Dylan is going to go to heaven, and I'm going with him.
Dylan is a toy Jack, he'll never die. I think you've got more than five years hun.
Like, two fives?
Like 85.
85?! I'll be like a million million then!

I've said before that I don't like Jack thinking about death. I guess I'm happy that he's able to understand it on some level and able to cope but at the same time it still bothers me that he's got any concept at all. Jack is a very sensitive and sentimental child, he mourns everything that's lost. Just a few days ago he spent 10 sorrowful minutes telling me how much he misses his old bed. Every time he sees a picture of Grandma, Grandpa or any of his cousins, Adell particularly he's reminded of how much he misses them.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Batribike Part 3

The replacement bike arrived on Friday (20th of August). This is a little over a month after the other bike broke. I must admit that I was getting to the end of my tether on this one. I bought the bike to more or less replace my car over the summer and here the summer is now almost over. On the other hand Batribike did arrange delivery the moment the stock came in and they arranged another courier to pick up the old one.

I will say one thing that I noticed. This bike came with instructions... This is really funny to me because I mentioned before that the bike didn't come with instructions and I can see from my site analytics that someone from Beeston Nottingham (near Batribike's office location) has read my review. I don't know anyone in Nottingham. So is this an indication that Batribike have responded to my feedback? That being the case it would also be helpful if they included a 15mm spanner and a 5mm hex key as neither of these are hugely common in most amateur tool kits.

Now on to the bike.

The new bike rides completely differently to the old. It's much quieter, both the motor and the general rattling. It feels much lighter and smoother. The regenerative braking seems no where near as fierce as before, the mechanic did say that they were looking at lightening it up so I don't know if that's it or what. Even the motor responds differently, level 3 is much more patient and level 4 seems stronger when pedaling. So my conclusion is that the old bike had some real issues. I've taken the new bike out three times now, in total I've only ridden about 10 miles or so but so far I've beaten the average of the old bike.

So, I'm somewhat anxious about the coming weeks but I'm optimistic, not only in the bike but in Batribike as well. Earlier in the week, I'd just come home from a trip downtown when I was stopped by a passing bicyclist.
"How do you find the electric bike? I'm thinking about getting one myself."
I had to really think about what I was going to say.
We talked briefly about some of the issues I had and things I'd learned about electric bikes, including the costs involved, but I pretty quickly found myself spinning into a Batribike sales pitch. So I guees after all this, I'm still pro-Batribike.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

What Mommies Look Like?

We were at the park. Jack was enjoying a swing on the zip-line when we were approached by a woman and a 2 year-old girl. The two year old girl toddled up to the ramp where Jack was just about to land. I quickly stopped Jack in mid swing. Her mother, who to be honest seemed a little vacant, wandered over and gently guided the girl to a safer location.

Jack and I resumed swinging back and forth all the while I kept one eye on the girl. I've become used to this kind of thing at the park.

A few minutes later the little girl appeared on the other ramp, to which Jack was currently on his way with a fair bit of speed. The problem wasn't the little girl, she was far enough back on the ramp to be in no real danger. Her mother was standing in front of the ramp, right in Jack's path, sending a text on her phone. Thankfully after a fair amount of yelling I managed to get her out of Jack's way with half a second or so to spare.

The woman laughed at herself and waved at me while Jack launched himself back. She then spent the next five or so minutes texting on her phone while her 2 year-old teetered dangerously on the edge of the ramp. It was very hard for me to watch. Jack and I waited for them to leave the area before we resumed swinging but Jack was a little confused.

Daddy why did we have to wait so long?
I was concerned that we were going to hit that little girl, or the lady. I don't think she was paying much attention.
I almost runned her over didn't I?
Yeah you did, thankfully she moved in time.
I thought I was going to run her over I did.
Me to, sometimes you have to look out for the Mommies and Daddies just as much as the little kids.
She was a mommy?
I thought she was a woman.
She's a woman as well. She was that little girl's mommy.
She doesn't look like a mommy.
...What does a mommy look like?

This is what mommies look like. I don't get it either.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

A Hard Lesson

Friday we went to lunch with the baby group. We went to a local pub that we visit often as a group. They've got a section in the back that the kids can run around in until the food arrives. It's been a while since we've lunched there and they've been making a lot of changes over the last year. This time we were met with a brand new pool table in the back section. Straight away Jack and Alfie found the pool ques and noted their resemblance to swords. It wasn't long before one of the bar staff appeared and removed the queues and politely asked us if we could keep the kids away from the pool table.

About every 10 minutes we had to remind the kids to keep away from the pool table. As you can imagine, each time we got a little less patient about it. The boys in particular just couldn't leave it alone. Whenever they thought we weren't looking they'd roll the que ball or run their toys along it.

When, as we readied to leave Jack came up to me, Daddy can you get my car? I knew immediately what the situation was.

You put it down one of the holes in the pool table didn't you.

I then went into a rant about how I've told him over and over to leave the pool table alone and that I might not be able to get the car back. I wasn't hugely sympathetic because this has been the pattern of his behavior for the last couple of weeks and this may have been a good way to get a point across.

After a number of apologies he lead me to the pocket in which he sent the car. I took out my key chain light and examined the pocket. I spotted the car and set about various strategies of retrieval. After 15 minutes or so I'd had no luck, the pocket was too narrow and the car was too far in. Everyone, including the manager had a look but no one could think of a way to get it out. Finally I had to tell Jack that his car was gone.

Jack was devastated, he cried and cried and refused to leave the pub without it. I don't think that it had occurred to him that I really might not be able to retrieve it. After some comforting and coaxing he finally accepted that it was gone and sobbed out a goodbye car as we left. This car happened to be his favorite, he's now on a mission to find another just like it.

This isn't the first time Jack has lost a favorite toy. A year or so ago during a particularly bad wave of disobedience Helen and I tossed out a Woody doll. He didn't take the loss of Woody as badly, it was more of a general somberness than a fit of crying and pleading. To this day he still thinks about it, something will remind him and he'll reminisce about it. I used to have that Woody doll, it's at the dump now isn't it.

Moments like these are strange because as a parent you loath the child mourning the lost object but want the child to learn a lesson at the same time. Few things are more frustrating that watching a child suffer after not heading your warnings. You're never happy to see the child upset and you're reminded of similar occasions of your own childhood.

Later on we asked Jack what lessons he learned from this and he said Not to put cars in holes which I suppose isn't a bad lesson. I tried to remind him of the 'do as I ask' lesson but I'm not sure it got through. No doubt we'll be here again real soon.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Magic this Please

Jack came up to me and handed me a 5 pence coin. Can you magic this Daddy? I took the coin and rubbed it into my elbow until it disappeared. Jack laughed and immediately looked in my ear where these vanished coins always seem to turn up. Now make it dirty.

Jack loves magic. On our last camping trip Jack carried around one of Phoebe's acrylic gemstones and used it to distribute magic powers to everyone he could find, there was a monster that needed defeating you see.

Magic is tricky with children because they don't get that it's a trick and no one wants to ruin it for them by explaining how it works. So like with a certain jolly gentile incarnation we play along until they yank on the beard.

The only problem is keeping the act fresh. Though Jack usually asks for the same tricks over and over again I like to mix it up now and again for the sake of my own sanity. I know quite a few slight-of-hand tricks and I've got a couple of magic kits that I've yet fully explore. So from a strictly research point-of-view I'm covered for quite a while. Saying that my repertoire has grown more due to the mistakes than anything else. Sometimes the coin doesn't appear in my ear or anyone else, sometimes it was in my sleeve, or on the floor, one time it was still in my hand. Jack asking me to make the coin dirty is the result of my dropping a particularly shiny penny during one show and replacing it with another of a lesser polish quality when he wasn't looking.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

One Step for Student.

I recently attended a program intended to give a taste of what student life will be like to those who might otherwise not know what to expect at my soon to be university. The program is called Step-Ahead.

I attended because I'm aware don't do well in a school environment. I'm lazy, impatient, anti-social and don't respond well to authority of any kind. I figured if I can get through these three days without killing anyone or myself then I have a chance at handling university.

The program is quite simple. You arrive on Monday morning and register. You're given an itinerary, various access codes and keys to a room in the halls of residence. You then spend the next 3 days living on campus with 125 others. We get to know the school, some of the teachers and student ambassadors and most importantly, we get to know other students on similar courses.

The itinerary was very busy and included a range of lectures, team building and various projects all about teaching us how to be effective students. The days were packed, from 8am to 730pm we've got somewhere we need to be. Personally I found the pace a bit too much, once a day they'd give us a 15 minute break, the only problem with this is that at a walking pace the lecture room that we were using was approximately 6 minutes walk each way from any of the break areas.

The evenings tended to revolve around the student union bar, no real surprise there. There were Wii games (Guitar Hero World Tour), a DJ or Karaoke, and cheap drinks. Those of you who know me know that I'm not big on the drinking scene but I'm pleased to announce I went out both nights and made an effort, in participating not so much the drinking. I even took part in one karaoke song after 4 JDs and a Sambuca.

I became reasonably well acquainted with several students while I was there, mostly because they all wanted a chance to talk to the American. I quickly became known as The American or Old Man on account that I've got 10 years on 80% of them. It may interest some people to know that I actively socialized with lots of people and aside from one anti-social break down I managed to keep the attention seeking behavior to a minimum.

The mentors, the group of people (all students themselves) that were leading the program, were clearly getting annoyed with us. We were a pretty raucous group. For example, in the middle of the night one drunken student set of the fire alarm whilst smoking in his room, then proceeded to rip the smoke detector off the wall, apparently there's more to that story but I wasn't told. Several of the students noticed that with each full session the mentors were a little bit angrier and more impatient with us than the previous. At the end of it the guy in charge said "I'd like to say that it's been a pleasure having most of you here." clearly we've not been the best group.

I managed to build somewhat of a reputation with security. I'd been on campus less than 24 hours and managed to accidentally break into 3 restricted areas. It seems that if there's a broken latch or someone forgets to lock a door anywhere on campus I'll find it. Security were clearly getting a little tired of seeing me by 5:30am Tuesday morning, the last conversation went something like, "I should have known it was you Derek. Here I'll show you where the library is, you can go there whenever you like." Sorry Sid, I couldn't sleep and was looking for somewhere outside of my room to be. They really should lock the doors if they don't want people in there.

All in all Step Ahead was a good experience. I think I've got a pretty good taste of how the next 4 years of my life are going to be. I'm actually looking forward to September when I will get to see everyone again.