Monday, May 02, 2011

Curious George Makes Pancakes

One of Smiley's favorite recent presents is the book Curious George Makes Pancakes.

Not all Curious George books are created equal.  But this one is very nice for pre-readers.

First, the pictures are sufficient to follow the plot. After somewhat memorizing the story, he can look at the pictures to "read" the book.  Most but not all Curious George books have this quality.

Second, the story contains the usual Curious George dilemma of a "good" character breaking rules and getting in trouble, but overall being more helpful than disastrous. In this story the particulars are easy for a young child to understand.  George should have asked to help. It is easy for the parent to ignore OSHA guidelines about monkeys in fairground kitchens and conjecture that if George had asked politely he could have been allowed to be a rule-following helper. But by trying to help without asking he gets in trouble.

One of Smiley's old favorites is Curious George and the Puppies, which also has those two qualities.  The story is easy to follow.  George could have gotten what he wanted (to pet a puppy) without trouble by asking politely.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Tried Arkham Horror

Today I played the board game Arkham Horror for the first time.  I think I passed my Sanity check.

What fun!  The game is both cooperative and narrative.  I do not know any other board games where players work together and the sense of progress so much seems like interesting plot and character development.  (If you know of others, please let me know.)

Of games I have played, two are close.  Lord of the Rings is cooperative but not very narrative.  Talisman is narrative but not cooperative.

My wife and I are still enjoying Dominion, so I will not be purchasing a copy.  Maybe it will be a nice birthday present later in the year.

What is Fate?

Years ago I encountered a great quotation on a web page of random online humor.
A priest asked,
What is Fate, Master?

And he answered:
It is that which gives a beast of burden its reason for existence.
It is that which men in former times had to bear upon their backs.
It is that which has caused nations to build by-ways from City to City upon which carts and coaches pass, and alongside which inns have come to be built to stave off Hunger, Thirst and Weariness.
It is that which has caused great fleets of ships to ply the Seven Seas wherever the wind blows.

And that is Fate? said the priest.

Fate... I thought you said Freight, responded the Master.

That's all right, said the priest. I wanted to know what Freight was too.
The attribution was simply a book entitled The Profit.

Curious, I searched online but found nothing more.  So for years I've wondered about this possibly non-existent book.

Now and then, at used book stores, I would come across the famous Kahil Gibran book and get excited, only to realize this was not the book I was looking for.  (That book is a pleasant enough collection of parables, but I find scripture's wisdom writings and parables superior.)

Last week I was duped again, noticing the Kahil Gibran book on a friend's bookshelf.  Reminded about the mystery book, I made another attempt to search online...and found it in its entirety on a web page!  The Profit by Kehlog Albran turns out to be a pardoy of Kahil Gibran's text, with the quotation above as its wittiest section.

Expecting Another Boy

I hoped to share this news months ago, but until recently have been feeling crummy, which caused me to procrastinate writing real letters to relatives who needed to hear first.  You might notice the last third of this post has been sitting in my "drafts" since January!

Smiley will be a big brother in about a month.  He's not sure if he's ready.  He recently found out that the baby will not be big enough for him to help feed.  Now he's not sure what a little baby does.

This afternoon, while Smiley napped, part of Shabbat involved my wife and I sitting on the sofa and laughing and hugging as we reviewed our "So You're About to Have a Baby" paperwork from three years ago.

We have some time to put together a suitcase to have ready to take to the hospital, and a cooler of food since we doubt they will be able to provide anything gluten-free enough for my wife to eat.

Happily, this pregnancy has been much easier on my wife than when she was expecting Smiley.  But she is tired lately.  She's round enough that she is not sleeping as well because she cannot easily turn over in bed during the night.  A month of rainy, cold weather has not helped either.  But she is doing well, going for a walk most evenings, still enjoying her work and gardening, and spending as much time with Smiley as she can even if playing on the floor is not a great option.

We have no idea what to name this new boy. The Jewish tradition is to use names of deceased relatives. Smiley was named after three of his great-grandfathers (he has two middle names).  But two of my cousins had boys last year and now we're out of names of deceased male relatives that my wife or I knew.

Both sides of the family have Leonards, and her family has several Alfreds.  But neither of us especially like those names, nor did we know those ancestors.

We briefly thought about names from literature that have been meaningful to family members, but then decided against Gandalf Tarzan Zorro Van Slyke.

My wife's family uses Welsh names, so perhaps we will eventually find a Welsh name we like that sounds very similar to a Hebrew name. So far our favorite name is both from Hebrew and Tolkein, which is close.

Smiley found out mommy was pregnant while at the doctor's office on January 5th.  The nurse did not know that Smiley had not been told about it, so when using the heartbeat monitor she looked at Smiley with a big smile and said, "Do you hear the baby inside your Mommy?"

So Smiley is convinced that the heartbeat monitor put the baby inside Mommy.  We found this out on January fifteenth, through this conversation:
My wife: Be careful climbing on my belly.
Smiley: How did the baby get in your belly?
My wife: Daddy put it there.
Smiley: [Laughs] No, the doctor put it there.
(In Smiley's world, doctors work at doctor's office and nurses work at the allergy shot place.  He has not caught on that some people working at doctor's offices are also nurses.)

Later that night, after brushing his teeth, Smiley was his room waiting for Mommy to arrive so we could pray before reading books before bedtime.  When my wife came in the room she was chewing.
Smiley: What is in your mouth?
My wife: Chocolate.
Smiley: Do you share with the baby?
My wife: I always share with the baby.
Smiley: Did the baby catch it?
My wife: It will get it.
Why didn't we tell Smiley about the pregnancy earlier?  Because a friend from church was two months more pregnant, and for several months Smiley fixated on it whenever he saw her.
Smiley: You have a baby in your belly?

Smiley: Can I feel your tummy?

Smiley: Can I look in your mouth and see the baby?
We wanted to spare my wife such nearly constant pestering.  Smiley is sometimes impatient, but our delay did avoid any fixation.  (And our friend had a healthy baby girl, whom Smiley likes to look at.)