Razor’s Edge

March 29, 2007

William of Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and philosopher, most known, perhaps, for Occam’s Razor, which states:

Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity

but is more commonly translated as:

The simplest answer is usually the correct answer

I’d like to think William had kids. I find it hard to believe he didn’t.

When I found out I’d be a father, one of the things I felt strongly, and I think this is true of many fathers, is that I wanted to be able to teach my daughter. I wanted her to grow up as smart as me (which really just means being able to answer Jeopardy questions) and, eventually, smarter than me.

I promised that, when asked a question, even a difficult one, I would do my best to answer. And I do try. But, well, my daughter’s still only 2 1/2 years old. So it isn’t easy.

Yesterday, we were reading a short story about beavers. The book had the following exchange between characters:

Why do beavers chop down trees?
To eat. And also, to build with.

“Look at that, sweetie…” I said, “beavers eat trees!”

Now, children asking, “Why?” has been the source/inspiration for many a comedy sketch. Authors, comedians, movie producers… they all can turn this into comedy gold. In reality, it is only funny when it is happening to someone else. Fortuntely, this was not one of those 100 “Why?” momements. Instead, it went something like this:

Daughter: Why, daddy?
Me: Well, they were probably eating the bark, actually… it is just something they do.
Daughter: Why?

Usually, during the “Why?” phase, I will eventually give up. It isn’t that I don’t know the answer, usually, but how do you explain complex things to a 2 1/2 year old. Often, after many “Why?”s, I will just say, “I don’t know.”

Of course, in this case, well, I didn’t really know.

Me: I don’t know, Sweetie.
Daughter: Because he’s hungry!

Because he’s hungry. Occam’s Razor.

Ahh! Real Monsters!

March 27, 2007

I was reading Clare’s Dad’s post today about his Monster Problem. As I was reading it, I found myself thinking, “Thank goodness our daughter’s over her (first) ’bout of Monsters.”

Of, course, not 10 minutes later, I was trudging up the stairs to respond to several minutes of, “Daddy! Where are you?” — just to quiet her down, you understand, with a song.

Me: Would you like me to sing you a song, sweetie?
Daughter: First let’s talk about monsters.

Oh, boy, the “let’s talk about monsters” is back. I’m not really sure where she learned about monsters. Well, I know she’s seen monsters (no, not real ones), but where did she get the idea that monsters are scary and will get you?

Me: Okay, sweetie, what about them?
Daughter: Mommy and daddy and Marshall and Rascal wil ‘tect me?
Me: Sweetie, you are very safe here, and Marshall does protect us (okay, he’s a lazy cat, so I am lying here), and you rememer that monsters aren’t real, they’re just pretend, right?
Daughter: You ‘tend to be a monster…
Me: I did the other day. But you thought that was funny, didn’t you?
Daughter: Yeah! You ‘tend to be monster and mommy will hold me and Marshall will ‘tect me!
Me: Okay, but not tonight, sweetie…

I still suspect the monster thing is a delay tactic. At least, I don’t think we need to sell the house just yet…

(You can find out more about Ahh! Real Monsters! here.)

Aw, heck

March 26, 2007

I love you, a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck, and it beats me all to heck
Beats me all to heck, how I’ll ever tend the farm
Ever tend the farm when I wanna keep my arms around you


My daughter is at the stage where she wants everything explained. This is especially true during songs at bedtime (which I think is actually part delay tactic, as well). Tonight, we were singing the song above, and got the question, “What’s ‘heck’ mean?”

“Uhm, it’s a unit of measurement.” That’s why I keep Ms. Kaz around – quick thinking when it comes to answering our daughter.

It’s not that ‘heck’ is really a bad word. It is just that (a) we don’t want her saying it, and (b) we don’t really know how the, well, how the heck to explain it.

Tonight, Ms. Kaz said to me, “I didn’t know what to tell her when she asked what ‘heck’ meant. I just picked unit of measurement like a ‘peck’.”

“Yeah, it is a unit of measurement for how frustrated we get with her,” I added, “10 hecks equals a hell.”

No nap made tonight about a 3 hell night (that’s 30 hecks).

Somethin’s Cookin’

March 26, 2007

This post was supposed to come out last week, but, well, didn’t.

As our daughter gets older, and matures enough to be able to handle more responsibility (as well as gaining more coordination with her hands), we’ve tried to get her more involved in cooking. It allows both me and Ms. Kaz to cook (which we enjoy), and still be involved with our daughter at the same time.

By this I mean… well… our daughter can entertain herself. However, it often times turns into, “Daddy! Come play with meeeeeeeee!!” or “Mommy! Come play with meeeeee!!” If we can get her involved in cooking, we can spend this time with her, and also teach her valuable lessons, like, uh… responsibility, and uhn, don’t let daddy cut your finger off, and… I dunno, how many quarts in a teaspoon?

Anyway, it is a lot of fun for all of us. A couple weeks ago, we had her help out with a couple meals…

Read the rest of this entry »

Update: We’re off to see the whizzer…

March 25, 2007

Sorry there haven’t been any updates lately. I went “back home” to go to Friday night’s Sabres game, and my mother’s DSL still sucks. It goes in and out, and you never know when it is going to work. Tech support is no good.

So, I fully intended a couple post, which will now be delayed a few days. I’d do it tonight, but I am busy trying to deal with my daughter’s various delay tactics to avoid going to bed.

One quick thing, and I almost hate to admit it because I hate McDonald’s for putting meat in (okay, on) their french fries, but we saw the Happy Meals have little Wizard of Oz dolls currently. You can buy them ($1.79) without buying their “food”, so we bought a couple to use as Potty Traning incentives.

I feel so dirty.

Kids being Grown Ups

March 20, 2007

If you’re not a regular reader of Boingboing (and if you aren’t, why not?), you might have missed the link to a story in the upcoming New Yorker, part of which is sub-titled, “A Conversation at the Grown Up Table, as Imagined at the Kids’ Table“, and includes such gems as:

DAD: (laughing) There are actual monsters in the world, but when my kids ask I pretend like there aren’t.

MOM: I had a lot of wine, and now I’m crazy!
GRANDFATHER: Hey, do you guys know what God looks like?
ALL: Yes.
GRANDFATHER: Don’t tell the kids.

I always find it amusing when my daughter play-acts being a Grown Up (which I’ve documented several times in this blog). Well, except when it centers around going to work and I realize it is because she thinks I go to work for no good reason other than to make her miss me.

(via Boingboing.net)

It is almost springtime

March 20, 2007

“In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding:
Sweet lovers love the spring.”

– Shakespeare, As You Like It

Over at Strollerderby, they took time out from celebrity gossip (I kid because I love – only 50% of the posts are about celebrities) to talk about alternatives to expensive grocery store organics. I already posted my thoughts/additions on their article on the comments there, but it reminded that I was thinking this weekend about our garden… as I looked at our snow covered box garden that I built a few years back.

If you have the space, a raised-bed garden is an excellent way to grow your own organic foods.

I wish now that I could remember where I got the plans from for our garden. However, if you search on raised-bed gardens, you’ll find many plans out there on the internet. Choose one that looks appropriate for the skill, tools, and time you have. The important thing is do not use pressure-treated wood for your garden. There are chemicals in this wood (the “greenish” looking wood at your local lumber supplier) that will leach into the soil and thus into your food).

Last year, late in the season, my daughter was able to help out by watering the garden with her watering can. This year, I think she will have matured enough to be more involved with the garden. Having seen how interested she is in cooking (yeah, yeah, I’m getting to that post), I think this will be an awesome activity for the whole family.

I’m not going to lie to you – maintaining a garden is a lot of work. Our original plan was to add a second raised-bed garden, but the thought of taking care of that many vegetables (especially considering our success rate – we’ve never been able to get peppers to grow well) has made us put off that second one.

Now, we just have to figure out what to plant. A lot of this will be dictated by the availability of organic seed (and how well they sprout for us) and organic seedlings (we are very lucky to have an agricultural magnet school near us which grows and sells organic seedlings).

One thing we are considering doing is taking the large clay pot we usually reserve for flowers (but was originally for tomatoes), and using it for strawberries this year, something we think our daughter will enjoy. We’d plant them in available area near the house, but our house was built in the 20’s, and we’re sure there’s still some lead in the soil around the house.

Oh, and a great way to fertilize your garden is to compost. We have a composter we put leaves and coffee grounds (btw – Starbucks’ll give you their used coffee grounds for free, if you ask) and food scraps, etc. into, and use this on the garden each year. It is a great way to “recycle” food scraps and cut down on large quantities of stinky garbage.

Of course, your garden, then, will only be as organic as the stuff you compost… But, like I always say, every little bit helps.