... is far less painful than one would think, especially when it's only figurative.
The reason for the long absence of updates here is obvious when you see the picture below.
That's our oldest (Nicholas, 34 months) with our youngest (Marianne, 2 months). And then we've got Alexandre as well, who's 17 months. Here he is, looking at Marianne.
So we've been pretty busy adjusting to this new person, and helping the kids adjust as well. It hasn't been too bad; Nicholas was young enough when Alexandre arrived that he never really knew what it was like to be the only child... and Alexandre's in the same position viz Marianne... he's going to forget that she wasn't always around.
MAME cabinet building, basement finishing, and interactive fiction game development have all stalled, of course. But the kids seem well adjusted now, and are back to sleeping quite a bit better than they were. The two boys wake up perhaps once or twice during the night each, and Marianne usually sleeps for about 9 or 10 hours at night, which is great.
We finally got around to buying some Duplo for the kids the other day. I'm a big Lego geek, and have piles of Lego sets downstairs waiting for the kids including some big boxes of just bricks that I bought recently. I've got about 3500 Lego pieces in never-opened boxes, not to mention all my "themed" Lego sets from when I was a kid. However, they're just a bit too small for them to play with right now.
We have some Mega Bloks that someone gave us (the big, clunky, non-Lego compatible ones*), and Nicholas liked playing with them, but never for very long.
(*they are actually Duplo-compatible, but only one way. They'll stick to the Duplo, but the Duplo won't stick to them, as the Mega Bloks are much bigger).
The other day, Duplo was on sale at Toys-R-Us, so we picked up a couple of boxes. The Duplo has been the exclusive toy of choice for the kids for three weeks straight now. It's the first thing Nicholas wants to do in the morning, and he plays with them all through the day, and in the evening with me when I get home. It's great. I think the big difference is that the Duplo sticks together so much better than the Mega Bloks, so it's easier for the kids to use, in spite of being a bit smaller. With the way kids tend to build, they don't always pay the most attention to structure, so if your bricks don't stick together well, the structures won't stand up under their own weight.
One of the boxes was a 50th anniversary limited edition Duplo box with some limited edition gold bricks, as loudly proclaimed on the box. Okay, neat, I thought, but no big deal. Well, limited was right. There are just six of the gold bricks, and they're all the small 4-bump one, the smallest Duplo block there is. I don't know why they bothered. The other tub we purchased was a generic large Duplo tub, with a nice assortment of bricks. Not as many pieces as the limited edition, but it was cheaper and had some unique features that weren't in the other one (such as the propeller piece).
There was a limited edition Lego tub available, with gold bricks, for $15. At a paltry 500 pieces, though, it didn't seem worth it. They also had a big red 1000-piece tub with 500 bonus bricks for $30, so we bought that instead. Same price as two limited edition tubs, and 150% more pieces. And given the "limited edition" doublespeak, I'm glad I didn't let the siren lure of golden pieces talk me into buying an inferior set for a measly handful of gold bricks.
I've got some road pieces as well, when the time comes to set up a whole Lego town, but I've got the old style roadplates with the grey border, whereas the new ones have the green border. So the green plates are nice, but if I need any additional plates, I may order the grey ones, just so they match--assuming the grey is still the same as the old. Also, the grey ones are $5.99 for two pieces, and the green are $9.99 for two. Of course, the green are available now, and the grey are backordered until the end of this year or February 2006 for some of the styles.
How can you tell it's nearing Christmas (as Leela says in Futurama, I "must be using an archaic pronunciation"), when I've got an entire blog post filled with talk of Lego? Lego was always my present of choice for Christmas, and was always what I asked Santa to bring. And there were usually a couple of other small boxes of Lego from mum and dad under the tree--prelocated by judicious pre-Christmas shaking... though I can remember being deceived and disappointed by a particularly noisy-pieced puzzle one year. I loved puzzles too though, so I think I got over it...
... apart from growing up into a Lego-obsessed engineering geek. But no one ever said that was a bad thing.