Howdy. Well, that hiatus ended up being longer than I expected. This would be the point where I apologize for being gone so long. Some folks don't believe in aplogizing for being gone, but I want you to actually come back, so I feel that some effort should be made to be the least bit conciliatory. Sorry I was gone so long, I was obtaining a child. Happy?
Said child is thriving, well as much as one can thrive and refuse to eat solid food at the same time. This is a point of contention at the moment as her age (13 months) says that she should be wolfing down t-bone steaks and glasses of Crystal but the sad truth is that she reacts to microscopic Cheerio pieces as if we're making her consume evil. I think it's a developmental delay. 12 months in an orphanage can tend to make one lag in some areas, for her it's eating. Frankly, I'd rather it be walking as I'm tired of walking around my house hunched over with a baby attached to my fingers, but when requesting our child, there was no checkbox for 'hobbled'.
While we have been unsuccessful in getting her to eat, Linda did manage to teach her how to clap, a major milestone if ever there was one. Now she can show appreciation and "give it up" for the opening bands. By January she'll be able to throw up the horns. She's generally pretty happy, except when being restrained. In other words, she's happy as long as she's not in the car seat, in a shopping cart, in the high chair or in the stroller. This rules out eating, driving, going for a walk and touring a retail establishment lest you want to put up with a symphony of unhappiness. She just has to get used to these things, but man, if ever someone wished that their child could walk, that someone is me. And Linda. That somepeople is us.
On the plus side, her brother absolutely loves her to the point where sometimes I feel he's a better parent than we are. He's very sensitive to her crying, which can make for some tense moments, especially at 3 in the morning when she's up crying and then he's up crying and the house sounds like a nursery of devil children. When we put Abby down for a nap, she usually protests, as children are wont to do, and does so by screaming to the point where her lungs leap from her chest and adhere to the ceiling. Ben will bring this crying to our attention and we'll tell him that his sister is fine. Nothing makes you feel like a good parent like your 3 year old giving you a look that plainly says "do you not hear that?"
They seem to be sharing things well, but invariably, whatever he's playing with she wants and whatever he's playing with she wants, which is fine most of the time, until he starts playing with something she can't have like firearms or battery acid. We have strict rules in our home, one of which is "No solid food, no shotguns" so she's pretty much SOL. We've been able to manage the conflicts reasonably well so far which means that the police haven't been called. Yet.
One unfortunate side affect of having a baby in the house is that Ben, who used to be so good with the talking, has regressed. Before Abby, he used to rattle off 6 - 7 word sentences in very clear English. He'll still do it sometimes when she's napping or not around, but for the most part he's happy to repeat whatever she says or try and teach her gibberish words like "Lee-loo" and "Studa". Maybe there's some sort of toddler language I'm not aware of and if they both speak it they can plot against us, but to the untrained observer it sound like he's trying to teach her to be stupid. I think it's because in her, he has a captive audience, even if she's not imitating him but is looking at him as one looks at a very dull child, or a very ugly puppy. We're hoping he grows out of it because I don't speak toddler and when I ask him what he wants to drink for dinner and he answers "Lee-loo" I want to shove the cup places cups truly don't belong.
In other news, I'm patiently awaiting my 360. "What?" you say, "Didn't that launch last week?" Yes, it did but only for people that either a) started waiting in line in October or b) went back in time and preordered it in June of 1865, Foolish person that I was, I only preordered it in June of this year, stupidly thinking that preordering the unit 5 months in advance would guarantee me a copy. Ha! That's funny. Microsoft says that the manufacturing process is very complex and that there are 1700 parts in the 360 so people have to be patient, to which I respond, "I don't fucking care." I don't care if each 360 has a little world inside it filled with gnomes and fairies and wood nymphs that dress up as Germans for me to shoot in Call of Duty 2. You're the ones who decided to launch in November, so fucking launch in November. Don't launch and then not have any units for anyone other than the fervent MSFT heads and Ubergeeks to obtain. You're already missing out on the holiday buying season, so why not launch in December when you have plenty of units made and then at least give people a fighting chance to get the damn thing? Bah! I'm just bitter. I should, should being the operative word, here be getting mine by the end of the week, unless MSFT miscounted and there are actually 1900 pieces inside and their shipping plans didn't account for those extra 200 pieces.
One area of pixelated entertainment I can recommend without hesitation is the joyous online experience provided by Mario Kart DS. If you have a DS and have a wireless router in your house, it is so easy to go online with this game that if you can't, you should be tested to ensure you are not developmentally delayed in some way. This is the nice way of me saying that if you can't go online with your DS, you're fucking retarded. The online experience is pretty damn good, even if it is lacking some of the subtleties of Live, but Nintendo is just getting started in this regard so I can cut them some slack. Plus, this is Mario Kart, so short of them punching me in the eye every time I boot the damn thing up, I'm willing to let a lot go. I have raced a number of times since getting the game and have wracked up an impressive 1 - 23 record. Yes, that's right, one win and 23 losses. If you're searching for a Regional game in the Atlanta area and you see that Brandon has joined the match, you are all but assured victory. This is a similar service to what I provide on Xbox Live as Team Binky, namely, I lose so that you can win. No need to thank me.
From what I've read, there are arcane combinations of button mashing done at opportune times such as when powersliding or right before starting the race that allow your kart to tap into the speed force and go back in time and catch Tachyons or some other Barry Allen type shit. Knowing that these tips are out there helps explain why the only time I see my opponents is when we're all lined up to start the race. I swear it's like one minute we're all waiting for the flag to drop and the next moment they've all finished the next 4 races. Nothing is quite as humiliating as being lapped by a dinosaur driving a polka-dotted egg. One thing that I've noticed about this service is how different it is from Live. On Live, you have names like "Reaper" and "BulletMan" and "Annoying14YearOldWhoNeedsToGetOutMore" but on the Nintendo service, I race against Josh, Todd and JojoPumpkin. If course, when you get fucking owned by JojoPumpkin, it doesn't help your ego any more than getting shot in Halo 2 by BulletMan. The only difference is that I can play another race while Jojo has to go to bed because he may have a pop quiz in spelling tomorrow.
Finally, the good folks at Penny Arcade have fired up the Child's Play machine for this year, so please visit the site, pick a hospital and buy some toys for sick children. Trust me, you'll feel better.