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Jul 23 2011

Uno for Dose – Playing Cards With My Daughter

So my daughter and I have been playing Uno in the evenings. It’s a fun, easy game to wind down the day with, and with two people it goes rather brisk. Skip cards now skips the next hand directly back to yourself. Reverse does the same thing. To make it less painful we allow you to play a card every hand even if you given a draw four.

So my daughter wants to keep score. She gets a piece of paper and draws a line down the middle. One one side she writes her name and on the other side, mine.

We start playing and she’s on a roll. She wins the first five games easily. However on the sixth game I finally win one.

“Awwww,” says my daughter as she begrudgedly puts a single mark in my column.

“What? Are you serious? You win five in a row and your being fussy because you didn’t win the sixth game also? You know, I don’t think you’ll every be satisfied unless you won every game forever. It’s like you only remember the last game and nothing in the past matters.”

“What does satisfy mean?”

“Really? You don’t know what satisfied means?”


“It means you are happy with how things are going. Now let’s play a few more.”

We go back and forth and I pick up two games in a row. However she’s still kicking my ass with 11 wins to my three.

The card to match is a yellow eight. I have no yellows but I do have a red eight so I play that one.

“A red reverse, a red skip, and a draw four. Uno!  And we’ll make it green”

I draw four cards and it’s a loaded hand.

“A green skip, a blue skip, and a draw four. I know your last card is green so let’s go with blue.”

“That’s payback for giving you a draw four on the last hand,” she says as she draws four.

“Wait, so you know what payback means but not the word satisfied?”


A minute later she lays down a yellow skip, a yellow draw two, and a blue draw two.


“I can tell by your smile your last card is blue. Please give me a draw card four. Nope. Go ahead, finish me off.”

“All done, I win!”

The final tally? Twelve wins for my daughter and three for me.

I’m glad she won the last one otherwise I’d have to listen to her poor sportsmanship whine-fest again as she promptly forgets that in total, she slaughtered me.

File Under: Teaching Children Good Sportsmanship – Playing Card Games with Your Kid

Nov 14 2010

Flame On! – My Daughter Discovers That Everything Looks Cooler With Hot Rod Flames

Summary: My daughter wanted to know how to draw flames. I showed her some techniques and now she puts them on everything.

Flaming mandala

On Mandala Mondays all the kids start the day with a photocopy of that week's mandala design that they are free to decorate any way they want. It's a fun little art project - but they look so much better with some flames on them. Oh yeah!!!

Since I work at home, and I’m a professional illustrator, my daughter picks up little techniques just from observing my works in progress. However, sometimes we draw together in the evenings where I teach her how to draw specific things that have been eluding her. In the past we’ve worked on scales, muscles, wings, trees, shading, and perspective. But it’s probably the “how to draw flames” lesson that has been the most interesting.

Now, drawing good flames is really hard. Natural flames take years to perfect and good stylized hot rod flames even longer.

At first I just drew some flames that were a blend of both natural and stylized flames and then explained the theory behind the shapes. She then tried to copy it. Now unlike scales, which she mastered on her first try, her flames looked nothing like flames. They were closer to deformed earthworms than anything else.

Sensing her frustration I made a template from a piece of tag board that she could trace with. This is a good way to learn to draw a difficult shape as it starts training your muscle memory right away.

This helped a lot and then she gave it a go on her own. They weren’t perfect, but she was happy with the results, which is all that matters. If they meet or exceed her minimal standard for flames, then it’s all good and she can have fun with it.

And have fun she did.

She started putting flames on everything.

Flaming dog

On fire that is!

Dinosaurs and volcanoes were the first to get the flame treatment but after that she started applying them to objects, animals, people, the ground, trees – basically anything that could theoretically be set on fire, got set on fire.

My favorite was the dog as it was so unexpected.

And if you don’t think that’s the coolest then you’re reading the wrong blog.

File Under: Teaching Your Kid to Draw – Simple Drawing Lessons for Children

Nov 12 2010

I Will Kik Yore Ass Dad!!!! – My Daughter Learns to Write

Summary: Hey, at least she’s excited about writing.

I will Kick your ass dad!!! Funny note from daughter.

I thought this was pretty darn funny.

My daughter’s making invitations to a small Halloween party we’re having at our house. It’s so small there is only one other person invited. Originally the annual get together was going to be at her friend’s house but in a moment of frustration, her mom cancelled the party due to her friend’s misbehavior.

We contacted the dad and suggested we have it at our house. That way they can technically stick to their punishment, but not punish our daughter in the process.

This is always a conundrum when punishments affect innocent bystanders like friends and family.

So I get her some construction paper, some pens, and write out what she wants to say so she can copy it. She starts working on the invitation while I go back to my computer and work. A little while later she announces it’s done and she’s going to make one more. I find this a bit odd because there is only one invited guest.

Ten minutes later she comes into my office and hands me a note. It says “I will kik yore ass!!!! dad.” Continue reading

Oct 29 2010

A Dead Whale of a Tale and Counting to a Billion

Summary: Rotting whale smells far worse than you think and why playing math games with your young child is a real eye opener.

dead whale at bean hollow

If you took a jar of cat urine and then put a dead rat in it, plus a big scoop of fresh dog shit, then sealed the jar and left it the sun for a week, you’d get close to approximating the smell from a bloated, rotting, eighty-foot blue whale on the beach. But just close. The actual smell is beyond description.

On October 6th, 2010, I read an article in our paper about a big blue whale that had died and washed ashore at Bean Hollow, a state park about 35 minutes north of Santa Cruz.

“We should go see the dead whale after school today. The tide will be low at 4pm so it will be perfect. This is a very rare event so this may be the only chance in your life to see this.”

“Yeah, let’s go see the dead whale!” Continue reading

Nov 24 2009

An Apple, a Scrotum and a Bit of Baby Sign Language

Summary: Using baby sign is pretty awesome and can give you insight into what your pre-language child is thinking.

Baby sign for "what the fuck, dad"

Baby sign for "what the fuck, dad"

My daughter was never one much for baths. Even as an infant she preferred a shower. However, that is not what this story is about, which is baby sign.

Back in 2003, after our daughter was born, we decided to use baby sign as a communication bridge until she could talk. You can start anytime from birth, but you really won’t see any results until they are developmentally ready. So for a while it just seems like your spinning your wheels. The bummer is, you kind of have to go through that phase were you sign endlessly and nothing happens for your child to actually be able to implement it when she’s ready. Continue reading

Nov 13 2009

Teaching Your Kid to Read Sucks! Thank God for Public Schools or I’d Shoot Myself

Summary: If your child is hella smart I suppose teaching him or her to read could theoretically be fun. For me, it’s straight up torture.

I don’t rely on schools or anyone else to teach my child anything that is important. But to be honest, without the support of public schooling, I think I’d go crazy. I just don’t have the patience to handle this all on my own. My partner will second that.

Though she’s now over the hump with many sight words, for several months this was our evening reading routine. It’s getting better every day, and she is clearly learning to read, but some days it feels like someone’s playing one  big practical joke on me.

And no, I’m not one of those overachieving parents forcing useless Baby Einstein videos down my kid’s throat and testing her with flash cards while she’s trying to eat snack . She’s six years old and in first grade. She loves books and we’ve been reading to her every night practically since she was born. She’s just taking what feels like an eternity to catch on to this whole reading thing . It’s mind numbing to experience this on a daily basis. Continue reading