Thursday, October 1, 2009

Last night's grand slam

Theo, my Dad, John and I were in the stands, same section where the ball landed. Amazing ending!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Have Problems with Computer?

Just want to plug my web site here - Help2Go will help you with any problems with your computer.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cute Luke Photo

This was taken a few months ago on March 7 - it's one of my favorite photos.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Recent cute Luke videos

Here is Luke signing all done on May 6:

and Luke pushing Theo around on April 26:

More videos here and here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Luke Walker!

Luke decided to stand up and walk this afternoon! Jane called us into the back room, where he and Theo were watching "Bolt". It was a total shock that he did it, because he didn't really stand up much today, after discovering it yesterday.

We got some video of his "2nd steps":

And here is some more footage, taken a few attempts later:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Luke Stands Up!

Theo and I had just arrived home this afternoon when Ninna calls us into the kitchen - Luke, randomly, just decided to stand up. I grabbed the camera - and we were able to watch him do it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Videos

New videos of the munchkins!

Here are videos of Luke's 2 birthday parties, one with each extended family, complete with the traditional diving into the cake scenes.

Here are videos of Luke playing ball (adorable) and Theo apparently doing his best "Star Wars kid" impersonation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Games where kids actually use their brain

A few months ago, I came across an article about how most board games that kids play don't actually teach them anything. I'm not talking about math or reading - I'm talking about strategy and decision making.

Looking at the games we had in the house then, I realized that all of them were completely luck-based. Any brain dead monkey could play them: Candyland, Bingo, Chutes & Ladders, Cariboo, etc. Those games are fine for when you want to teach a child how to take turns and play fair, but honestly, they're pretty boring for both child and adult. Card games are little better - there's decision making in Go Fish and Uno, but it is limited.

Theo is a very verbal child - he likes to make up stories and act out scenes in the movies he watches. The last few months, during the Peter Pan phase, we played "pirates" a lot. Now he's in a Star Wars phase, so we have lots of lightsaber battles and Theo runs around pretending to be a stormtrooper (or more specifically, Luke Skywalker pretending to be a stormtrooper, like in the original movie).

Around Christmas time, he received a game called Sequence for Kids. Finally, here's a game that used strategy. We didn't think he would get it, that it would be too difficult. Instead, we found out quickly that he wasn't just getting the concept, he was unnaturally good at this game. We thought we were letting him win sometimes, when really, he was delaying playing his winning hand because he was toying with us.

Sequence has been played daily at our house ever since. We never ease up on him anymore, and he still wins more than 50% of the games he plays.

In the original article, one of the suggested games to play with kids was role-playing games. Sure, I'm a geek, but I had never played any of those table-top role playing games that were popular in my youth, like Dungeons & Dragons. My friends and I were too busy simulating baseball games with Strat-o-matic and Pursue the Pennant in the hall outside the auditorium, in the windowless prison they called a high school for the "gifted". Once in awhile we played a strategy card game (Illuminati, I think it was called) - but a game like Dungeons & Dragons was frowned upon even by us.

In the time since, I've never had the occasion or the interest to play a true role playing game. I've played lots of computer games that are RPGs, but never one where you sit around a table and tell a story.

Until last night, with my 4-year old son.

One of the comments in the article I was talking about (I wish I had a link, but this was months ago) talked about a role playing game called Faery's Tale and how their kids, even the 3-4 year olds, loved it. I figured what the heck and ordered it from Amazon. It's 2 months later, and Amazon still hasn't sent it - it's on backorder or something. I thought it would be a whole set, but really, it's just a book. I finally just bought the PDF off of the web site and quickly read through it.

So the premise is that these games are really just story-telling games. I don't think I ever really understood that. I tell interactive stories to Theo all the time, where he suggests plot twists in a story like "Theo and the Beanstalk" but it was never formalized - it was just a way to kill time during a long car ride or a long wait at a restaurant.

So, we tried out this "Faery" game. We started by letting Theo choose what type of Fairy he wanted his character to be (he chose warrior, of course, because pretending to swing a sword/lightsaber is his favorite activity these days). He chose the name, color of clothes, special magic abilities. Then he surprised me by asking to draw his character. So we drew the fairy (he named it Piano) and he colored it in and we cut it out so he could play with it.

We started our adventure - since I had never done this before, I took the easy way out and inserted "Piano" into the Jack and the Beanstalk story. Piano found himself in the Giant's castle in the sky, and then watched as Jack came in and was found by the Giant.

Here's where it gets pretty interesting: at this point, I told Theo that Jack was frozen with fear at the sight of the giant. I asked Theo:

Is Piano going to help Jack, or continue to stay in his hiding place?

"Keep hiding" was the response.

OK, no problem, but now the giant is getting closer. He's about to grab Jack and eat him! Piano is only a couple of feet away! Jack is starting to cry - will you help him?

"No, I want to keep hiding, Daddy."

OK, I'm thinking, maybe Piano is scared by the giant and is biding his time before launching the heroic rescue. I continue:
The giant grabs Jack and says "I'm going to EAT YOU UP for dinner!" and puts Jack into a cage. Then the Giant walks into the kitchen. Here's your chance, Piano - are you going to save Jack?

"No - I'm going to run out of the house, Daddy."

My kid is a coward.

I ratcheted up the emotion - Jack pleads with Piano to save him, begs for his life. Finally, reluctantly, Piano decides he might as well save Jack.

The story continues as normal, Piano uses some magic to save Jack, they escape from the castle with the giant in hot pursuit, climb down the beanstalk, and Piano uses his sword to cut down the beanstalk to make the giant fall.

I have to say, Theo loved the game, and I enjoyed it as much as he did. When Danielle came home from work he pestered her to play with us, and we did a Hansel & Gretel story before shuttling him off to bed. He told us that he would wake up at 7am so that we could play the Faery game before school. This morning, Theo woke up as promised and we played another story, this time with robbers trying to steal a penguin from the zoo.

My point is this - here's a game where we can actually teach him moral lessons in a setting where he could understand what is being taught. He/Piano gets rewarded for being heroic and standing up to bullies, and punished for being cowardly or starting fights unnecessarily. He gets poisoned by eating candy from a strange lady. There's a system for keeping track of life/health, so he knows that if he fights too much, he will get hurt and maybe even get knocked out of the story. Plus, he came up with some ingenious ideas for how to get out of hairy situations that really surprised me - we really don't give kids enough credit for their imagination.

So, the experiment continues. I don't know if we're doing it correctly, but at least it's a lot of fun. And much better than another mindless game of Candyland.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Look Mom, I can feed myself!

Sent on the Now Network� from my Sprint® BlackBerry

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cutie Luke

Sent on the Now Network� from my Sprint® BlackBerry

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I went to NatsFest today at Nationals Park with Theo, John and Dana.
It turned out to be a pretty good event, though the Nats could make a
lot of improvements with just a little common sense. We had to wait
outside in the cold for a good 45 minutes before they figured out that
they should open up all the gates. They severely underestimated the
crowds of baseball geeks that swarmed the stadium - somewhere between
3,000-7,000 people.

Theo was tired and overwhelmed by the time we got in, but even though
he was too shy to interact with the giant presidents, we got some good
photos with Screech.

We went upstairs to get photographs with the players and stood in line
for awhile to see Elijah Dukes and Willie Harris. When we finally were
escorted in to the room with the players, Theo was completely wiped.

That's when Elijah Dukes sticks out his hand for Theo to slap. Not
only does my son not slap his hand, he turns his back on Elijah!
Happily Elijah ptoved his scary reputation wrong and laughed it off
and said something to the effect of "is that how you going to play
me?" to Theo, who continued to hide. Dukes could not have been nicer-
we were marveling later at how massive the guy truly is.

My favorite part was visitng the players clubhouse- that was sweet! We
got to see the lockers and have pics taken in front of Dmitri's and
Zim's lockers. Theo loved the big comfy armchairs in there. He was a
trooper all day, but he got really tired and when we got home we found
he even had a low fever. He is a great little kid - I think he did
enjoy himself and us grownups definitely did.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How cool is Alisia!

"Kachmar said that Spider Man had attended Clinton's 2nd Inauguration and she brought him back out for Obama's Inauguration since Obama was an admitted Spidey fan."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Luke just did the "Eat" sign

That was very cool - Luke is hungry and did the Eat sign for the first time. Just to make sure, we signed it back to him a few times, and he deliberately signed it again.