Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Unscheduled Sleep Positions IX

Sometimes sleep comes when you need it most, but when you expect it least. E was all set to go for a walk today, but I wasn't ready to leave the house. Instead, we walked circles in the kitchen for about five minutes, and he passed out. I don't expect this to be a long nap, but even 20 minutes will get him back in shape to finish the day without excess meltdowns. This kid has been the best sleeper of the three so far, and I really hope the trend continues.

This particular trick, we learned with Nat, who flat out refused to take naps in her crib. Or sleep at night in her crib. Or sleep at night at all. And so, the stroller nap was invented to help us retain our sanity. Here's hoping this doesn't become a trend with E, as it did with Nat. 

Literally holding my breath...

Friday, July 10, 2015

Stuff My Kids Say XV

"Where do they come up with these ideas? I try to write and all I think up is foxes and dragons!"

Nat - age 10, after watching yet another new creature in Doctor Who. 

Nat started writing stories in fourth grade. She was not a fan of writing until her teacher used her aversion to pen and paper as the impetus to starting a writing club. Nat and her teacher would take turns writing a story, each writing a paragraph or a page and then handing the story to the other to write the next part. This personal attention and enthusiasm about writing sparked her creative nerve and she hasn't stopped writing since.

Her love of reading is well documented, as is her attraction to dragons and fantasy stories. So naturally, we started watching Doctor Who this past year. She has made it through three doctors so far, and just getting started with a fourth, and every episode, she is engaged and amazed by the new story lines the show introduces. Each of the creatures, aliens, monsters, companions, planets, doctors... are different.

She can watch a metal man terrorize a shopping mall in one episode, and a space whale fly a city in the next. We've seen killer crab creatures, werewolves of London, and intelligent ice. With stories that cross all of space and time, the limits on the show are only bounded by the writers' imaginations. So, after hearing this amazement in Nat's voice, we played a little game of brain storming that I stole just a little from her teacher's writing club.

I asked her to think of a character, any kind, and to just give me the first two features that came to her mind. I then added two of my own. Then it was her turn again. We went back and forth like this until we had fleshed out a character that was more than just dragon or fox. It had a name, it had an origin, it had features and powers and desires. It was the foundation for a story, if she wanted it. Godzilla heard us going around and around, and wanted in on the action. Once Nat and I were done with her creature, he and I set about making up another, just as detailed, just as fantastic, just as much pure imagination. 

And this is what I love about sharing my day with them. There is so much imagination in the mind of a child just waiting to be engaged. It is ripe for the picking if only you take the time to take hold of the fruit and pull. Sometimes our imaginations get bogged down with the things we already know, but stretch it out a little, and the whole world is your canvas.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Boys of Summer

Last week, I took Little E to his first minor league baseball game for a dad meetup. We had fun, sitting on the left field lawn. It was sunny and hot, and the kid was tired before the game was over, but the ballpark was nice and so was the company. I took just a couple of photos, and am planning to take the rest of the family back later this summer, once school lets out. I've been a baseball fan since I was little, and remember going to games with my dad. After sharing the pics of our trip with Nana, she dug out a shot of me as a kid attending a game with my dad. Baseball really is the game that transcends generations.

Friday, May 1, 2015

girl power

Recently, DC Comics announced they were launching a new line of books and products called "Super Hero Girls" aimed at girls age 6-12. It's really kind of exciting, as the comic industry has done a poor job of engaging women throughout their history. Finding a strong heroine who is not over-sexualized or who doesn't simply play a supporting role is not easy.

I can't say I gave it much thought before having a daughter, when as a boy, I had all the heroes I could ask for. When Nat came along though, I began looking for a heroine who could play the roll in her life that Superman and He-Man did for me in my youth. We have enjoyed She-Ra and Supergirl through the years, but the one that my daughter loves the most is Wonder Woman.

With Free Comic Book Day coming up, I thought it was the perfect time to finish this project I've been working on. You may have seen my son become both Superman and Captain America, and my daughter embraced her inner Amazonian for Halloween, well now she has been fully integrated into Wonder Woman's history with an appearance on the cover of the classic Sensation Comics #1! The process is the same as it was with Action Comics #1, only this time, we get some bullet deflecting bracelets!

It starts with a sketch...

Ink it in, and get rid of any left over pencil lines...

Before I started adding color, I made sure I could get my daughter in the pose I would need. This part takes more than a steady hand with a pencil, but an eye for posing, a little minor skill with Photoshop, or a basic editing software like Pixlr, and a subject willing to pose several times until you get the photo just right. 

This photo was only the third take, and was as close to the original pose as we were going to get. A little Photoshop magic to lift her arm a touch and clip her from the background comes next. I also sized her on a page to fit the positioning of the cover and added the bracelets we forgot to wear for the photoshoot.
Now you can print it out and make sure it lines up on your page, then start filling in the color.

Once the color is complete, layer the two images and frame it up to add to your kid's wall!

With this on your wall, the next time someone tells your daughter that girls can't be superheroes, she'll definitely know better!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Slug Life

Mornings have always been slow for me. I fact, I can't think of a time where I wanted to get up and move right away in the morning. This has not caused too many problems in the last 12 years, as I've worked nights since college. Before that however, I missed more than a coupe classes in college, and chased the bus in high school more than I care to admit.

Today, this slow morning syndrome is only a problem when I am trying to get the kids up for school. Godzilla takes two to three wake-up calls before he will roll out of bed, and then it's instantly the groans of a man 59 years his elder. How can a six-year-old wake up with a sore back? Once he finally gets dressed, its a trudging shuffle out to breakfast where he supports his head on his hand as he lazily munches on his food.

I cant really get upset at his morning pace, not when it took hitting the snooze twice to get out of bed myself. Add to that the fact that he doesn't even have coffee to crutch himself up, and I have major sympathy for him.

So, we work our way through breakfast and out the door to school and turn to his brother

E wakes up slowly in his crib, cries for someone to come get him and takes about 10 minutes of cuddling before he's able to walk around without falling over. He literally stumbles around the living room like a drunken sailor if you put him down first thing in the morning. I've seen him walk into walls and fall down straight on his diapered butt.

I really don't mind a few minutes of cuddle time in the morning, as long as he lets me get to the coffee before very long. Breakfast can always wait until I have time to do it up right, but the coffee can't wait.

Nat, meanwhile, has finally started to embrace her morning routine. She gets up and gets right to work getting ready for school. (Although, she would still stay in bed all day if she could, if we would let her just read) It is hard to look at her and not see the little girl who needed my help to brush her teeth, who always asked me for songs at bedtime, who ran and jumped into my arms before I left for work (though that last one may still apply) For the most part, she has things in hand now. She gets up and moves in the morning, brushing her hair, checking her backpack, watching for the bus, and very little of my style of sleepy foot dragging.

Here I sit, writing this post for the third day in a row, and it's not even much of an update. Blame my work schedule, blame wanting to spend my day off with my family, blame my kids demanding too much of my time, but you'd probably have to blame my slug life too.

Oh well, looks like it's time for more coffee, maybe then I'll get something done.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bedtime Songs

Its true, we're creatures of habit. At least, I am a creature of habit. How else would you explain the fact that I've been singing the same lullabies to my kids for 10 years now? Not that I mind, I enjoy them, my kids enjoy them, and that's all that matters in the end, I suppose. And it's not just lullabies, it's songs in general.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Basketball Diaries

There are first times for everything, but what first is quite as exciting as the first game you catch with your kids? I'm a baseball guy, and a baseball game with my kids is the holy grail of firsts for me. However, when opportunity knocks, I'm more than happy to open the door.

And that was the case last night. After working so hard to raise money for Jump Rope for Heart, Godzilla was given a voucher for an Indiana Pacers game. He had a choice of a few different nights, and was really excited to get to go. Unfortunately, my work schedule got complicated, and we waited a little too long to find tickets and were unable to get to any of the games available with his voucher. He was so proud of his work and of earning the tickets that we weren't going to break his heart and not take him to a game, so instead of buying one ticket to go with his free one, we picked up two and made our plan to see the Pacers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As the day approached, we talked about it more and more, until Sunday morning came and he was ready to go! Of course, if you're excited to go to a basketball game, you have to warm up for it, as he pointed out before lunch.