Anxious but trying spouse and dad. Trying (and sometimes even succeeding!) to introduce my kid to bikes, games, books, French, and more.

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Kiddo after waiting and watching patiently while I filled out ballot at early voting: ‘I have to admit, that was pretty fun!’

My parents are hosting (almost) everyone from my big family for Thanksgiving this year. Given growing numbers of food preferences and restrictions among us, I wonder whether we’ll have a big inclusive-but-non-traditional Thursday feast or whether dinner gets balkanized.

Using the Stardew Valley soundtrack as a chores anthem seems to get kiddo more excited (or at least less resentful) about helping out around the house.

beating Super Mario Galaxy 2 with kiddo

About a month ago, I blogged about the approach we take to playing video games around here, which is to check out old games from a local library and play them on the Nintendo Wii we liberated from my parents’ basement a couple of years ago. Earlier this week, that approach bore some fruit: After repeated cycles of keeping the game out as long as we could, returning it for a couple of weeks, and then checking it back out, kiddo and I beat Super Mario Galaxy 2—a game several years older than she is for a console that’s been around for nearly as long as her parents have known each other.

Especially proud of kiddo’s growing sense of humor when it involves successful wordplay. Tonight, she went from ‘my legs are wobbly’ to ‘my legs are wallabies,’ and it was great.

Kiddo’s response to our complaining that we’re also tired: 🎶’When you’re a kid you get to sleep, but now you don’t, now you don’t!’ 🎶

Going through old things and found a letter from my grandfather. It’s all typed except for a signature and a handwritten line at the very top: “All errors, be it spelling, grammar, etc., are fault of computer!!”

Thanks to a French Burger King commercial, I’ve just learned the French translation for “Paw Patrol.”

old video games, libraries, and xkcd

There’s a great xkcd strip (see below) about someone who always plays video games on a five-year lag because you get to enjoy all the good games with less of a hassle: I love this strip for a few different reasons. First of all, I’ve never been a hardcore videogamer, so if I do ever play a big title, it usually is about five years after the fact. Second, I think there’s something about it that gets funnier (or else makes me feel older) over time: It’s funny to think of someone only discovering Portal in early 2013, but now that “five years late” is almost “ten years ago,” there’s something kind of absurd about the strip.

It’s September, and we’re on our second cold of the school year. 😩

Kiddo’s classmate thinks our ridealong setup (which attaches a third wheel and second seat for kiddo to my normal bike) should be called a tricycle. I love it, but it enrages kiddo for reasons I don’t get.

This afternoon, kiddo tried to walk out of the library to the car without stopping her book, which makes me optimistic about her development as a reader.

‘If there was a dimension where they didn’t brush teeth, I would want to live there.’

Today’s email from ClassDojo claims that they are proud of my kid and that the message is sent with love. I get that this is a thing that marketing departments do, but I find the cynicism appalling.

putting my work where my whining is

Early in the school year, I signed up to be a parent representative on one of the Site-Based Decision Making (SBDM) committees for kiddo’s school. I had already started being a rabble-rouser about ClassDojo and some of my other edtech concerns, and I wanted to show that I could put in work where my whining was: That is, that I wasn’t just going to complain about things, but that I was going to show support for the school by helping out where I could.

data privacy and kiddo's school

In addition to all the irritating ClassDojo stuff going on at kiddo’s school, I’ve also spent some time banging my head against the wall made up of two forms: One to opt out of FERPA directory information sharing, and the other to opt out of kiddo’s information being shared with media outlets. I’m too tired tonight to get into all the details of what’s been going on, but the short version is that there’s no (clear, easy) way for spouse and I to request that kiddo’s name and image not be shared on school social media without also insisting that kiddo’s name and image not appear in innocuous things like… a school yearbook.

When I was in school, I’d frequently get stressed about whether I was sick enough to warrant staying home. The idea of making a “wrong” choice in either direction was frightening. Anyway, it turns out that anxiety extends to making that same decision for my kid.

The parent of one of my (college) students this semester was previously the (early childhood) teacher for my kid. Funny how these things happen!

It is the first day of kiddo’s school’s fundraiser, and I would much rather pay higher taxes than have to go through any of this. Boggles my mind that not everyone feels this way.

Besides explaining Star Wars stuff, one of the greatest perks of parenting is pulling out board games I haven’t played in years because kiddo wants to try them.

‘What’s going on in the movie when this [the Imperial March] is playing? Are the Stormtroopers trooping?’

parent agency and edtech

I’ve been blogging about ClassDojo enough over the past few weeks that I think it’s time for a quick recap before sharing some of the latest developments. I heard about ClassDojo being used schoolwide back in late July and started wondering what approach I should take as both a student’s parent and an edtech researcher. On Monday of this week, I talked to kiddo’s teacher about it and wrote up some thoughts the next day about teachers’ diminished agency in the realm of edtech.

emailing principal about edtech concerns

I really will get back to blogging on other subjects sometime soon, but here’s an email I just sent to kiddo’s principal raising some concerns I have going into the school year. I’m not sure what will come of this—and I’m not at all sure this was the right email to write—but in the off-chance it’s helpful for someone, I thought I’d post about it here. Dear Principal [so-and-so],

Kiddo is encountering face cards for the first time and is incensed that Kings rank higher than Queens. “Why can’t they be equal?!” Proud that she recognizes sexism at her age.

There’s lots I love about our family, but the 1.5 bike-to-person ratio is near the top.

Trouble is a dumb game, and I will never own a copy, but if it kills some time with kiddo at Grandma and Grandpa’s when I’m too tired to play anything more imaginative, I guess that’s fine.

I will never grow tired of hearing kiddo say “sand hanitizer.”

I have been making efforts to introduce kiddo to both Mario Kart and ABBA, so I am very proud that she now makes the Koopa Troopa / Super Trouper joke on her own.

(re)introducing kiddo to Wallace and Gromit

When I was growing up, our family had a three-VHS set of the original Wallace and Gromit shorts, and while “Wallace and Gromit fan” was never at the forefront of my identity, I have always loved The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave. Naturally, things that I loved as a kid are near the top of my list of things to introduce to kiddo. I showed them to her a couple of years ago—probably near the beginning of the pandemic—but she had no memory of them, so this weekend, I had the pleasure of reintroducing her to the series.

Saturday morning dad biathlon: Solo walk and run for latest couch to 5k session then 7 mile roundtrip on bike (kiddo on ridealong) to play at local playground.

One of the most prominent joys in recent parenting has been discovering that the same Jon Agee who was writing palindrome and wordplay books when I was a kid is still at it—and watching kiddo enjoy them even more.

The biggest upside to my failed efforts to teach kiddo French is that I can still use it to communicate secretly with my spouse.

Kiddo and I are getting back into the “Magical Kitties Save the Day” TTRPG, and she keeps asking me when we can play next. Feels like a win!

bike rides, TTRPGs, and other 2022 Father's Day weekend fun

The title of this post is a bit misleading. My wife and I aren’t really big on “Parent’s Day” celebrations: Years of Latter-day Saint “all women are mothers” (read: motherhood is the most important part of womanhood) Sunday services grated on us during our years of infertility, and even now that we are parents (and aren’t practicing Latter-day Saints—though my current denomination certainly isn’t immune from a cringeworthy celebration of parents either), it’s just not a thing we do.

Yesterday, we picked up a ridealong bike someone was giving away, so a daddy-kiddo ride is absolutely on the agenda for Father’s Day 2022.

Whenever my parents come to visit, we buy our local donuts because my dad likes donuts, and they bring down their local donuts because we like donuts, and we wind up with huge amounts of donuts.