Oct 10, 2014  •  In Aerin, Cute, Funny, Motherhood, Personal, Toys

Doll Play

I never played with dolls as a kid.

I have memories of painstakingly cutting out elaborate paper dolls and their clothes and accessories….only to discard them once I finished. I also recall constructing Barbie houses out of cardboard boxes, books, and other items we found around the house, but lost interest once the domiciles were completed.

Claire isn’t much of a doll person either. Sure, she has her giraffe, but doesn’t really use him in the traditional sense of doll play.

Aerin, on the other hand…

When Aerin began to show interest in princesses last year (Ariel, in particular), I assumed it was just a phase, as Claire had gone through a similar phase at around that age.

But while Claire quickly grew out of her princess phase, Aerin remained a huge fan of Ariel. And Anna & Elsa, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Tiana, Jasmine…basically, all the Disney princesses!

We’ve collected quite a collection of Ariel dolls and figures since then. (When people ask us if there are any toys they could get for the girls, we tell them, “Anything giraffe-related for Claire, and anything Ariel-or-princess-related for Aerin.”) And my younger daughter LOVES to play with her dolls.


As someone who never really engaged in doll play, it’s fascinating to observe Aerin playing with her dolls. She seems to make up elaborate stories and scenarios for them, as I often catch her mumbling to herself as she moves, bends, and positions them to her will.

Every now and then I catch parts of the story or conversation (mumble, mumble…”ARIEL!”…mumble, mumble…”CASTLE!”…mumble…”DANCING!”).

Sometimes, she will let me join in — but I always have to be playing the part of the prince!

And once in a while, she will even compose intimate scenes for her dolls. As in, having them hug and kiss and hold hands. And judging by the duration of some of these kisses, I can’t help but wonder if they’re full-on making out.

It’s a bit concerning when she asks me to help her take off her dolls’ clothes, and does stuff like this:


She made them kiss and hug for a full 10 minutes, whilst making kissing sounds!

I seriously don’t know where she learned that from — I’m being 100% honest here! I can only surmise (and hope) that this is normal doll play…right?

Oct 8, 2014  •  In Finance, Funny, Geek, Information, Parenting

How Much Damage Did Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes Fame) Cause? [$$$]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that raising a child from birth to age 17 costs, for those in the middle-income groups, anywhere from $226,800 to $264,600.

If you think that figure is large, consider the fact that those numbers do not take into account any damage (the physical kind, not emotional) the child can cause…and most kids destroy plenty of stuff.

So how much damage can a child cause? Matt J. Michel — obviously a fan after my own heart — decided to examine one extreme end of the spectrum and calculated the mischief depicted in the classic comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.


Michel painstakingly went through the entirety of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes (one of the best gifts I’ve ever received and something I can’t wait to share with my kids) in order to tackle this task. He obviously had to take some liberties, but his methodology seems sound.

To estimate the cost from damaged goods, I searched amazon.com for comparable items, with some exceptions (e.g., Calvin’s Mom seems somewhat fashionable, so when Calvin placed an incontinent toad on her sweater, I looked for a replacement on jcrew.com). To estimate cost for property damage, I used homewyse.com and fixr.com (using the zip code for Chagrin Falls, OH) [creator Bill Watterson’s “rumored current residence”]. In the few instances in which a monetary value was given in the comic, I used that value.

And the final figure? Calvin caused an estimated $15,955.50 worth of damage over the 10-year duration of Calvin and Hobbes.  8-O 

Michel further analyzes the data by grouping the damages caused in each month:


And by observing the figures above, he deduces that Calvin “did the most damage in January, February, and August (at a combined $11,585.83). Increased damage during these months may possibly be a reaction to the injustice of going back to school after a long break (Winter and Summer vacations).”

Interested in seeing more from his research? You can read the entire report here.

Via Gizmodo.

Oct 7, 2014  •  In Claire, Entertainment, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

Homework: A Family Effort?

Claire should technically still be in preschool. However, because she missed her school’s cutoff age by only a couple of months — and because she’s a bit advanced for her age — her teachers recommended she start pre-kindergarten early. (As such, she will always be one of the youngest kids in her grade.)

And one of the things that distinguishes preschool from pre-k is the inclusion of homework.

I was shocked when they handed us her first assignment at pickup. Really? Homework for 4-5 year olds? (At the time, Claire was only 3.) I don’t remember getting homework until the 2nd grade!

They also included a sheet of instructions in her homework folder which included things like:

  • Establish a scheduled time and quiet place for homework to be done. All written homework should be done at a desk or a table. Define a carpeted work area for card games.
  • Complete all homework. Remember, we are trying to lengthen your child’s attention span.

And this gem:

  • Be sure homework is neat. Perfection is the final goal.

WHOA! I don’t know about you, but that seems a bit demanding, if not unrealistic. (Or perhaps my expectations are too low?)

Additionally, the instructions clearly state that they fully expect the parents/guardians to help with the children’s homework. “Supervision is very important,” they emphasized. Not only do they want the parents to assist with, check over, and (if needed) correct the children’s work, they also instruct us to ask the children related questions to the assignment to help reinforce what they’re learning.


As you can see in the photo above, Claire usually doesn’t have a problem with homework time. If anything, she enjoys it! (I think she gets this nerdy quality from her mom. ;-) ) And little Aerin, who is currently at a stage where she wants to copy and do everything that her big sister does, also insists on doing work when it is homework time. For this reason, I have looked up simple worksheets online and printed them out so that she can also “study.”

Claire gets 1-3 sheets of homework every weekday. And it goes without saying that she needs my help with all of them, and rarely gets everything correct on her own.

Will this be the norm from now on? Am I expected to help my children with, and check over their homework for the next 14 years?

“Your parents never helped you with your homework?” J asked me. “Mine always made sure I completed my homework, and checked it over to make sure I did it correctly.”

This is brand new territory for me! My parents never helped me with schoolwork, not even large take-home projects. Nor did they ever have to remind me to do my homework — I just knew that it was something I had to do, and did it unquestioningly.

If anything, I believe this taught me independence and responsibility.

Is homework from a very young age — homework that is expected to be done with the parents and checked over by the parents as well — another byproduct of the helicopter generation? Or is it just a better, improved method of education?

I may never know the answers to these questions, at least not for a very long time. All I know is that Claire’s school seems to be doing something right if she was able to read and write simple words at the age of 3½ — and who am I to question them?

Additionally, homework is a good way for me to keep up with what my daughter is learning at school. For example, I didn’t know that she knew how to write her own name until we did her first homework assignment together. And a lot of times, I am surprised by what she knows. Like her homework assignment from yesterday:


I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to do that just as I had turned 4. 

Oct 6, 2014  •  In Entertainment, Geek, Movies

Things David Fincher Doesn’t Do [Brilliant!]

This video has been popping up on my favorite blogs since last week, but I haven’t had a chance to watch it until now.

And it’s excellent. One can’t help but be utterly impressed with David Fincher afterwards.

I don’t think the average movie goer notices the things that Tony Zhou points out in the video, even when watching the same flick multiple times. (At least I don’t. Do you?) But once you see it, you can’t ignore its brilliance. I mean, who knew so much thought and planning goes into each shot, angle, and perspective to get the desired story, mood, and message across to the viewers?

So if you have an extra 7 minutes today, I highly suggest you take a look at this analysis by Every Frame a Painting. And check out his other videos for more exploration into some of Hollywood’s most loved movies, directors, and actors.

Via Visual News.

P.S. — Have you watched David Fincher’s newest movie, Gone Girl? What did you think?

Oct 4, 2014  •  In Art/Design, Geek, Science

How Do Computers Render Curves? [Video]

If you’ve ever used vector graphics programs such as Adobe Illustrator, you probably know what a Bézier curve is. But do you know how they work? (In other words, how your computer draws them?)


The following video by Peter Nowell explains just how. It’s a geeky “how does it work?” instructional that is sure to captivate illustrators — heck, even those with no interest in computer graphics will find this engrossing!

If you want to see more Bézier curves in action, check out these interactive animations by Jason Davies. :-)

Via Gizmodo.