Sleep

3:51 am

I love sleep. I promise. What’s awesome is that usually sleep loves me too. Not trying to brag or anything, but Matthew once timed how long it took me to fall asleep, and he came up with 7 seconds.

I love my baby more than sleep.

Since she was about a month old, people have been asking me if she was sleeping through the night yet. Of course, at a month old, she was not. As the months passed, I had gradually accepted the fact that she seems to have inherited an unusually high metabolism, and will pretty much always accept a meal. Now before all of you tell me I’m starving the poor child, I promise I feed her several meals a day, with snacks, plus breastmilk. She still wakes up at night.

This is actually just fine with me. Someday she will sleep all night, but I really don’t care if that happens before she is a year old or not. I’ve just accepted the fact that sleep and I won’t be hanging out much.

So I was very surprised when she slept over 7 hours without waking up to eat. I woke up a few minutes ago and was terrified that something had happened to her. I tiptoed down the hall and gently nudged her bedroom door open just enough to get inside.

Crrrrreeeeeaaaak….

I cringed. If everything was ok, I definitely did not want to wake her. I peeked through her crib bars, but she didn’t stir. I listened, but I couldn’t hear anything, so I crept into the room.

She was sprawled out like a sweet little cherub statue – the kind found in water fountains, standing on one leg. Her right arm held her wubbanub in her mouth like a trumpet.


(Image courtesy of lassco.co.uk)

Thankfully, she was breathing.

I went back to bed, but sleep was on strike protesting irregular hours, so I stared at the ceiling for a little while, just being thankful Liliana was fine.

4:38 am

She woke up.

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How Important Is Winning?

Because I identify with Red, Blue, and Green, I’m sure you’ve already guessed that I have many contradictions and conflicts inherent in my personality. After all, Red and Blue are enemy colors with the Emotion vs. Intellect conflict, just as Blue and Green conflict over Nature vs. Nurture. Although I often take Green’s side of the U/G (Blue/Green) conflict, today I am going to side with Blue.

Everything you know how to do, you learned how to do at some point.

No one is born knowing how to speak, to read, to run. No one is even born knowing how to planeswalk. Sure, some people have a spark, some invisible trait inside them that one day may manifest itself, and others do not, but they have to learn how to use that ability. Untrained, it is the same thing as if they had never possessed the spark at all.

The same can be said of anything. All processes must be learned, even if an individual has a particular talent for something. Tom Brady, Stephen King, and Barack Obama were all babies once, and none of them knew how to throw a football, write a book, or inspire millions of people with one speech. They all learned their crafts.

Everyone starts as a beginner in Magic, too. This, of course, is the most difficult time because there is so much to learn. If you are skeptical of this, it is because you have never tried to teach someone how to play. Not only do you have to leave out strategy entirely when trying to understand the game, you also have to ignore most of the rules. Please don’t let this intimidate you, because the rules quickly become second nature, but trying to learn all of them at once will surely intimidate and frustrate the new player so much that they won’t have any fun, and will not care to play anymore.

Here lies my dilemma:

A few years ago, as I was reflecting upon my early childhood, I remembered how my parents and I used to have races in the backyard when I was about 4 years old. I suddenly realized that they had let me win! I had thought I had won those races fair and square and that I was actually faster than them! This sounds very funny to adults, but to my 4-year-old mind, it made perfect sense.

I am a very competitive person. I like to win, but I don’t want to win unfairly. The nice thing about Magic is that there is an element of luck and that sometimes the less skilled player will defeat the more skilled player. Now, more experienced players may protest that this is not a “nice thing,” especially when they lose, but it really is. The overwhelming majority of the time, the more skilled player will win, and if either player is paying attention at all, any significant gap in skill will be obvious. The “nice” part is that every now and again, the less skilled player will get just enough luck and the more skilled player will be just unlucky enough, that the less skilled player will triumph. This allows for a sense of encouragement and keeps less skilled players playing the game. This is extremely important, because nobody likes to lose, and people play Magic on their own volition. Without this tiny element of luck, there would not be enough players to fund the game. There would be no Pro Tour, no World Championship, no Modern Masters.

View original comic

View original comic at cardboard-crack.com

So I wonder to myself, when we eventually teach our daughter, Liliana, how to play, do we ever let her win? If not, do we go easy on her? Do we divide our duties and let only one of us lose games while the other remains undefeated? At 7 months old, she is already displaying signs of fierce independence and competitive spirit, and I don’t want to discourage her by winning everything all the time, but I wonder if it is dishonest to let her believe she won something by her own merits when she did not. I think I would feel like I would have lied to her. I would still want her to realize the mistakes that she would make so she could improve. Perhaps I should just let the luck of the game help her to a few victories at a time?

I’d like to know what you think. What do you do when teaching someone a new game? Do you let them win? Or perhaps you do something like this:

View original comic at http://cardboard-crack.com/post/77244144991/teaching

View original comic at cardboard-crack.com

If you like the comics in today’s post, be sure to check out their creator’s website: cardboard-crack.com.

How to Eat Grass (by Liliana)

As any baby who has never eaten grass knows, it is a scrumptious treat enjoyed only by those clever enough to subvert their Mommy’s or Daddy’s attempts to stop them, or the lucky spoiled babies whose parents love them more than mine do. For the poor souls whose parents do not love them enough to give them grass, I have devised a guide based on personal experience on how to obtain this delicacy.

Step One: Make Mommy take you outside. The best way to do this is to throw yourself towards the window or door while she is holding you. Don’t worry, she won’t let you fall no matter what you do because it is her job to hold onto you.

Step Two: Make Mommy set you down. I do this by completely letting go of Mommy and trying to slide down her leg. Make sure she sets you in the fluffy green stuff. That is the delicious part of outside.

Step Three: Pat the grass. Do this for a few minutes so that Mommy is not worried about you eating it. It feels nice anyways.

Step Four: Pick a piece of clover and study it intently. Do not, I repeat, do NOT, put it in your mouth yet. Mommy is waiting to see what you will do with it and will instantly foil your plan if you attempt to eat it at this moment.

Step Five: When Mommy looks away, close your hand around the clover so she cannot see it. This is important so that she does not realize it is still in your possession.

Step Six: Pretend to eat your hand while carefully maneuvering the clover into your mouth. If you do this with enough care, she will not notice. Unfortunately, my Mommy saw right through this attempt, so I had to try something else. If Step Six does not work, please continue. Otherwise, good job.

Troubleshooting:

The “Mmm” Method:

This is the direct approach. The key here is to be persuasive. Pick a clover, look Mommy right in the eyes and say “Mmm!” while moving the clover to your mouth. If you can convince her you know it is delicious, she is sure to let you eat it.

 

The Misdirection Approach:

Stare off into the distance like you see something fascinating. While Mommy tries to find what you are studying, use the hand she is not holding to grab some clover and bring it to your mouth.

 

The Daddy Strategy:

Stare at home until Mommy calls Daddy outside to play too. Show him that Mommy is mean and won’t let  you eat grass. If he loves you enough, he will let you eat it and Mommy will get in trouble for being a party pooper.

 

Some babies have suggested crying, but I have had little success with that. Usually my Mommy assumes I am hungry or need a diaper change when I cry, so she picks me up and takes me away from the grass. This is directly contrary to our objective, so I do not suggest this tactic.

 

Congratulations! You have now savored your first real food. Wasn’t it so much better than the pea/spinach/apple/mango stuff they make you eat?

 

 

*Disclaimer: None of these methods actually worked for me, but they all sound good in theory. I am certain that my experience was a fluke and if you follow this guide, you should have no trouble obtaining your first taste of grass.

Teeth, Trees, and Trust

Teeth

After four months of teething, Matthew and I were surprised a few days ago to find two little, razor-sharp chompers emerging from Liliana’s soft red gums. We were so excited that we were jumping up and down and swinging her around. Okay, so maybe that was just me.

She, of course, had no idea why I was so happy. It didn’t matter. I had been on the lookout for teeth for 2/3 of her life, and now they were finally making their appearance.

Sometimes we don’t know why things hurt, but in the end all of our experiences can help us to grow, even if we might not realize it.

Trees

On another note, on Thursday my mother-in-law babysat for Matthew and I while we went on an adventure. I am so thankful she did, because we had so much fun.

My in-laws live in a beautiful wooded area on a huge plot of land which is divided among my mother-in-law, her parents and two of her sisters. This is super-convenient and fun because it means that family is all around and whenever the kids want to play with their cousins, they just have to walk down a wooded trail. There are a few small creeks tracing the land, and there is plenty of wildlife to see.

There is a larger river in the area, too. It is not so deep that the water level often rises above my head when I stand on my tiptoes, but it is big enough to paddle downstream in kayaks.

This was our adventure yesterday. We started on Matthew’s grandparents’ property, but we didn’t really have much of a plan. We just went.

We quickly realized that this would not be an easy trip. Every dozen yards or so there were tree branches clawing at the surface of the water, but we were feeling adventurous so we went on.

We took turns going first and laughed at ourselves and each other as we constantly got caught on the branches. A few times, we felt like we were playing limbo. Once, towards the beginning, Matthew almost capsized trying to get under an extra thick limb, and later on I almost flipped about three times. Each obstacle was a puzzle, and we worked through our challenges as a team, although we operated separately.

About 3/4 of the way through our trip, we zoomed under a fallen tree and found ourselves about five yards away from another person! He was standing a little ways away from the bank in wading boots, a fishing pole in hand, and he seemed just as surprised as we were. He was a very pleasant person, and after chatting for a few minutes while we worked our way around a submerged log, he wished us good luck and we said goodbye.

Eventually, we decided that we were done kayaking. It happened rather suddenly, at the same time, for no particular reason except that we were both dirty and we wanted showers. We had no idea where we were of course, so we grounded our kayaks on the same shore which we had used to start our adventure and hopped out. Matthew was slightly farther downstream than I was, and one of those little creeks parted the land between us.

“You’ll have to cross it,” he told me.

“Why?”

“Because you’re on an island.”

“You’re on an island,” I told him, teasing. I had no idea if that was true or not, I just wanted to say something to be silly.

We were already a little ways away from the larger river, so I put my kayak on the bank of the little stream and tried to push off while Matthew laughed at me. I’m sure I looked very funny trying to paddle sand. Of course, it was much too shallow to paddle across, but it was also much too wide to leap. I would either have to push the kayak across and wade through it, or carry my kayak all the way back to the river. I pushed the kayak to Matthew, but I still had my paddle. I decided to take off one shoe and hop across, using my paddle as a walking stick.

As soon as I took one step into the river, I realized that wasn’t going to work. I was instantly calf deep in sand, and there was no going back. My paddle was stuck and so was I. I had no choice but to step with my other foot, which was still wearing a shoe. I did, and somehow made my way across the stream, jumping through the water, yelling, “I’m stuck!” for the entire seven feet.

Matthew helped me up the bank on the other side, but he said, “Go fast!” because I accidentally stepped on top of a hidden snake hole. Thankfully, the snake was either sleeping or felt sorry for me because he didn’t even come out of the hole.

My one shoe was soaked now, and so I simply took it off and we continued. Matthew carried the front halves of the kayaks and I carried the backs as we wandered in the same general direction we had just left. The river we had followed had had many bends many little tributaries so we couldn’t go in a straight line. Of course, we didn’t have a phone either because we didn’t want to get it wet, so we walked along the tributary I had just crossed.

We quickly found out that Matthew had, in fact, been on an island as well.

The banks of the stream were now much higher because we were much farther away from the main river. Fortunately, there was a large trunk connecting the two banks. Matthew walked across the trunk, I sent the kayaks over the river, and then I went to cross the tree.

“Be careful,” he told me, “Don’t step on the poop.”

Sure enough, right in the middle of the trunk where there was a perfect spot to step, some animal had decided to drop a large present. I felt like I was dancing as I jumped around it and tried to keep my balance. It was a good thing he had warned me because if he hadn’t, I would have had a lot more to worry about than the wet shoes in my kayak.

After we were safely across, I decided I wanted to be in the front so I could see where I was stepping, but I ended up needing to put my shoes back on anyways because the vegetation suddenly became more hostile as soil gave way to pine needles and thorns. We made our way to a telephone pole because we thought the line would eventually lead us to a road. The ground was open, but far from level, and as we walked towards the next hill, we realized we couldn’t see where the slope in front of us ended.

“I hope there’s a road there,” Matthew said.

Being in front, I had a little better view of the end of the hill.

“I don’t think it’s a road…”

It was another river.

We decided to try to find our way back to his grandparents’ house and started heading back towards the main river. As we went up another hill, however, I saw something that changed our minds.

“There’s a house!”

“Really?!” he asked.

“Yes!”

As we got a little closer, I realized something else.

“It’s your parents’ house!”

“What?!”

We set the kayaks in the grass and went inside to freshen up.

 

Trust

We had no idea where we were headed that day, just as Liliana has no idea why her gums are sore. Even when we don’t know where we are headed or what we are doing, we can still trust that eventually, things will work out. We are exactly where we are meant to be.

What Bilingualism Is (And What It Is Not)

“Don’t you worry she won’t learn English as well if you teach her to speak other languages too?”

“Won’t she only use sign language if she learns that first?”

“She’s going to mix everything up! I think you should really concentrate on just teaching her English.”

When I tell people who are not bilingual that we are teaching our daughter French, Spanish, and American Sign Language in addition to English, I often hear comments like the ones above. It seems to be common for people to believe that bilingualism leads to delayed language learning and that, as Americans, there is no reason for us to learn another language.

These ideas are absolutely false.

There have been many studies on the subject (this book compares several of them), and the general consensus is that learning another language actually improves a person’s ability to use their native language, among providing many other advantages. This may seem counterintuitive to many people but it is actually quite logical.

Think of learning another language as similar to learning another way to do math. Once you learn how to add, the next logical step is learning how to subtract. Once subtraction is mastered, the next things to learn are multiplication and division. Each new mathematical process adds to your overall understanding of math in general, but it also adds another layer of understanding to the previous procedures. Becoming proficient in subtraction makes addition easier and faster. Multiplication is basically looking at addition in a different way, and division looks at subtraction differently. Each skill makes the others easier and makes sense of them differently.

Language is the same way. At first, language can seem confusing, but most people don’t even have to think about how to speak their native language in order to make themselves understood. Another language only expands the world, never shrinks it. It opens the windows to new cultures, new viewpoints, new ways to express ourselves. It allows us to see our native language differently and realize how it affects our worldview.

Learning, in general, allows improvement for both individuals and the societies in which we live. Learning fuels our lives, so why would we ever limit ourselves by dismissing our potential?

 

(If you are at all interested in learning a foreign language, I really like the program, Duolingo. It is free, online, fun, and easy to use. It has multiple languages to choose from and are adding more all the time. It uses experience points to track your progress and offers a few fun in-game rewards for doing well, like a flirting lesson, an idiom lesson, and new outfits for the little owl character. It even has an app.)

Girls and Games: The Importance of Gender

I remember the first game I ever played on a Gameboy Color – Pokémon Red. For those who might not have played this game, it belongs to a group of games which started the long line of Pokémon games, and it revolves around the story of a young boy from Pallet Town. At the beginning of the game, you are asked to give your name and the name of your rival (which your rival’s grandfather somehow can’t remember). After this, there is a tutorial built into the storyline and you receive your first Pokémon, a little animal that will fight by your side. You then go on a lengthy adventure throughout the rest of the game, battling your rival and defeating gym leaders to earn badges. There’s admittedly a lot more to the storyline and gameplay than that, but that is the basic plot.

Like most children my age, I loved this game. In fact, I loved it so much that I have owned at least one of every generation of Pokémon games since then (they are always released in groups with slight variations between games.) I actually purchased a Nintendo 3-DS specifically so I could play the Generation V games (in French, no less!) with my husband, and I don’t regret it at all. These are my favorite video games.

However, the first group of games had one very obvious problem that it unfortunately shared with many games at the time: you could not chose to play as a girl.

This might not seem like a big deal. After all, it doesn’t actually affect the way that the game plays, does it?

Well, yes and no. No, of course it does not alter the story, the pokémon, the difficulty, or even the speed that your character walks. The program does not care at all whether or not your character has pigtails.

…But I’m willing to bet you do. Why? What’s a few more pixels anyway? Why does it matter how your character looks?

It matters because it is your identity. Because you get to pick your name at the beginning, it feels as if the game is asking you to consider your character as being an extension of yourself. It is asking you to put yourself into the game. As a girl, this is very hard to do when the character is a boy.

Conversely, if I play Kingdom Hearts (another fantastic game), I don’t mind playing as the main character, Sora, even though he is a boy. He is his own character, with his own story, and I am just following along. I don’t feel awkward because I know that he is not meant to be me at all.

When I play games like Pokémon Red, though, an awkward undertone follows me everywhere I go in the game. The fact that my character is not really mine reverberates through everything, distancing me from the world in which I would so like to immerse myself.

The creators of Pokémon, Nintendo, quickly realized their mistake and made a huge announcement when they released the next generation of games. This time, players could choose to be girls. I remember being so excited. I suddenly felt so included – this game was meant for me to play too!

It’s funny still, because it shouldn’t really matter, but it does. When the way others see me matches with the way I see myself, the harmony this creates resonates throughout my being.

This is why there are more girls who like gaming now than ever before. With the rise of awareness of this previously neglected audience, companies have made a concerted effort to depict strong women of great character and more realistic clothing in their games. Of course, they are still attractive women, and sometimes there are exaggerated parts, but it is clear that there is a serious effort put forth to include women in games.

Take the card, Banisher Priest, for instance.

This is one strong chick. Not only is she modest, she is also a strong card. She is elegant and attractive and guess what? She doesn’t even need to wear completely useless armor like a metal thong!

Her gender doesn’t affect the way that the card plays or how good it is, but it does promote respect towards women in a community that doesn’t always acknowledge the equality of both sexes. There are so many examples like this now, but every now and then we still see fantasy art like this:

Not only does this outfit make no sense in any practical way, it is extremely revealing. Sure, she’s casting a spell. I understand that she’s doing something instead of just sitting there and looking pretty, but that doesn’t mean she has to wear a suit of armor designed in a torture chamber to make up for her magical prowess.

Thankfully, this kind of art has fallen by the wayside, and games (both digital and physical) are constantly finding new ways to connect with women. When over half of the super cool Dragonlords on Tarkir are female, it makes me feel included in the same way that being able to play a video as a female character makes me feel like that game was intended for me. It makes me feel empowered and respected.

This leads me to another thought. If I feel wrong playing a video game in which I am forced to play as a boy, is that how other people feel in real life sometimes? Take Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, for instance. You can read more about her story here.

Just a Spoonful of…

Liliana is by no means a picky eater. She’ll try any food happily, and she’ll like most of them.

Every now and then, though, there is a food that she decides she doesn’t really fancy.

Turkey is one of those foods. The last time I tried to give her turkey was a couple of weeks ago and she fought it more than she has fought any other food. She shoved away the spoon, turned her head, pressed her lips together and leaned as far away from me as she possibly could. Granted, it did smell a little funny, but it tasted fine (I swear). I tried mixing it with sweet peas, but she still wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

So I gave up for a while, but today I had an idea. What if I tried adding seasoning to it? After all, I like food better with seasoning, so she probably would too. I don’t have very many spices right now because we are still moving them into this kitchen, but I do have a few.

Any guesses what I added?

I’ll give you a hint: it was not a spoonful of sugar.

It was a sprinkle of chili powder. I mixed it up with the turkey very well and set her in her high chair. I took a spoon and said, “Liliana, you want some?” with a great big smile on my face.

She smiled back and opened her mouth.

In went the spoon.

She closed her mouth, considered it, then looked at me for my reaction.

“Mmmm,” I said with a smile.

She smiled again and wiggled in anticipation of the next bite. She ended up eating all of it, and then some butternut squash afterwards.

I was reminded of three lessons today: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again,” and “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Or, in this case, a sprinkling of chili powder helps the turkey to not induce gagging.