Tiger Cubs!

27 11 2012

If you live in the Seattle area, and you have kids, or if you like cute but deadly things, then head down to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium soon. They have tiger cubs!

Tiger Cub (I)

You see, the thing about tiger cubs is they don’t stay cubs very long. Within two years they look like this:


…which is still cool, but not the same thing at all. 

Another fun fact about our weekend trip? It proved, beyond all doubt, that Alex has entered his know-it-all stage. He loved talking to the various volunteers about different animals, learning new facts, and most of all sharing all of the relevant (and not-so-relevant) facts that he already knew. If he had a different attitude, it would be obnoxious. But he’s so transparently sincere it’s adorable — at least to this father’s eyes!

No-Stress Chess

26 11 2012

An unexpectedly fun purchase from our recent trip to Math ‘n’ Stuff was No Stress Chess. This set has a few tricks to make chess approachable for kids. First, the board diagrams where all of the pieces go at the beginning of the game, eliminating one piece of memorization. But most importantly, the set comes with a deck of “chess cards.” Each card describes how a single piece moves. When you start playing No Stress Chess, you draw a card and move that piece. For example, if you draw a pawn card, you move a pawn. If you draw a knight, you move a knight. This one simple trick tames the complexity of chess and makes it something a six-year-old can approach.

Once you get bored with draw-a-card, play-that-piece chess, you graduate to playing chess with a hand of three cards. It gives you a little more room to think about strategy, but is still far less complex than regular chess. This is the level Alex is on now. As you’d expect, I get a little fatherly thrill each time Alex asks me to play a game of chess, which he’s done obsessively since we got the set. This purchase has been as much fun for me as for him!

No Stress Chess


23 11 2012

Of course I’m thankful for family, and good health, and being back in Seattle instead of down in California. All of that is so obvious I’m not even sure I need to mention it. Here are some less obvious things to be thankful for.

  • Math ‘n’ Stuff. I can’t believe I’ve lived in Seattle for 16 years and just found this store today. I shouldn’t be allowed to enter this store with a credit card, as I have no willpower to resist all of the cool games, puzzles, and books stuffed in their shelves. We walked in looking for a few math workbooks for Alex, and it’s embarrassing how much stuff we walked out with. I had a particular and unexpected blast of nostalgia in the store. Hidden on one of the back shelves, they had a single copy of Calculus the Easy Way. This is one of three books in a series I discovered in Sherwood Hall Public Library back in 7th and 8th grades. I remember them vividly as they use storytelling to explain mathematical concepts, and I used these books to teach myself algebra and trigonometry. (Alas, I wasn’t able to teach myself calculus.) I loved these books and I had no idea they were still in print. I feel like I found a long-lost friend today.
  • Movies on rainy days. The weather’s been epically dreary this week, and there comes a point in any dreary week at home with kids when you’re just looking for ways to fill the time. Luckily, Rise of the Guardians saved our afternoon. As far as kids’ films go, quite enjoyable. I can also imagine Alex looking like Jack Frost when he hits his teenage years. If you’ve got kids and a rainy afternoon, go see it. But for a deliciously snarky British take on the movie, check out The Guardian (newspaper)’s take here.

Alex in 10 years?

  • Pre-made Thanksgiving meals. We had a nice Thanksgiving meal with friends this year… and we made the smart choice to get the pre-made meal from the grocery store. I know everybody gets nostalgic for their favorite foods, and the warmth and bustle and smells of the kitchen… but boy oh boy, Thanksgiving is much more enjoyable without hours of cooking during the day! I even had time to watch a little football, guilt-free. (Go Skins!) The leftovers were good, too! No, this is the way to do Thanksgiving. Save the nostalgia for old math textbooks. 

I’ll never know…

5 11 2012

…if they really missed me, or if they just wanted to get presents. But whatever the reason, they seem happy to have me around. It’s good to be back.


I must say, it’s gotten so colorful since I left for California!

Autumn by the Tracks

Though some of our weekend color was man-made…

Gum Wall Patrick