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Days 23, 24, & 25

Sheesh! Forgive the late entries.

Day 23:  (Insert Shame Here.) I dropped the ball on Friday.  I broke not just a rule, but the essence of Operation Play.   One day out of 31 ain’t bad.  So shame: take that.  I’m over it.

Day 24: Go-Fish (again).  And fine with me!  I love me a card game, and J and I enjoyed our time as Dad rebounded a scooting Baby H away from the cards and E slept.

Day 25: Solitaire. “I’m sorry.  Did you say you played Solitaire? Um…was J with you?”  Yes, yes he was.  Earlier in the day I was busy and he felt bored.  I said, “If you like, for our playtime I can teach you a card game that you can play all by yourself when you feel bored other days.”  He picked up on it very quickly.  He said he’s watched Grandpa play on the computer before.  My Great Grandma Grace taught me to play Solitaire when I was about his age, so there was a touch of nostalgia mixed in for me.

Weekend Stats: Balls dropped, card games played, lessons learned, sisters distracted by Dad.

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Day 19: Lego’s

Yesterday, as usual, we had limited time.  I let J stay up a little past bedtime so we could get in our full 20 minutes.  He had no hesitation in choosing Lego’s, so into his room we went and I was lost at sea.  I am clueless about how to play Lego’s, even though we have done so more than once in this project.  He had his Millenium Falcon, a Ty-Fighter, and a bunch of Lego Star Wars guys.  I mindlessly connected some of the guys to the wings of the Ty-Fighter and then knocked them off with a small marble that was sitting nearby.  Within moments, it became a game.  J assigned points to each guy; higher points for guys who were more difficult to knock down.  Then we took turns and tallied the points.  We played for three rounds.

I think J is pretty smart kid.  And what a turn of events for me: I begin doing something because I’m a fish out of water (mindlessly knocking down Lego guys) and he turns it into something mindful.

Day 19 Stats: Lego guy marble game, 20 minutes, girls asleep, Mom’s lackadaisical play turns on J’s attentiveness

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Days 17 & 18: Ewoks & Stop-Motion

Yowser!  I’m a bit overdue with my writing, but I had more pressing commitments to write this weekend.  As per my Operation Play creed, though, I was not too busy to play!

On Saturday I was exhausted.  A late Friday plus a busy Saturday made me a grumpy Mommy.  Dad so kindly sent me off to take a nap so I would be in better spirits for J’s playtime.  When I awoke, Dad had put in a new movie for J: Ewoks: Battle for Endor. (We had this on VHS as a kid.  I had no idea then how cheesy it is! But cheesy or not, Wilford Brimley is in it.  Enough said.)  We paused the movie (it was at the beginning, anyway) and decided to draw ewoks, instead.  J’s picture was delightfully silly: one ewok catapulted another into the skyline over the forest of Endor.  We still had time for something else, so J asked me to make up my own Mad-Lib for him to fill in.  Keeping with the theme of the day, it was about ewoks.

What J really wanted to play on Saturday I put off for Sunday: making a stop-motion film with Lego guys.  J is not only fascinated by stop-motion animation, but he is fairly knowledgeable about it.    For those who don’t know, stop-motion is a lot like a flip-book put to film.  There are some cute stop-motion videos on the web, including this one:

(These YouTube films are not only responsible for expanding the reaches of J’s imagination, but also for causing him to mindlessly sing  “Ebony & Ivory” as he bumbles around the house.)   Dad bought him a tri-pod for our camera, and he builds a little “set” to place on the kitchen counter and create his scene.

I am pretty challenged when it comes to computers.  So it shocked me to find that my computer already had the software that easily plugs our photos into a stop-motion film.  I have yet to plug yesterday’s photos into said program, but will as soon as Dad helps me.  Yesterday’s film took place on the planet Hoth, and J continued to make more Hoth films long after I our “together” time was over.

I’d love to make a pie chart representing what percentage of our playtime is about Star Wars.  Would the graph even be necessary?  It is close enough to 100%.

Days 17 & 18 Stats: Ewoks & Stop-Motion Film Making, 20 minutes each day, sisters asleep both days, Star Wars inundation.

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Day 16: Drawing Star Wars Guys (Again)

First of all, this project is halfway over!  I’m not sure where to go with that.  Obviously I’m not going to quit playing with J come November 1.  “Tough luck, Buddy.  It was just for the blog.”  (I wrote that as an obvious joke, but even typing the sarcastic words was painful.)  So while the playtime won’t stop, will the blog continue?  Seems silly.  But this commitment to write everyday and to live under a few definitive “rules” has been nothing short of soul food.  Time will tell… (15 days to be exact.)

Yesterday was a busy evening, but full of fun!  As soon as J came home from school, I was busy cooking and cleaning for Papa, Nana, and Aunt to come over.  The kids were bouncing off the walls with excitement.  Their arrival brought the jubilation to a whole new (audible) level.  In addition to our fun with family, we’ve committed with a couple other families from our church to get together every Friday night.  Dad, knowing his Saturday would be busy with yard sales and produce co-op and football coaching and more, drove to our friends’ house in his own car so he could leave early.  That allowed him to take E with him, and leave J and I at home to play.  (H was asleep.)

And play we did!  J wanted to draw Star Wars guys again.  He gave me a Nute Gunray guy to draw while he held a member of the Emperor’s Royal Guard to sketch.  His instructions: fill up the entire sheet of paper with the character’s face.  We did it in 10 minutes (no coloring) so he brought out two more guys.  Ephant Mon for him and Old Ben Kenobi for me.  (He knows that Old Ben is my favorite Star Wars character.) 20 minutes later it was time to wake baby H and join everyone at our friends’ house.  J decided to give our drawings to Dad as a present.

I love how the commitment to play seems to open up opportunities to play.  I’ve said this a lot, but normally on a busy day like that I would never try to squeeze in play.  I wouldn’t even think of it, much less make it happen.  But the commitment has opened my eyes to all the time openings.  For those who know me, I am not a commitment-goal oriented-schedule maintaining-deadline sort of person.  So this naturally occurring revelation is just what the doctor ordered.  (And by “doctor” I mean “The Great Physician.”)

Day 16 Stats: Drawing Star Wars guys, 20 minutes, Dad & E at a friend’s house, H asleep, lesson about commitment.

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Day 13: Star Wars Guys

Return of the JediAre you seeing a theme?  Yes, J was bitten by the Galactic bug when he was but a youngling of two.   Here we are six years later, and nothing has changed but his understanding of the episodes.  Tonight he announced that only fans of Return of the Jedi could play and that we would each choose one guy from that film and create a new adventure for him or her.  Then we would switch.  Halfway through he decided to ask me comprehension questions about the adventure he played out for me.  I had to do the same.

J’s main character was Ephant Mon, who joined the rebels in creating a 3rd rebel base on the planet of Dagobah.  I missed one of his follow-up questions, even though it was multiple choice.  When it was my turn to create an adventure, I centered around Princess Leia as she discovered that she, too, has some Jedi tendencies.  It took place back in Endor with the Ewoks on their one year anniversary of defeating the Empire in Return of the Jedi.  Luke decided that Leia would become his padawan and that he should teach her the ways of the force as Obi-Wan did for him.

(I could stop there and let you remain amazed at my vast knowledge of Star Wars, but I’m a terrible liar.  The part I left out is that Leia discovered her Jedi tendencies by realizing she can turn on her coffee pot in the morning via Force.  Let there be no mistake: it was still Mom playing Star Wars.)

It was fun.  It was especially endearing, I thought, that J insisted we ask each other those follow-up questions.  He wants to be a teacher when he grows up, and moments like that make me see why!

Day 13 Stats: Star Wars guys, 20 minutes, H asleep, Dad with E, comprehension questions

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Day 12: A Couple of Ugly Ugnaughts

Today is Columbus Day which allowed playtime during the girls’ naps.  He wanted me to give him some tips on drawing and he decided we would each draw an ugnaught.  (Don’t feel badly if you don’t know what that is.  I have learned a lot from this Star Wars kid and his dad.  Click here to find out.)  I gave him a few simple tips (perspective, not centering the ugnaught, etc.)–and voila!  I present our ugnaughts:

J's ugnaught

Mom's ugnaught

As you can see, J’s creature is amidst his creature comforts: a factory in Cloud City.  Mom’s ugnaught is caught in some surreal environment, since Mom had no idea where an ugnaught ought to be and drew “stream of consciousness” style. 

 It still seems that I’m getting off easy, here.  I already like to draw and color.  But I swear I did not influence his decision!  I suppose the fact remains that J likes to draw, too.  And I suppose, had it not been for Operation Play, I would never have drawn an ugnaught.

Day 12 Stats: Drawing Ugnaughts, 35 minutes, girls napping on Columbus Day

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Day 11: Park Time

Let me invite you into my box of parenting shame, but lean in close because this warrants a whisper: I am not a park Mom.  There.  I said it.  The cat’s out of the bag. 

“You don’t do crafts and you don’t go to the park.  What do you do, Denise?”

You’re looking at it.  I write this blog.  I’m so glad that I do, too, because it has worked well to bring my values into reality.  Value of the day: park time.

I was a little antsy while we were there, though, because I wasn’t actually playing with J.  He had made some new buddies, and I stepped back and let them have their fun.  It was just this week, in fact, that I began specifically praying that God would bring J a neighborhood friend.  That remembrance took care of my “antsy-ness.”  I see that Operation Play was the vehicle that brought me (a non-park Mom) to the park.  And the park was possibly the vehicle that brought J a neighborhood friend.  (We exchanged numbers. *fingers crossed*)

After ample playground time, I told J we could practice catching the football before heading home.  His new buddy wanted to play, too.  J, thriving in his “teacher” role,  taught New Buddy and I a few football plays.  We each rotated quarterback (which, I gather, is the person who yells, “Hike!,” and throws the ball) while the other two ran their assigned plays.  It was tricky stuff, but if I ever play against a group of chimpanzees I might look pretty skilled. 

All in all: a great time.  J gained a friend, I gained some football knowledge, and true to this experiment, we each gained a bit more closeness.

Day 11 Stats: Park time & football, hour and a half, Dad with the girls, 3 great gains.

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