Tag Archive for kids

Stuff from School

I went through the Rugrats’ stuff after school today, and they came home with a few interesting items.

First, the Squirt had this in his homework:

Poor Pluto

Poor Pluto

I asked him why he crossed out Pluto, and he said “Because it’s not a planet anymore.”

Then it hit me: Pluto hasn’t been a planet since 2006. That means his teacher hasn’t bothered to update her worksheets for over six years.

*facepalm*

Look, I like his teacher. She’s great. In fact, she’s also a co-worker. But it’s a sign of what we see far too often in schools these days: the same old things being taught with the same old methods. There is a plethora of astronomy content on the Internet, and we’re still using worksheets with outdated information on them. I guess paper and pencil trumps Neil deGrasse Tyson.

On a lighter note, Little Bird came home with this:

Afraid to Find Out

I’m afraid to find out

I saw Se7en. I know how this works.

Of course it could be much, much worse…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: RPG Day

Tim and I introduced our sons to role playing games last weekend, and they had a blast.

Dice English

Be honest, geeks: who among us didn’t try to influence important dice throws like this?

Tim busted out his Dragon Age boxed set and gave the kids a great rundown of how RPGs work and what to expect. The whiteboard on the table was a nice touch, giving us somewhere to take notes, keep track of character info, and even help contain errant dice when the kids got too excited.

Checking Skills

“I want to do this backstabby thing and do more damage!”
That’s how it’s done, son.

The two eight year olds wandered a bit, and only really got interested when it was time to fight monsters and roll dice. My ten year old, though, jumped in with both feet. He figured out the combat fast, and worked out how to read his character’s skills to best handle a given situation. Now he’s begging me for RPGs to play at home, and he dug out my old AD&D (2nd edition!) and Call of Cthulhu books. He doesn’t quite get that I can’t teach him to play in ten minutes—especially since I haven’t played in well over a decade—so I downloaded a copy of Dungeon Squad! for him. Five pages, simple rules. All he needs is my old dice.

These won’t technically be the best photos in the Photo Friday set, but they get high marks for nostalgia. Deal.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

On Apples & Trees

So my kid got selected to be Joseph in a play. The Joseph.

“This will end badly,” I told the Wife.

“Why do you say that? I think he’ll do fine.”

“Trust me,” I said. “This kid is my clone.”

“How can they screw up? They have no lines, and they  just have to go through the actions the older kids narrate.”

I reminded her his teachers already had to tell him to not hang the Baby Jesus (a doll) upside-down by one leg as he passes Him over to Mary. She felt that meant they solved the problem.

Wishful thinking.

Sure enough, he missed his cue because he was too busy trying to get my attention. Then he passed the Baby Jesus over in a rush. At least he didn’t hold the Son of God upside down again, because if  he did, I’d have been laughing too hard for anyone to continue.

Then, through the rest of the play, he sat front and center and looked like this:

Really Bored Joseph

This is pretty much how I look on the few occasions the Wife drags me to church

Yep. Like father, like son.

To top it off, Little Bird nearly knocked over the giant cardboard box that served as the Inn. She couldn’t see what was happening from inside and kept trying to lean out the window for a better look, and her friend followed. The Inn leaned, wobbled, came apart on one side, then fell back straight when the girls backed off. If it had gone down, it would have taken the Advent wreath with it. Her teacher about had a stroke, and I had to struggle not to laugh.

Leave it to the Oliveri kids to be the troublemakers. If my eldest, one of the Wise Men, had let out a “nyuk nyuk nyuk” as he walked down the aisle (I don’t know who would have coached him to do such a thing), we would have had the hat trick.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Trick-or-Treat!

The Oliveris don’t screw around on Halloween: we walk door-to-door until our legs give out, hitting every single house with the porch light on. We see a lot of people driving their kids around, or only visiting certain houses, and that just doesn’t make sense to me.

The Rugrats in Costume

Morticia, a chainsaw killer, and a Grim Reaper

My kids all opt to dress as something horror-related, which makes me a proud papa. It bums me out seeing all these kids dressed as clowns, fairies, princesses, bugs, and (this year) Cardinals baseball players. Yeah, I know that’s their idea of fun, but come on! It’s Halloween, people! Haunted houses and ghost stories! While we did see a few other reapers, skeletons, and ghost-faced killers, they were in the minority.

Little Bird Snarling

Tomorrow she cuts her first black metal album

We chose a new route this year, and according to Google Maps we logged a hair over two miles. I was ready to take the kids down three more blocks, but they were done. In fact, the oldest had collected so much loot, the handles on his bag broke just as we hit the last block before home.

Chainsaw Killer

"Leatherface was a pussy!"

We got our first religious paraphernalia this year, too. Some old lady handed out a little booklet called “The Devil’s Night” and a book on 101 favorite Bible stories. The latter is a full-sized book and is actually kind of nice, but the little pamphlet is a comic book telling kids Halloween is evil and leads them to witchcraft. I’ll scan it and post it when I have time. It’s pretty bad, even for what it’s trying to do.

Phantom Reaper

"Your candy... or your SOUL!"

The middle child, dressed as a reaper, didn’t get anything from the old lady. I didn’t hear the conversation and didn’t find out what they got until after we were walking away, but the kids said she claimed she only had two books left. I half wonder if she figured the poor little guy was already damned and she didn’t want to go near him.

If only I’d refilled my Zippo…

Trick-or-Treat Loot

They made out like bandits!

On a positive note, we also ran into our first adult trying to scare people. I spotted a scarecrow on a porch, and I thought it looked a little sketchy so I kept my flashlight on him as the kids approached. Just before they got to the door, he jumped up and said “Happy Halloween!” The kids jumped and I got a good laugh out of it. Good to see some people in town still have the Halloween spirit. I heard another family had a haunted house in their garage and gave out full-sized candy bars to everyone who went through, so we’ll have to look for them next year.

All in all, we had a good night and landed more candy than the kids will be able to eat for the next few months. We got so much, in fact, the Wife and I are taking two gallon bags of the stuff to our respective workplaces, and we still have more than enough left for the kids.

Now that the kids are getting a little older, maybe next year we can look at decorating our own place. Muhahahahahah!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday on Tuesday: Catching Up

I shot the photos for the last two weeks of Photo Friday entries, but unfortunately it took a while to find the time to sit down and go through them and edit them, and then I had no time to sit down and punch up the blog entry.

The first photo was shot from the front row behind home plate at Wrigley Field. A friend’s wife won tickets in an auction, and when she and one of his daughters couldn’t go, he invited the Squirt and I to tag along. The Cubs hosted the Cincinnati Reds that day.

Incoming

Heads up!

We had a great time. I shot with my 55-250mm all day, with the ISO locked in at 100 because it was bright and sunny. I had to drop it a couple of times when clouds cast a shadow, but otherwise it was a set it and forget it kind of day. I got a few good ones in the full set.

Bonus paparazzo shot:

Let's Do Some Good

Don't worry, prohibition is still over.

Kevin Costner sat opposite us in a box just past the netting. I saw a lot of cameras pointed his way when he stood up to order a beer. In fact, there’s one in the background.

For the second Photo Friday entry, I snapped a few photos of the kids before walking them to school on the first day, which also happened to be the first day of Kindergarten for the Little Bird.

Back to School

Summer's officially over, kids!

I had to move them around a bit to get the harsh morning sunlight out their eyes. Squinty pics are no fun. I would have liked to have a diffuser panel off to the side for this one, too, but the Wife and the rest of the family were thrilled with this pic, so I’m happy, too. 18-55mm kit lens, nothing fancy.

This coming Friday: either portrait work from a herf with my super-distant cousin by marriage Mark tomorrow night, or more karate pics. Probably the herf.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

It’s Always the Oliveri Kid

Yesterday my kid’s CCD class had their open house. I ate cookies and drank punch while the little dude showed the Wife around the room and pointed out all the crafts he had made throughout the year. They look at some stuff, then move on. The next family to look at that same section has a little girl who said “That one looks angry.”

That grabbed my attention. I see several little paper cutouts of kids stuck to a bulletin board. I wander over. I see a bunch of standard, happy little kid cutouts…

…and one screaming with rage.

He'll swallow your soul!

And, of course, it’s my kid. I’m half surprised the clothes weren’t stained with the blood of his enemies.

I was going to ask him about it, but I have a feeling he’d say he was fleeing in terror from Zombie Jesus. Then we’d both be in trouble.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Bitty Ball

This week’s Photo Friday is a bit lazy. My son’s park district basketball team had a game tonight, and we had a few other things going on so I figured this would be easier than getting creative.

Get the rebound!

Get the rebound!

I’ve never been a big basketball fan, but it’s fun watching the little guys run around and do their thing. The Midget is having a blast, and even though he’s never played before, he’s learning quite a bit and has improved with every game. There have been several mornings we woke to the “thump thump thump” of his dribbling practice, and he’ll often dribble some more while he watches TV.

There hasn’t been much I’ve been able to offer him in terms of advice. The Wife played basketball in high school, but I wrestled and we weren’t big fans of the pumpkin bouncers. I more or less tuned out during basketball rules lessons in PE, and I constantly got called for fouls that I didn’t even realize were fouls. For example, if I stand firm and the guy with the ball crashes into me and falls on his ass, why is that a foul on me? Why should I have to give up ground for my opponent? I’m not going to give him a free shot at the basket!

I digress. Point is, I tried to give the little dude advice from the sideline once, but the Wife told me that was the opposite of what he needed to be doing at the moment. So I keep it simple now: “Go go go!” and “Nice shot!” That way the coaches don’t look at me like I’m crazy. It doesn’t matter much this year, but he says he wants to play throughout his school career. If that’s the case, I guess I better start learning how this shit works so we can practice in the driveway.

Yeah, we have a hoop. Inherited it when we bought the house. Only time I’ve ever paid attention to it is when I’ve had to mow around it.

Photography-wise, the lesson this week is a lot like last week’s: spot focus is tough at a distance with a low aperture setting. I need a fast zoom lens, but they’re way out of my financial reach. On the plus side, I got up and moved around the gym a bit, exercising a little more sneaker zoom than usual. The habit of staying in the bleachers with friends is one I need to break if I want to take better pics.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Little Scrappers

Saturday night’s fights opened with an unusual Muay Thai match:

Gimme your lunch money!  No, you give me yours!

"Gimme your lunch money!" "No, you give me yours!"

We thought it was a joke at first, but when the bell rang, these little dudes went to town on one another. They punched, they kicked, they threw knees to the ribs.

And the crowd went nuts.

I felt almost guilty encouraging two little kids to beat the snot out of one another. This wasn’t a simple point sparring match, it was a full-on fight between a couple of what, first graders? Second?

Eat fist!

"Eat leather!"

I got to wondering, though: should I really have felt guilty about it? A short time after the fight, these kids came walking through the crowd right in front of our table. Together, like buddies. And despite all that punching and kicking, neither had a mark on him. I’m guessing they’re still too small to do any real damage to one another, especially with protective gear in place.

Then I got to thinking, why not have the kids in a match? Most of the students at the Academy of Okinawan Karate are children, and they spar at least once a week (after reaching a higher rank). When we hit Judo in the curriculum cycle, the kids have full Judo matches. If we encourage throws and joint locks, why not (padded) punches and kicks?

Finally, it’s a controlled environment. There’s a ref and paramedics at hand for starters. One would also presume the kids have gone through quite a bit of training before being put out in front of a crowd. If they hadn’t, it wouldn’t be much use as a martial arts exhibition, and the kids would probably have just circled one another in fear (or one would have dominated the other).

I don’t know that it’s something I’d encourage my kids to do, but at the same time, the few minutes of fighting in this match probably amounted to the same amount of contact we’d see in junior hockey, soccer, or football games. I’ve seen kids go home bloodied from soccer cleats before, and again, these two guys didn’t have a mark on ‘em. Heck, when I was a kid we played keepaway games out in our school’s field that were rougher than this fight.

So what’s the big deal, then? Why feel guilty when they started throwing punches?

I think it’s all a matter of perspective. Violence between children is frowned upon, especially for those of us working for schools. But now that I’ve been involved with the martial arts, I have a much better idea of what’s happening in the ring and how training works than I did three years ago. It looks violent from the outside, but there really is more sport and competition involved than actual violence.

In short, these two kids had the guts to get out in front of a huge crowd and put on a show, and that’s not an experience most kids are going to have. If they had fun and they learned something, then more power to ‘em.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Been There, Done That

This should be a familiar scene to dads who have sons (and probably a few who have girls):

Had the Midget shootin’ out the other end once, too. Painted the wall. I wrote “warning: contents under pressure” on his diaper to give the Wife a heads up for the next change.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Monkey See…

The Midget is back in karate with me. Today I ran the class, and we watched one of our brown belts run the kata bassai dai. It’s an advanced kata, and it includes a movement often referred to as “monkey steals the peach.” In the attack team I’m on, it’s my job to attack the black belt candidate at that very point in the kata, and I pointed this out to the class by saying “and Mr Woodall steals my peaches” at the appropriate point.

If you can’t picture what peaches the monkey may be stealing, this will give you the idea:

Excuse me, Mr Ninja, but I'm not interested in detachable peaches.

Excuse me, Mr Ninja, but I'm not interested in detachable peaches.

Good thing I wear a cup to karate.

Flash forward a few hours. The Wife and I are sitting on the porch. We can hear the kids playing and talking through the living room window, and the Midget decides he’s going to make up a kata and teach it to his brother. My feeling is if it keeps him interested in karate, he can make up all the kata he wants.

A few minutes later we hear “Okay, this move is called ‘monkey steals the peach.'”

The Wife and I share a look. All parents know this look; it’s the one that says “He wouldn’t. He couldn’t.” But you’re both pretty sure he’s gonna anyway.

A moment later we hear the Squirt: “Aaaa-owwww!!”

The Midget reviewed two kata and learned how to run his ippon kumite kata to two directions today, and even got to play with sai and bo in our weapons class. In all he got three full hours of karate, judo and kobudo this morning. What does he take away? The five seconds we spent on the monkey and his frickin’ peaches.

Figures.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Ulterior Motives

It’s important to remember when kids ask you a strange question, they have a very specific reason for said question.

Today, the Midget asked “Do ninjas have real jobs?”

I probed that a bit further, and came to realize he wanted to know if “ninja” is a real job. In other words, do people still make a living as ninjas.

When I told him no more ninjas, he was rather disappointed. “Did you want to be a ninja?” I asked.

“No, not really.” And then he ran off to play with his brother.

Ten minutes later we cracked open his folder from school. Turns out Friday is Occupation Day in his class, and he has to dress like someone in a given profession, such as a doctor or construction worker.

Little butthead just wanted an excuse to wear his Halloween ninja outfit to school!

I’m tempted to let him, just to screw with his teacher’s head. Besides, this guy seems to make a living off ninjutsu. Close enough, yeah?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Form vs Function in the Battle of the Sexes

Your Robot Overlords
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

The Midget’s teacher put out a call for parents to help build robots. Who am I to pass up an opportunity to take an hour or so out of the workday to help kids play with aluminum foil, cardboard, and PVC tubing?

Not only was I the only dad to show up, I was the only one to show up with a battery-powered reciprocating saw. Hot glue? Pipe cleaners? Yeah, we’ll get there.

First we need to cut some shit up.

I got to work with the Midget first. I asked him what kind of robot he wanted.

“A Death Robot!”

That’s my boy! By the time we finished, his robot had a jet pack and a flame thrower. If you look at the picture, you’ll see a tall robot with eyes as black and evil as our souls. Yeah. That’s the Death Robot.

That’s about the time I noticed the robots the women were building were all… different. They’re all cutesy smiles and clever, crafty bits that make their robots look all nicey-nice. Sure, a couple had jet packs, but you don’t see any chest-mounted torpedo launchers on their robots. They were more worried about hair and hats.

(Yes, hair. On a robot. No, I don’t get it either.)

Our robot doesn’t even have a mouth. The Midget did ask if it needed one, but in the end we decided it wasn’t going to eat; it would be too busy roasting the flesh from your bones.

Function over form, baby.

The next kid I helped built a different robot. His is the second from the right, with the pipe-cleaner smile and the big doe eyes. Mom obviously packed his kit, because he had a whole rainbow of pipe cleaners and bags of marshmallows and cotton balls. Mom had a design in mind and he rolled with it.

Hey, it’s cool. It’s the kid’s project, after all. We glued it together and he was happy as a clam when he went back to class. Moments later, out came the Midget’s best buddy. He sat down with his scissors and bottle of Elmer’s glue, and he had a bag of whatever knick knacks his folks found at the bottom of a drawer.

“No sweat, Buddy,” I said. “We got all these other parts to work with.”

His eyes lit up as he surveyed the cardboard tubes, the PVC pipes, the extra caps and bottles, and yes, the reciprocating saw.

“Now, what kind of robot do you want to build?”

“I want him to have a sword for chopping up bad guys!”

Not hard to see why he and the Midget were buddies.

“Rockin’.” I picked up the saw. “You want to help me cut up the PVC?”

His expression wasn’t hard to read. A little later we had a squat robot with eye stalks and a jet pack. That’s him to the left of the Midget’s Death Robot. He’s even got big, stomping feet to shake the earth as he walks. Sadly the lunch bell rang before we could work up a sword.

Once again, no mouth. This robot just gets down to business. Friendly? Cuddly? Not when there’s a horror writer and a reciprocating saw involved!

I can’t wait to build some more robots tomorrow.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.