The creative talent in that costume is all my wife.
Over the last month the campaign has hummed along, raising more than double the original goal. That’s pretty cool, especially since extra cash goes toward Lexi’s college fund.
But the Kickstarter campaign comes to an end tonight at 9 p.m. Central. Today is your last chance to join our Kickstarter campaign and support The Stephanies.
But wait, if the campaign is already fully funded, why should I join?
Great question. At this point the goal is met and the project is going forward with or without you. We’re at a fun stage in the life of a Kickstarter campaign where there’s no more hoping and dreaming. The project is a reality and joining up now doesn’t carry any risk that the project might fail.
But two reasons why you might still want to join the campaign:
1) Get the Book Cheap
The Kickstarter campaign will be the cheapest way to get a copy of the book. You can get the digital version for just a buck and the print version for $15 (shipping included, plus a personal thank you from Lexi and me). If you want a copy, now’s the best time to get it. The Stephanies will be on Amazon later, but you won’t be able to get it for as cheap.
2) Cool Rewards
We also have some cool rewards available now. Along with the book, you can also get some cookies, Lexi artwork, join Lexi’s book of the month club or some other fun extras. My personal favorite is the book of the month club. It’s a little pricey at $250, but considering that you get a book shipped to you every month for a year, it’s a pretty great. Today’s your last chance for any of these goodies.
You have until 9 p.m. Central tonight. Ready? Go!
This summer Lexi and I wrote a children’s book called The Stephanies. Lexi drew the pictures and we want to publish it. We need your help.
The Stephanies is a short, goofy little story about two girls who are both named Stephanie. Sharing a name causes all kinds of problems and the two girls continually square off:
“My name is Stephanie!”
“No, my name is Stephanie!”
“Grr…” both girls grumbled.
Tonight we launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the book a reality.
What’s a Kickstarter?
Good question. Kickstarter is awesome. It’s a site that allows creators to go straight to their fans to raise support for their projects. Creators come up with a fundraising goal and a deadline. If they can raise the money before the deadline, people pay up and the project goes forward. If the goal isn’t met by the deadline, everybody keeps their money and the project doesn’t happen (You may remember that I tried a failed Kickstarter project back in 2010—we didn’t meet the goal, so all those great backers kept their money). Creators also come up with rewards to encourage people to support their project, like a copy of whatever is created, behind-the-scenes access, limited edition items and more.
It’s an exciting development for creators and fans alike. Last year Kickstarter brought one of my favorite bands, Five Iron Frenzy, back from the dead. It allowed indie artist Shaun Groves to fund a new record without a label. It enabled a sequel when a publisher balked. Just last week it funded the new Molly Danger comic book from Jamal Igle. And it’s two-thirds of the way toward funding a new book and album project for Justin McRoberts. And those are just a few of the projects I’ve supported. It’s for plenty of other awesome ideas as well, like smarter consumer electronics (they’ve already raised over half a million dollars!), an ad-free future for the comic Penny Arcade, and even a space elevator.
It’s great fun to become a patron of what you think is cool.
Back to The Stephanies
So yeah, we’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to get The Stephanies published. We’re trying to raise a modest $300 by Oct. 3 to help defray the time and effort of publishing the book. We’re going to do three versions—digital, “color your own,” and full-color paperback. Back the project at any amount and you get a copy of the book ($1 for digital, $10 for “color your own,” and $15 for paperback, shipping included). Pony up $25 and you get all three versions, plus Lexi will create some custom artwork for you. We’ve got some higher end rewards for the big spenders, including a cookie package, Lexi’s book of the month club and your very own custom book written by Lexi and I.
Lexi helped me every step of the way on this project, including coming up with the rewards. She didn’t think anyone would pay a lot of money for this project, so we tried to keep all the reward prices as low as possible. By backing the project you’re getting the family discount. This isn’t about making money, it’s about sharing our story.
The Stephanies has been a fun summer project for Lexi and I. We’d love to turn it into a real book and share it with the world. We hope you’ll help.
So yesterday was the big first day of school. If summer wasn’t already done and gone, now it’s officially over. Gone are the lazy days of summer and now we’re back to a routine. Hopefully. It’s kind of odd. By 7:15 a.m. both Lexi and Abby are gone, we’ve already had breakfast and Milo and are looking at each other asking, “Now what?”
Yesterday Milo literally asked when we could have lunch. At 7:30 in the morning.
Milo starts “three school” next week, two days a week for two and a half hours, our attempt to give him something fun to do now that his playmate is in school all day. And to save my sanity. So far both of our mornings have involved me trying to be productive while Milo lies around. Today we went to the library, which would be a great routine for me. Though when I asked Milo if he wanted to look for books? “Nah.” He was too busy making friends and playing games with the magnetic triangle and circle. Which I guess is good.
It’s kind of hard getting into a new routine. I guess I haven’t thought about it much before, but I’m pretty big on routine. I do certain things in a certain order, whether it’s letting the dogs out or getting breakfast. I like my routine. If I don’t follow my routine or have a good one, things tend to skipped, like brushing your teeth. And that’s not cool. So far I’m floundering, desperately trying to find a routine. Yesterday I let the dogs out at 6:15 only to put them back in their crates when we walked to the bus stop. Today I left them in their crates until we got back from the bus stop. I guess all you can do is try and see what works.
Oddly enough, the routine seemed much more self-evident when there were two kids running amok. Now that there’s only one, it seems too open-ended. I guess I should be enjoying it. I’m just trying to find the rhythm, like a drummer that’s not quite on beat. It feels off.
One of my projects this summer has been to teach Lexi how to ride a bike. We’re almost there.
Yesterday she went down the alley for stretches all by herself:
Today she went down the entire alley all by herself (with me running alongside in the excessive heat warning). She still needs some help starting and lots of practice, but we’re almost there. I’m still waiting for the first big fall and bigger tears.
Teaching a child how to ride a bike is full of lessons for a parent:
- I think one of them is start early. I see kids half Lexi’s age riding bikes without training wheels all the time and I realize we’ve put this off.
- I also think it’s about taking baby steps. Riding a bike involves a lot of skills at once, from pedaling to balancing. Anything you can do to learn one of those skills at a time instead of both at once is huge step up. That’s why we got Milo a kick bike. That’s why I took the training wheels and the pedals off Lexi’s bike at the same time so she could work on balance.
- We also tried one of these co-pilot bike trailer things, in part to teach her balance but also to get her used to the idea. It’s also been a good way to teach her safe bike habits while I’m still in control (biking in the city is a bit different than the suburbs I biked in growing up).
- But in the end it really comes down to practice. Running up and down the alley with Lexi for several days in a row is what finally got us the break through. It’s kind of the secret to most of life—you keep on trying until you get it. I hope Lexi’s starting to understand that (though yeah, she’s 6, it’ll be a while before that sinks in).
- And if what Lexi really needs is practice, what I really need is patience. Loads and loads of patience. Oh my goodness did I need patience. Lexi’s not a super athletic kid (what can I say, she’s a Hendricks) and she also gets freaked out trying new things. She had a lot to overcome here and that required a wealth of patience on my part. Me getting mad or short with her would just shut her down. Having the patience to wait her out, to keep trying, to notice tiny improvements and praise the heck out of ’em. I don’t remember my dad teaching me how to ride a bike (oddly I remember when we took my brother out to learn how to ride a bike, but I don’t remember learning myself), but I imagine he needed the same boatload of patience I needed. I’m probably more like my dad, and Lexi is more like me, than I ever would guess.
We’re almost there. I think bike riding is one of those awesome things that can give a kid an incredible amount of freedom. There’s nothing like a summer of bike riding, of stretching your limits, of putting fun and adventure within reach, of simply feeling the wind in your hair. I’m almost as excited as Lexi is.
It seems like only yesterday Lexi was heading off to her first day of kindergarten. She was over-the-top excited and Milo burst into tears.
Today was her last day of kindergarten. She’s older, wiser and taller.
The last day celebration included a cookout with Pete the naturalist at the Dodge Nature Center, featuring mini hot dogs (Milo ate half the pack) and pizza. Then we headed back to school to hear about some of her favorite things from throughout the year and every student received an award for following one of the school’s five overall rules.
Lexi was recognized for “safety,” because she always brought the right gear. I think that means I should get an award for sending my kid to school prepared (which usually meant stopping her on the way out the door and insist she wear something more appropriate). She also got the award for making sure everyone else was being safe too, which I’m pretty sure means she’s just bossy. She practices all day long on Milo, so it’s good to see it’s paying off.
It’s been a fun year watching Lexi grow. I think the social aspect of kindergarten—learning how to interact with other kids, following the rules, being prepared—has probably been the most important, though it’s also been cool to see her learning the academics. She’s learning how to read, slowly and with more and more confidence. Having a kindergarten teacher for a mom, some people expect reading to be a serious and early milestone in our house. But it’s actually counter-productive to teach kids to read too early (Abby could give you all sorts of reasons why—I’ll leave that blog post to her). It’s important to let them go at their own pace. And it’s been fun to see that with Lexi, to see her start to read signs in stores and read stuff over our shoulder. She’s still gaining confidence with reading books, but she’s getting there.
I’m also trying not to be too proud that one of her favorite things in school was writing.
Finally, the end of the school year means the end of a little project of mine, the Days of School. It started with me taking pictures on the first day of school (I have an addiction to feed). Then as we waited for the bus on the second and third days of school Lexi kept asking me to take pictures. So we started taking a picture every day. I think we only missed one or two days when Lexi actually went to school, and of course we missed all the days she was absent (and since she had mono in the fall, there were a lot of those). But in the end we have 151 pictures of Lexi going to kindergarten.
As we went outside to take her picture today I told her we were taking her last picture. She told me, “Nope, you’re taking pictures in first grade too!” So we’ll see how long this thing continues.
Check out the Days of School:
That’s what Lexi exclaimed when the credits for Return of the Jedi rolled. It makes a father proud.
We’ve been watching the Star Wars series the last few weeks. It happened by accident. I felt like watching a movie in the basement with the fire going and I decided it’d be Star Wars. I’ve always wanted to watch these movies with my kids, but Lexi is still freaked out about the bad guys in Disney princess movies and if she can’t handle a weird, cartoony sea witch, she’d be no match for Darth Vader. My earliest movie going experience is watching Vader through my hands. The intensity can be pretty scary for a little kid.
So I didn’t expect Lexi to sit down with me and watch the first Star Wars movie. I didn’t expect Milo to sit around either. But they did. They missed parts here and there and I think that helped to break up the intensity, but we watched Star Wars together. There was much hiding under blankets and even a teary goodnight with thoughts of the Rancor, but no matter how many times I suggested we shut it off if it was too scary, they refused.
It helped that Princess Leia is mentioned in the opening crawl of A New Hope. Suddenly it became a princess movie and Lexi was hooked.
And no, there was no consideration of starting with the prequels. That’s not even a question. Though as Lexi talked about watching more Star Wars, I did reluctantly tell her about the prequels. Of course we don’t own them and I’m not rushing out to get them, so she’s safe for now. Besides, I don’t think she’s ready for the intensity of Anakin going bad. Not that she even knows who Anakin is: “Who’s that guy with the thing on his face?” (Darth Vader) “Is that guy Luke’s brother?” (Han Solo) “Where’s the princess?” (during a scene where Han & Leia kiss) “Where’s that Empire guy?” (The Emperor) “Hey! We have a Lego of him! (Yoda).
Though though they did love the Ewoks (Milo: “Look at the teddy bear!”) and Milo thought it was hilarious when the Ewok steals the speeder and spins upside down. Lexi also pointed and laughed during the celebration scene when the Ewoks use stormtrooper helmets as drums (which is frightfully morbid when you think about it). Both of which reminded me how much these movies were made for kids with the necessary humor built in to relieve the tension. I also couldn’t help but feel smug when Lexi was confused by the scenes of galactic celebration that George Lucas added to the end of Return of the Jedi. You shouldn’t muck with a good thing, George.
If you can’t already tell, these movies are deeply ingrained in my psyche and I’m thrilled to finally share them with my kids. I never thought it’d be in such a random, slipshod fashion, but it works. Sometimes it’s better to let these moments sneak up on you.
So the other day I watched this video of a guy trying out to be a backup singer for M83. I don’t know anything about M83, but it was kind of a funny video. The best part is that Lexi and Milo were watching it with me and started singing along.
A few days later, the song, “Midnight City,” came on the Current and Lexi and Milo both started singing the backup part. Hilarous.
In the past few months I’ve gone from one child napping in the morning and both children napping in the afternoon to only one child napping in the afternoon.
Work happens during that lone naptime, in the evenings and when I’m otherwise neglecting my children. In other words, not much work happens. And I have no social life.
I’ve been holding out hope for kindergarten. The Tuesday after Labor Day couldn’t come soon enough.
Until I learned our district only offers half day kindergarten. All day kindergarten, it turns out, is not mandated by the state. So if you want it, in our district at least, you pay for it. To the tune of nearly $3,000.
I wanted to cry when I heard the news.
I love my kids and it’s pretty great that I get to stay home with them. But the whining, complaining, fighting and general disorder are not my cup of tea. Unlike some people, this is not my calling.
I’m trying to console myself with the fact that half day kindergarten is better for kids, that it’s a more gradual introduction to school, that all day kindergarten is mostly filler and babysitting, that naptime may even resume when kindergarten starts.
But I was really counting on that babysitting.
Now I’ve got my sights set on 2014.
(As much as I dislike the district’s policy, in a time of budget cuts, salary freezes and rejected levies, it’s a pretty smart fiscal policy.)
Today is Yeshumnesh’s first day of school. She’s nervous. It’s the first day in a new school, in a new state, in a new grade, in a new everything. She’s very nervous.
I’m pretty anxious as well. As parents we haven’t done the whole first day of school thing before, and now we’re jumping straight into middle school. We’ve met teachers and toured the school and found lockers and all the rest, but we can’t help feeling like we’re forgetting something or we haven’t done everything we can to prepare Yeshumnesh. And I hate to keep asking about things and just bring up more to worry about: When is lunch? Do you want to bring a snack? Do you have a house key? Do you remember our address? Should you bring gym clothes?
It all gives me flashbacks to my own first days of school… (cue nostalgic rambling)
It starts with my first day of kindergarten. I rode the school bus to Scotch Elementary School with my older brother, then an experienced second grader. I remember watching out the window as our bus picked up the other children.
When we got to school I stepped off the bus and had no idea where to go. So I followed my brother. My older, smarter, more confident brother. He knew everything. And I knew him. So I followed him.
He told me to go to my class. Then he turned around and walked away.
And I was alone.