Sunday, December 28, 2008

First Names, Conversation...

I had a friend in college who called his parents by his first names. Thought it was the weirdest thing that his parents taught him to use their first names - so weird, that I made the behaviorist parents in my novel who help screw up their child do the same thing.

Wouldn't you know it - I don't know why Sofi likes to do it, but she's started calling us by our first names. For almost the whole first four years of her life we were mama and dada, but now we're Jamie and Cathy. At least when she talks to other people we're still "My Dad" and "My Mom"...we've gently tried to coax her into calling us mama and dada again but haven't pushed it.

So, that friend in college, need to re-evaluate. Maybe it wasn't his parents at all, maybe it was just his thing.

Had this conversation tonight:

Sofi: I really wanted Cathy to use this bathroom.

Me: Well, it's too late now. A lot of times in life we don't get what we want. I know I don't always get what I want.

Sofi: What did you want that you didn't get?

Me: want to eat junk food all the time.

Sofi: That isn't healthy.

Me: And I wish I never had to sleep.

Sofi: I like to sleep. Sleeping helps you grow.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

School Districts

I tried to tell myself school districts didn't matter.
"Gold in, gold out," I said. "Sofi will do well anywhere. Studies have shown."
We found a nice house in a nice neighborhood with wainscotting, vaulted ceilings, gas stove, enough separation between the TV room and the bedrooms so I can play Rock Band while Sofi's asleep...
Just one problem: good high school, but the middle and elementary are just sort of marginally above average.
BUT - "What do these test scores even mean?" I said to myself. "It probably just means the neighborhoods are affluent, and they're sending the potential-high-earning children of high-earning adults to these schools."
BUT - maybe that's why we parents care - don't want our young ones falling in with a "bad crowd" - let's send them to schools were cocaine is the drug of choice and everyone grows up to be doctors and lawyers, not one of those white trash marijuana-predominant schools.
BUT - in elementary school, does it even matter? The differences between 'bad crowd' and 'good crowd' probably don't show until sixth grade or so...)
BUT - I went to good schools. Shouldn't Sofi have the same advantages I had? that point I lose the argument with myself. Guess we'll keep looking.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Cathy's had the election coverage on all day.
Sofi asked, "Do you want O-bama or McCain to win? I want both."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

That Wasn't So Hard, After All

Took under an hour. Sofi was very excited, and actually willing to play this one (you place hearts by moving the stick and pressing the A button). Whew.


Entranced by World of Goo, Sofi wanted to make a game where it was hearts instead of goo balls and it didn't matter how many goo balls you got, you still get a flag at the end.

So I thought it would be fun to make a game together - had her draw a heart, scanned it in, used the Schizoid engine to let her drive her heart around with the joystick.

Either she'll be excited that her art is in a game, I thought, or she'll be disappointed that it isn't her Vision. Hopefully the former.

But - "That's not the way it's supposed to be," she said. "They're supposed to stick together. I don't like this game." And then she curled up in a fetal position and looked sad.

"That'll be a lot of work," I said. Pulling out the programmer veto.

More sulking.

Sigh. I got myself into this mess, right? Made her think she'd get one thing and then gave her another. Like saying I'd give her a pony and then giving her a toy pony. "I'll see what I can do."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mama Come Here!

For the most part Sofi's been sleeping really well since we started leaving her light on. And when she does sneak into her bed, she does it without waking us up, which is good.

A weird game she's started playing lately when she wants mama - she'll sit and cry and scream in the room she's in rather than go into the room she knows mama is in...testing? Do we need to ride out the extinction burst here or is there something else we can do?

Oh well.

Catching up...she's much more outgoing than she used to be - she likes to talk to people and tell them that she likes to fly on planes and that she's been to Disneyland and saw Ariel and that she has friends like Hyunjin and Zelda and that she's going to be a butterfly cat for Halloween. Very cute. She loves *World of Goo* - for a while her favorite thing to do was to watch me play. Now that we're almost at the end and I'm having a hard time beating the last few levels and the OCD challenges she's lost a little interest - but for a while there she'd draw put World of Goo elements in her drawings - "Here's Ariel, and here's the Goo Balls."

Other things - she wants to hear princess stories, but I don't think she's ready for the Disney movies yet, so I've been downloading the real versions of the internet and reading those. When she sees the Disney version of the Little Mermaid, I wonder if she'll be confused at the end. "Huh? She actually got to marry the prince? She didn't turn into a spirit of the air? Huh?" Probably not.

Last night she said she had a nightmare about a princess. Beauty and the Beast, even just as text, may be too much for her...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!

We had a couple months of peace, with the *Sleepless In America* method, but then we simply lost the will to make Sofi nap anymore. And then the sleeplessness started right back in again. After being woken in the middle of the night, five nights in a row, Cathy tried a new tactic: "No chocolate milk unless you sleep through the night." Even that didn't work. But then, three nights ago, Sofi insisted I leave her lamp on. Night light + candles not bright enough. I said, "Okay, if you promise to not wake us up in the middle of the night." She promised. And...we've had three nights of full sleep since then, for the first time in weeks. It's kind of weird that she's sleeping with the light on...but it seems to work.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Lately all Sofi wants is for us to make puppet shows for her with her cats. We run out of ideas rapidly: sometimes we recap the story of the day, sometimes I tell little fables with morals (much like her episodes of Kai-Lan), but lately (and I got this idea from Bill) I've been acting out the Hobbit and just started into The Fellowship of The Ring.

I feel a little guilty that when she's old enough to enjoy them for the first time they'll have already been spoiled...but on the other hand I don't remember a time when I didn't know what the story of The Hobbit was, so these books do hold up on the re-telling...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Exact Rating System

It was that once-in-a-blue-moon I clicked on a Google ad -, a site that tells parents more accurately than ESRB what the content of a game is. I thought, "That's really cool, but I'm pretty darn informed with videogames - I wonder if they have the same thing for movies? In particular, I wonder if they have some system that would separate something like *The Little Mermaid* or *Lion King* (which I feel is too violent for Sofi) from say *Wall-E* or *The Aristocats* (movies that don't quite cross the line) and I discovered, which is excellent, breaking down movies into sex / violence / profanity and giving *Wall-E* a 2 for violence but *Little Mermaid* and *Lion King* 3. The only problem is some older Disney movies aren't listed yet: where's *Sleeping Beauty* and *Fantasia*? Is Sofi ready for those yet?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Evidence of Game Designer Gene

At Soccer camp, Sofi didn't want to play "Buffalos and Cowboys" (where the kids were Buffalos running from the Cowboy coaches) or "Big fish and Little Fish" ( guessed it...) - she came up with "Fly Butterfly!" which is where the kids are butterflies and the coaches: birds.
"You better ask Alex if you can play that next time," I said. "Otherwise he won't know you want to."
So she did - with a little help interpreting from me. And he agreed - so at age 3, she's already invented a game that was played and enjoyed by others. Just a total conversion mod at this point, but she's way ahead of her dad.

Random other thing - I'm not sure what the etymology of the name is, but a while ago Sofi decided her name was going to be "Bocess" - the "cess" is from "princess", I don't know where the "bo" comes from. She's become quite adamant lately that people call her that. Maybe it'll become her online handle.


Sofi's had her first swimming and soccer lessons the past couple weeks. I haven't witnessed the swimming because of work but was able to attend the soccer. She seems to enjoy swimming but soccer...not so much. (Like her dad.) When all the other kids are running to dribble and shoot their balls, she stays back and holds one of our hands and says "I don't want to play this one." Though we usually manage to coax her into doing something.

After yesterday's class, we asked her: "You did good at passing. Did you like passing?"
"What about trying to get the ball from the coach?"
But: "Do you want to do it again tomorrow?"
So she likes *something* about it, I guess.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Brett caught my egregious order-of-magnitude math error in the last post. Guess I'm back on the watch-kids-in-the-bath bandwagon.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Drowning Statistics

Couldn't leave well enough alone.

One of the first statistics I found via Google is that there are about 10 children dying of drowning each year in Phoenix. Let's say half of them are under the age of five. And then say half of those were due to bathtub unattendance. (Which is conservative - again, most drowning occurs in pools.) Bringing us to around 3 a year.

There's 1.3 million people in Phoenix. So we could roughly say that there's 800K under-fives.

The question - how many of these under-fives are left unattended in the bath?

If we say that there are 1 in 100 children with "bad" parents in Phoenix, that's 8000 kids who bathe unattended, 3 of whom die each year. So...if you decide to be a "bad" parent this year and let your child bathe unattended regularly, that's a...1 in 2400 chance of losing your child. Per year of unattended bathing. Which is very rare...although I still wouldn't want to roll those dice there are probably bigger dangers which we can either do nothing about and/or are unconscious of.

But definitely a green light on leaving historically cautious and smart three or four year olds unattended for a minute or two, I figure. But, just to cover my ass, if you follow this advice I am in no way responsible for your dead kid.

Watch Kids In The Bath...?

This blog post was the first hit when I searched for "watch kids in the bath" - before the various pages on drowning statistics, one of which advises that you shouldn't leave kids alone in the bath before the age of five. My own three-and- a-half-year old daughter seems like she should be perfectly safe in the bath: we've never seen her even attempt to dunk her head underwater, never seen her slip and fall in the tub. And she loves to take long baths, and she doesn't get to take as many as she likes, because neither of us like to be stuck in the bathroom with her for what can take up to an hour. (And we will leave her unattended for minutes at a time while we get towels, look for a book to read, etc. Hope nobody calls social services.)

So I'm of very mixed feelings about the whole thing.

On the one hand - drowning is leading cause of death after car accidents (and things you can't do anything about like cancer). It's a bigger killer than SIDS, poisoning, various illnesses.

On the other hand, 5 out of 6 cases are drowning in swimming pools. (Random side note - *Freakonomics* tells us that owning a swimming pool is more dangerous than owning a handgun.) So maybe bathtub drowning isn't that high on the list.

And, those websites that advise stringent risk-advoidance - they kind of have to be safety nazis, because if someone's four year old drowns they'll get sued.

And random news articles about infant drowning deaths are meaningless - purely anecdotal - no more meaningful than news articles about death by lightning strike.

On the other other hand, this is death, here. Even if the chances are 1 in 10,000 per bath would you want to roll those dice every time?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More Sleeplessness

Sofi's mostly been really good since the last post - that book changed our lives - the key seems to have been exercise - make sure she gets a good deal of it and she'll sleep through the night.

BUT two nights ago, and tonight, she woke around 11 screaming and inconsolable. The reason I'm blogging right now was because after I went to get her, she insisted on having mama, and then wanted to go in our bed, but wanted me out. So I agreed to go away for a little while. But the screaming didn't stop...wait...she seems to have quieted down now.

Cathy thinks episodes like this are night terrors...I don't...she starts out crying, not screaming, and then ramps up, for one thing...for another, she's aware we're there...

And, speaking of exercise, one commonality tonight had with two nights ago - a *lot* of exercise. She walked all the way to the park. Too much of a good thing?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Catching Up

Sofi hasn't been sleeping well in ages. There was a time she used to sleep through the night pretty least for a few weeks there...but I don't remember when. I could go through the blog and try to figure it out, I suppose. For a while she'd come into our bed every night, then we managed to get her to stay in her own room - Cathy had a theory that too much *Warhammer Quest* was giving her nightmares, and so we put a ban on WHQ until she filled up a sticker chart with 8 "I slept through the night" stickers - which took her about three weeks to do, since she only slept through the night every two-three nights. Since read a book called *Sleepless in America* that I found in her preschool bookshelf, so we're trying some of that - the key changes being making sure she gets more exercise and being more serious about naptime. Sofi's schedule has resolved somewhere around:
- wake up around 7 AM
- breakfast at 8
- some kind of exercise in the morning
- lunch random, sometimes just grazes all day
- try to start naptime around 4, though if she falls asleep, she doesn't usually fall asleep until 5
- she sleeps from 5-6:30, which you'd think would make it harder to get to sleep at night, but-
- if we begin bedtime at 8 she'll usually be asleep around 9.

She's become strangely reluctant to use the potty. (Hmm, I wonder how embarrassing this blog will be for her when she's older...)

On the WHQ front, I'm now not the only father who plays it with their young daughter - when I told a friend about it he started playing it with his four year old, and she loves it too - he doesn't sanitize the way I do. She's really killin' monsters, not just making them "go away". Yes, my friends and I have "geekiest daughter" competitions. "My daughter's favorite thing to do is read the Monster Manual with me." "My daughter likes to hear the story of Harry the friendly hydra." ...

So, on the brains front: Sofi now knows some times 2 - the other day she said, "What's double two?" We didn't know what she was talking about at first. "What?" "Four!" "Really?" I asked. "What's double one?" "Two!" "What's double three?" "Six!" She didn't know two times four, but pretty impressive. I chalk it up to playing dice games. She still doesn't know what two plus three is, though.

She's also gotten pretty good at Set. She can find real sets with all cards in play, sometimes ones that I didn't even see myself.

Not bad for someone who can't put their shoes on the correct feet!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Three Daily Battles

1) Nap time
2) Dinner time
3) Bed time

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


We call nap time "Tent time" now - Sofi goes into her tent and will stay there voluntarily for a period of time, and sometimes even fall asleep.
"Have a nice tent time," I told her today.
"Have a nice you time," she said back.

As far the heavy hand of the father in the last story, the man-eating nice troll was all Sofi, probably inspired by the fairy tale book she got for Christmas. "Let's have a nice troll," she said. And then later, "The troll is eating people." "Eating people?" I asked. "That doesn't sound very nice. Chewing them up and swallowing them?" She said yes. So we ran with it. The obvious me contribution was "Restaurants are expensive."

The really-stripped-down Universalis - I ask her, "What kind of story?" and she always says, "A fairy tale!" and then we might negotiate. "How about a modern fairy tale with cars and houses instead of horses and castles," I'll say. (My standard Universalis opening move.) And then I'll ask what it's about and who's in it, and then we're ready to frame the first scene. "Where's the first scene?" And I'll let her run with it until she runs out of ideas and then usually do some kind of patching-up to try to make what she's done so far make some kind of sense. No dice, no tokens.

But we've also been playing Warhammer Quest, which is awesome - we used to play when she was 2, just building the dungeon and moving guys around in it - a couple weeks ago I introduced monsters - and at first she wasn't too crazy about it. "Why are there spiders?" But now she's like, "I want to hit the monster with my go away monster stick!" and "If we run out of energy I'll use this and we'll get our energy back. Like coffee." We cheat - the dungeon's half the size it's supposed to be. We've been TPK'd once ("We all ran out of energy and fell asleep.") and won once.

Other, activities: paper helicopters. Playing Set (she doesn't have to find actual sets, just matches).

BTW - Mark - just gave Dwarf Fortress another shot. The first time I just didn't get it and gave up. This time I used the tutorial. Jesus what a game.

I've got to admit, the reason I keep finding new activities for her isn't because she gets bored - it's because I get bored. She'd probably be happy playing Set for four hours straight. No ADD here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Father Daughter Fiction Collaboration #3

Bonus 200th Post!

*The Restaurant Troll*

Mama and dada and sofi were at home.
Mama said she wanted to go to a restaurant.
Sofi said she wanted to go to a restaurant, too.
Dada said restaurants are expensive.
Sofi said they should go to the restaurant and ask people there for money.
Dada said OK.
So they drove to the restaurant.
At the restaurant, a nice troll was in the kitchen, eating people. He chewed them up and swallowed them, and then they were in his tummy. Then the people made a big hole in his tummy to get out.
Dada and mama and Sofi got to the restaurant and said they wanted to eat. But first they had to ask people for money.
People came out of the kitchen and dada asked them for money.
They said they couldn't give him any money because they just escaped from a troll's tummy.
Sofi said they should send the troll to Sydney.
The troll came out of the kitchen and asked if he heard her right. Did she really want to send him to Sydney?
Yes, Sofi said.
The troll had always wanted to go to Sydney. But couldn't right now, because he had a big tummy ache, because of the hole in his tummy.
Luckily, mama had brought her knitting supplies, so she offered to sew up his tummy with yarn.
The troll wanted to know if it would hurt.
Maybe, mama said. Let's find out.
So mama started sewing up the troll.
The troll said it tickled.
When mama was done, the troll said he felt great, and he was ready to go to Sydney.
Dad wanted to know how they were going to send him to Sydney. That's expensive, dad said.
Sofi said they should ask for money again.
So they did.
And everyone was so happy to get rid of the troll who ate them that they were glad to chip in.
So mama, dada, and Sofi took the troll to the airport and put him on a plane to Sydney.

The end

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Father-Daughter Fiction Collaboration #2

The Dancing Princess

Once upon a time, in an old castle, in its old, empty ballroom, a princess sat and sighed.

"I love to dance," she said. "But there's no music, and nobody to dance with."

Her cat, Zippy, rubbed her legs.

"Will you dance with me, Zippy?" the princess asked.

"No," Zippy said. "Cats don't dance."

Her friend, a little girl named Sofi, walked into the room.

"Hi Sofi," the princess said. "Will you dance with me?"

"Okay," Sofi said.

"There's just one problem," the princess said. "There's still no music."

Sofi said, "We should make the music on."

"But this is an old castle without electricity," the princess said. "We can't just turn on the music."

Sofi said, "We should go to a new castle."

* * *

Leaving the castle gate, Sofi and the princess, both with backpacks, and their cat, set out to find a new castle.

"But I don't know where a new castle is," the princess said.

"I do," Sofi said.

"Then lead the way."

Sofi led them down the road. And they came to a bridge. And guarding the bridge was a big knight in black armor.

"You cannot cross this bridge," the knight said.

"But we're going to a new castle with music," Sofi said.

"I don't care. You still cannot pass."

"My favorite color is purple," Sofi said.

"My favorite color is black," the black knight said.

"That's a darker color," Sofi said.

"That's very true," the black knight said.

Just then, Zippy zipped across the bridge, running past the black knight.

"Wait!" the black knight yelled. "You cannot pass!" And he ran clumping after the cat.

"The bridge is clear now," the princess said. "Let's cross!"

So Sofi and the princess crossed the bridge. Later, Zippy, who had eluded the knight in his heavy black armor, caught up with them. And they found the new castle.

Inside the new castle there was music and a king. The king said, "What brings you to my castle?"

And the princess said, "We want to dance to music."

And the king said, "Well, dance away."

And they lived happily ever after.

The End

Father-Daughter Fiction Collaboration #1

(Creating using a stripped-down version of Universalis.)

The Cat In The Kitchen

Once upon a time there was a chef named Nick who had a cat. The cat lived in the kitchen with Nick, which is against The Law, but the cat was very clean and Nick's restaurant was very popular.

One day, while Nick was cooking spaghetti for a customer, a health inspector named Catherine knocked on the door.

Nick opened the door a crack, saw that she was a health inspector, and sputtered, "Um, just a minute. Let me pick up in here a bit." And he slammed the door in her face before she could say a word.

While she knocked again, more and more loudly, Nick went to his cat, and said, "You must hide, kitty! The health inspector is here." And he put her in the cupboard under the sink.

Then he let Catherine in. She was not pleased. She took her clipboard, and started inspecting the restaurant - making sure the pantry was clean; that an "Employees Must Wash Hands" sign was posted by the restroom; that the proper health and safety notices were properly displayed.

As Nick watched her inspect, he realized how pretty she was, and he fell in love with her.

Then she went to the cupboard under the sink.

"Um..." Nick said, not knowing what to do.

She reached for the knob.

Then, a little girl named Sofi burst into the kitchen. "Our tablecloth is on fire! Our tablecloth is on fire!" she shouted. She had been eating dinner and she had knocked over a candle.

Nick grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran out to put out the fire.

Catherine shook her head and opened the cupboard. There was Nick's cat, looking at her sheepishly.

Nick came back in, after extinguishing the blaze, and saw that he had been caught.

"We're going to have to shut down your restaurant," Catherine said. "It's the Law."

* * *

Some time later, Sofi was watching a "Hello Kitty" show on TV about restaurants and she wondered what happened to Nick and her favorite restaurant. So she went there, and saw that Nick was sitting on the curb in front of the entrance, looking morose.

"What's the matter?" she asked.

"I'm in love with Catherine," he said, "but she shut down my restaurant."

Just then, the Mayor walked up. "Hello, Nick," he said. "I'm pretty hungry today, what are your specials?"

Nick said, "I'm afraid the restaurant is closed. Catherine shut it down because I have a cat in the kitchen."

The Mayor got red and said, "Catherine works for me! Surely we can make an exception." And he stormed off to the town hall to do some lawmaking.

* * *

The next day, Nick re-opened the restaurant and started serving customers again. The first customer in the door was Sofi, and he made her some spaghetti.

But soon after, Catherine stormed in. "You went over my head," she said. "I'm in trouble with the Mayor now. I'm mad at you."

Nick stammered and said he was sorry.

Sofi whispered to Nick, "You should make her some lunch."

So he said to Catherine, "Wait right there." And he brought her some spaghetti.

Catherine ate the spaghetti. "Wow," she said. "This is the best spaghetti I've ever had."

"Can I tell you something?" Nick said. "When I met you, it was love at first sight."

Catherine said, "Me too."

And they lived happily ever after.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Knock-knock, meat

Last night we were telling knock-knock jokes - Sofi has a tendency to laugh too soon, but she's starting to get it:
Mama: Knock-knock
Sofi: Who's there?
Mama: Orange
Brett whispers: (Say "Orange who?")
Sofi: Orange who?
Mama: Orange you glad to see me?
Short pause.
Sofi: Can I laugh now?

Later, after she had her dinner of a tablespoon or so of rice, she asked if she could have ice cream.
"You can have ice cream if you have some meat first."
Finally managed to talk her into eating a tiny cube of pork. (It's good pork, too. Tenderloin, cooked to perfection, with a sweet sesame ginger sauce...Cathy made it.) She chewed it methodically, swallowed - and immediately threw up.
Sigh. I'm a bad parent, I guess. What are you supposed to do?
I remember when she used to eat anything! I thought she couldn't possibly be my daughter. Now it seems she's even a more finicky eater than I was. I at least liked meat.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Potty Training

They told us if we really wanted to potty train we should let her go around the house without her diaper. So we started that yesterday. And...she put a diaper on herself. (They're pull ups.)
Tonight we were playing "chess" and Sofi suddenly said, "I need a diaper!"
So I said, "Why don't you use the potty?"
And she did. So They were right, looks like.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Warms My Heart

I come out to the living room to see Sofi putting colored squares of paper on the floor in a pattern.
Sofi: Will you play this game with me dada?
Jamie: How do you play?
Sofi: You go like this. (Adds another square.) Your turn.
Jamie: What's this game called?
Sofi: "Road"
My daughter, the game designer.

Monday, January 07, 2008


Sofi doesn't know what G, PG, and R are, but today, when she asked me if she could put a certain "cawwidge" in the Nintendo DS - it was Castlevania: Symphony of SomethingOrOther - I said, "No, you see, it has a 'T' on it, which means it's not for kids. You can play games that have 'E' on them."

Later she came into my office with a handful of cartridges. "These all have E on them."

So, there I am, already shirking my parental responsibility and letting the ESRB decide which games Sofi can play.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

You Better Blog About That!

-sayeth Cathy.

Sofi just watched *Finding Nemo* all the way to the end (though we skipped the bit in the abyss and one in the dirty fishtank - not sure why that latter one bothered her) - she nearly lost interest a couple times but I said, "Don't you want to know if Nemo's dad is going to find him?". When Marlin and Nemo were reunited she hugged me and said, "I love you." Awwwwww. I love that movie. Seriously. Not just in a "It's good for kids" way - it's probably in my top 100 movies of all time. But so's Lilo & Stitch.

So, haven't blogged in ages, might as well catch up:

Sofi's learned to curse, the f-word, Cathy tells me. Probably got it from me. So Cathy told her, "When mommy or daddy say bad words they should get time outs too." Cathy and I have both done a time out at this point.

Showed Sofi how to use mama's cell phone to take photos last night, so now she likes running around the house taking pictures of everything. Cathy'll probably put some up on her blog.

With a little (ok, a lot) of help from me, she made it to the Ember Isle in Phantom Hourglass. It's not a "sword" - I tell her it's a "Go Away Monster Stick". And it isn't Link. I tell her it's Sofi. And she doesn't die. She naps. "Nap-time Sofi," Sofi says, when the Game Over screen comes up. Tore the house up a few days ago looking for Animal Crossing - I figure she's ready - but couldn't find it. It's at the top of our Gamefly queue now.

Other gaming: Bendominos - they're curvy dominoes with pictures instead of numbers - she likes this one. Tier Auf Tier - not so much, she doesn't have the manual dexterity or patience yet. Go Away Monster - she likes this one too. She no longer likes Orchard - she'll ask to play it but get bored before we've even finished setting up.

She always wants to play grown-up games - she likes the components. So we let her play with the Carcassone pieces and the Tigris & Euphrates blocks - we do a version of Cranium where she rolls the die, moves to any spot on the board, and then I take a card and make up a question for her. I hate that game, btw, and yet at the same time wonder why Hasbro hasn't released a competitive, branded product that combines Trivial Pursuit, Play-Doh, and Pictionary.

The other night Cathy said to her, to distract her, "Hey, you want to watch Uncle Danny playing a racing game?" And then it turned out he was playing Crysis. "Sofi can't watch this," I said. "I want to play a racing game," Sofi said, so I quickly made up a game where you roll a die to move along a track. The simplest possible expression of a board game. She loved it, wanted to play it again and again.

She's good on planes, now. "My ears hurt," she says. "Drink some water," I say. "Did that help?" "Yes."

She was scared of New York Grandma's dog, and I was glad, because I don't like dogs and am not looking forward to her begging me to get a dog. But she got used to the dog and ended up liking her. Oh well. I'm getting ready for the "If you want a dog you have to take care of it" conversation, but I had that same conversation about Cathy's cats and ended up being the predominant kitty-litter-changer guy. I took over when she got pregnant and somehow never got relieved of duty...