Monday, August 10 2020

preschool, ziggy's birthday, and rodney's first scratch game



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday, and happy tenth of August. I hope you’re having a pleasant morning warming up for the work week and that you have enough coffee to get you through to at least lunchtime.

In the Facebook comments of yesterdays post, regular reader Cherril asked for clarification about why Rodney wasn’t starting school. After mentioning this in passing, that’s a fair question I think.

Rodney, Marissa, and I have always loved the community center by our house. We’ve made use of their playground, basketball court, skate park, and Marissa has even had a few galleries there. When we learned that they also have a preschool, it seemed like a clear choice. So we tried to get Rodney in for 4 year old preschool, but the class size had already spilled over into a daunting wait list.

And this was all before COVID. Given the quarantine and all the uncertainty around opening schools, we’ve just decided to check into it next year. And it certainly helps that I’ll be working remote for the foreseeable future anyway.

“I mean I had to repeat 4 year old preschool, so I should be pretty familiar with the curriculum,” I joked. Yes, you read that right - I verifiably flunked four year old preschool and had to repeat it. I have some vague memories of making new friends, and I think I even held onto some old worksheets and parent letters.

So there you go. Rodney may be skipping four year old preschool, but you could make the argument that I took it twice for him.

In other news, today is Ziggy’s third birthday, and I feel a little unprepared to dote on her in the way she deserves. From the moment I rolled over to turn off my phone alarm this morning I was subjected to judgmental princess glares, almost as if she was offended I didn’t wake up early to decorate the house or make her breakfast in bed. Groggy, sluggish, and pre-coffee, I sliced up a banana and sprinkled it in her kibble. She practically did back flips waiting for me to put her dish down.

This morning over coffee I was lost in nostalgia, looking through photos of her when we first took her home. To get her, Marissa took a solo flight out to Philadelphia, and a unforeseen layover left her stranded in the Cleveland airport overnight. I spent my first night home alone with Rodney, and Marissa spent the night in a dingy hotel room with a brand new puppy. Marissa recounts how surreal it was navigating the chaos of a botched airport transfer with a puppy tagging along behind her.

Ziggy had a thick wad of masking tape on her head to prop her ears up. She had a pink snout and a round belly, like a baby pig. And from the moment she walked into our house, she helped herself to any blanket, pillow, and lap that would have her. We were smitten.

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Happy Birthday, little girl

Just so everyone knows, we’re keeping things pretty low key this year. I’ll probably make her a miniature grilled cheese for lunch, and she’ll spend the rest of the afternoon napping or playing with her new birthday toys. She’s a party girl at heart, so there’s probably also a joke to be made about how 3 is really 21 in dog years.

Sip. So how was your weekend? We had a pretty great Sunday. We ate some pasta for lunch while watching church on the couch, then Marissa returned to chipping away at the back corner of the basement. While waiting for dinner to finish, Rodney and I hung out in her studio watching Spider-Man, and we also assembled a little shelf.

After dinner with some time to kill, I decided to introduce Rodney to Scratch. For the initiated, Scratch is free software that allows kids to program games with virtual puzzle pieces in a beginner friendly interface.

We started off simple, wiring up the Scratch cat mascot to move with the arrow keys. And we also attached a meow sound to the spacebar.

“Want to get really crazy, dude?” I asked. “Watch this.”

Flipping over to a browser window, I took a quick screenshot of Rodney off of Google Photos. I uploaded the picture, replacing the sprite with a picture of Rodney. Rodney began to cackle, moving his own face around with the arrow keys.

“Let’s make my hair blue,” said Rodney taking the mouse. Letting him take the reigns, I finished putting dinner away while he colored his hair and face with a virtual blue paint brush. His silly cackle could be heard through the whole house.

“Dada, I show momma now?” he asked.

“Sure dude,” I replied. “Then head upstairs to get ready for bed.” Rodney disappeared into Marissa’s basement gallery. Later she’d describe what happened.

“He was doubled over laughing before he even told me what is was,” said Marissa. “He just said Momma c’mere - Momma you gotta see this.”

After Rodney went to bed, with his implied blessing, I published the game and cleaned it up with a title and instructions. So with great pleasure, I invite you all to play Rodney’s first scratch game, “Face Colored Out!”

As you can see, Rodney added so much blue hair that now you can barely see his face. Perhaps he had privacy concerns and wanted to prevent people like Cambridge Analytica from scanning his face. Personally, I think it kind of adds to the mystery of his first game, like a piece of the creator is inside and you’d never even know. Feel free to bookmark our Scratch account, just in case we have more Dad & Rodney collaborations for you to try.

That’s what I got for today. Thanks for stopping by today. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make a grilled cheese sandwich for a very spoiled dog.