Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Playing Coyote, the Board Game That Is

My Daddy drawing the Coyote game in my kitchen.

My dad came over on Sunday to just hang out for a while and to visit. He's 86 so he often gets a little bored and comes by to visit me or goes by my sisters' homes. Since I have the privilege of living right by him I get to see him the most but the way I see it my kids get more opportunities to get to know their grandfather. I didn't know any of my grandparents and my kids have my dad, my in-laws, and a set of great-grandparents, who coincidentally are close to the same age as my dad. Fortunate kids!

On this particular visit my dad said he wasn't hungry so he just asked for something to drink. I made him a drink (yes that kind of drink) and we talked for a while. I set up the ironing board in the kitchen so I could iron work clothes while we visited.

Then I got the idea of telling the kids about how I used to play "Coyote" with my dad. Before you get any crazy ideas, Coyote is a board game. My dad would draw on a thin cardboard and we would use buttons for the pieces. One large button represents the coyote and twelve smaller buttons represent the sheep.

The kids instantly became interested, just like they do in hearing stories about my dad's adventures as a little boy. My son asked my dad if he could draw the game for them. My daughter got busy looking for thirteen buttons. My dad drew the game out on a thin cardboard sheet that I had (an empty sheet out of Seth's unfinished Creative Memories baby book) and my kids watched intently. When he was finished he explained the rules of the game.

The coyote lives in the center of the board. The sheep are all on one side of the board. One opponent is the coyote and the other plays the sheep. The object of the game for the coyote player is to eat all the sheep. The coyote jumps the sheep if the player leaves an opening on the other side and eats them (very similar to checkers). The sheep are trying to corner the coyote in so that he can't move any more. If the sheep succeed that player wins. If the coyote eats all the sheep well obviously the coyote wins.

I have fond memories of playing this game with my dad as a little girl and now the kids know how to play it too. My dad played a couple of games with my daughter and then he played with my son. My daughter was tough to beat and I don't think he ever did beat her. My son, being younger, learned the basics of the game and my dad said that once he learns it well he'll be a fierce opponent.

When I was telling two of my friends about the game and I mentioned the buttons one friend said, "It sounds so Depression Era," and it is! My father played this same game when he was a little boy in the 1930s. I Googled the game and I couldn't find anything about it. Another Coyote board game comes up, but it's not the same one.

It is such a fun game I'm thinking of videotaping my dad explaining how to draw the board and a demonstration. Then I'll put it out on YouTube so others can enjoy the game. It is one of those things from my dad's generation that will be lost if we don't record it.

The game is easy and cheap to make, but best of all it was a great bonding experience between two distant generations. As I watched my kids play with my dad I thought about how these are the same kids who play on electronically hand held games and on the Internet. Yet here they were playing an old fashioned hand-drawn board game with a man who was their age almost 80 years ago. Priceless.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Brother & Sister's Keeper


Interesting observation... I didn't grow up with any brothers and Rey, my husband, didn't grow up with any sisters. Now that we have a son and a daughter we are learning about the dynamics between brothers and sisters. In a way I'm learning what it's like to have a brother and Rey is learning what it's like to have a sister. It's really funny because we are learning as we go. We don't know how girls should react to boys in certain situations or the other way around. We're just using our own common sense.

For example, we stopped letting them take a bath together about a year or so ago. We don't want to give them issues, but at the same time we don't know how old they should be before they need to cover up. Right now they are still so young and innocent. We figure that nature will take its course and they will start covering up when the need arises.

Then there's the fighting and the teasing. All I can say is thank goodness my daughter is older because if my son were older he would be a bully. Even though he teases and hits she's still old enough to check him sometimes and she has the advantage of being a tall girl. She doesn't like to hit him, and we don't encourage fighting, but sometimes she has to put her foot down with him and my husband and I have to use our best judgement on how to handle the situation.

I really try to encourage them to love one another. I remind them that their daddy and I may be gone one day and they will have each other. I tell them that they are going to dance with each other at their wedding. Or I tell them that they will always have a dance partner at weddings and parties as they grow up. I want for them to be close and I hope that they are. They can play together for hours and I love to hear them when they are playing and not fighting. They are both such alpha personalities. They are born leaders and sometimes that gets challenging.

I think they are how their dad and I would have been if we played together as children. And that's a nice thought because we very possibly did play together a couple of times but we don't remember. My older sister lived next door to Rey and his family when we were around 3 or 4 and she says we met.

So we go on raising our children to love each other and to play fair and we are learning more about boys and girls in the process and maybe we can learn more about each other.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hispanics and Education

From edweek.org 2010 Shows % of Hispanics' level of education as compared to non-Hispanic whites

A recent article in The Houston Chronicle says that a record amount of students enrolled for college this coming fall with an exceptionally high number of Hispanics. Now that's news!

I read another article in the Chronicle recently that asked if culture was to blame in the lack of education in the Hispanic community. The article was written because of a recent study that said that there is a direct correlation between education and wealth in the Hispanic community in Texas. (as if that's hard to figure out) This report said in a nutshell that if Hispanics don't become educated and active members of the community then this state is in danger of being populated by very poor uneducated people that will rely on financial aid. So seeing that many Hispanics enrolled in college this fall gives us hope.

Then I read this article about how Hispanics don't utilize financial aid like they should. When I read this it reminded me of the Chronicle article about Hispanics and culture and how the writer asked if it our culture was to blame. I loved the answer that Rice University sociologist Steven Klineberg gave to this question.

“It's the easy answer. It's the self-serving answer,” says Rice University sociologist Steven Klineberg. “The beauty and the danger of the cultural explanation is that it allows you, the middle-class Anglo, to get off the hook. If it really isn't culture, if they really do want an education, then we have to provide the resources.”

So yes, the resources are there. Do Hispanics know they are? Not all the time. I remember that when I was in high school my counselor was not really engaged in where I was going to college or whether I had scholarships. I applied for financial aid because thank goodness I had sisters who went to college before me and I knew that was the thing to do. But I remember having conversations with other Hispanic friends around my age who said they couldn't go to college because of the cost. I know now that I could have applied for a lot more scholarships than I did. I didn't know about all the scholarships available back then.

Money is left out there because kids don't always know about it. One great thing about technology is that now kids have the resources to find out this information on the internet. We didn't have internet when I graduated from high school. But still, even with the internet kids don't know where to look and first generation and second generation parents many times don't know either.

And where does it all start? It starts in elementary school with reading skills. An article on this subject shows that poor reading skills trap children in poverty. The article points out that "82 percent of Hispanic students in schools with low or moderate rates of families living in poverty do not read at grade level. "

The place to start is in elementary school with reading. Mentor a low income child and help him or her with their reading. Then continue this in high school encouraging them to make college plans and researching scholarships and financial aid. Once they get to college Hispanic students need mentors and a support system to help them make it through and to graduate.

If we want to make a difference this is one thing we can do to enourage them and to ensure that Texas has an educated and financially sound community in the future.

What's Going On?? - In a 4 Non-Blondes' Voice

Design by Anne Taintor

I read this new Anne Taintor card and I just cracked up. It is too funny!! Anne Taintor has a phrase to match any situation in life.

I blogged about my writer's block/depression on skirt! I also blogged about my fill after six months over on Hips 'n Salsa and I'm starting to think that I need to cut down to two blogs again or maybe even one. But when I try to decide which one or what two I can't decide because all three are so different and they serve such different audiences.

I went back and read other posts both here and on skirt! and I've been talking about this funk way too long. What is the deal?? Only I know and only I can shake it. One thing is for certain. This is it. I'm not going to write about how I can't write any more. Ha ha! I'm either going to JUST DO IT or I'm going to shut up. Besides, that doesn't really make for interesting reading, reading the same topic every week.

A lot more interesting things are going on in the world that I should be talking about. See next blog.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Confessions of a Narcissistic Writer

When I first started this blog I thought it was a bit narcissistic. But then all my friends started telling me how much they enjoyed it. Before I knew it I had three blogs so what does that make me?

I have often thought that I am a little of a narcissist, but then what writer isn’t? Okay, maybe Harper Lee isn’t. But even she wrote one extremely successful novel and even if she never wrote another published piece again, she can not escape the fame and fortune that followed.

Then came Facebook. Oh my! I love Facebook and sometimes I have to tear myself away. Facebook has become the platform for all people like me who always have something to say about something.

I will never forget what two women told me the summer I interned at the St. Pete Times. I was 21 years old and at that age well you know, you think you know everything and you have an opinion about everything. At least I did. I’m sure I was pretty annoying, especially after a month of working with me in one small office. Finally one day one of the poor women made a comment about my talking and I don’t remember what I said but I remember her reply and of course how it made me feel. She said, “Yes, but we don’t have to make a comment about every single thing,” or something like that. Once again, I don’t remember what it was exactly, but I got the message loud and clear.

I think of that moment often when I send out my comments to the FB World and I wonder if there is anyone on the other end who is blocking me because I make too many comments.

A week or so ago I was at a luncheon and I met a really sweet woman who was sitting next to me. She asked me if I was on Facebook and I, since we were at a professional event, felt inclined to give her my disclaimer. I told her that Facebook isn’t my professional FB. I hardly have anyone from work and all of my “friends” are either my good friends, high school friends, relatives, or my writing friends. I see as a great platform for writers. Where else can you self-promote?

So am I narcissist? Yes, probably, but I hope it’s all for good in the end.