One advantage of having a Zombie

Cartoon of a boy and a zombie. The boy says, "You're a better listener ever since you became a zombie!"It’s all how you look at it, right? If you have the type of zombie that sits around all day and moans, then you might just may have found a good listener. Continue reading “One advantage of having a Zombie”

Why who is in a classrooms matters

Cartoon of a baby, two adults and a scarecrow

Cartoon of two adults and baby with a scarecrow. A man says about the scarecrow, “He doesn’t interact with the kids much. But he’s always available and on time.”

I can usually tell when someone doesn’t feel comfortable in a classroom. They don’t look much different from the scarecrow in my cartoon. They’re stiff, standing tall among all the kids. They do dress better than a scarecrow, however. They also have a more worried look than the scarecrow in this picture. Continue reading “Why who is in a classrooms matters”

Happy 18th Birthday to my daughter

Mariah birth announcementEighteen years ago, I drew a birth announcement. It was very risky since a cartoon version of a family member can come back to haunt you.
And that is exactly what happened last week! My mother-in-law printed some pictures to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. One of the prints was the birth announcement I drew to announce the big day. My daughter appeared amused. I had to clarify that no cartoon could ever be as cute as the real thing. To prove it, here is a photo of the two of us. We both looked much younger then than now!

Dad-Maria1996Heaven knows I’ve made my share of mistakes with my kids. Drawing cartoon versions of them is probably one of the least mistakes I’ve made. One of the worse mistakes was when I struggled between getting my freelance work done and spending time with my kids. As much as I loved illustrating for books and magazines,  it all seems to trivial now compared to the time I had with my them.

My dear daughter, you are now a young lady. You have brightened my world. And I have cherished every moment with you. Happy eighteenth birthday!

10 steps before you own a pet

Cartoon of a boy and a mean dog. The boy says, "A puppy! Can I keep you?"Have you ever had a child begging you for a pet? You know it will be extra work and money, but deep down you want the pet as well, don’t you?

One day, my son announced he wanted a dog for his birthday. My wife and I thought it was time and we began looking for the perfect dog. The whole episode ended badly because we were ill prepared for pet ownership. Here are ten things I learned that enabled us to become responsible pet owners later.

  1. No matter what, don’t let emotions be your deciding factor. We chose the first dog my son loved (which was the first dog he saw!). We needed to consider if dog was the right fit for our family.
  2. As a parent, assume you will have the primary responsibility. Pet ownership is a great way to teach responsibility, but don’t let your pet suffer because junior forgot to take the dog outside. Parents have to assume they will at least be sure the pet is cared for.
  3. Biking with a dog is a tricky thing. Don’t assume you or the pet will pick it up immediately. I still have the scars to prove it can end badly.
  4. While treats are a great reward, too many lose their effectiveness pretty quickly.
  5. Consider your yard. We thought our backyard was perfect. Little did we know our new dog liked to dig and make a break for it. We soon discovered this dog need much more room.
  6. Consider the size of your home. This dog wanted outside all of the time. She just didn’t feel comfortable in our house. And because she was outside all the time, the house became much dirtier when she was inside.
  7. Consider the age of all your kids. Our son was ready. Our daughter is four years younger and she didn’t understand that the dog didn’t want to play dress-up.
  8. Make sure everyone is prepared and ready to take on this new pet. My wife was staying home with the kids and didn’t feel comfortable with the dog. I knew we were in trouble at that point.
  9. Admit when you are wrong. Thankfully, the previous owner was gracious and welcomed the dog back. We just weren’t prepared. We had to be humble enough to admit we goofed.
  10. Start with a smaller pet first. We discovered later that a cat was a better fit for our family. When our family learned to take care of a cat, a dog came later. It was a better fit.

We ended up finding the right pets for our household. How about you? What are some tips you would give someone before committing to a new pet?

12 Keys to helping your child deal with anger

Spear Cartoon 3775Temperament is something you see very early in a child. Some kids are laid back and go with the flow. Others seem born angry. Whether they are a Type A personality, or are easily frustrated, they need help in learning how to deal with anger.  Here are ten ways you can help your child with anger issues.

  1. Consider your child’s age. Helping a two-year old deal with anger is far different from helping your elementary child.
  2. A toddler may be overwhelmed and overstimulated. You may need to remove her from the situation.
  3. An elementary child may need to discuss his anger issues and need help finding constructive ways to vent.
  4. DO NOT ignore the situation. Pretending a child isn’t angry may only make her angrier
  5. DO NOT teach your child to deny (bottle-up) her feelings. Stuffing anger only causes it to come out in unproductive ways later.
  6. Look for triggers. Is there some situation that causes the child to become angry? Talk about it with your child.
  7. Acknowledge with your child anger is a normal reaction to something. We all face disappointments. We all face people who just seem to know how to get under our skin.
  8. If the anger is directed at a sibling, separate the two, then come back to mediate the situation. Allow each child to express their anger with words. Make sure the children talk about the offense and not about the other sibling’s personality or flaws.
  9. If the angry child causes destruction, use it as an opportunity to make amends. The child needs to know destructive anger has consequences.
  10. If a child destroys property, have them work to pay back the destroyed property.
  11. If a child hurts another person, take away privileges until they child feels remorse. A forced apology isn’t a real apology.
  12. When you feel angry about something, discuss it with your child. Let them know how you feel and how you are coping with it. Focus on your feelings and not on the offender.

Above all, if you’re angry over a child’s anger, that is not the time to correct his behavior. Give both of you some time to cool off before you correct him. Whether you’re a child or an adult, anger can cause you to make decisions you may later regret.