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Monthly ArchiveMay 2015

Dad Craft #1 – American Girl Doll Cape It's a bird, It's a plane, it' a........doll??

If  you ever want to see a little girl well and truly geek out, you have to take her to an American Girl doll store. The first time we took the nerdettes was about two years ago, and the amount of excitement was just as palpable as any Call of Duty or Harry Potter release I have ever attended.

*Conversely, this means that as nerds, we act just like little girls in a doll store…so take that #GamerGate….but I digress.

After that first trip, the girls both came home with American Girl dolls of their very own (thank God for grandparents). Nerdette the Elder has Saige, a spirited young girl who loves art and horse back riding, while Nerdette the Younger has Emily, a shy and quite girl who faces an uncertain world with a brave smile. I know this about my daughter’s “dolls” because they also come with books and movies.  What I did not realize at the time of purchase was that Saige and Emily would not be like the dollies that came before. No, they are not dolls at all to my girls, they are new miniature family members, each with their own birthdays and subsequent parties, fashion preferences, and distinct adopted personalities. Since welcoming them home, I have had to; learn how to style doll hair with tiny brushes and clips, play nurse and give dolly check-ups, scold naughty dolls that were misbehaving, and even pretend to change a doll diaper or two. Just the other day, Nerdette the Younger (who is still learning about family dynamics) asked me if I would rather be Emily’s uncle or grandpa.

What I  also didn’t know walking out of the store (although my wife tells me I should have), is that this trip would start an apparently never-ending pursuit to have the best  and biggest doll wardrobe possible. At $25 per outfit minimum, this could have turned into a significant problem. Luckily, my wife’s mother is amazingly good at sewing and has kept them supplied with most of what is needed. However, if I am going to be an American Girl Grandpa, then I am certainly going to do everything I can the nerd out the American Girls.

So what does every nerdy American Girl doll really need?

A super hero cape!


Here’s how:

You start out with a shirt that the wife won’t miss too much. I used a “personalized” shirt that was sent to us without being personalized.


I cut out the back to use the fabric. It was a size 6 child and the back was enough material for both capes.


Now unlike my mother in law, I do not sew. My original intent was to just leave the edge raw, but, due in part to the fact that t-shirt material curls and due to the fact that I apparently don’t cut straight either, that wasn’t an option. That’s ok, because as every good dad knows, “Duct tape fixes almost anything.” Make the duct tape at the top longer than the actual cape to give it an easy way to attach to the doll.


***Dad TIP, you should really wait to duct tape the sides until after the next steps. You have been warned.

Now every good superhero needs a logo. So the girls took over the next step. They colored the picture of their choice onto some ultra-fine sandpaper using old crayons. It is important that they bear down harder than the would on regular paper so it transfers better. I intended to have a live action shot of them designing, but the nerdettes have a talent for knowing when a camera is pointed their way so:


Next we put the sandpaper face down and used a hot iron to transfer the crayon wax onto the capes.  (mad props to Cindy Hopper @ alphamom.com for the idea!)

Nerdette the Younger picked a Unicorn motif


While Nerdette the Elder chose a Butterfly


You’ll notice that Elder’s is much darker. This is because she did a better job bearing down while drawing.

Now if you didn’t follow the Dad Tip above, your next step will be to re-apply duct tape and  scrape all the melted duct tape off the iron before the wife gets home. That way you’ll just have an interesting anecdote instead of a “What happened was…” moment.

Finally,  attach some self-adhesive Velcro to the duct tape on each side of the top and finally attach the capes to the dolls. Now the nerdettes and Ameri-nerd Girl dolls are ready to take on any villain.


Let me know what you think in the comments below. Also if you have any ideas for other fun nerdy stuff I can try out on the nerdettes, please let me know.










Game Review – My First Carcassonne If you like it, then you should've put a meeple on it!

Since this is my first review, I think I should go over some formatting information. My plan is to first give you some basic information about the game. I will add the publishers description and some pictures (hopefully). Then we’ll get some thoughts on the game from me and from both of the nerdettes.

*Oh and for full disclosure, the link to purchase is an affiliate link. This mean that if you purchase this game through that link I receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. It is my intent to use these affiliate links to help offset the cost of running the blog and I guarantee they will never affect the decision of which products to review. That decisions will solely be based on whether or not I think it will be successful with the nerdettes.*

Today we will be reviewing My First Carcassonne by Zman Games. This is a very popular title designed by Marco Teubner and released in 2009.

From the Publisher

Number of players: 2-4

Game time: 20+ Minutes

Age Group: 4+

The streets of Carcassonne are filled with kids who are trying to catch the animals set loose for the festival. The city has never been so alive! This version of the modern classic, Carcassonne, has been adapted to allow players of all ages to play together. No need to count points! Each turn, you place a tile to build Carcassonne. When you close a street with one or more kids of your color, you get to put your pawns on the board. Be the first to place all of your pawns to win the game!


The Game

fr_327_size640My First Carcassonne is a simple tile laying game that is scored using meeples. Basically each player gets to pull a tile from the stack and place it against any other tile already in play. The tiles have paths on them as well as children wearing either green, yellow, red, or blue clothing. When a player places a tile that ends a path, every player that has a child on that path gets to put a meeple on top of it. The first player to place all of their meeples wins.


Dad’s Review

My First Carcassonne is the first “real” game we purchased with the girls in mind. Since purchasing, it has saved me from countless games of Candy Land and Sophia the First Surprise Slides.  It has become a favorite in our household specifically because it is something we can all play and enjoy without having to do too much in the way of hand holding with the nerdettes. Both girls understand the game mechanic and are able to make their decisions with a very minimum of suggestions from mom and dad.

Nerdette the Elder has fully embraced the game and plays to win. She loves it when she can beat Dad all by herself. Nerdette the Younger, however, still doesn’t quite grasp the idea of competition. She enjoys “helping” everyone else, but she really does not like losing. As a result, we try to make sure that anything she does to help someone else also helps herself in some way. We also have to sometimes keep them on task as stacking meeples in “cheerleader” towers is fun in and of itself.  We have yet to have the advertised 20 minute game. Most games run about 30-45 minutes

The game itself plays equally well with 2, 3, or 4 players  but I would not suggest it with an adult only crowd or even older kids as the game play is quite simple. Overall I would suggest this for any family that includes children age 6 and under.

Dad’s Rating


Nerdette the Elder’s Review

Do you like My First Carcassonne?: Yes

What do you like about it?: I like placing the tiles and getting to put down meeples.

What don’t you like about it?: I don’t like it when I am not the blue player.

Who would you recommend it to: Everybody

Nerdette the Elder’s Rating



Nerdette the Younger’s Review

Do you like My First Carcassonne?:Yes

What do you like about it?:I like putting on meeples and tiles and being the winner.

What don’t you like about it?: Being the loser and not putting meeples.

Who would you recommend it to?: I don’t know

Nerdette the Younger’s Rating




The Quest

The first thing you should know about me is that I am a lifelong nerd. I mean like a fantasy lovin, tabletop game playin, geeky shirt wearin, wand wieldin, nose in a book, and wish I were a Jedi with a TARDIS nerd.

The second thing you should know about me is I am a dad. I have two human (I think?) female offspring ages 4 and 7. I like to think of them as my Padawan nerds or my Nerdettes.

This brings us to why I decided to start this blog. About two months ago, my once stay-at-home with the kids wife started a new job so she could start talking to adults again. Apparently that sort of thing is important. Therefore I was quickly thrust from the role of supporting cast member to “Maximus Parentus” with all of the duties and privileges pursuant thereto. My duties can range from elaborate doll hair designer and fashion show judge to nightly family chef and homework helper.

I’ve learned that 4 year old girls are very opinionated about their fashion and hair choices and that seven year old girls are sneaky with lip gloss. Screaming and crying happens much more often than was ever expected and little girls are immune to all logic. Mr. Spock would go crazy at my house.

I’ve also learned that more than anything my girls simply want to spend time with me. As a natural introvert I’m not 100% comfortable with this idea, but what can you do. Plus it is important to me that my Nerdettes fully experience the geeky side of life.

This blog will chronicle my quest to spend time with my nerdettes while balancing their need to be little girls with my need to not always play dress-up princess teatime. I’ll tell you what activities we try complete with what works and what doesn’t. I’ll review the games we play and the places we go. Maybe I’ll even be able to talk about some grown-up geekiness too.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments, email me at dad@dadvsthenerdettes.com, or post them to the myriad social networking sites above. I look forward to hearing from you. And remember, real  dads (occasionally) have to wear a tiara.