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It’s time for school…. A Family Reboot. NO MORE Lazy Dad Syndrome

Wait!! What, the summers over!?!?

That’s right Ladies and Gents, school starts in a week, and once again I have let summer vacation pass by without any meaningful time with the nerdettes.

Every June begins with a daydream of all the fun family activities we will do and the great places we will visit. In my mind’s eye, I will be the perfect doting father teaching valuable life lessons while laughing and having picture perfect days under temperate Monet-esque skies. The reality, however… Well, let’s just say it’s not so picturesque. Mostly it includes watching my “grown-up” shows in the solace of my bedroom while the nerdettes re-watch their shows over and over again in the living room on an endless Netflix loop. Add in everyone in the house simultaneously playing on a handheld electronic device and that’s us in a nutshell.

So, excuse number one, its hot, like fry an egg on the sidewalk, center of the freakin’ sun sort of hot, and no sane person should go out in heat like that. Second excuse, I’m tired. It is not summer vacation for me, it is go to work every day and curse the fact that I’m an adult with adult responsibilities for me.

But, here’s the truth… I am kind of a lazy parent, probably even a lazy person. What life lessons am I teaching the nerdettes? I’ve taught them that it’s ok to stay in pajamas all day, eat hotpockets for breakfast and lunch, and playing on your phone/iPad through dinner is the way we do things.

Well, NO MORE I say, or at least let’s do these things less often. As a result, we at Dad vs the Nerdettes are rebooting our household. We are starting fresh with this school year, and we are gong to focus on getting back into the habit of being a family instead of a house with very small roommates. To this end we are instituting a series of rules meant to bring us together while also eliminating the Lazy Dad Syndrome that I have fallen into.

No TV Monday – Thursday

We actually started this near the end of the last school year to help keep Nerdette the elder focused on her schoolwork instead of trying to rush through it to get back to another episode of My Babysitter’s a Vampire (although I do give her mad props for choosing a show about vampires as her go to). When we started it last year we saw a near instant improvement in both her reading and writing skills.

No more than one fast food meal per week.

This is more to do with my “dad bod” than anything the nerdettes do or don’t do.  Although, Nerdette the younger may turn into a McNugget if we keep going the way we currently are.  That child would live on nothing but nuggets and Gogurt if we let her.

Family reading every weeknight.

Just before school let out we began reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone before bed. Unfortunately, we only got through about 1/4 of the book before we stopped. I’ve told the nerdettes they can’t go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando until we have read all 7. (That’s right, I’m not above bribing my children to love Harry Potter.)

Family activities at least once a week. 

This can be a game night, or a craft project, or even something as simple as baking a cake together. It doesn’t really matter as long as we are all doing the same thing at the same time without electronic interference.

Family outings at least once a month. 

Sometimes this will be going to a museum or play. Sometimes it will be a city park. Either way it can’t be at home and everyone must participate. No phones/tablets allowed even if there is a poke-stop nearby. Ok, maybe phones/tablets on the way or once we leave  if there are poke-stops nearby because obviously we gotta catch em all. #TeamMysticRules

 

Ultimately, it’s no use waiting for next summer to come before we start to change what we teach the nerdettes about how to live a productive life. If I wait for another school year to end, then next August I will again be sitting here wondering where all the time went that I was supposed to spend with my family.  In an attempt to keep ourselves on track, I will come back and post on our progress, both good and bad. I’m sure there will be times when we slip up and I’m equally sure there will be more rules that we want to tackle once we have these things as habits instead of goals. Either way I’ll let you know how it goes.

Dad

Bring kids gaming to local stores Golden Age Gaming needs start-up help.

As you all know, I am a huge tabletop gaming nerd. I also have a passion for getting kids back into gaming. Tabletop games can teach kids a myriad of different things from math and critical thinking skills to social skills and being a good friend. As such, I am always on the lookout for more great games I can introduce to the nerdettes and that the nerdettes can introduce to their friends.

That is why I am almost always frustrated when I go into one of our FLGS (friendly local game stores). Within a 30 minute drive from where I currently sit, there is one of the largest game and comic book stores in the country. They literally took over an old grocery store and completely filled the space with   great geeky items. However, in all that space there is only on row of children/family games and it is filled with mostly re-themes mass market title like The Lord of the Rings Yahtzee. They don’t carry any games from Blue Orange games or Habba, two of the biggest (and arguably best) children’s game publishers right now. In fact, there is not a retailer of games or toys within 2 hours of me that carries a decent selection of Habba games. If I want them I have to order them online.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my game stores. I believe that without local stores providing an entry point as well as a place to meet up and play, then instead of a growing hobby we would still be stuck with only Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and a million different versions of Monopoly. I just wish there was a place that I could take both my family and/or friends to get in on the next greatest tabletop experience.

Luckily, my friend Tim is trying to solve this exact problem with Golden Age Gaming. Now I wouldn’t normally ask people to help fund a project, but in this case I am making an exception for two reasons. 1. I know Tim personally and (although I am hugely jealous that he is getting to do this and I am not) I cannot think of a better person to make this a reality. His ethics and ingenuity are amazing and i am sure he will do a great job. 2. We really, really need a place for the younger generation of geeks to learn that there is fun outside of a screen. I believe tabletop gaming is one of the best options for that. Hopefully Golden Age Gaming will be successful enough to show a model to the rest of the gaming community and we can start a trend of family friendly game stores.  That’s for the future though. First, here’s to getting this one store up and running.

Dad

Young Adult fiction for nerds. What I would be reading if I were your kid.

So over a month ago I was talking to a friend of mine who has children of the nerd persuasion, ad we were talking about different fantasy and sci-fi books that her kiddos have read. Her kids are all boys and two of them are significantly older than the nerdettes so their taste in literature is a lot closer to what mine was when  I was their age. At the end of the conversation I promised to get back to her with a list of books to check out, but alas I am not that great of a friend. So today’s post is all about fulfilling my promise. Sorry it took so long.

This is a list of books I feel are both awesome and appropriate for pre-teen to teen-aged kids. As always, use your own judgement on what is appropriate for your kids. Read the book before you let your children, or even better, read some of them together.

*Oh and for full disclosure, the links included in this post are affiliate links. This mean that if you purchase anything through these links 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.*

 

 

20. The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney – This set was recently turned into an absolutely horrible movie called the 7th son. However, don’t let that deter you as the books themselves are quite enjoyable. It is a great introduction to fantasy that is not strictly swords and sorcery.

19. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull – Here is a series that takes what ever kid thinks of with regard to magical creatures and turns it on its head. Two kids discover their grandfather is actually the groundskeeper for a magical creature preserve, but their meddling soon leads them into all sorts of trouble. These books are a little heavy on the vocabulary, so make sure your kids know they can ask you for help with words or get them a good children’s dictionary.

18. A Spell For Chameleon by Piers Anthony – This was probably the very first fantasy book I ever read as a kid. At its heart, it is a standard Hero’s Journey but through a magic land made of puns. There are a ton of books in this series but the first has always been my favorite. I would especially recommend this series for anyone who doesn’t take their reading too seriously.

17. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – Truly one of the classics, the Hitchhiker’s Guide is a funny snarky commentary on society, set in space, with a depressed robot. What’s not to love.

16. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey – This series is one of several written by Mercedes Lackey set in the land of Valdemar. My favorites are actually he Last Herald Mage and Darian’s Tale. However the Arrows of the Queen was her first and is still the best starting point for this series. I will admit that it will get a little sappy at times, but i can still lose myself in the pages of any of the Valdemar books.

15. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett – The first of the legendary discworld novels, this book will draw any kid into a deep love of all that is great about fantasy. Perched squarely between silly and greatness, Terry Pratchett should be required reading for all pre-teen kids.

14. The Maze Runner by James Dashner – One of the newest series on this list, the Maze Runner is an amazing introduction to dystopian fiction.

13. The Legend of Drizzt by R A Salvatore – This series is the definitive series based in Faerun. R A Salvatore mixes common dungeon and dragons lore and exception characterization to create a thrilling story that you typically do not get from novels based in pre-made worlds. As an added bonus, these books can help shape any budding dungeon masters for their next D&D campaign.

12. The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis – No young adult list would be complete without the Chronicles of Narnia. This series takes everything that is right about high fantasy and throws in a moral lesson as a bonus.

11. On Basilisk Station by David Weber – If you are looking to introduce your young one to the wonders of space operas, then there is none better than the Honor Harrington Saga by David Weber. Budding history nerds will also appreciate spotting the parallels between this series and the french Napoleonic period.

10. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – The antichrist is delivered to the wrong address and hilarity ensues. This book is a boatload of fun and humor. Fair warning, however, this book does poke fun at religion in general and christianity in particular. I laugh ever time i read it, but as one reviewer notes “if you’re of the mindset that God can’t take a joke, well, you’re probably better off with a different book.”

9. Dune by Frank Herbert – Part sci-fi, part fantasy, and part dystopia, Dune blends all the best of the three genres into a deep and lasting story that both older children and adults can re-read over and over to find something new. ”

8. Ashtown Burials by N D Wilson – not quite as dark as Harry Potter but much grittier than Percy Jackson, the Ashtown Burials series is the perfect transition between books that are just for kids and more sophisticated novels. I am anxiously awaiting the next in the series.

7. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander – You may recall the Disney movie The Black Cauldron: 25th Anniversary Special Edition” target=”_blank”>The Black Cauldron from the 80s. This series tells the tale of Taran the assistant pig keeper in its entirety. One of the greats in terms of fantasy and mythology, The Chronicles of Prydain are for Wales what the Arthurian legends are for England.

6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – This may be the best of the recent rash of dystopian novels written for teens. The series has been made even more famous by the movies, but the books are far and away better than anything the movies have tried.

5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – while this is the book that started it, I could just as easily have put the Kane chronicles or Magnus Chase. Rick Riordan has found a way to make ancient mythology relate-able without butchering the original stories like so many others have.

4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – Neverwhere is like Alice in Wonderland but with way more dirt and grime and less of a happy cartoony feel. There are some more mature themes and scenes so this recommendation is strictly for the older set. That being said, you will not find a better urban fantasy anywhere. This is one of my favorite books of all time.

3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Whatever you do, please do not judge this book by the movie because thebook is so much more. What could be described as a coming of age story, if you came of age at 11 and were expected to mastermind an attack to wipe out a whole alien race. This book will resonate deeply with anyone who has ever felt over their head or picked on. At the same time, it shows the future through the eyes of genius children destined to change the world.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien – The granddaddy of fantasy and still one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. J R R Tolkien set out to create a mythology for a land that he felt had lost its way after the war. What came of that is in my opinion one of the greatest things to happen to the English speaking world.

1. Harry Potter by J K Rowling – I am sure that it comes as no great shock to learn that my number one suggestion for pre-teen and teens is Harry Potter. In fact it is my number one suggestion for almost anyone. In fact I have started reading them to the nerdettes. Words cannot describe how I feel about these books. They have been with me for almost half my life and are still the books I turn to when I need to escape into a happy place.

 

 

Well there you have it, my top 20 books/series for pre-teen and teen nerds to be. There are many books that I left off because I do not think they fell into this age range and I might look into making another list like this for younger kids as well as adults. Is there anything I missed or anything you think doesn’t belong? Let me know in the comment.

Dad

Goodbye Alan Rickman By Grabthar's Hammer, you will be missed.

I have not been very faithful in writing here and for that I am sorry. I have worked some in the background trying to make some changes to formatting and moving to a different design, and to be honest, I am not very good at it. As a result, the process has taken much longer than I wanted and life has once again gotten in the way.

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However, I could not let today go by without writing down my feelings and I figure sharing them would be the best thing I could do. As I am sure you are all aware, we lost one of the greatest actors of his time today. Alan Rickman died at age 69 from cancer. Just typing those words has me feeling very sad and depressed in a way that surprised me deeply today. There are many many wonderful articles that came out today detailing the life and legacy of this great man. This is not meant to be one of those. This is me saying goodbye to someone who has inspired me and mourning in the best way I know how. From the point my wife texted me, to now as write this, I have been depressed over the loss of someone I never met. Not only someone I have never met, but someone I really had no chance of meeting. It has affected me profoundly, to say the least.

Now I am not generally the type to mourn for people I have never met. To be honest, there are very few celebrities that I can even name on sight, and fewer still that I care to try. For me it has always been the characters that matter. The people who portray them are the props that inspire the imagination and move the plot. Now don’t get me wrong, I respect and admire them for their skills. It is not easy to inspire imagination. It is not easy subsume yourself into another character and transport an audience into a different place or time. Please don’t think that I don’t recognize the talent that these actors have. I just don’t really care to know who they are in real life. I am much more interested to know the characters they want to show me.

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Alan Rickman was different. Now I am sure by now you are assuming that he was different because he portrayed a certain professor in the most awesome fictional universe ever created. But honestly, you would be wrong. Now before you start the outcry, you are not wrong that the Harry Potter universe is the most awesome fictional universe ever created. Nor are you wrong that Alan Rickman was amazing and will forever be remembered as Severus Snape – The Half Blood Prince. However, that portrayal is not what made me adore Alan Rickman. In fact, the casting of Alan Rickman as Snape has always felt the most natural of any of the actors from the Harry Potter  movies because I was already a huge fan of his. As a matter of fact, I have been a fan of his since I was 9. To this day, when I hear his name the first thing that comes to mind is the Sheriff of Nottingham threatening to cut out Robin Hood’s heart with a spoon because “it’ll hurt more you twit” In fact it seems like I have grown up watching Alan Rickman in things that I love. From Colonel Brandon to Judge Turpin, the Voice of God to the voice of Absolem I have loved them all. Snape is the just another in a long list of characters he portrayed that captured my heart.

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None of this, though, is why Alan Rickman’s death has affected me so profoundly today. The fact is that there is one movie that he played in that I have never cared for, and yet it is his role that inspires me the most. That is his portrayal of Hans Gruber in Die Hard. This is widely regarded as his breakout moment in acting, and he was 40 years old. In fact he didn’t start acting at all until he was almost 30. Prior to acting he was a successful graphic designer. The idea that someone could turn their entire life around and still be so talented and successful is inspiring. It was not long after learning this, that I decided I needed to write more. I started this blog soon thereafter and began writing ideas for prose. Unfortunately, I have not, as of yet,  lived up to the inspiration.

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I am sad today because one of my personal heroes has died. I am sad because the world lost a wonderful actor. Mostly though, I am sad that I have allowed “life to get in the way” of my living up to my potential. I will try to turn this around and hopefully I will succeed. In the meantime, I will say Goodbye to Alan Rickman. You will be missed. Always.

 

 

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Dad

Dad Vs The Nerdettes Dad is back!!!!

I’m not really sure where to start today. It has been 3 months and 11 days since I last posted an entry and I have learned that the longer I go without posting, the harder it is to sit down and write. As such, I’m going to ask you to bear with me as I ramble my way back into the swing of things. I had originally only planned on taking a few weeks off while we dealt with some health issues and while the nerdettes started a new school year. Unfortunately the health issues have compounded and school never really slows down. As every day went by it has become easier and easier to push this crazy project to the back burner. In fact I came really very close to turning it all off a few weeks ago. However, about that same time two things happened that made me change my mind.

The first has to do with the health issues I mentioned earlier. About three weeks ago I went to the hospital with some fairly severe chest pain. Luckily, they have been able to determine that I did not have a heart attack, but after several “non-invasive” tests they still have not been able to definitively answer what is going on. So, next week I will go in for an angiogram which should, fingers crossed, tell us exactly what is happening inside my chest. I have to admit that the whole thing has me super freaked out. While it is true that I have not made it a priority to be healthy, I also never even considered that I might have to deal with these kinds of issues while I still have a 5 and 7 year old in the house. The thought of failing them because of my poor choices terrifies me in a way I could not have imagined 10 years ago.

Luckily right after this, another thing happened that, while not earth shattering, has totally helped me keep it together. If you know me well, you might know that one of my all time heroes is Wil Wheaton. I have always found his willingness to be genuine and honest to be inspiring. Also, he has managed to make a living doing the things he loves, and it just so happens a whole lot of what he loves, I love as well. Well not to long after my heart attack scare, Wil posts on his blog how he has decided on seven steps to reboot his life. It’s a great post that you should check out here. This got me thinking that what I really need is just a reboot as well. I don’t have to give up on everything I enjoy, but I could certainly do less of the things that hurt me and more of the things that don’t. One of those things that doesn’t hurt is writing, both here at Dad Vs The Nerdettes and also fiction writing that I gave up on years ago. Now I’m not writing down my own 7 steps yet because I figure some of those will be dictated by my doctor, but rest assured that once I have my “doctor’s orders” I’ll formalize my list and post it here. One of them will definitely be to spend a lot more time writing here. I’ll be counting on all you nerds and nerdettes to keep me honest.

Now for some housekeeping. You will be seeing some new pages coming online soon. The reason for this is the nerdettes have discovered I Carly on amazon prime and they both have decided they want to start making their own content. So in the coming weeks (months?) we will build them each a section that they can use to blog/vlog but I’m not sure what that is going to entail just yet. Additionally, while i still want this site to mostly be about spending more time with the nerdettes, I would also like to highlight some of my own nerd-dom as well. So you can expect to see some reviews and ramblings from me on more grown up type things.

As always, if there is anything you would like to see highlighted here or any ideas you want to share, feel free to leave a comment below. You can also email me at dad@dadvsthenerdettes.com or you can reach me through the social media doohickeys to the right. In the meantime, from the bottom of my slightly bruised heart, thanks for reading and keep it nerdy.

Dad

Dad Missing in Action

So I have been MIA for a while dealing with some family issues but I wanted to post a quick message to let everyone know we are not gone for good. Soon we will be back with more nerdy kid goodness. I promise!

Also wanted to drop a quick note about our recent FoodFighters review.  They are in the last few days of their kickstarter campaign. So now is the time to back. Also there has been a shipping price drop since the review so it is even cheaper to get your copy here in the USA. There has never been a better way to play with your food.

Remember to keep an eye out for our next review coming soon.

 

Dad

Game Review – Foodfighters (Kickstarter)

Today we will be reviewing Foodfighters, a game that is currently being kickstarted by Kids Table Board Gaming. It is designed by husband and wife duo Josh and Helaina Cappel and will be illustrated by Josh Cappel.

*Disclosure: We reviewed the print and play version of Foodfighters at the request of the creator. We were not compensated for this review and the opinions are our own. 

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From the Publisher

Number of Players: 2

Game Time: 20 – 30 Minutes

Age Group:  8+

Foodfighters is a fun and light two-player battle game – each player controls a team of foods trying to win a food fight against the opposing team. First player to knock out three matching foods from the other team wins!

You and your opponent each control a faction of fighting foods. On your turn, you can move a Foodfighter, or roll dice to attack an opponent (that your Foodfighter is thinking about and that is in reach), or roll for Beans (cash). After that you can spend your Beans to buy awesome gear from the store or Power cards that are unique to your team. Then it’s the other guy’s turn. Keep going until you’ve knocked out three of a kind on your opponent’s team, and you’ve won!


The Game

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Foodfighters is a head to head battle game where two players lead their faction of tasty troops to victory (or defeat) against their mortal epicurean foes. The game is played out in a 6×3 grid with each player controlling half of the grid. As a player you will either be team veggie or team meat (although additional factions may be available depending on whether or not certain goals are met in the Kickstarter campaign)  If you are team veggie, you will control 3 broccoli tiles, 3 cabbage tiles, and 3 onion tiles. If you are team meat you will control 3 steak tiles, 3 chicken tiles, and 3 bacon tiles.

At the start of the game, each player lays out their tiles randomly in a 3×3 grid facing the other other player.  The player who has most recently eaten one of their “characters” will then take the first turn

On a turn, you will have the option to:

1. Swap the position of 2 of your tiles. If you swap tiles you also get to take one bean  (in game currency) from the “kitchen”

2. Have one of your characters attack a character of the opposing team.  In order to attack, your character must be thinking about the other teams character (indicated by the thought bubble on the tile) and the opponents character must be in direct line of sight of your character. You must then successfully roll at least on splat icon on the dice for the attack to be successful

3. Roll for beans. You may roll the dice and collect as many beans as shown. You may re-roll any splats.

Once complete you may use your beans to purchase items from the kitchen. These include spoons (weapons), crackers (shields), and pans (helmets) as well as special ability cards and an extra die.

Turns alternate back and forth until one player has knocked out all of one type of their opponents characters.

Print and Play version is here if you want to try it out and you can back it here on Kickstarter

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Dad’s Review

When I told the nerdettes that a game creator emailed us and asked us to check out a new game, they became more excited than I have seen them in a while. They could hardly wait for me to print out the game and get it all set up. In fact, they were so excited I was beginning to worry that the game itself would have a hard time living up to their expectations. Luckily I was wrong.

Foodfighters turned out to be a very good and engaging little fighter game with a theme that really works for the nerdettes and for me. Since I’m a big fan of games like Summoner Wars, it also has the bonus of being “like one of daddies grown-up games”.  Best of all the nerdettes picked it up very quickly, even Nerdette the Younger. Additionally, the artwork on the print and play is super cute and the designers have stated that the end result is sure to be even better.

The only slight hiccup we ran into is the number of players. With one dad and two nerdettes, someone is left out of each game. We resolved this by putting whoever is not actively playing in charge of the kitchen. Nerdette the Elder especially enjoyed this role, although I kept having to tell her that she wasn’t allowed to change the prices even if there was a high demand.

Although the suggested age is 8+ neither Nerdette the Younger (age 4) nor Nerdette the Elder (age 7) had any trouble picking up the rules.  Both of them had to have help reading the special abilities cards and understanding what they were for. As for the special ability cards, during the game I had to actively remind myself to use them as I don’t think they added a significant amount to the gameplay. As such, if the nerdettes want to play on their own I feel fully confident that we could remove those cards from the game and they would be able to play without much or even any parental assistance. That fact alone might make this gaming gold in my opinion.

There is also endless possibilities for different faction expansions. This would be a huge boost to replayability. My girls both decided the best faction would include: cake, cookies and ice cream.

The only possible negative I would say is that the creators are billing this as a game that can be played by kids, adults, or both. I can not see myself ever playing this with another adult on our own. It does have enough adult entertainment value  though, that I can see playing it with the nerdettes any time they like.

Dad’s Rating:

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Nerdette the Younger’s Review:

Do you like Foodfighters?: Yes

What do you like about it?: Winning and I love the spoons.

What don’t you like about it?:Losing and losing some more. I don’t like losing A LOT!

Who would you recommend it to:  Everybody even babies, but not dogs.

Nerdette the Younger’s Rating:

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Nerdette the Elder’s Review:

Do you like Foodfighters?: Yes

What do you like about it?: I like to beat the vegetables and I like buying the kitchen tools.

What don’t you like about it?: I don’t like when I lose or when I don’t have enough beans to buy the stuff I want.

Who would you recommend it to:  Everybody could actually enjoy it.

Nerdette the Elder’s Rating:

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Dad

How young is too young? Age appropriate Nerdery

I have not posted anything in a while, mostly because the Nerdettes are out of town with my mom (’cause Nanny is AWESOME). Instead, I have been using my time to catch up on my own nerdery that I don’t feel is appropriate for a 7 and 4 year old. Things like Game of Thrones and Outlander are relegated to strictly after bedtime watching, and there are only so many hours I can feasibly keep my eyes open. As a result, I tend fall behind on a lot of shows and these past couple of weeks I have been able to catch up some. I’m still not there yet on GoT though, so NO SPOILERS!

Anyway, this has got me thinking about what franchises I can and can’t share with the Nerdettes. There are some things that are obviously inappropriate and those are easy enough to pick out. Then there are others that have kid friendly versions that I can easily substitute. Some good examples are Star Wars Rebels from Disney and  The Hobbit from the seventies. Now don’t get me wrong, these are not my go to titles if I want to scratch my Tolkien or LucasFilms itch, but they do give me a way to introduce the things I love to the Nerdettes without my having to think about whether or not there will be nightmares or having to explain what happened to my wife.

The really hard ones, though, are the borderline franchises. These are the movies and shows that aren’t really horror but may still be too scary, or most shows where most episodes are fine but a few get a little risqué. I recently ran into this kind of trouble with Star Trek: The Next Generation. I didn’t watch this when I was younger so I have been binge watching it recently to pass the time. Nerdette the Younger would snuggle up with me on occasion to watch it as well. Meanwhile Nerdette the Elder always preferred to watch her shows in the other room, so it was nice to have some one on one time with “the baby” However, the first and only time Nerdette the Elder decided to watch with us, all of a sudden the episode was about psychic rape. Needless to say, we changed it to a more appropriate show, but it did serve to stress to me the importance of knowing what exactly we will be watching.

Unfortunately, two of my most favorite things in the world fall under this borderline category. Harry Potter and Dr. Who. I am fairly certain if I were told I was going to a deserted island for the rest of my life and was only allowed to bring two things for entertainment, I would be perfectly happy with the Harry Potter books and the Dr Who boxed sets.  In fact, I am such a huge Harry Potter Nerd, that in college English, when I was assigned to write a short form memoir, I wrote a piece specifically about reading Harry Potter. (You can read it here if you are interested.)

My dilemma is, when can I introduce the nerdettes to my favorite things.  I want them old enough to enjoy them without having to worry about if it is too scary, but I also want them young enough that the magic of Hogwarts and the “science” of the Tardis inspire their imagination.   Plus I’m slightly impatient to re-experience the excitement through them. I still haven’t decided.

So help me out. Let me know in the comments what ages you think are appropriate. If you have already introduced your favorite things to your kids, what age did you start? How did you go about it? I’d love to hear your experiences  and learn about your favorite nerdery.

Dad

The Boy Who Lived…Vicariously

Two things of real significance occur July 16th, 2005 and the least of these is that I turn 23. This was vastly overwhelmed by the fact that this is the day I have been waiting for for three years. This is the day the newest Harry Potter book will be released. This is the day that I will finally be able to live again.

I wake up the morning of the 15th in a rush. Before my eyes even open I am already thinking, planning out my attack. I just have to make it to midnight and then the book will be in my hands. I will finally find out who the half-blood prince is. Then I remembered, “oh yeah…work”. I jump up and hurriedly get ready. I can’t be late again because my dependability is already in the toilet. At the same time, I have to take some time on my appearance or else Carrie, my boss, will razz me about it. “Another late night bender, eh Jacob?” she will sneer. Or, “Good thing vodka doesn’t have a smell huh?” She thinks I am an alcoholic because I have time management issues and frequently look like I slept in my clothes. The truth is that my clothes are wrinkled because folding them takes time that I would rather spend reading, and I sleep in because the night before I had to finish just one more chapter.

I arrive at work a bare five minutes late, and looking like the worst of muggles, in business casual attire that not even my grandmother would object to. This is a good result for me, so Carrie doesn’t say anything. She can’t resist an exaggerated sniff as I walk by though, searching for the aroma of a drink of which I didn’t partake. I sit at my desk and pull the bundle of letters waiting for me over to my computer. I am ready to tackle the day’s allotment of abuse head on. I work for a credit reporting agency in their fraud department. Every day I hear from people who have had some villain steal their identity, use up their credit, and left their credit rating in a shambles it is unlikely they will ever be able to fully recover. I hear stories about how people are unable to find work, get a car, or rent a home. Mostly I hear about how betrayed they feel, that someone could come in and take something so integral to their existence. I tell these people they should have been more careful, as if they just left their identity lying around. I tell them that I will happily put a statement on their report, even though I know this is more likely to hurt their efforts to get new credit. And finally, I tell them all I can do is dispute the incorrect information. I tell them it is up to them to work with the companies who have the false accounts to get them removed, even though this is a blatant lie. I tell them all of this because my company makes money on the amount of items that it reports. The more items removed, the less money we make. After about the fourth or fifth person calling in with the same sad story it strikes me. In my day to day existence I work for the bad guy. In this life I am a death eater.

Unfortunately this thought sticks with me all the way through the morning. I have to break out of this funk. It wouldn’t do to show up to the “pre-release” party with this kind of attitude. So at lunch, I decide to go out to eat with, Derrick, a friend of mine from a few rows over. He reads Stephen King like a religion so he understands my obsession, and we spend the hour re-discussing various books and authors that we have in common. I tell him about my plan to go to the pre-release party tonight at Barnes and Noble and invite him along.  He politely refuses, and secretly I am glad. Derrick is a great guy and one of my best friends, but he is also a bit of a talker. The last thing I will want at midnight tonight is to have to make small talk with someone I see at least five days a week anyway.

My “literary lunch,” as I like to think of it, is just what I needed to push through the rest of the day. I soldier through the complaints, the insults, and even the tears. I absolutely refuse to let even the elderly lady crying over how her assets have been frozen and she is on a fixed income faze me. After all what are the plights of a few individuals compared to the battle for the entire wizarding world.

When I finally get to the party, I feel at home. These are my people. From the shy girl in the manga aisle to the elderly couple dressed as Professors Dumbledore and Trelawney, these are the people who understand who I am. The rest of the night passes in a blur of pointy hats and wand waving. To my astonishment, I win the trivia contest. This means that not only have I proven my superiority in knowledge, but I have won the third place in line when it is time to buy the books. I am right behind the winner of the contest costume and the little boy in the motorized wheelchair. I force myself to believe he isn’t just faking it. As the clock counts down to midnight we all count along. It’s louder than any New Year’s Eve party I have ever seen. As the count reaches zero we all surge toward the registers, eagerly reaching toward the cashiers who have superimposed a forced smile over what would be an expression of fear and awe. Any other day I would be worried that they are judging me, but not today. Today is too important to care about such frivolities. I get three copies; one for myself, one for my sister, and one for when my first one wears out. I hurriedly pay and force my way past the line of people all staring at me hungrily. I can’t believe my luck. I had planned to be in line for another two hours yet, but it is only 12:15 and I am already on my way home.

Once home I don’t even stop to lock the door. I head straight to my bed, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince clutched in my hands. I stare at it for a while in astonishment. Sure, I knew what the cover would look like. Scholastic released it three months ago, but I still wanted to make sure I had every detail etched in my memory. I open the book and read, “Chapter One – The Other Minister” and suddenly I am swept away back into my real life. I am Harry Potter. I feel his astonishment as he meets professor Slughorn. I laugh out loud at the antics of Fred and George Weasley. And I puzzle through the mystery of the Half-Blood Prince’s identity with Hermione.

Halfway through the book I decide I have to have a break, if for nothing else than to use the restroom. I force the book down onto my bedside table and it causes a near physical wrench. I get up, lock the door, and empty my ashtray. I have already gone through a half of a pack of Marlboros, although I doubt I have actually smoked even 2 full cigarettes. Mostly they sit in the ashtray wasting. I change into pajamas, get a glass of water, and sit back down. I know I should go to bed and finish the book tomorrow, but the very thought it so abhorrent to my identity that I also know it isn’t going to happen. I open back the book and just as fast I am back at Hogwarts. I speed through the pages as if my life depended on it. I must know what happens next. I thrill a the story and I marvel at the events as they unfold. And then it happens. Snape kills Dumbledore. I gasp in shock. I mean I physically and verbally gasp. It is like I have been doused in cold water. Snape kills Dumbledore? My entire world is in upheaval. Surely I read something wrong. I read it again. The hero of my youth has just been thrown off the tower with a single spell. Avada Kedavra. No. Surely this is a plot twist. Ms. Rowling is just being clever. I go back to the book and rush through to the end, but Dumbledore is still dead when I close the book.

I am exhausted. It is now 7:00 am and I have an even greater yearning for the next book than I ever have. I finally turn off the light and lay my head on my still damp pillow and close my eyes. Before falling asleep, my last thought is that the message boards will be blazing tomorrow. Maybe someone else has found something in their first reading that I missed. Or maybe when I read it through again, more slowly and carefully, I will find some clue as to what really happened.

The next day, when I emerge to meet people for my birthday celebration, I am bleary eyed and sad. Everyone notices. They think I must have been up all night celebrating my birthday. They all ask, “What did you do last night?” I reply, “I bought a book,” but no one believes that is really true. This is ok because it isn’t really true. Actually, I lived.

Dad

Game Review – Munchkin Treasure Hunt Because dragons are no match for a Nerdette with a full diaper!

Today we will be reviewing Munchkin Treasure Hunt by Steve Jackson Games. Munchkin Treasure Hunt came out in September of 2014 as a Toys R Us exclusive. It  was designed by Andrew Hackard and illustrated by John Kovalic.

Munchkin Treasure Hunt box


From the Publisher

Number of players: 2-6

Game time: 60 Minutes

Age Group: 6+

Munchkin Treasure Hunt is a fun board game for up to six players, ages 6 and up – now everyone in the family can be a Munchkin! Treasure Hunt comes with a board, two custom six-sided dice, 96 colorful cards, four blank cards (so you can write your own!), six character standees, and a rulesheet.

The munchkins (that’s you!), move around the board. If you land on a monster, use the Monster cards to find out how tough it is, then roll a dice and use your Treasures (like Protective Kittens or a Broccoli Smoothie – EEEUUWW, YUCK) to beat it. When you run out of Treasure cards, whoever has the most gold in their hand wins the game!


The Game

Munchkin Treasure Hunt boardBasics: Munchkin Treasure Hunt is a basically the simplest form of a dungeon crawl game. Each player has a cardboard munchkin in a stand that represents them in the game. Everyone starts out in the center room on the board and everyone starts with three treasure cards.  You roll a die to see how many spaces you can move. Once you get to the next room you must fight the monster in that room for treasure.

Fighting: To fight a monster, you will first determine the monsters power. This will be the number listed in the room + the value of one monster card (two cards for the dragon). Next you will determine your fighting power. This is done by rolling a die. You can then add the value of your permanent treasures along with any one time use treasure from your hand. you may also ask for help from any one other munchkin who is within 6 spaces of the room you are fighting in.  If you defeat the monster, you take the number of treasure cards indicated  in its room.  If you cannot beat the monster, you run away and lose one permanent treasure.

Treasure: There are two types of treasure: Permanent and  One-Time. You can have up to two permanent treasures in front of you at any time. These add to your overall power. One-Time treasure stays in your hand until you use them, at which time they are discarded. Each treasure card has gold value which determines who wins the game. The treasures are very tongue in cheek and provide most of the “theme” of the game.

End Game: The game ends when the treasure deck is emptied. Once this occurs everyone counts up the gold value of their treasure cards. The highest gold wins.


Dad’s Review

Munchkin was the very first hobby board games my wife and I purchased and it has always been a big hit whenever we pull it out. That’s why when we heard Steve Jackson was publishing a children’s version we knew it would soon be part of our collection.  I am so glad it is because the nerdettes absolutely love this game. It is simple enough that both of them can play on their own and we spend the whole hour giggling over the different treasure cards.  My personal favorites are:

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Because there is some reading and math involved, we cannot leave them to play it on their own. Nerdette the Elder would have too much of an advantage. We have also instituted a house rule where instead of holding cards in our hands, we lay them all face up. That way we can help Nerdette the Younger read them.

The game plays very well with 3-6 players. I would not want to try it with just 2 as you would loose a lot of interaction that way. Even though the games do last at least an hour typically, the nerdettes always stay engaged until the very end.  This is rare in our house regardless of what we are doing. My only complaint is that if someone ends up with very powerful permanent treasures early on in the game, then they are certain to win. It would do better with some way to catch up.

Overall I am crazy glad we got this game and I would suggest it for any family. However, if it is just adults playing, I would stick with Munchkin.

Dad’s Rating:

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Nerdette the Elder’s review

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Do you like Munchkin Treasure Hunt?: Yes, I love it!

What do you like about it?: I like beating the monsters and getting treasure. I like going up against the dragon because he has the most treasure.

What don’t you like about it?: I don’t like it when I lose and have to run away.

Who would you recommend it to: Everybody

Nerdette the Elder’s Rating:

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Nerdette the Younger’s review

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Do you like Munchkin Treasure Hunt?: Yes.

What do you like about it?: I like the funny cards and helping people.

What don’t you like about it?: Nothing.

Who would you recommend it to: Everybody

Nerdette the Elder’s Rating:

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*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.*

 

 

 

Dad