O is for… 

 is for Orioles! This has zip, zero, zilch to do with parenting except that I did allow Bang to stay up and watch a game last Friday. It was an 8 pm start time and his big brother was having a sleepover at Nanny’s. Bang didn’t want to go home and go to bed so I offered to let him stay up to watch some of the Orioles game. They were playing the Blue Jays, his favorite team. We are in Blue Jay territory, so I allow it. We have a friendly rivalry. DW went to visit a friend so Bang and I skipped off to the store to pick up a bag of Ruffles then we parked ourselves on the couch and munched our way through 7 innings of baseball. He learned what all the numbers meant – the score, the count, the outs, and the innings. Mom was surprised when she got home at 9:30 to find him still wide awake. By 10, his Blue Jays were losing 5-3 and he lost interest in the game so up to bed he went. I was impressed that he was so interested in the game for that long.

is for obsession. My two obsessions are running and baseball (and perhaps this blog) (Okay. Definitely this blog). Though, I’ve been watching more baseball than I have been running. But I’m slowly getting back into it. I’ve got a new pair of shoes to help me do just that. I have a drawer full of running shirts. Long sleeved. Short sleeved. Tank tops, even. I only have a few pairs of shorts and some pants for running. I use Nike+ on my phone to track my runs. My Orioles memorabilia is limited to a couple hats, a lanyard, and few shirts. The Eddie Murray jersey being my favorite. I can’t wait to make it back to Camden Yards again.

Crash’s obsession, like so many other 9 year olds, is with Minecraft. Some may argue that it’s a waste of time. Others argue that it’s a tool for creativity through it’s endless way to build. Or a tool for science with its redstone circuits. It’s a double edged sword. It can be obsessive. If we didn’t set a time limit he would do nothing else. I can see it’s obsessive nature when his time is up. I hear either, “1 minute” which he tries to drag out to 20 more minutes. Or I hear, “UGH!”. It’s to the point now that if he doesn’t turn it off within a couple minutes of his time ending he loses it for a week. This is one of those weeks. We’ve allowed him to earn it back each day by cleaning. I also see how much he loves to play it and after a long day of school, it’s a great way to wind down. Plus I’ve seen how much he loves building and exploring.

Bang’s obsession is a bit more subtle. He enjoys playing Minecraft with his brother, but I wouldn’t call it an obsession. He loves playing Mario Kart on the Wii, but again, it’s not something he’s constantly thinking about playing. He loves junk food, chocolate especially. But who doesn’t? He’s just taking after his parents. I think the closest thing to obsession he has is with Candy Crush. Yes, that cell phone game. What’s more though, is that he’s good at it! Not only does he beat levels that we’ve been stuck on for days, he also gets us top rankings in high scores among our friends. Whether he plays on my phone or his mother’s, he loves it.

DW’s obsession might be me. She loves me to no end and everything she does she does for me. Stop laughing, it’s not a joke. Okay. Yes, it is. I would venture a guess and say that Facebook might be DW’s obsession. She loves coming home from work and just relaxing on the big, comfy couch and catching up with friends via Facebook. It’s also her way of sharing everything from what we’re up doing to what’s going on in town our local friends are interested in. Her other obsession is gardening. Her rose bushes make the neighbors jealous. Her clematis is climbing up the downspout and the porch is always in full color with the flower she picks for the planters.

Our obsession are the little things that make us happy. They’re the things that distract us from the endless responsibilites of life. It’s our time out. I just have to remember to put down the blog, turn off the Orioles game, and go make supper before the kids start eating each other.

What’s your obsession? If it’s Twitter you’ll find me at Stomperdad.

Geeking Out

Our local library is not just for books any more. It also contains a geocache. It also has a 3D printer.

If being a geek means I know how to use computers, I know how to fix computers, and liking Star Wars, then I enjoy being a geek. I found out last winter that our library has a 3D printer. It went through a phase of always being broken down. So I didn’t get print anything for a long time. This winter? I have printed.Merry_Christmas

The librarian told me to use the website Thingiverse to find stuff I wanted to print. And find stuff I did. Being Christmas time, the first thing I printed was a Christmas tree ornament. Nothing fancy, but pretty enough for our tree. What tree isn’t complete without a 3D printed ornament? The librarian set up the printer for me while I used the computer program the printer communicate with. It was really easy.

On my next visit the following week, I just had to start printing the ultimate 3D printable. It’s not fully operation, by any means, but still…

IMG_4235

It’s a Death Star! How cool is this?

IMG_4237Apparently I’m not the Princess Peachonly geek in the house. Crash wanted something printed as well. Back to the library we went (we were taking books back, anyway). What did he want printed?

Steve. From Minecraft.

We’re going back to the library today so the third geek, Bang, can print a Princess Peach. She’s his girlfriend, he says. Except he wants a golden Peach, not blue. I can do that because I learned how to change the filaments so we can use any color the library provides – which is actually quite a few.

We’re a family of geeks and I’m okay with that. These are just simple figures that we are printing. There are much more complicated builds. The Death Star was three builds – it printed in three separate pieces to be glued together. Each build takes about an hour. The more complicated builds would take several trips to the library. There are builds with actual working pieces – like the nut and bolt we printed last summer. And then there’s this marble race! It prints in seven different pieces. It’s on our wish list.

What would you 3D print?

 

A Birds and Bees Lesson from Minecraft

Crash is 8 years old. He, therefore, has a slight obsession with everything Minecraft. That 80’s pixilated video game in which you can mine for iron, gold, and diamonds (among other things). That game of blocks in which you can build anything so long as it’s made of cubes. His time on it is extremely limited, but that doesn’t stop him from knowing more about it than Steven Hawking knows about black holes.

Naturally, my curiosity lead me to get the game for myself (We have the PE edition for our tablets) to see what all the hype was about. There is something addictive about it. Perhaps that it’s endless? Perhaps its laced with heroin?

Anyway, we’ve discovered farming. You can plant seeds and grow wheat, carrots and potatoes. But if you build a fenced in enclosure and lead some animals – pigs, cows, sheep, chickens inside, you have created an animal farm. You can milk the cows if you make a bucket. You can collect eggs from the chickens. You can sheer sheep for their wool to make carpet. Of course, you could kill your animals to get beef, chicken breasts, or pork chops. But I don’t advise killing them until you’ve… uh, made them kiss.

Enough of the boring details. Your penned up animals can make babies. If you’re looking for a romantic (or raunchy) love scene you’ll have to look elsewhere. The only thing you’ll see here is some kissing (no tongue). Crash loves to tell us “My chickens kissed and made a baby.” Or “I fed my sheep and that made them kiss and they had a baby.” Yep, that’s exactly how it’s done, bud. You eat, you kiss, and then poof a baby materializes. Let this be a lesson to you. Don’t kiss anyone.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he doesn’t get too curious about real life babies. For that there’s always Google, YouTube and his mom!

Science on youtube

There are a couple Youtube channels I keep an eye on. They’re both science related.

One is Michael here Stevens of Vsauce. While not strictly science, his videos are highly educational and entertaining. He answers everything from why “bad words” are bad to “Is the Earth really flat?” With 9 and half million subscribers, He must be doing something right.

The other is Derek Muller’s Veritasium. Born in Australia, moved to Canada as a kid, then moved back to Australia to do his PhD at Sydney University. His videos are all based on science and engineering and are also very educational. He understands how we learn and his videos are conducive to the methods he studied in his PhD.  He has a following of nearly 3 million. He covers everything from the truth of the swirl in the southern hemisphere to explaining the magnus effect.

Crash and Bang are currently obsessed with Minecraft parodies. These silly songs are all about minecraft, however, they’re sung to the tune to currently popular songs. Like Maroon 5’s Animal becomes “Craftable”. Or Eminem’s Friends with a Monster becomes “Friends with a Creeper”. We (meaning I) put a few of them on the cell phone so the boys could listen to them in the truck. The tough part is checking them to make sure they’re okay. None of these songs have swear words. There was one song (The Creeper Rap) that sings of blowing up blocks like Al Qaeda and being a suicide bomber. That’s what a “Creeper” is in minecraft, but the boys don’t need to be hearing about such bombers. There’s a ban on that song in our house, now.

What do you watch on YouTube? Is there a particular channel you follow? Are you on YouTube? Feel free to leave a link to your channel in the comments for us to check out.

But it’s still light! (And other arguments that don’t work)

Anyone with kids has heard it a few million times around this time of year (or in October? if you live in the southern hemisphere). When trying to get your creatures to bed at a decent hour they realize it’s not dark, yet. They don’t have to be taught this argument, they don’t pick it by overhearing it. They just know. “Time to get ready for bed,” I say. “But it’s still light outside!” comes the reply. Then they dawdle and dilly dally and do everything short of running away to try to stay up until it’s dark. Combine that with the warm weather that is finally here and they think they’re on summer vacation! Every night it’s, “Can we have a bonfire?” or “Can I stay up late?” No and no, you have school tomorrow. Then it’s “I’m hungry.” and Crash will try to eat us of house and home in order to stay up. He’s not hungry, he just doesn’t want to go to bed!

“But the neighbors are still outside,” is another one that doesn’t work. I’m not the neighbor’s parent, so if they’re still outside that’s fine by me. But it’s time for you to come in to get ready for bed so you can get up at 6 am for no apparent reason. “But I’ll hear them outside and I won’t be able to get to sleep.” Good one bud. But your window will be closed, your air purifier will be on as will be your fan. You won’t hear them.

“But everyone else has one.” Nice try. We haven’t given in to the Minecraft craze, yet. Crash has almost broken us a few times, though. Once, we told if he cleaned up the toys in the basement he could get it. He went to the basement for a couple hours, but nothing got picked up. So we didn’t have to get it then. He received money for his first communion and asked if he could get Minecraft. We told him okay, but there would be limitations to it It’s a never ending game that he would, no doubt, waste hours and hours upon. However, he ended up forgetting about it and asked to go to Wal-Mart and got Legos instead. It doesn’t matter to me what everyone else has or does, it’s what’s best for him.

So many arguments, so little time. It’s Friday which means he’ll be asking to stay up late, just as he has every day this week. Chances are good I’ll let him tonight. The Orioles play the Rays tonight so I’ll let him stay up to watch some of it while we put his new Lego set together again. (I put it together a couple nights ago but Bang destroyed it in one of his fits of frustration)

Are there any arguments you have repeatedly? How do you respond?