From becoming more responsible to reliving my favorite stories with my children, being a parent has been a blast! While it has helped me “grow up” I have most certainly grown down. I am still new to the extremely rewarding field of being a mother. My oldest child is three years old and I have a set of twins that just turned one. I know the years ahead will bring much more adventure, but I’ve learned so much in my three years of motherhood.
For 20 years, Pokémon has been taking my money. 20 YEARS!! Holy crispy Charmander! The calculations are sound: My younger brothers were in the first wave of fans; the Spawnlings are in the current wave. Still, that’s a lot of money to pay out over such a sustained period of time. What could possibly appeal to two separate generations and maintain such high levels of fandom?
On February 27th, 1996, the first Pokémon games launched. Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green hit the Japanese market like a super-effective showdown. Today Nintendo celebrates the 20th anniversary with its many millions of fans. Join me in celebrating #Pokémon20 with our many friends around the world.
For many of us, Pokémon started as a childhood obsession in 1998, when it was released in North America. It was (almost) my first real geekdom. Sure I’ve sunk my teeth into many a passion, but Pokémon will always have a spot deep and strong in my heart (admittedly mixed up with some serious Power Ranger addiction, but that’s not for today). The first time I held a Pokémon card in hand, the first time I repeatedly smashed that “A” button, sure it would help me catch a Rattata, those moments are in my core identity as a geek. Continue reading Pokémon Celebrates 20 Years with Pokémon Day & #Pokémon20!
PAX – where Gamers go to Loot.
Walk the exhibition hall and the first thing thrown at you is every big name in the video game industry, and more. The hype is about new and upcoming games; the atmosphere is about promoting the most unreal gaming experience.
In between all the glitz and glory are the indie developers, stealing all the tweets. Part 2 of my PAX review is aimed squarely at the video games: the games planning to conquer the world… and the ones I predict will succeed.
If the “geek shall inherit the Earth” then PAX is where they divvy up the loot.
As an expo, it is a huge opportunity to try new games, find new talent, and “mingle with your people.” Trust me—I have plenty of new finds to +1 your geek status.
But as a social hub? It’s a whole other level.
If you thought the Nintendo Wii U was unpopular or that Disney Infinity and Skylanders characters ruled the cute little video game figures market… wrong! Nintendo released Wave 4 of their amiibo figures today, and people were waiting in line to get them. I was at the Toys”R”Us in Cary, North Carolina, and there were at least 40 people in line. I got in line at 9:15 a.m. for the 10:00 a.m. opening, but some people had been waiting in line for hours!
My experience was very orderly. Toys”R”Us handed out purchase tickets for the desired figures. This store had 38 Greninja figures, and I got ticket 33. Woohoo! I was doing that estimate-how-many-people-are-in-front-of-me thing and was worried.
As we stood in line, we discussed which figures we wanted, what our game plan was for hitting all the stores with exclusives, and the heat. Although the shopping experience was similar to Black Friday, it felt more like Red Friday as we melted in the heat and worried about getting sunburned.
One mother even had a special sheet that her son prepared for her to make sure she went to the right stores in the right order and secured the correct amiibos. Wow!
Let’s be clear: My 12-year-old son, Joey, is the reason I was in line. He started talking my head off about the Wave 4 amiibo release a week ago and asked me to, “Please, please, please go get them.” I did my best.
So what did I get?
At Toys”R”Us, I got Silver Mario and Greninja.
At Best Buy, I got Inkling Girl, Inkling Boy, and Charizard.
And at Target, I got Jigglypuff.
Joey will be pleased, although he is still hoping for Meta Knight and Rosalina/Luma, which came out in Wave 3 back in February. They are going for $50 or more now on Amazon and eBay. Gulp!
If you missed out on the amiibos you wanted today at your local store, you can try Amazon, but make sure to follow their ordering instructions and time intervals. Also, I previously ordered a Japanese marked Pac-Man from Amazon, and I can report that it works just fine with our United States Wii U.
Are Pokémon cards taking over your house? Here are 8 ways to embrace the little pocket monsters.
- Do you have a bunch of cards sitting around? Do your kids carry them in their pockets in a jumbled mess? Build them a playable deck! (Don’t worry, the monsters only bite each other.)
- Take your Pokémon experience a bit further, learn the basics of playing the game. Even if you have old cards from your brother’s attic, you can still play the game!
- If you don’t have cards, you can learn while you play online. No cards needed, just an internet connection.
- Do you have video games instead of cards? There are some great guides for beginning Pokémon video game players. Even if you are just interested in the art of Pokémon, there is a video game for that, too.
- Ready for playing with other Pokémon fans? Find a league near you!
- Are you ready to go completely crazy with Pokémon?! Check out the Twitch channel, YouTube channel, Netflix line up, and more!
- Did you know you can be a real Pokémon Professor (if you are 18 or older)? Take the test to see if you have what it takes! (I was a professor for two years and believe me when I say you earn the title.)
- Show your Pokémon Pride! Make a shirt, read about the Pokémon, or collect the little characters.
Aspiring artists of all ages will love getting their hands on Pokémon Art Academy, out on October 24 for the Nintendo 3DS/2DS. If you have a Pokémon fan in the house, picking up this game is a no-brainer. Pokémon Art Academy walks players through step-by-step lessons, from novice to expert, to teach them how to draw some of their favorite pocket monsters.
The lessons, led by Professor Andy, introduce new drawing tools and art concepts for each level of expertise. You’ll learn about concepts like symmetry, perspective, and construction shapes, all while using the stylus to trace (and eventually draw freehand) some of Pokémon’s biggest stars.
Kids as young as preschool and kindergarten can even grab the stylus and play. You’ll need to do a lot of reading out loud to walk them through the lessons, but that can make for some entertaining family game time together. It’s also a perfect opportunity to work on fine motor skills like tracing and holding the stylus the correct way. (We are still working on that in my house.) While they will probably only be able to complete the Novice Course exercises, there are plenty of Pokémon for them to draw in the extra lessons and free draw.
My five-year-old is a big fan of the game. In fact, she wanted to tell you all about Pokémon Art Academy herself! Here she is demonstrating one of the novice lessons: drawing Oshawott.
Pokémon Art Academy is part game, part art lesson, and an altogether fun way to spend a fall afternoon. I even go through a lesson now and then when I’m looking for some quiet time for myself. It’s a great addition to your DS library, one of those rare games that you can pick it up for five minutes and still feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Pokémon Art Academy is available on October 24 for a suggested retail price of $29.99.
GeekMom received a promotional copy for review purposes.
We here at GeekMom have a great giveaway for the aspiring Pokémon trainer in your life featuring the Pokémon TCG: XY-Flashfire expansion pack. This expansion pack includes the Mega Charizard-EX and Mega Kangaskhan-EX cards, as well as the Brilliant Thunder theme deck and Mystic Typhoon theme deck. You know the Pokémon fan in your life would love to have these for their next game.
The giveaway includes (1) Booster Box and (2) Themed Decks for a total of three items. Entering is super easy through the Rafflecopter link below. You can even enter multiple times to increase your chances of winning.
The contest will run through midnight ET on Wednesday, April 13th, at which time a winner will be randomly selected. As soon as that winner is notified, their name will be posted right in the widget.
Please note this giveaway is open only to those with shipping addresses within the continental United States.
Pokemon XY reintroduced me to my love of the Pokemon world. Not to age myself, but I loved playing the original Pokemon Red on my Game Boy color when I was twelve years old. Over time though, I lost my love of Pokemon somewhere between my teenage years and my adult years. Thanks to a Nintendo 2DS and Pokemon XY, I’ve rediscovered my long-lost love of trying to “catch them all.”
In the past few months, my life has gotten not only complicated but stressful, and one day while looking for a way to relax, my younger brother brought over his old Game Boy Advance and his Pokemon games for me to play.
My love of Pokemon instantly came back to me like an old friend who had been away on vacation. I carefully changed the battery in the game console, blew it out to rid it of any dust, and then I sat down and got to work trying to catch them all.
A funny thing happened that day. Not only did I rediscover my love of Pokemon, but my 8-year-old son discovered his love as well. He was intrigued by the old Game Boy system and instantly wanted to play. Of course, he was a little disappointed when he asked if it would work with the iPad and I told him no <shaking my head>. Despite the fact that his newer Nintendo 3DS is fancier and has two back-lit screens, he was still excited to sit down and play on my old Game Boy Color and learn how to capture Pokemon of his own.
As I started to play, I remembered the fun I used to have playing video games. You see, as the years have gone by, the consoles have become more advanced and the graphics more realistic, causing me to get migraines from a few minutes of play…
With the video game trend growing in terms of graphics and realism, I was afraid I would be stuck playing my Game Boy Color for the rest of my life (or its life, whichever ended sooner). Then…I saw the light in the form of the Nintendo 2DS and Pokemon XY. With the gentle graphics in Pokemon XY and the non-3D effect of the 2DS, I’ve learned I can play for up to 45 minutes without any regret.
It didn’t take long before my son discovered my shiny new hardware and a few days later (and a lot of begging on his part), I downloaded the game onto his DS so we could play together.
I’ll admit that I was a little skittish giving my son his own Pokemon. After all, he doesn’t know the difference between the types, their unique powers, or how to level them up to defeat the gym leaders. I decided to put my fears and worries aside and let him find his own way. Turns out, that wasn’t such a bad idea, because the game pretty much taught him everything he needed to know. With the exception of choosing his first Pokemon because it was “cute,” he’s battled his way through more gym badges than I have and captured a nice array of Pokemon (in my defense, it’s my lack of time, not skill, that has allowed him to pass me in gym badges).
After playing for a few days, I realized a few differences in this Pokemon game versus the ones I grew up with.
The first difference I noticed was the ability to choose between a male or female lead character and whichever you chose to be, your companion will be the opposite. Something else I noticed was the inclusion of a few more friendly characters, mostly trainers your character’s age, to help you along the way. Each of them has a different reason for catching Pokemon, just like each player in the real world has a different reason for playing.
Pokemon XY also has a few new faces, including three new starter Pokemon. In case you’re wondering, my son chose Chespin and I chose Fennekin (whom I’ve nicknamed Fen). There’s also a wide range of game-version-specific Pokemon, and a few other features that the previous games I’ve played didn’t have, including fancy boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and five-star hotels.
The boutiques are special, because they sell a wide variety of fashions in which to dress your character up, and further personalize the game character to its real-world player. I didn’t think I would care too much about the fashions, but then I realized I could get everything from my hair cut, to contacts, to jeans, and t-shirts that reflected my own style instead of the boring default style the game developers give you.
The restaurants are also pretty neat to check out, as some of them only cater to special Pokemon types. Make sure you check them out when you run into them because some of the food provides special energy to you and your Pokemon.
Of course, no game is perfect and I found a couple of things particularly annoying.
First the gym leaders are sometimes easier to beat than the ordinary trainers you find on the paths to the city. I have four badges, and so far I have yet to lose to a gym leader in a battle. Actually, the further along I get in the game, the easier it seems to be to beat the gym leader. Kalos City is the exception, because before you can get to the gym leader you have to answer three quiz questions and beat three trainers. If you choose the wrong answer to the question, you have to retry the question and face another trainer until you get it right.
The second thing I found annoying was how many times I would talk to someone and they would say “here’s something to help you along your journey.” For players who get stuck, this is great. For those who prefer to battle their way to the top with minimum interference, this will hinder your experience. If you prefer to train your Pokemon the old fashion way, you know, through battles…talk when you want and skip around. There are times when talking to someone is required and most of the time, the game will clue you in.
In the beginning, I found the amount of cash you win from various trainers to be a little excessive. After visiting some of the boutiques for clothes, Pokemon gear, and other items, I realized the insane amounts of money you win is actually necessary if you want to purchase any of the upgrades.
There are a few other added bonuses to this game that I haven’t played with much, but seem like they would be fun for younger players. One of those features is Pokemon Amie, and it reminds me of Nintendogs for the DS. Basically this is the area where you get to play and feed your Pokemon like it was a virtual pet.
It’s been fun getting back into the Pokemon world and teaching my son everything I know about the game. And next to reading comics, it’s become one of our favorite ways to spend time together.
Overall, Pokemon XY has given me a way to relax and spend some quality time with my son. What more could a mom ask for in a game?
Disclaimer: GeekMom received a review sample.
Last time we talked about how to build a Pokémon card deck. It’s time to learn how to play the game!
First let’s look at a Pokemon card.
- Name and Evolution: The name and evolution of the Pokémon will be listed in the upper left-hand corner of the card. This card is Eelektrik. It is a Stage 1 (1st Evolution) Pokémon. It even says in little, tiny, print what this Pokémon evolved from (Evolves from Tynamo).
- Hit Points: HP, or hit points, shows how much damage the Pokemon can take before it is knocked out.
- Type: The symbol in the upper right-hand corner of the card shows what type of Pokémon it is.
- Ability: Not all Pokémon have abilities. When they do, be sure to read if it is something that can happen every turn, or only under certain conditions.
- Attacks: Read the text carefully. Sometimes the attack will also require a coin-flip to determine additional effects. The little circles indicate how many/what kind of energy need to be attached to the Pokémon in order to perform the attack. The number at the end is how much damage the attack does to the other player’s Pokémon.
- Weakness & Resistance: When a Pokémon is weak to another type of Pokémon, they take more damage. In this case, Eelektrik will take twice as much damage from a Fighting type Pokémon. Likewise, there may be a Pokémon type that does less damage to an active Pokémon. Eelektric is not resistant to any type of damage, but it is something to keep an eye out for.
- Retreat: If this Pokémon is in play, and becomes injured or another Pokémon on the bench would work better, the number of energy listed under retreat needs to be paid in order for the Pokémon to be benched. The energy needs to come off the Pokémon that will be benched, and is discarded.
- Flavor Text: A cute quote, something from the show, or something shows up in this little box. It is just there and does not affect game play.
- Card Number and Series: The number and symbol in the lower corner indicate what number the card is, and what series it is a part of. Card series come out a couple of times a year, but can be used with other sets.
Now that we understand what our Pokémon do, we can play the game! I could write out a bunch of steps, but it would probably be more confusing than just showing you. My daughter happily volunteered to play a game with me so we could share this how-to-play with you.
Next time we will talk about the benefits of Pokémon and resources for you and your children who want to be more involved in the Pokémon community.
Your kid just came home with some playing cards that have colorful little monsters on them. If you haven’t been exposed to Pokemon before, you aren’t alone. Breathe. That’s why I’m here. I’m going to help you understand the basics of the game, and how to build a deck.
Pokemon is an animated show, a series of video games, and a card game about people who collect, train, and battle the cute, weird monsters (Pokemon) that inhabit their world. In the card game, the player takes the role of of a Pokemon Trainer and battles another trainer. The cards represent the player’s collection of Pokemon, and items, other people, and tools that the Trainer can use to influence the battle. The play of the game represents the battle as the two Trainers direct their Pokemon to knock their opponent’s Pokemon out of the battle.
If there is a game store where you live, they will almost certainly carry Pokemon cards. Most big retail stores carry them, too; Target and Walmart are excellent places to find deals. If your kid is interested in Pokemon, but doesn’t have any (or very few) cards, look for a theme deck (around $10 for one deck). Most likely it will be a cardboard box, about the size of a VHS case, that says it contains one deck of 60 cards. After you have your deck picked, booster packs and tins can supplement the deck with more powerful or prettier cards.
If you have a bunch of random cards, or want to incorporate a few random cards into a new theme deck, we should learn how to build a deck. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is 20 energy, 20 Pokemon, and 20 Trainer cards for a 60 card deck. Once you have built a few decks and know what cards you want to play, you’ll see how fudging some of those numbers work and others don’t. Using this set-up to start will make it fairly easy to learn and play the game.
There are three main categories of cards. First, let’s talk about Pokemon. These are the little monsters that the player uses to battle their opponent’s Pokemon. They come in different types: Fire, Water, Grass, Electric, Psychic, Dark, Fighting, and Dragon (Dragon is a fairly new kind). There are Pokemon who can evolve and are noted by Basic, Stage 1, and Stage 2 under the Pokemon’s name—these Pokemon will start off in their Basic form, which can evolve into their Stage 1 form, and may be able to evolve into their Stage 2 form. Another kind of Pokemon is a Legendary. They don’t evolve and are quite powerful on their own. Be forewarned—these are the Pokemon your kids will ask for—especially the ones that are like the ones above. These are known as “full-art” cards because the artwork covers the card instead of just being a tiny picture. The full-art cards don’t come in theme decks. Normally these can be found by chance in a booster pack.
Find a Pokemon your child likes. If it is a Stage 1 or Stage 2 Pokemon, try to put two or three in the deck—three of the Stage 1, and four of the basic (see above, I put three basic and two Stage 1) . If your child picks a Legendary Pokemon, try to put four in a deck. After the favorite Pokemon has been picked, try to find other Pokemon of the same type (Fire, Water, Grass, Electric, etc.) to compliment the main Pokemon. If they want, you can have two different types of Pokemon in the deck, but for a new player, it’s best to limit it to one or two types and no more. Once you have come up with about 20 Pokemon total, you are ready to move on to energy—just make sure you don’t have more than four of any one card!
Next, we can move on to energy. Energy is needed to power the Pokemon’s abilities. Look through all of your energy and try to find 20 that match the symbols on the Pokemon in the deck. If the deck has Pokemon of two different types, try to include energy of both types in approximately equal numbers. You can have as many copies of basic energy cards as you’d like. Special Energy are also an option. They can be more versatile, but a deck can only have four of any kind of Special Energy in a deck.
Trainer cards are the final part of your deck. These cards can do all sorts of things, from healing Pokemon to letting the player search their deck for a card or many other effects. There are Items, Stadiums, and Supporters. When picking 20 Trainer cards, try for a good mix of Items and Supporters. Here’s why: During a player’s turn, only one Supporter can be played, but multiple Items can be played. Stadiums behave differently; they sit between two players and affect both players whereas most cards only affect one player. Again, there can only be a maximum of four copies of any Trainer card in your deck.
Once you and your child have picked out about 20 each of Pokemon, Energy, and Trainer cards, count them up! If you are slightly under 60 cards total, see if you can add another copy of a Trainer card that you only put one or two of in the deck, or another copy of a Basic Pokemon, or one or two more energy. If you are over 60, double-check that your Pokemon have one less Stage 1 than Basic in the deck, and one less Stage 2 than Stage 1. If you are including four copies of a trainer card, consider including only three or two. Once you have exactly 60 cards, the deck is ready to go.
One other note: Most theme decks come with a coin and some cardboard damage markers. These are great items to collect, but aren’t very useful while playing the game. Instead, try using clear six-sided dice. I say clear because if your child decides to play at a league or in a tournament, dice a judge can’t see through will not be allowed. When using a die as a coin, evens equal heads and odds equal tails. When a die is laid on a Pokemon, each die-pip can represent 10 damage.
Next time we will talk about how to play the game. I am excited to hear what decks you build!
GeekMom has three sets of the new Legends of Kalos tins from The Pokémon Trading Card Game to giveaway to our lucky readers!
Each tin includes one of two new Pokémon. There’s either the Life Pokémon Xerneas or the Destruction Pokémon Yveltal. Each of the tins has a Xerneas-EX or Yveltal-EX special foil card along with four Pokémon TCG booster packs and a bonus code card for The Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. The tins are valued at $17.99 each and are also perfect for holding all your cards and keeping everything nice and organized.
Now you can win one of three sets of The Pokémon Trading Card Game tins that includes one Xerneas tin and one Yveltal tin. To enter our giveaway just log in to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win). You can then like us on Facebook and Twitter for up to two entries! A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest and their name will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget so you can check back to see who won.
Contest open to winners with shipping addresses in the continental United States only.
TPCi is not the giveaway sponsor nor coordinator, nor has any formal association with the contest, but is a supplier of the product.
Google really pulled out all the stops for this year’s April Fool’s Day stunt. They launched a Pokémon Challenge recruiting video, suggesting that those who are really good at catching them can simply use their mobile devices, with Google Maps installed, to catch 150 Pokemon scattered around the world. Those who succeed might be recruited by Google!
Do you want in on the fun? This capability only exists on Google Map apps for Android and iOS and is probably quite short-lived. I don’t expect it to last much past today. Simply ensure your Google Maps app is updated and then initiate a search. When you click on the “Search” box, you should see a blue-colored “Press start” button with a Pokéball icon.
Select the “Press start” button and you will be whisked away to the Pokémon Lab, which is really the Googleplex at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. You’ll be greeted with a bunch of Pokémon on the map. Just tap the monsters, catch them, and they’ll be added and cataloged in your very own mobile Pokédex.
My sons and I are all playing against each other on separate devices that all have Google Maps installed. My sons are much better at it than I am, and one of my sons has even hit the 25 Collected badge as of this writing.
Are you playing along? Let us know how you’re doing and where you’re finding them!
The latest addition to the Pokémon Trading Card Game is the new series of XY Kalos Starter Set Deluxe Versions and GeekMom is giving you a chance to win all three!
These new sets introduce Fairy-type Pokémon and Fairy Energy to the game. This is the eleventh Pokémon type introduced into the trading card game and the first new once since 2009 when they introduced the Dragon type.
Each of these 60-card decks features a different brand new Pokémon. There’s Chespin, Fennekin, or Froakie and since these are the deluxe versions they also each include a Black and White Series booster pack.
To enter our giveaway just log in to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win). You can then like us on Facebook and Twitter for up to two entries! A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest and their name will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget so you can check back to see who won.
Contest open to winners with shipping addresses in the continental United States only.
Here’s your chance to get your hands on all the cards you need to build the perfect deck. We’re giving away cards from the brand new Pokémon Trading Card Game: Black and White Plasma Freeze expansion to one lucky GeekMom reader.
The prize pack includes (1) box (36 packs) of Plasma Freeze Booster Packs, (1) Leafeon Theme Deck and (1) Glaceon Theme Deck worth $120 total.
To enter our giveaway just log in to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win). You can then like us on Facebook and Twitter for up to two entries! A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest and their name will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget so you can check back to see who won.
Contest open to winners with addresses in the continental United States only.
BookExpo America took place earlier this month in New York City, and it’s always one of my favorite events. I always need to leave myself a few days to see the show because I’m constantly stopping to read in the booths and waiting in autograph lines. This year my autograph lines included many of my kidlit favorites, including Jon Scieszka, Oliver Jeffers, Bob Shea, Betsy Lewin, and Peter Reynolds, all of whom have new books out.
I fell in love with a ton of picture books, especially Bob Shea’s Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great, and saw Star Wars books aplenty. There were no shortage of books for your GeekKids. Here are some more to get excited about.
I had a lovely chat with Bob Der, Director of Time for Kids, about getting kids excited about reading (especially nonfiction) and how Time for Kids is finding a home in the classroom. Their books are about topics kids get excited about, like dinosaurs and sports and crazy, weird facts and information. They also have digital versions of many books to have a presence on interactive whiteboards in the classroom, “high-impact versions” made better with video. When I think about all the nonfiction requirements in the Common Core Standards, I’m glad for things like Time for Kids.
Cozy Classics are an adorable line of board books that attempt to tell classic tales like Pride and Prejudice and Moby Dick through a handful of photographs of felted characters paired with single words. It helps to have read the original to be able to fill in some detail for your tot. I can imagine giving two copies of Pride and Prejudice to a new mom—the grownup one for her and the Cozy Classic version for baby.
As a kid I was a fan of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not segments that appeared in my Sunday comics, and I’ve stayed intrigued all these years. Ripley’s had a great presence at BookExpo this year, including the gigantic Dare to Look! book. Scan pages with your smart phone to see more videos and images.
There was much to salivate over in the Chronicle book, including Carnivores, a hilarious book by Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat, a bunch of new Taro Gomi books, and this cool Make Your Own Robot kit that looks like a ready-made birthday gift.
I wish I could tell you this was a real Monster Book of Monsters, but alas it was just a box. What a great place to store your treasures, though. People would think twice before opening.
Other books that came home with me to fill my summer with reading are Octavia Spencer’s debut novel, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective:The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit; the latest in Lemony Snicket’s All the Wrong Questions series, “When Did You See Her Last?”; the new Guys Read anthology Other Worlds; and Gordon Korman’s Hypnotize Me, book 1 of The Hypnotists. I’ve got a reading-filled summer ahead of me.
Summer vacation is here! Or, it is looming in the not-so-distant future. Either way, kids are getting edgy and are requesting video suggestions to keep them entertained for a few minutes. So, this week’s video playlist features videos the GeekMom writers’ kids enjoy.
This week’s playlist and all of the previous weeks can be found on our YouTube channel. You can also find an up-to-date playlist of all of the GeekMom’s Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap Tea Party episodes.
Congratulations to GemmaArcadian who won our Pokémon EX Power Tins Giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered for sharing their favorite Pokémon characters!
Pokémon Company International is about to release three new collectible Pokémon Trading Card Game: EX Power Tins, and GeekMom has a set to giveaway to one lucky reader!
The new tins come out on March 6th and are each themed to a different Pokémon. You’ll be able to purchase either Black Kyurem, White Kyurem or Keldeo style tins. Each will come with four Black & White booster packs, a Mythical Pokémon Meloetta card, bonus codes to unlock cards in the Pokémon Trading Card Online game, and one collectible foil card.
The tins will retail for $17.99, but you can win the whole set of three just by leaving a comment below telling us who you favorite Pokémon character is and why. We will select a random winner from entrants. The contest will run through midnight EST on Saturday, March 9th. (Contest open to shipping addresses within continental US only).
The official Pokémon TV app launched today for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android. It’s loaded with episodes of the show and special features that the Pokémon trainer in your life is going to love. It’ll keep your kids entertained and engaged when you’re stuck waiting for appointments or on long car rides, and you’ll love that the app is totally free.
It’s set to launch with 50 fan-favorite episodes of the series with additions to the library planned on a weekly basis. There are over 700 episodes to choose from over the course of fifteen seasons of the show so that alone keeps the content fresh, but they’ll also be airing additional content, some of it exclusive to the app.
The brand new Pokémon Black & White Plasma Storm cards don’t hit store shelves until February, but you can get your first look at three of the new cards right now! In keeping with the Plasma Storm theme, all cards have blue borders, blue tints and the Team Plasma shield. There is something for everyone in this 130 card expansion.
In addition to the new Team Plasma cards, you’ll get 14 new Trainer cards including three new ACE SPEC cards that are so powerful that players can only bring one into battle at a time. There are eight new Pokémon-EX like Victini-EX, Cobalion-EX, and Lugia-EX and four full-art Pokémon-EX rare Ultra cards.
Every theme deck and booster pack also includes a code card that unlocks virtual cards from the expansion that can by used in the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. It’s only a few months until the release on February 6th, but with all these great new cards, it’s going to feel like a lot longer.
The next Pokémon Trading Card Game expansion isn’t due out until November 7th, but we’ve got your first look at three new cards from the 140 card set. The White Kyrurem Ex, Black Kyurem EX and Crystal Edge ACE SPEC cards will all be making their debut in this video-game themed expansion. Continue reading First Look: Three New Pokémon Black & White – Boundaries Crossed Cards
I could go on and on about meditation forever. The benefits, the techniques, the how to and how not, but I know that’s not why you’re here. The title of this article is after all “Meditation for Geeks.” In Meditation for Geeks: Part 1, I explained to you why I meditate and I also gave you some basics. In part 2, I’m going to tell you about a few items that I use during my meditation routine.
There’s a pretty good variety of meditation apps out on the market today. As an iPhone user, my personal favorites are Mediate – Meditation Timer and Nature Music. Both are iPad compatible and are pretty simple in their nature.
Meditate – Meditation Timer by Simple Touch, is a great way to time your meditations. The app’s layout is very simple and easy to use.
The main screen lets you set a time for preparation, meditation, interval, and cool down period. I prefer to keep it set at 10 seconds for preparation and cool down and I have three timers preset for five, eight and 15 minutes. If you’re an Android user, look at Insight Timer. It’s the closest I’ve found to what I use and it has a free and paid version.
Nature Music by Red Hammer Software offers a wide variety of pre-mixed melodies as well as a sound mixer to mix your own melody. I really enjoy the Buddhist temple pre-mixed track and sometimes I add in some extra thunderstorm when I use it to sleep at night. For Android users, check out Nature Sound Relax and Sleep. If you prefer music while meditating, I suggest getting the Yoga to Sci Fi and Fantasy Classics album. Even when I’m not meditating, I enjoy listening to this to relax and unwind.
As anyone with children knows, it’s really hard to keep them quiet for an extended amount of time. Even the quiet game has its limitations before it’s more of a joke than anything else. To help keep my mind on my meditation, I prefer to use my Ludacris SOUL headphones. While they might not block out all the surrounding noise, they do the job well enough for me. I love the carrying case it comes with because I can toss them in my backpack and not worry about them getting messed up. This particular style is in-ear, so if you prefer an over the ear fit, you might want to consider another style.
I don’t always feel like meditating in the same place. Sometimes, I can feel so much stress around my home that I can’t focus. For these times, I like to take my Wandering Monk Meditation Chair and go away. My favorite feature of this chair is how easy it is to fold and take with me anywhere. When visiting my parent’s beach house, it’s nice to able to grab my chair and head down to meditate to the natural sounds of the waves. Each chair is handmade from solid wood and features a back and seat cushion consisting of the highest density, three inch foam. The back cushion is a nice feature because it helps support your back while still keeping you in good posture. Of all the items on this list, I would have to say this is definitely at the top of the must haves for any meditating parent.
My Pokemon Meditation Balls are a great addition to my meditation routine (and a great decoration for my desk).
A centuries old tradition, meditation balls still have a place in meditation practice today. In addition to using them for your meditation practice, they are also great to help exercise your forearms, wrists, hands, and fingers. Personally, I’m still learning to use them, so when I meditate I just hold them. Holding one in each hand gives my fingers something to touch and keeps me from getting fidgety.
The best feature of these hand-painted Poke’ balls is the lack of annoying chimes to distract you while you’re meditating. This was a huge bonus for me because I find the chimes really annoying. Each set is either wooden (for the beginner) or glass (for the more advanced) and hand-painted to look just like something your Pikachu would call home. Even if you don’t meditate, they make a really neat decoration for the home or office.
What kinds of things do you use in your meditation practice? I’m always looking for ways to improve my practice and I welcome your suggestions.
A friend of mine recently published her professional website after months of preparation. One of her premier posts shared 30 things she would like to do this year in honor of turning 30. It’s not a milestone birthday year for me, but the idea made sense. In an effort to set reasonable goals instead of unattainable demands, I’m going to follow in IndieKate‘s blog-steps and create a 34 in 2012 list. Here it goes…
- Work on getting in shape – I just signed up for Fitocracy so I can log all of my Dance Central time in Workout Mode.
- Keep up with my blog – I would like to share more on my personal blog than a log of articles I write for GeekMom. Some blogs I read just share one moment from the day that their readers can identify with. I’d like to do the same, if I’m not cleaning up the mess from said moment…
- Social Butterfly – I want to put myself out there more. I am on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Google +. I hope to cross share through all of these platforms at least once a week.
- Keep up with Phineas and Ferb this summer – There is a calendar. I printed it for my daughter last summer and we only did about a third of the things that we wrote on it (let alone the ideas that came with it).
- Watch less TV – My husband would probably not understand this one. I listen to Netflix shows while I’m on the computer. If I listened to audiobooks or podcasts instead, I would probably be better off.
- Read More – I HATE reading. Due to my astigmatism, I end up reading the same line in a book multiple times before getting past it. It makes book reading less than fun. It’s “better” now that we have a Kindle Fire, because I can show one paragraph per page and increase the font size, but it still hurts my eyes – I have to really be interested in the book.
- Learn at least one more of my husband’s miniature games – I played Warhammer Fantasy with my husband for a year. It was great fun. But, I played the season, won the tournament (and a really cool sword) and left it at that. So now I should catch up and learn Blood Bowl, Hell Dorado, and Dystopian Wars.
- Learn an activity with my daughter – I don’t care if it’s Heroclix or something non-geeky – we had a lot of fun learning Pokémon together (have you heard the recent GeekMom podcast?). Mother/daughter bonding is good.
- Earn my Tournament Organizer’s title for Pokémon – Since I keep running computers for Pokémon tournaments, I really should have a copy of the program on my computer. In order to have that, I need to earn my stripes!
- Drink water – 8 glasses a day…blah…blah…blah…
- GeekMom – The responsibilities of a core contributor on GeekMom are not unreasonable, and yet I find myself fighting to keep up from time to time. I would like to work to 125% of what is required, because GeekMom is a great community to be part of. I keep find myself saying, “That would make a great article.” So, sit down and write the article already!
- Pre-school – This would be a goal for later in the year. As my youngest nears turning three, I look at the pre-school choices and cringe. The idea of teaching him myself is daunting, but doable – and he’d love it.
- Eat more veggies – I eat veggies twice a day on a good day. I could be better about it.
- Ride my bike – Even riding my bike once this summer would be more than I did last year.
- Edit out the virtual garbage – This would include cleaning out the backup hard drive, deleting old documents, and having everything backed up and organized in one location…instead of three.
- Make headway in the yard – We put in a playground (swings and a slide thanks to my parents) this last summer. We have a small rectangular backyard. I would like a third of it to be raised gardens and a stone oven for baking pizza/bread, a third lawn, and a third playground. It means DOING IT.
- Have one crop thrive – I have a black thumb. Enough said.
- Go back to church – I haven’t been in a year. Again, if I make it once this year, it will be a step in the right direction.
- Vote – I missed our last local election and felt guilty about it for weeks. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain about how your taxes are spent.
- Date – My husband. I need to make that clear. I have known my husband since 1993. We started dating in 1998, and were married in 2003. Several times we’ve misplaced the romance. We seem to find it if we can go on a date.
- Pet the cats – Isn’t it scientifically proven that animals can reduce stress levels? I have four cats, so I should be four times less stressed, right?
- ADHD – I need to learn all I can about this. My daughter was diagnosed with it, and I think it is a HUGE source of the behavior issues we have had in the last three years. Learning how to help her deal with her symptoms will be a relief.
- Remain close to my parents – I am an only child. My parents live less than 5 miles away. I have tried very hard to be there for them this year as my mom has taken on difficult volunteer tasks and my dad has undergone chemotherapy. This year can only be better for them, right?
- Have a cemented financial plan – Being in a one income household is hard. I am thankful that my husband’s job provides a roof over our head and food on the table. GeekMom Judy Berna had a similar resolution this year.
- Learn how to fix one thing – My husband is very handy. He cooks, he sews, he fixes the stuff that needs fixing. Just once I should take initiative and learn to do it myself instead of asking him.
- Attempt to potty train – My 2-year-old wants to do everything his sister does. So, perhaps this summer I will have the guts to attempt to teach him how to use the potty. Isn’t it as easy as throwing cheerios in the toilet and having them do target practice?
- Write a book with my daughter – She loves drawing and telling stories. It would probably be a great geeky story – an epic tale even!
- Start a video podcast – The hubby and I have been watching Hank and Katherine Play Super Mario Brothers Wii! on YouTube. Where my husband is inspired to play his ukulele and make videos someday like the Doubleclicks, Molly Lewis, or Pomplamoose, I want to make a board game blog. We shall see if I can get anyone to help me – I can’t really play board games by myself.
- Brush up on my sign language – I used to be fluent, but if you don’t use it, you lose it.
- Run a D&D campaign – I don’t know that RPG Kids would count. But I would run a one-shot game in a heartbeat.
- Add to my client base – It would be nice to have a couple more clients to tutor in the art of running a computer.
- Make one item out of one of my craft books – Complete a large fiber project (like an afghan) or a project from a craft book. I have a shelf full of craft/fiber books that are fun to look at, but I haven’t done anything other than look at them. I have done a few projects from the GeekDad books, but I want to complete ALL OF THEM.
- Do one Arduino project – This is an intelligence challenge. Can I be smarter than the programming language? (I wasn’t in college – that’s for sure).
- Enter one photography show – Just one. Just enough of a commitment that I have to attempt to take artsy-fartsy shots throughout the year.
I don’t think this list is unattainable. It will take some work, but there isn’t one thing on this list I can’t finish (maybe 33, but I will at least attempt it). What are your goals for 2012? Do you have some of the same crazy plans as I do?
GeekMoms Corrina Lawson and Cathe Post join Nicole Wakelin to talk about how to catch ’em all with your kids. It’s more than just a collectible card game that sucks the cash out of your wallet. Kids learn everything from sportsmanship to genetics. No really, give it a listen and you’ll see just how much your kids can learn from this popular game.
Head over to Pokemon.com and click on Trading Card Game for information on leagues and events in your area!
Be still my heart! There is actually a convention for us girls now! It’s in Seattle, so those of you on the East Coast have a ways to trek it (haha, I made a geek funny), but there is indeed a convention made “just for her” and it’s called GeekGirlCon!
That said, I’m dragging my husband with me this weekend to the maiden-voyage of the event. I was looking forward to the GeekGirlCONcert, but it is on Friday night and we won’t make it into Seattle until Saturday. The rest of the weekend proves to be just as entertaining though, with celebrities like Star Wars crafter Bonnie Burton and TV writer Jane Espenson. (I might have a small geek-out if I meet either of these ladies this weekend.) D&D blogger and podcaster @SarahDarkMagic will also be there, and I’m crossing my fingers to run into her and meet her in person (since I have been following her on Twitter FOREVER).
There are a slew of workshops and games to play in the gaming room. With names like Steve Jackson and Looney Labs on the playlist and workshops like “How to Paint a Miniature,” I have a feeling a major part of our weekend will be spent here (since our daughter will be attending too).
There is a Masquerade on Saturday that my daughter and I might take part in or at least attend for photos. We will be wearing our matching Pokémon skirts that were a hit at PAX, but whether we make it depends how tired we are by Saturday evening.
My list of vendors to visit is HUGE. I’m quickly becoming a comic book fan as my daughter is interested in them too. There will be several female comic book authors and artists there to visit. I’m also looking forward to seeing what the Cute Factory is all about and Geek Stained Glass.
If you are going to be in Seattle this weekend, I hope to see you there. I will be tweeting (@GamerMom1_0) if I can get reception on my phone. Be sure to say hello!
In episode three Nicole Wakelin is joined by Cathe Post to discuss her recent adventure at PAX in Seattle including the latest games from the convention as well as old favorites on the shelf back home. And because it was THE geek issue of the week, they also talk about the Gizmodo post that rocked the geek world and the fantastic GeekMom response written by Ruth Suehle. Questions? Thoughts? Suggestions? Email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Theme Music: Rebecca Angel
A few weeks ago I shared with you how my husband and I balance being parents and gamers. My husband and I encourage our kids to play games as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game we made up with balls, an educational game, a board game, or a video game. Don’t get me wrong, video game play is earned and the time spent playing them is monitored.
Educational games for kids are fairly easy to find. Several companies focus on educational games for kids. Kid appropriate games that are just like mom and dad’s are a little harder to come by.
Our kids often are more interested in the games we play instead of their own. So, here are some kid friendly ideas that are related to the adult versions our little geek 2.0’s might not be ready for.
Try Pokémon instead of Magic the Gathering: The mechanics are very similar. The artwork is amazing without being as graphic as Magic. I know some parents cringe at the thought of letting the cute little animé creatures into their homes. The truth is, I used to be one of those parents. Then Call of Legends was released and my then 4-year-old daughter fell in love and was inspired to read. She can now read the cards and count by 10’s and she isn’t even in Kindergarten yet. I think these skills were greatly helped by playing Pokémon. Strategy skills and other math skills are also exercised by playing. Card packs run $4-$15. Most leagues are free and some even offer decks to check out and play.
Try RPG Kids instead of Dungeons and Dragons: RPG Kids is a simpler version of Dungeons and Dragons for kids age 4-7. It only uses two dice and the characters can be as simple as attacking only, all the way to having feats and resistances (if you want them). This game also offers an opportunity for parents who have never been a DM before to do so. The game is very easy to run and set up. It comes with pieces that you can cut out, or you can make your own. It can be purchases for $2.99 from RPGNow.com. RPG Kids uses math, reading, and strategy skills.
Try Hero Scape or Hero Quest instead of miniature war games like Warhammer: Over a year ago, my husband and I were both very much into playing Warhammer. Since we spent a decent ammount of time painting our miniatures and playing the game, our daughter also became interested. We found a copy of Heroscape at our local second hand store. We took all of the miniatures out and let her play with them while we were playing Warhammer. Now she’s ready for Hero Quest which has a similar turn style to RPG Kids. If you have crafty kids, why not let them paint a spare miniature?
Computer games aren’t evil, but computers might be (the cake is a LIE)!: We used to be into playing World of Warcraft and other MMO’s. Now, if we actually have the time to play on the computer, we tend to play games like Minecraft, Spore, and Portal 2. The skills used in these games have a huge range but include building and following directions in Minecraft, budgetting money and strategy in Spore, and strategy in Portal. These games are fun for the entire family. It has been debated how much time kids should be spending playing video games, and how young is too young, but computer games have been an asset in our house when played in moderation. There are also some great websites that offer educational and fun games such as Starfall, PBS Kids, and a favorite at our house – Pokémon.
Do you have a Leapster or DS?: The games offered for the LeapFrog Leapster system are themed after popular characters our kids like (such as Star Wars and Pixar characters). The games are FAR more educational than games played on the DS systems, but the characters and desirableness are comparable. We have used Leapster gaming time as a reward for helping with chores without being asked or, as a quiet gaming activity while mom and dad are playing with other adults.
I hope the ideas shared here inspire you to share a gaming experience with your kids. They don’t even have to be old enough to read in most cases, all you both need is some imagination and patience. What games have you found recently to play with your kids?