Getting the Non-Geeks in Your Life to Try (and Have Fun!) Playing a Tabletop RPG

In our family, holidays often mean gathering around the table twice: once to eat (duh!) and once to play board games. As our daughter has gotten older, this has become more fun; we’re no longer confined to the excitement of Candy Land and have instead moved onto Scrabble, Monopoly or Apples to Apples. But as our daughter has gotten older, she’s also gotten geekier… and it didn’t take long for my husband to recruit her to try a tabletop RPG.

The problem? Those games require at least two players plus a game master. Great. Dad’s the game master. Kid’s one of the players. That leaves Mom for the second player, and Mom has absolutely no experience or interest in playing. What are a geeky dad and daughter to do? Well, they convinced me… and we all learned a few things along the way. Continue reading Getting the Non-Geeks in Your Life to Try (and Have Fun!) Playing a Tabletop RPG

5 Ways to Make Your Preschooler’s Life a Touch More Magical

Running Fairy
Photo: Kristen Rutherford
  • Take a used box—we always have a few laying around from Amazon—and decorate it. Dub it the mailbox. Have your child choose a special place to keep it and while they’re sleeping, drop little notes in there from their favorite characters, fairies, or sprites— whomever they wish to be in touch with.
  • Plant some jellybeans in the garden. While they are sleeping, replace them with pinwheels or lollipops that have “grown” in the same spots.
Photo: Kristen Rutherford
  • Sprinkle a little glitter here and there in the backyard, or on the sidewalk, and go on a hunt for “fairy footsteps.”
  • The next time you’re at the park, try unlocking any “fairy doors” you find. These can be deep knots in a tree, maybe a hole in the ground, or a gap in a fence. It’s hard to find the keys to a fairy door—try stones, or rocks, or anything that seems like a woodland key.
fairy keys
Photo: Kristen Rutherford
  • Put some sugar cubes in a bowl. Count them. In the morning, check to see if any are gone. If so, you have borrowers living with you!

The Blog Revolution: Blog as Source of Knowledge


This week  at the emerging technology site,, began a series of posts about the design patterns being produced by social media that are shaping the way the Internet operates. His opening argument?

That responsiveness, the ability to tweet something instantly, had more power than the traditional ad campaigns we have known up to this point. He makes some excellent points about industry but his ideas reach us on a much more personal level.

The personal blog virtually exploded onto the internet scene and now comes in a wide variety of flavors, but the base ingredient is always a very real person, or persons, guiding the content. This content has become a hot commodity, the place to go when you need something. It is something I have been observing in myself for about a year now. However, just because I no longer reach for the encyclopedia but the internet, that does not mean all sites are created equal.

Continue reading The Blog Revolution: Blog as Source of Knowledge

MAKE Shares Tips for the New 3D Printer Owner

Image by Creative Tools. CC by 2.0. via Flickr

Every year, holiday commercial noise tells me that I ought to ask my husband for various rings, necklaces, and earrings, made of platinum and diamonds, all which tell me in physical form just how much he loves me. And while I wouldn’t turn down a shiny bauble every now and then, in my perfect world it’s not “Every Kiss Begins with Kay”– it’s “Every Kiss Begins With CAD.” If there’s one pie-in-the-sky item I wanted this holiday season, it probably looks something like this. Yes. A 3D printer.

No, I am not among the lucky few who opened their Christmas gifts to find that most coveted of items carefully wrapped. But I can always hope, can’t I? And I can always read MAKE’s tips for the new 3D printer owner and, y’know, pretend. Writer Michael Overstreet is practically a historian on the subject, having had a 3D printer for a whopping three years (which is 3D printer years is pretty much a century). And he’s compiled a great list of tips and a brief glossary with valuable tidbits like this:

G-Code – The common name for the most widely used computer numerical control (CNC) programming language, which has many implementations. Used mainly in automation, it is part of computer-aided engineering. G-Code is sometimes called G programming language. In fundamental terms, G-Code is a language in which people tell computerized machine tools what to make and how to make it. The “what” and “how” are mostly defined by instructions on where to move, how fast to move, and through what path to move.

Next year I will be prepared.

It will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine.

GeekMom Tips: Meal In A Muffin Tin

small meals for small kids, muffin tin meals, preschoolers don't eat much, how to get kids to eat,
Muffin tin meal. Image by Michelle.

Small kids appreciate things that make them feel larger, from tiny playhouse doorways to miniature portions at dinner. Especially small portions.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember just how little food preschoolers require to meet their nutritional needs. When my four kids were very young I liked to break up the routine by letting them eat from tea party-sized dishes. Teeny tiny ones. They loved the novelty of serving themselves seconds.

But no matter the plate size, my daughter didn’t like her foods touching each other. An invisible speck of potato on a green bean meant she couldn’t bear to put either one in her mouth. So I came up with what I thought was a novel idea. Every now and then I gave each of them meals served in a six-cup muffin tin. It might have a few walnuts, halved grapes, several cubes of cheese, a slice of apple, three miniature rice cakes, and chunks of steamed carrot. None of the foods in their separate compartments touched, and better yet, the kids were so delighted that I was able to introduce greater variety.

I thought I’d made up the muffin tin meal concept but it turns out lots of parents do the same thing. Well not quite the same. They’re much more clever. Check out Muffin Tin Mondays for inspiration.