Father’s Day 2012

A close-up shot of the jeep's steering wheel and new digital radio.

I was on the road last week, missing my family terribly and looking forward to getting back home. Oh sure, I had a blast on my trip — I got to hang out with higher education friends as part of Moodle Hack/Doc Fest at Kalamazoo College, I saw two baseball games, and got to watch prices rise and fall at the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange — but I was looking forward to coming home the whole time.

The Geek Tree, 2010 Edition

Two starships from Star Trek face each other within pine tree boughs.

The Geek Tree returned in 2010, but not in its standard format. In an effort to conserve space, and to avoid having rampant two-year-olds Godzilla the ornaments, I combined the Geek Tree with the Family Tree. The upside was that I was able to easily fit all of the geek ornaments on the larger tree, … Read more

Star Wars Talk to Your Kids PSA

Advice for geek parents on when to introduce kids to Star Wars, and how to tackle the delicate issues of Luke Skywalker’s father, the correct order to watch the movies, and the heresy of the special editions.

Rock Candy Dinosaurs

It began innocently enough with dinosaurs.

Kids love dinosaurs. I loved dinosaurs. Hell, I still love dinosaurs, so why wouldn’t I share them with my daughter? Girls can be archeologists too after all, and this was the perfect setup to watching Indiana Jones a few years down the line.

Except that to my daughter, who was four at the time, dinosaurs weren’t exotic reptilian wonders from 100 million years ago, they were 20 foot tall monsters with teeth like steak knives. Initial wonder gave way to horror, which spawned nightmares about being chased by velociraptors.

The Battle of Helm’s Deep … in candy

Every year at Christmas time I spend the better part of two weeks re-watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy in all of its extended glory. But I could be making far better use of my time, say rebuilding the Battle of Helm’s Deep in candy. This post first made its round in 2007, but … Read more

Gingerbread TARDIS

Clearly I’ve only just begun to explore the frontiers of gingerbread construction, especially geeky gingerbread construction. This gingerbread TARDIS (pictured at left) is just too darn cool; I love the attention to detail, especially the window panes AND K-9 the robodog. I’m also impressed that it stayed together long enough to take the picture (especially … Read more

813 Gingerbread Lane

The kids and I built our annual gingerbread houses on Sunday, using gingerbread house kits from Wegman’s and candy from the remains of our Halloween horde. You can find the full photo gallery (with annotations) on Flickr. We built two houses, one for my six-year-old daughter StarGirl, and one for my three-year-old son, NeutronLad (with … Read more

The Secret of Game Night for Kids

My six-year-old daughter is a gamer. She’s had a Nintendo DS in her hands since she was three, and she’s been playing the Xbox 360 with me almost as long. She loves video games, and would play them every night (and every day) if she could, but we knew early on we’d need to set limits.

Since Stargirl was about four and a half, we’ve had Game Night twice a week. Game Night is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and lasts for one hour. She can play any game she wants — on the Xbox 360, on the DS, on my Mac, or even a good ol’board game (which she has occasionally chosen) — but she’s only got an hour.

Over the summer, we added a new wrinkle to Game Night: we take away minutes for bad behavior. Whining? Refusing to clean up your room? Yelling at your brother? Not putting your dirty laundry in the hamper? All these will cost her minutes on Game Night. She can earn these minutes back through good behavior.

Game Night’s worked out well. For one thing, it’s established clear limits on her gaming. She gets to play for two hours a week. She might get bonus game time on a Saturday night if the family decides to play the Wii, but that’s it. Game Night’s also gotten rid of the “when can I play my game?” whining that we had when she was four, and Game Night hadn’t been established yet. And it’s also helped with discipline.

How Not to Grow a Beard Month 2008

In addition to being National Novel Writing Month, November is  How Not to Grow a Beard Month, spearheaded by my friends Chris Miller and Kris Johnson (no doubt in a clever attempt to cover up a freak laser cannon malfunction in The Secret Lair. I attempted something last year during my own NaNoWriMo attempt; I … Read more