Archive for May, 2012

If it’s May, it must be time for me to make redundant statements about agapanthus.

May 15, 2012 @ 7:25 pm | Filed under: , ,

The Lilies-of-the-Nile are being impish again. I was going to remark that as much as I adore their purple spheres of bloom, this bud stage is when I love them best—but I see I already said that, a year ago. I really am repeating myself; I see too that I posted an agapanthus bud exactly one year ago today. Impish they may be, but they are punctual little fellows!

RPG(-ish) Games for Kids

May 12, 2012 @ 7:52 pm | Filed under:

David writes:

This [the Mouse Guard RPG] looks fantastic. Thanks!

I grew up in a house that wasn’t comfortable with RPG’s, but I think our boys would love it. Any other suggestions for the 8-12 crowd?

Yes! Do you know the Munchkin game? It’s a card game based on RPG mechanics—a great choice for when you want the fun and flavor of a role-playing game but don’t have time to embark on an elaborate campaign. This just may be my favorite non-electronic game because it doesn’t require elaborate setup and inevitably becomes a total laughter-fest. Like this moment last year:

Playing a lot of Munchkin and laughing our fool heads off. I will long savor that sweet, sweet moment when I demolished my dear daughters by whipping out a Doppelganger card I’d been secretly holding—and thereby destroying the Level 20 Dragon (+5 Intelligence) they teamed up to sic on me. Because nothing says “gentle motherhood” like wielding a Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment against the team effort of one’s children.

Okay, so…bloody dismemberment, yeah. The art on the cards is cartoonish, no gore. But the way you best your opponents is by playing weapon cards or casting spells against the monsters they send your way (or that you bump into on your imaginary dungeon crawl). So I know this one won’t be every parent’s cup of tea. But we really love it. Along the way you get cards that transform you into an elf, dwarf, halfling, etc; and there are “class” cards that give you special abilities: wizard, thief, cleric. Standard D&D categories. (Or you can go for the Space Munchkin deck that pits you against aliens, or the Pirate version, or a bunch of other variations. You can even mix and match decks.)

Turns consist of drawing cards, “kicking down the door” to encounter treasure or monsters, and generally trying to throw as many perils at your opponents as possible. 🙂

One big caveat for parents: a few of the cards are a bit on the bawdy side. I previewed the deck in advance and quietly disappeared five or six that I deemed inappropriate for my young girls. The game works fine without them.

I’ve also heard great things about rpgKids—a simplified-for-young-children version of a dungeons-and-monsters-based role-playing games. It’s been on my radar to take a closer look at, but I haven’t ordered it yet. Which is silly, because the rule system is only $3 to download. If any of you decide to give that one a try, I’d love to hear what you think.

Quick Answer: Mouse Guard RPG

May 10, 2012 @ 5:46 pm | Filed under: ,

Maria asked about the book Beanie was poring over in this photo. I replied in the comments, but in case you missed it: it’s the Mouse Guard role-playing game manual, a gorgeous hardcover, fully illustrated book by David Petersen, published by Archaia.

You may recall my gushing about the Mouse Guard graphic novels many times over the past several years; Petersen’s artwork is phenomenal and my children, especially Beanie, have thoroughly enjoyed the stories and have reread the books many times.

We’ve had the RPG manual for a couple of years and I know Beanie has put dozens of hours into creating characters and backstory. I’m not sure how many campaigns the kids have actually run but we’re planning to launch one soon. Beanie has been regaling me with her character’s family history…her young mouse soldier has apiary and insect-lore skills, and hails from a small village in the west. 🙂


GeekMomIn other news: Big doings for GeekMom this week; we’ve moved to! Here’s a piece I wrote earlier this week on German language apps for kids.

LauraPalooza 2012: Register Now!

May 6, 2012 @ 1:54 pm | Filed under: ,

The second-ever LauraPalooza—a conference for Laura Ingalls Wilder scholars and fans—will be held in Mankato, MN this July 12-14th. Details at the site:

The theme of LauraPalooza 2012 is “What Would Laura Do?” and will include a mix of scholarly research and Little House fandom. More information, including the full schedule and registration form, can be found by visiting Beyond Little House. Look for the heading “LauraPalooza 2012”. All information that you need can be found there in the pull-down menu.

Events include:

• Special performance by Alison “Nellie Oleson” Arngrim
• LIW biographer William Anderson
Little House Cookbook author Barbara Walker
• Authors’ reception including Barbara Walker, The Wilder Life author Wendy McClure, My Life As Laura author Kelly Ferguson, and others
• The return of the National Weather Service’s Barbara Mayes Boustead and physics teacher/Laura fan Jim Hicks
• Original research and insight on Laura, her life, and her books
• Conference-ending Spelling Bee and Silent Auction
• Special post-conference field trip to Walnut Grove, Minnesota — the setting for On the Banks of Plum Creek!
• A special presentation by Dean “Almanzo Wilder” Butler and Dale Cockrell of Pa’s Fiddle Recordings about the PBS Little House music special filmed last January in Nashville.

There’s also going to be a camp—Camp Laura—for kids grades K-6 (while parents are attending the conference).

Registration is open through May 31st.

I sooo wish I could go! Alas, it coincides with Comic-Con, a busy, busy weekend for us Bonny Glen folks. One of these years I am determined to get to LauraPalooza, though. If you can make it this year, you absolutely should! And then send me pictures. 🙂

Preparedness for Six-Year-Olds

May 4, 2012 @ 4:23 pm | Filed under: ,

Today Rilla decided to make herself an illustrated chore list. A most worthwhile endeavor—although, in the fashion of apples that do not fall far from their mother trees, her absorption with writing about her chores distracted her from actually doing them. This I learned later when I encountered a pile of pajamas in the middle of her bedroom floor.

She invited me to “help” her with the chore list, which meant sitting beside her and watching her draw. Painstakingly she depicted each one of her morning tasks: get dressed, make bed, put away pajamas (ahem), brush teeth, brush hair. When she got to the bottom of her list, she surveyed it, gave a satisfied nod, set it to one side, and reached for another piece of paper.

“That was the Everyday list,” she said. “Now for the Sometimes list.”

“What goes on the Sometimes list?” I wondered.

“Checking to see if the Tooth Fairy came,” she explained. And drew a little picture of a tooth, an arrow, a pillow.