December 3, 2016

Knerd Mom Recommends: TROLLS!

Last weekend, my son & I went and saw The Trolls movie.  To be honest, I thought this was going to be a huge letdown.  If you're an 80's kid and older, you know about the original Trolls.  With the ugly cute faces, little potbellies (some bejeweled), and THAT HAIR!

oh, and that they're nekkid.  Don't forget nekkid!
We "old folk" have been trying so hard to cling-on to the last vestiges of our generations but people keep revamping our favorite shows & books from our childhood!  Most of them failed hard and ruined it.

So now you understand why TROLLS made me a little nervous.  To be completely candid, I didn't even want to go see the movie as an attempt to preserve my fond memories about these guys.  My mom even had a large stuffed Troll doll who wore a cute set of light blue overalls. 

Luke, on the other hand, has never been introduced to the original troll dolls so his discovery of Trolls WAS the movie, thanks to the McDonald's toys based on the movie.

Because of these (Luke has Poppy & DJ), Luke now wanted to see the movie.  It was at this point, I sucked it up and took him for doing good that week of school. 

BOY was I PLEASANTLY SURPRISED!  I went into this movie with no great expectations and came out slightly nerding out!  The story revolves around Princess Poppy & Branch on a rescue mission to save their friends from the unhappy Bergans.  When they reach the castle, the come across a forlorn Scullery made named Bridget.  They decide to help her and everything goes from there! 

This movie isn't fun just because of the story-line.  Oh no.  This movie is fun because of the MUSIC!  The music incorporates music from quite a few eras revamped into something fun to sing along with.  This also incorporates a few original tunes just for the movie.  For me, the greatest part about this whole movie is Justin Timberlake as the Male Lead Protagonist, Branch.  I had no IDEA he was in this movie but his voice was one I just kept saying to myself "I KNOW that voice?  Who is that?"  Even when he did let his voice loose in the movie, I kept saying "Where do I KNOW this guy?!"  It wasn't until the credits rolled and announced Good Ol' JT, I was finally like "NO FREAKING WAY!"  As a matter of fact, this whole PRODUCTION was a "Who's Who?" of celebrities!

If you want to see the full cast list, click the IMDB page here...  The Cast of Trolls

I HIGHLY recommend this movie not necessarily for the story, but for the music and vocal who's who.  This was visually entertaining in how the characters were developed, humor, and above all else, THE MUSIC!  I've already downloaded the Soundtrack, I now await the movie release to Blu-Ray!

It's a Bus! It's a Train! No, It's Super Mom!!

I'm starting this story with a different story.  A few days ago, on my way to Walmart, I stopped at the Dutch Bros. to get some coffee.  While waiting in line in my nice warm car, I popped up "Pokemon Go" on my phone.  Sure enough, I found and promptly wasted about 7 Master Balls to capture a NIDOQUEEN!  I finally got the little beast when it was time for me to roll up to the stand window!

Now is a good time to say "DON'T TEXT AND DRIVE!"  As a matter of fact, put the phone down.  If it's that important, PARK FIRST THEN RESPOND!!  Thank you.
Having said that, I justify Pokemon in the Cue because you must be in park when in line at the drive-through.  Just pay attention when it's your turn to move up in line so you don't hold up the other cars.  Other than that, be mindful.  End PSA.

Back to the story.  So I was TOTALLY stoked getting this Nidoqueen, who was also the last piece to our Female Nido collection, that I totally told the male barista at the window!  He thought it was awesome because he, himself didn't know that Nidoqueens where something that could be caught!  During our chitchat, he made comment that Stay at Home (Parents) are Super Heroes!  I told him there wasn't evidence that said we weren't *wink*. 

Onto the main story...

So earlier this week, Luke had crafted this plan to tell as many kids in his class that the teachers were going to eat their grandmas!  He was promptly busted by his main teacher.  When asked why he did this, he said it was in an attempt to get his teachers fired for making him do math!  He told us later that he was hoping they would get fired so that they would hire NEW teachers who WOULDN'T make him do math. Yup.  His teacher told me in a later phone conversation that she was trying to hold it in (laughing) because the tone in his voice was just so certain this was a solid and infallible plan!  Oh good lord!  Well, he was promptly grounded as soon as we heard about this "Dastardly Deed"!

Friday came around and I had to call his teacher back to make sure his week finally turned around.  I wanted to release him from his grounding for the weekend so I wanted legitimate knowledge that Kiddo turned it around.  She confirmed.  Before I fully released him from being grounded, he and I had a SERIOUS talk about this carefully crafted plan.  Here's how this went down...

Me:  *Explains how his plan could have really hurt people* "...You know how even though you like bad guys, their plans always fail in the end?"
Kid: "Uh-Huh."
Me:  "Well, that's what happened here.  Your plan was an evil one and that's NOT okay Kid!  I know we live in a time where we tell you kids you can be anything you put your mind to.  What I'm going to tell you is that you can be MOST anything you want to be.  You JUST CAN'T GROW-UP TO BE AN EVIL OVERLORD!  YOU DON'T GET TO HAVE THAT OPTION!!"
Kid (after thinking about this):  "*sigh* Okay."
Kid again after a brief pause:  "You know what Mom?  I was on the path to evil, and you put me back onto the path of good!"

I'm no Time-Lord, but I think I just saved the distant future from one less Evil Force in this world.  The Barista was right!  I AM A SUPERHERO!

November 22, 2016

Knerd Mom Recommends: Roblox

So a few months ago, I introduced my 8 year old gamer to Roblox.  Let me tell you what, this game is so simple it's awesome!  It's not like any other MMO I've ever seen and NOT because it has amazing graphics, not because game play is comprehensive & intuitive, and DEFINITELY not because all my friends are playing it.  Nope.  This game is is remarkable because it's the COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF THOSE 3 REASONS!

Let me start with the most obvious:  The graphics in this game are simple as a stick.  Essentially, your character is nothing more than a Lego Guy.  I take that back...they look like Mega Blocks guys!  You know, poor kid Lego Figures.  They have no joints, save for the points where legs, arms, & head connects.  They move just as shoddily.  You would almost say this was some indie-game made by someone who learned game development in their Mother's Basement.  For some reason...THIS WORKS!!  You can upgrade & buy outfits/accessories for your character, sure, but character design is just incredibly basic.  Having said that, there are some games in the Roblox universe that let you transform your character into special ones.  Some even let you change just  your face or your whole outfit when you approach just the right platform!  If anything, the simplicity of the characters just make it so you can appreciate game play more!

As far as game play, there is only 3 controls you ever really need: Move, jump, attack.  Yeah, there is a control for the camera, but I lump that in with movement.  Just like the characters, game play is EXTREMELY simple.  This is WHY this MMO is great for kids because it's not so complex that they get overwhelmed with trying to figure out controls, which button does what, and even having to remember to assign "new powers" to different hot bar keys!  It brings me back to the days of the Original Nintendo when all you needed was a D-Pad, A, & B to save the Princess!  As a matter of fact, you don't even need to use your keyboard to play!  If you have an X-Box controller (or other USB connectable controller), you can use that to play with!  It's both mine & my son's preferred way to play, though sometimes Luke like's to switch it up and use keyboard controls...WHICH YOU CAN DO!!  This game has become so popular, you don't even need a computer even!  This game is available as an app game via Windows, some tablets, and apparently XBox! I'm still unsure if it's available via PS4, but it might.  Check it out if it does.

Finally, unlike other MMO's, this game isn't just set in one world where people take on missions, level up, or form teams to achieve common goals.  Far from it.  What really sets Roblox apart from the rest is that you're actually playing MINI GAMES!  Not only that, but the majority of these mini-games were created BY players themselves!  There are Obbys (obstacle style games), Tycoons (build a factory), Escapes (running spirally upwards away from doom), and even some created specifically to be social or to battle!  I know just those few categories doesn't seem like it's much for options, but you'd be pleasantly surprised as to how many people just "went" with it!  You can search for specific things and themes.  If you like Anime, do a search for your favorite anime!  Like color?  Search for Rainbow games!  Like Pokemon Go but hate leaving the house?  Search POKEMON GO and search created grounds!  The possibilities are ENDLESS!!

So click on this link ~>, start a free account, and check it out for yourself!  Here is a video of some game play to whet your interest and try for yourself!  No, I was not payed by Roblox to say any of this, but if they want to give me (or my son) some Robux for the mention...I won't say no. *wink wink*

October 9, 2016

Coul YOU be Raising the Next POTUS?

A few days ago, my boy stated this:  "Mom, when I grow-up and become a man, I want to be The President.  And when I do, I'm going to make Math illegal but keep Science."  Of course, I had to tell him that Science and Math go hand-in-hand, but if he could find a way to mandate making Math easier to learn (i.e. get rid of Common Core), that could be something to strive for.  I also told him a good thing to platform on would be Education Reform so that school can be a better place for kids to learn.  He liked that. 

I told this story on Facebook recently and upon a comment, I said something that inspired today's post.  The thought is this; If this specific election and my conversation with my son should teach us anything, it should teach us the extreme importance that our children REALLY ARE the future of tomorrow.  We should be raising them to be the kind of leaders we want in this life!  No, really.

Now, I won't go into which political leaning I'm party to, but I do want to make an example of Donald Trump & Hillary Rodham-Clinton for the purposes of this post.  You see, Donald Trump was raised rich & privledged.  He always mentions how he was given a "Small Loan" of $14 Million to start his empire.  It is clear from how he treats others that he was NOT raised to respect women and that he feels he is entitled to the WORLD!  To him, becoming the leader of the United States is not a matter of improving this country, but to add to his noteriety and use that influence & power to benefit only himself, his family, & anyone who has the power to make him richer.  As far as Hillary is concerned, she has always had a political mind.  I don't know about her raising, but she is someone who has struggled because she is a female.  Having said that, life has made her "play the game" so to speak because she married a man (regardless of the fact that he, himself, was once president) who has repeatedly sought the companionship of other women and not her.  She has had to become self-reliant and has proven to do some shady things to attain the titles she has achieved to make it to the potential first Woman President of the United States.  It makes me wonder what she may have done as a child to get what she wanted in school, home, and other things.

So besides a COMPLETE revolution, what's the best way to finally have leaders to be proud of?  Raise them ourselves!  I submit to you this challenge for the next +/- 18 years per child:  Raise your children as if you knew for a fact they will grow-up to be the next POTUS.  Let's raise our children with the values we want to see in the leader of the free world.  Raise our children to be Senators, Representatives, Governors, Mayors, and what other public, federal, & government offices they may become who really will eschew lobbyists, have the compassion & goodwill for others and other people.  Let's raise leaders who don't need to give themselves raises because they are happy with living with just enough of a salary to live comfortably while using the surplus from anything extra to give toward programs for the poor, the children, the good for the WHOLE COUNTRY!

THIS is the real way to make America Great Again.  Raise Leaders who actually want the best for everyone and their home countries and not just themselves. 

And now, a word from Kid President:

October 8, 2016

Breaking Gender Roles: Not Just for Girls

I love how in this day and age, women & girls breaking stereo typical gender roles is now part of the daily ways of life.  Women are becoming doctors, astronauts, CEO's of major companies that aren't just for women's products, and so on.  There are role models for girls showing them how to be more than just moms, teachers, nurses, & other traditionally female roles & functions.  Even in Entertainment like cartoons & movies, we are seeing a LOT more strong female leads and characters breaking the rule of "fit & pretty".  This is all fantastic to see...

...unless you have as son.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I would like to present to you this:  We need more men proving that they, too, can break gender traditions and still be proud to be a man! 

I got to thinking about this a bit ago because I was watching some videos of both men & women dancing to Megan Trainors "Me Too".  Now, I know it's not unheard of for men to dance.  What was amazing was that when it was the men's turn to dance, they danced to THE SAME SEXY FEMININE CHOREOGRAPHY the women were dancing!  There were hip hits, swaying, swagger, and an ABUNDANCE of sass!  It was, need I say, kinda hot!

Here is a video of one man I'm subscribed to on YouTube:  Yanis Marshall.

Yas Honey, dat man is dancing in HEELS baby!

It's amazing to see men starting to come out proud with the things they love regardless of traditional gender roles.  What hurts is that it's still something a LOT of people get uncomfortable with or even make-fun of because it's still "Not Okay" for men to "act like girls".  That hurts this mother of a rad 8 year old boy!  What if he decided he wanted to learn ballet, tap, or even (when he's 20) this style of sexy dancing?  What if my son wanted one day to become a drag queen?  Hell, what if he even wanted to become a Mid-Wife?!  Hey, if men can be OB-GYN's, they can be Mid-Wives (Mid-Husbands?). 

Having said that, here's to all the male nurses, veterinary assistants, secretaries, teachers, stay-at-home dads, or other traditionally female roles and doing them all with pride!  This is not a matter of sexuality, this is a matter of livelyhood & doing what makes you happy despite what others think of you.

We need more non-traditional male role models for our boys.  If girls should be encouraged to get into the STEM fields, then boys should also be encouraged to get into Domestic Studies & Care Giving fields.

August 13, 2016

Knerd Mom Recommends: Steven Universe

I know I know.  It's been forever since my last post on this blog.  I've been having a lot on my plate lately with my health, moving to a new place, and the fact that it's Summer Vacation so I'm trying to make it a good one for my son before he starts 2nd grade in a whole new school, in a proper public school, and here in the next day or so, get use to going to where his new bus stop will be.

Aside from the mini-update (details at a later date as to issues), I have discovered a new cartoon love in my life this summer; Steven Universe!  This show is everything this generation needs in a cartoon.  Strong Female roles, A boy who is both respectful to others AND fights with his Surrogate Mothers (of a sort), and best of all, this is a show where GENDER ISN'T THE ISSUE!!  Let me explain...

For starters, this show is about a boy (I think they mention he's at least 10 years old) named Steven Universe.  He is the product of his Father, a failed rock star named Greg Universe, and his mother who was the leader of a small band of "Crystal Gems" in which her name was Rose Quartz.  It is said that Steven was born when his mother "turned into" Steven.  How this came about, I don't know because at the point I've seen, they haven't shown how he was born and if they have finally revealed Steven's birth, it would be spoilers.  Since his mother's disappearance, Steven has been cared for and lives with the 3 remaining Gems; Garnet, Pearl, & Amethyst.  The story starts around the time when Steven is starting to come into his powers.  Like each Crystal Gem, he has embedded in him a Gem (in his case, he inherited his mother's gem, the Rose Quartz).  Unlike the other gems, Steven is Half-Human and therefore isn't as powerful as the Crystal Gems (so far) but ages & feels the same as any other human.  I could go into detail, but this show is so story driven that it's easy to spoil for those of you yet to watch this amazing show!

So now onto the reasons why I think this show is so amazing!

1.) It has elements of Anime, though it is most definitely a product of Modern American Culture.  Like a good anime, this show has a continuing and central story line.  Each of the main characters have their own compelling back-story that directly contributes to the main theme.  Also similar to a great anime is the action.  The action & fighting scenes are pretty darn great, even though the show itself is clean of "ultra violence" (gore, blood, obvious death).  Though the show does have it's more "Kawaii" & "Moe" moments, I have no problems admitting that I am a 35 year old woman starting to fan-girl this show.

2.)  The show has something for everyone.  It's cartoony for the kids and has some kid level humor, while tweens have the fighting, and us "forever kid" adults, we have the complexity of feels & story line that keep us wanting more!  I'm 100% invested in learning more about the relationship Greg & Rose had, though learning the back-stories and history of The Crystal Gems and who they are is extremely compelling to me.  As for my soon to be 8 year old son, He really gets a kick-out of the action.  *SPOILER*

**my son giggled learning that steven's spit had become "healing spit".  Really?**

3.)  I'm addressing the elephant in the room about this show:  I know The Gems refer to each gem with feminine pronouns, but to be completely frank, The Gems (all the ones you see on the show) are actually gender neutral!  Sure, some are more girly than not, and others you could swear are butch to the point of wondering if this is the elusive "rare male" Gem no one has mentioned to ever have existed, but in all honesty, I don't think anyone even cares!!  Well, anyone who enjoys the show. 

having said that, there has been some controversy with the show (and other countries have been editing the show because of it) because **spoiler, but important to the show** there is an ability the Gems have called "Fusion".  Fusion is where two (or more) Gems meld together to make a whole new gem!  The controversy comes because to fuse, the Gems must dance together.  Let me show you...

I'll grant you, it's a bit "suggestive", but honestly, I think the dancing is mesmerizing.  I also don't mind if my son watches it.  It's all part of the show and how this unique race of humanoids make two become one.  It's almost a visual representation of how "Two become One", in a "biblical sense", but without anyone getting nekkid and REALLY inappropriate for children!!

The other controversy is that BECAUSE the gems are female (I still debate this), that some find it REALLY inappropriate that Pearl had/has been openly in love with Rose Quartz.  That's one's not so big a spoiler.  She had willingly gone "Poof" for Rose so many times trying to protect her, yet in the end, her heart is broken because Rose fell for a human man.  Either way, you will see relationships happen between the gems through out the show.  Honestly, I think this should really drive home that no matter who you love, love is a beautiful thing and let no person tear that asunder. 

Anyway, I highly recommend watching this show from the beginning.  Seasons 1 & 2 are available on Hulu.  Really great animation, FANTASTIC story line, and great for a family who are raising their families with gender neutrality as a standard moral code.

May 18, 2016

Inside Out: The Resonance of Luke

A few months ago, our family finally watched "Inside Out".  My husband and I thought it was a pretty good movie, considering the potentially heavy subject matter of kids and their emotions.  What we didn't think about, was how this movie would affect our son, Luke.  I can't speak for Matt, but I honestly thought Luke was going to find this movie as extremely lame.  Never have I been so wrong.  If anything, this movie's personification of emotions and how the mind works actually RESONATED with him! 

As you've read in this blog, Luke has some pretty bad behavior issues.  None more so than his attitude toward school and actually going to school as was the case with Pre-K and Kindergarten.  I know a lot of times, when we asked him about why he had such a bad behavior report from school again, he was always saying "I don't know why!  My brain tells me to do it!"  We were constantly telling him "Your brain may have told you to call your teacher a B**** and that you would cut her up and eat her, but that doesn't mean you just do it!" (True Story).  Now that he's watched Inside Out, it's like he was watching his literal brain process.

I love this interpretation of what each mixed set of emotions brings.
This year, after our trip to the Comic Book Shop on Free Comic Book Day, Luke and I went to the Barnes & Nobel on the other side of the mall.  I got him the Junior Novelization of Inside Out.  On the night we read the first chapter, he was squeezing his Tennis Ball pillow.  I asked "Is that a Happy Memory?"  he replies with "It's ALL of my happy memories!"  So I decided to take the lead here and asked him, "Who leads your Emotions in your head?"  From here he told me "Joy.  She's in charge most of the time."  I said "Really?  Who's your favorite emotion?"  "I like Anger.  His hair goes on fire!"  To me, this spoke volumes. 

Usually, Luke is for the most part a happy child.  He doesn't usually cause issues unless he's really focused on what he's doing, then he gets extremely angry.  It's like his own hair goes on fire with how much he escalates.  It's like at school.  The second he steps onto the bus to leave, Anger takes the controls and runs the show from there.  It's kind of disheartening to see.

As I continued the conversation, I told Luke that when I was his age, Sadness was in charge of my controls.  I then told him that I was always a sad little girl because all the kids picked on me and bullied me.  As a grown-up with depression, Sadness is still the leader, but Joy usually is at the controls.  He then told me "Well, don't be sad Mom."

It's kind of interesting how this movie took this subject matter and turned it into something that resonates with kids who have emotional and behavioral issues.  This now gives me a new tool to work with when it comes to how to handle my boy's anger issues.  This is now what it looks like to him when he tells me his brain is making him get angry.  So now when he acts inappropriately to a situation, I think I'm going to start telling him "Don't let anger drive!  Find someone else to take over, but not him.  He makes the wrong choices."

Well done Pixar.  I salute you.