Browsing Tag


Beware the Minecraft Mod

apps, GEAR, tech By November 15, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , 40 Comments

Swimming around in the Westin Calgary pool, we were both happy as clams.  My son loves Minecraft (especially computer version) and asked if he could get a new MOD (translated to ‘modification of the original – I think).  Personally knowing the student who had told him about add-ons to Minecraft, I was skeptical but decided to be open-minded.  Daddy and I would research the MOD to see if it was appropriate.

Pushing me, my son explained that you could get a girlfriend and make ‘it’ do things.  Red flag #2.  He insisted his friend said there was a Youtube video that would explain it.  And he wanted me to watch it NOW.

I looked and there were no age restrictions, so we watched it together.

For ten minutes.

And my heart sank deeper and deeper and I knew that we’d entered tech hell, a place that I may have to go back to school to understand because I can’t be a great parent without a full understanding of that world.

In the video (that was like a gender-biased, sexist train wreck I couldn’t stop watching), I learned that ‘mail-order girlfriends’ emerge from a box shipped to the miner.  They do your bidding and their weapons are shoes tossed at the creepers.  If you like, you can give them a sword but must take it back promptly.  They are tamed with a rose and will do what you tell them once they are in love with you. You can dress them in 16 different outfits and if you draw them to water.. wait for it… they will change into a bikini! (Of which there are many styles as well).  Building a dance floor of 5×5 bricks will compel them to dance for you to ensure your happiness.  And finally, to break up with these creatures you just have to give them a dead bush. Hopefully the symbolism isn’t evident to my son.

I was silent.  I asked my son how he would feel if it was me who got out of the box.  He said he wouldn’t like it, but if you marry them with a diamond you can get a baby from inventory and even eat dinner together.  At a table in a restaurant.

I explained that he had not done anything wrong, but that this particular MOD divided genders and included harmful thoughts about women.  He still begged to get it and promised he’d never treat a girl like that in real life.

So I guess he realizes some of the negatives.  But the weaponry, clothing changes and newness is still too enticing.  And now I’m petrified.

This video has over 6 million views.  Developers such as TheDiamondMinecart make or simply video and explain the workings of these MODS. They are certainly not screened for content.  Parents who may think their child is playing ‘Minecraft’ has no idea about the can of worms introduced by coders who want to extend the range of the game.

So much for work.  I’ll be looking over his shoulder from now on.  And before he can download ANY SIM?  He has to learn how to code and build the damn thing himself if he’s still interested.  (Hopefully it will take a few years).  There was a great article on Babble about teaching kids coding.  Spanish can wait.  Coding and the reinforcement of gender equality are next on the list.  And just because you trust what you read about Minecraft and it’s developers, be careful not to consider all-things-Minecraft as kid-appropriate.

In the meantime? Any advice on how to deal with the family of the 7-year old who hyped the Girlfriend Mod would be much appreciated.

by Jill Amery


10 Secret RESP Budget Tips

FAM, LIVE, rest, self By September 25, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

July marked my tenth wedding anniversary this year.  All of our family members wanted to send a gift.  Do you know what we picked?  RESP contributions to our sons’ education funds.  Saving is hard.  Especially with groceries costing a fortune, kids wanting to enroll in activities and the odd shoe sale that gets our heart racing and credit card exercised.  While we all earn different incomes, have varying levels of expenses and manage finances differently, UrbanMommies has a few money-saving tips that will help you save sheckles (my Grandmother called them that) for the RESPs.


Balancing Technology Use as a Parent

LIVE, rest By September 9, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

As a writer for the Tech Timeout Challenge by life insurance provider Foresters, I made a huge commitment as summer began.  I set off to up the ante and do a full week without technology with the whole family.  Over the summer, how hard could it be?  It was hard.  And I am embarrassed to say that we did not succeed.  We lasted 3 days.  But in the process we did accomplish the original intent of the program.  We sat as a family for a minimum of an hour a day for the whole summer, talking, playing board games and playing in the sand.  The art of balancing technology use as a parent proved far more challenging than I expected. 


Kidoodle: The New Screen-Time Solution

apps, GEAR By June 26, 2013 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

I heard a story last week about a phenomenal mom who allowed her 7 year-old son on a playdate.  While the two boys were innocently searching for Lego on the internet, up popped an x-rated video that wouldn’t close with  a simple click. She cried for three days and told me softly that she would never be ab;e to take back the images her son had witnessed.  Horrific.  Enter Kidoodle.TV.  Launched for beta testing in Canada and set to launch across North America this summer, Kidoodle is made just for kids aged 12 and under. With increased parental controls, Kidoodle.TV makes programming safe for kids, with educational and entertaining content, free of nudity, profanity, violence and advertising directed at children.

They are offering a FREE one month trial during their beta test to get feedback from parents like you. Parents can sign up for this beta invitation on their site.

Why kids need structure

Why Kids Need Structure

FAM, kids By May 18, 2013 Tags: , , , , , 1 Comment

My friends were exhausted. And for good reason. They have a 4 year old and a 1 year old, commute to work, and have to walk the dog. But, wait. Haven’t many people gotten through that? Looking at their tired eyes, and seeing them deal with their children, I remembered numerous episodes of Nanny 911. Structure helps everyone. Many a time I saw the nanny implement the ‘families sit down to eat dinner’ rule. ‘Everyone sleeps in their own bed’ soon followed. I always thought this simply provided structure just for the kids, but seeing this struggling family without much structure for children, it all made sense.

The routine provides clear decision making (or limits the need to make decisions) for parents. It eliminates guilt (I decided last year not to give in to tantrums, and this is a tantrum, therefore I shouldn’t feel guilty for not doling out another cookie) and it assists with family unity. Dinner being ready at 6, all sitting around a table facilitates conversation, and also allows duties such as washing up to follow. With bedtime, when parents can never have the same routine twice or depend on sleep for themselves or their children, a cranky family ensues.

Routines give kids a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline.  Children also naturally fear the unknown, and structure will allow them to handle change within a context of the ‘known’.  These little minds and bodies change daily and the familiar acts as a comfort.

The possibility of handing kids to babysitters and having them be put to sleep without a set routine is stressful and often ruins an evening that you are paying quite a bit for. Leave it to a night when you are exhausted for the toddler to decide not to go to bed, or to get up every 30 minutes. If you don’t have a fairly stricy routine for this, the child gets mixed messages. Parents should be able to parent – to make the decisions and be the ‘alphas’ in their family. Children crave this structure, and look for role models.

We have so much clutter in our brains and structure can eliminate all of those extra decisions.  So get out the calendar and a timer and relax!


Teaching Compassion Early May Lead To An Easier Time as a Teenager

FAM, kids By November 14, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

What does compassion have to do with having an easier time as a teenager?  What can parents do to encourage and teach to our children to be more compassionate when there are so many other distractions and role models distracting them from learning these lessons?


Music for Toddlers

grow, LIVE By August 20, 2012 Tags: , , , , No Comments

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Music soothes the savage beast,” and know the benefits of music for unborn and newborn babies. But what about toddlers? If there ever was a savage beast to tame, it would be an unruly toddler. But beyond lullabies, what benefits does music for toddlers bring? Let’s examine some of the ways toddlers are influenced for the better by music, and how to utilize music for toddlers to the best effect.

The Top 100 Things All Canadians Should Know

The Top 100 Things All Canadians Should Know

FAM, kids By June 26, 2012 Tags: , , No Comments

In preparing for Canada Day, we often reminisce about times gone by.  But have we perhaps been lazy with our heritage and our own education?  Here are the top 100 things all Canadians should know about – either at a cocktail party or in answer to your children’s questions.  We’re bracing ourselves for lots of comments about what we may be missing…  please add your thoughts below.  We sometimes forget that we are our children’s best teachers and role models.  So if a few of these things are fuzzy in your mind… you’ve got a fun activity brewing for the long weekend.


When your kids mispronounce words

FAM, kids By February 1, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

We asked Moms on our Facebook Fan page and Twitter about the cutest mispronunciations their children have uttered.  And we had to share the results.  It should brighten your day.

1.  ‘gra-noculars’ instead of ‘binoculars’.
2.  yew nork!
3.  pah-sketti!
4.  “Oak” meal. (Oatmeal)
5.  Cheh-pet (instead of ketchup).
6.  kershamol (commercial)
7.  Mr ghetti (spaghetti)
8.  minished! instead of finished. i still say it even though he’s outgrown it.
9.  i used to say “missmiss” [for christmas] – 35 years later + my dad still teases me about it 😛
10.  Guacamonkey!
11.  ‎”Can we go to Ole McDonald’s?”
12.  Wook (look)
13.  Tim Horton hears a who!
14.  Poorhead (instead of forehead)
15.  Flus-sh*#. She meant flush it.
16.  There are so many funny ones I just can’t remember them all… hambulance = ambulance. My favourite is listening to the wrong/mixed up lyrics in the car. It kills me everytime!
17.  Furnace…..actually means Thermos. Mummy can I have soup in my furnace tomorrow?
18.  The funniest I’ve heard was from a little one I used to babysit, he used to say he liked to eat crap, instead of crab. Lol.
19.  dumb shit = drumstick….we even have it recorded
20.  Beegurt (yogurt) I want some beeegurt!
21.  Exact-a-dentally for accidentally. He’s 6 and still says it. I know I’ll miss it when it’s gone.
22.  I’m not hungry, just drinky!
23.  hunormous
24.  ‘bafuter’ for computer
25.  My son used to call pit bulls “pimples” as in “Look Mommy, there’s a pimple dog!”

Feel free to add your own in the comments section.  See?  Parenting is SO worth it!!!