Day 5’s gifts that illuminate and solve are mostly about technology. SALIVATING!!!
I’m one of those hardcore moms who never allowed the boys to play with squirt guns. They would find driftwood with some resemblance to weapons, and use imagination and creativity to make up games.
My son has been heartbroken, as the servers that we’ve been trying for the Pixelmon Minecraft mod haven’t been working at all. I offered to tweet the Minecraft guys. I tried to add different servers. No go. Figuring out how to install mods in Minecraft is tricky, as it depends on whether you use a PC or a Mac, and takes patience.
But then I watched a few Youtube videos about how to do this stuff, and made my son the happiest man in the house. I added a mod to Minecraft so that he could play as his beloved Pokemon characters.
It really wasn’t that difficult. First, you go to Pixelmonmod – it’s a great resource. Unfortunately the servers just wouldn’t work with the version of Minecraft that we have – 1.7.10. What I learned was that we had to instal a mod instead. We downloaded Forge in order to quickly install a mod. Once you open it click the top option to install the files. It will end up saying that 11 files have been installed. I found a free Pixelmon mod on Minecraft Six. Mods are saved as ‘jar’ files. Once downloaded to your computer, search your computer files for the Minecraft folder. In this folder will be a subfolder for ‘mods’. Pop the jar file into this folder, and you’re good to go.
When you open Minecraft, you must select the bottom (Forge) version from the dropdown menu. My son can now select his Pokemon characters and continue to build and explore the very spacial world of Minecraft.
Happy kids, happy Pokemon, and endless fun. And mommy looks like a computer genius rockstar! I just wish I could build half of what the kids can in Minecraft – actually I should start with a lesson on moving my character without bumping into walls and falling into oceans!
Usually I’m not preachy, but watching this video of three generations talking about summer ‘fun’ filmed by Nature Valley jarred me to my roots. Our relationship to nature is changing and with technology at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget about what’s important, like being outside and enjoying nature. With each passing generation, children seem to be playing outside less and less.
What if our connection to nature is lost for good? I want my grandchildren to develop skills and knowledge that can be acquired only in nature. Learning to fish, to camp, swim, built forts and plant seeds are part of childhood – play is necessary for development. Not only are motor skills developed, but creativity, reasoning, logic and life skills are honed. Can you imagine having no access to food other than fish, but the only time you’ve held a rod was during a fishing video game? So let’s make a pact to get the kids outside this summer, K?
The time is now to rediscover the joy of nature.
The kids and I have completed our ‘Summer Bucket List’ and pasted it to the fridge, where we can check off the items as we complete them. I’m giddy. Too often the summer slips away from us and I regret not having slept in a tent or taking the kayak out. This will be the best summer ever.
I challenge you to complete your own Bucket List (click to get your own printable)! I’d also love to hear your ideas in the comments below. Happy summer!
It’s that time of year when cherry blossoms pop out and science fair projects are top-of-mind. You might be travelling for March Break and getting questions about volcanic sand or downloading the latest star-gazing app to search for Orion’s belt. (My husband insists that Orion’s jock strap is also part of the constellation, so I’ve taken to handling the kids’ science education myself).
I’ve always believed that education should happen through entertainment. Setting aside time to ‘study’ science isn’t nearly as fun as incorporating a few lessons into daily activities like baking monkey bread or using vinegar and lemons to scrub the bathtub.
Here is our recipe for non-Newtonian fluid (otherwise know as Magic Mud) and a fun oozing Volcano. But life is busy, and not everyone can go outside with their kids dressed in PJ’s to do messy science experiments.
This month we’ve been coasting on the science stream with a bit of help from Netflix. (See what I did there? Steam..Ha!) Education is not only about entertainment, but balance, and once you’ve done the hands-on activities, handing your kids a tablet with an equally entertaining educational show can solidify concepts and give you a bit of a break.
In our household we are Netflix fanatics, and I’m not even sure why we have cable. This month I was able to tear myself away from Covert Affairs and House of Cards to stream a few science shows with my boys. In school one is learning about states of matter and the other has been studying astronomy. So I pretty much feel like a rockstar mom for letting them stream Cosmos and Deadliest Volcanoes: Nova from the sofa.
Streaming Science for Little Kids:
1. The Magic School Bus Gains Weight
2. Fetch! with Ruff
3. Animal Mechanicals, Balloon Volcano Island
4. Sid the Science Kid
Streaming Science for Big Kids:
1. Nova: Hunting the Elements
3. Deadliest Volcanoes: Nova
4. Let Your Mind Wonder
So whenever you need a wee break from teaching your kids about science, Netflix is a great supplement while you clean up the volcano lava and magic mud. Enjoy!
Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and as always all opinions and anecdotes are my own.
You might be a tad more organized than we are, but in case you’re more of a late shopper…. here are some last minute Valentines gifts that will actually enhance people’s lives. Online personal training, music lessons, language instruction… The lucky recipients of your gifts will be brilliant while being able to be hermits! (But then again, staying home can be pretty romantic…)
Online Yoga Classes: $8-$10/month – Downward dog on your tablet in the living room.
Fiverr: $5 per gig – You could spend hours looking at the weird and wonderful things people will do for just $5.
Rosetta Stone Online Language Course: 6 months $169 – Because the elementary school french is getting a tad rusty.
Ancestry.ca Geneology Subscription: $9.99 – $24.99/month – Doing a family tree has been on your list for ages.
Online music and art lessons at Artistworks: $20 – $30/month – Philharmonic here I come!
PicMonkey Royale Subscription: $4.99/month or $33/year – Easy photo editing, plus you can add mustaches and text to images.
AnimalJam by National Geographic Kids: $5.99/month – A fab educational game for kids.
Online Personal Fitness Training: $11.50 – $29.99/week – Because then you have an excuse to say ‘Sorry I can’t. I’m seeing my personal trainer today.’
NextIssue Magazine Subscriptions: $9.99/month – Hundreds of magazine issues to read on your tablet or phone.
Amazon Prime: $99.99/year – Free shipping, books and movies.
Rogers Shomi: $8.99/month – the new video and TV streaming service from Rogers
Club Penguin: $5.00 – $7.95/month – Club Penguin is an ever-changing world where the possibilities to create, socialize, and play are literally endless.
My normal week always consists of boats, rainstorms, kids sneaking off with (and dropping) my ipad to watch Stampylongnose, and a pair of eyeglasses getting scratched from being wedged into a huge purse. While coats can get wet and glasses can easily be replaced, it’s not always as economical to replace the sacred ipad Air. She is my new baby. And yes, she might have a name. I carry an android phone, an ipod touch, an iphone and an ipad. Two out of four of these things have cracked screens, all have overheated in the sun and three have been dropped in the snow during ski trips.
Logitech must know me well because one day I opened a package and it was the new Logitech Big Bang case for ipad air. In one of the most clever PR packages I have yet received, it came with marbles, a bath mitt and toy keys for a toddler. Double take! They were daring me to put the case to the test. And my kids and I obliged.
1. I left it on the deck of a catamaran during a downpour.
2. My kids knocked it off the kitchen counter.
3. We went to the beach and dropped it in the sand.
4. In my purse, keys scratch sunglasses and poke holes in the gorgeous leather wallet, but the ipad is fine. I am happy to report that my ipad is still perfect, and the case isn’t ever coming off. I wish Logitech could make a sunglass case..
Disclosure: UrbanMommies was provided a Big Bang case for testing purposes.
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Remember those folks who said computers wouldn’t last and cell phones were a passing fad? Snicker. Not only were the naysayers incorrect, but our tech is now so mainstream and we have so many apps for our smartphones that we need experts to tell us about the true gems. In a special interview with Amber MacArthur, co-host of APP CENTRAL, she revealed her top 5 Holiday Apps for Moms as she gears up to celebrate a spectacular milestone: APP CENTRAL’s 100th episode on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 9:30 p.m. ET on BNN and on CTV, Saturday, Nov. 23 at 5:30 p.m. ET/PT. 100 episodes! No wonder we need more storage in our phones. I was ‘appy’ as a clam as we spoke. (OK I had to say it).
Amber MacArthur’s Top 5 Holiday Apps for Moms
1. Santa’s Magic phonecall iOS – free Call Santa on demand
2. Appy Holidays – allows you to get you xmas lights on your tree to dance to xmas carols. Plug the Appy Holidays Box (Available at Canadian Tire, $59.99) into any tree and turn it into a musical light show! Download the app to your smartphone or use the remote (included) to control your tree’s tunes & make lights dance
3. Martha Stewart Makes Cookies – Holiday Baking app iOS – $1.99 A mouthwatering assortment of Martha’s favorite cookies is now available at your
fingertips! Learn from the best with this indispensable baking resource, which combines cutting-edge technology with beautiful design and a generous sprinkling of good, old-fashioned fun. With 6 recipe bundles, instructional videos, baking tips, packaging
4. Go Gift – lets you manage your gift list. iOS – $0.99
Thanks to quick reminders and gift status notifications, this is the best holiday app to manage your gift list. You can add photos of people on your list and gift pics to match.
5. Mixologist Drink Recipe App – holiday drinks and low cal drinks. iOS/Android – $0.99/$1.49
Browse and search through nearly 8,000 drink recipes and over 1,000 ingredients, including holiday and low-cal drinks.
So get downloading to make your life easier, and don’t forget to tune in to the 100th episode of APP CENTRAL as Amber speaks with James Milward, Founder and Executive Producer of Secret Location (CTV.ca’s INTERFERENCE). Milward discusses his new app, Tug of War on Drugs, which reveals the realities of the war on drugs in support of Matthew Cooke’s documentary How to Make Money Selling Drugs. Plus, the APP CENTRAL team tests the latest in waterproof smartphones and phablets.
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