Pirates, Dungeons and Dragons, and LARPing – A Geek Dad Moment

pirates or privateers, pirate ship like Jacques Francois Morin operated in French waters

Pirates: they’re in our blood Pirates are trendy in the geek community, geek chic, I guess you could say. And my son and I have pirates in our blood. A distant cousin of mine, Jacques François Morin dit Bonsecours, was a privateer in New France in the early 1700s. His ship, crew, and logs of his takes are documented. He did have French consent to board English ships, but other accounts of his exploits portray him as ruthless, nothing but a pirate. Argh, mateys. What would that be in French? I also have Viking roots in another line. Badass. B thinks it’s cool that he has pirates in his bloodline. J thinks so, too, but technically being a stepson, he does not. He’s part Asian, though, so he does wonder if he has ninjas somewhere in his tree. We will make that a genealogy project for another day. An appropriate… read more

Zombie apocalypse – Fatherhood in the end of the world

zombie apocalypse LEGO zombie minifigs

Fatherhood in the End of the World I’ve been reading a lot of zombie novels lately. World War Z by Max Brooks, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Monster Island by David Wellington, to name a few. I’m also mildly addicted to The Walking Dead graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore, as well as the TV series. I’m fascinated not only with the concept of a zombie apocalypse, but also what the world would look like during the fallout. And, as a parent, that brings up some very real fears for me. I think that any good zombie book makes the reader think more about how society and humanity would change when forced to step up and survive a zombie outbreak. When faced with the end of the world by undead hordes, will all governments fail? Will looting and fighting among survivors be the end of… read more

Moxie & whoopie pies. Summer, I dub thee FestivalFest!

Whoopie Pie New England treat chocolate flavored with powdered sugar

New England, and Maine in particular, is big on the summer festival. Summer is short here, and Mainers like to take the opportunity to celebrate! Moxie, whoopie pies, and blueberry anything can be had along with lobster and clams in huge quantities. Some things can seldom be gotten outside of New England (see the aforementioned Moxie and whoopie pies), and some are just Maine tradition. I know people who send Humpty Dumpty potato chips to friends and relatives because they just can’t be found anywhere else. Festivals are a great way to spend time together, get out and enjoy the outdoors, and most of them can be done on the cheap. They are a great choice for family activities. I look at it as good parenting to shake things up a bit and spend some family time away from the usual routine of home. My somewhat offbeat and geeky family… read more

New Hampshire bound, zero agenda

Family vacation plan checklist on a clipboard

New Hampshire wasn’t the first choice location for our family vacation this year, but we do love it and it has lots to see and do. I’ve written a lot about Disney, and while Walt Disney World is pretty much constantly on our minds, we just can’t swing it this year. Even though New Hampshire is adjacent to our state of Maine, it’s far enough away to escape real life and the tourist season for a while and have some fun. We’ve been to North Conway, NH several times and taken the kids to Storyland. We went to Kahuna Laguna and rode out Hurricane Irene while zipping down the indoor water slides there. This year we hope to take B to Santa’s Village, Clark’s Trading Post, maybe even head north to Franconia Notch. So while we are enjoying some family fun in New Hampshire, set against the backdrop of the… read more

Vacationland, summer in Maine, and parents all speak the same language

Maine Vacationland license plate with chickadee and pine done

Vacationland – that’s what some call our great state of Maine. Every summer, families come from all parts of the world to experience all that Maine has to offer. Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, Kennebunkport, L.L. Bean, Stephen King’s house, to name just a tiny fraction of Maine attractions. Everyone wants to eat Maine lobster and clam chowder, whoopie pies, and stand in line for a half hour for crab cakes and lobster rolls at Red’s Eats. Folks want to try the lobster ice cream at Ben & Bill’s. Native Mainers are a little bored of lobster. We get tourists from New York to California wanting to hear the locals speak, hoping we’ll all sound like salty fishermen and potato farmers. They keep expecting us to answer, “Ayuh” for the affirmative, and tell them, “You can’t they-ah from hee-ah” when asked for directions. Visitors are shocked to find out that… read more

5 dad-themed things to do with sidewalk chalk

J driving in his chalk city in 2005

My kids have always loved sidewalk chalk. It’s cheap, easily obtainable, and temporary. Soap and water removes chalk from children’s hands — and yours. The artwork on your sidewalk or driveway washes away with a light rain, or if you don’t want it there after playtime, a quick spray down with the garden hose does the trick. Besides hopscotch, four square and murals, there are endless fun activities you can do with outdoor chalk. Here are five of them with a dad-friendly feel to them. Let’s face it — guys are into stuff like cars and gaming and anything involving electronics, like geocaching. I skipped sports-related activities though. I know nothing about sports. What you will need: sidewalk chalk and/or colored classroom chalk dry paved (or concrete) driveway, sidewalk, or unused parking lot sunshine (for some activities) 1. Shadow tracing In the morning or afternoon, when the sun is at… read more

Cops and Crooks | A Four-year-old’s View of the World

cops and robbers police officer and crook LEGO minifigures

A few weeks ago, we got B a power wheels car. It looks like a police cruiser, a Dodge Charger, with lights and sirens and a talking police radio. It’s something we had always wanted to get for J, but we were just too damned poor back then. We’ve come a long way, and it feels good to be able to afford one. Together with a drivers license that my wife made for him (complete with photo), a police uniform that his Mimi bought, and his four-year-old grasp of the concept of “good guys” and “bad guys”, we spend a lot of time outside chasing each other around the yard. B is very smart. Like, freaky smart. We just had his IQ tested as part of an evaluation for school. I won’t give his actual score, but my wife and I worry about what the hell they are going to… read more

The LEGO Movie release, and Not Until It Happens To Their Kids

Overwhelmed and shut down child at Toys 'R' Us LEGO Movie Master Builder Event

Let me just say that most of the people in our family have been waiting for this day for a long time — the DVD release of The LEGO Movie. I saw it with the boys when it came out, and we’ve been impatiently anticipating the day it would hit the stores so we could see it again. It was funny and cute, and LEGO is a big thing in our household. This past weekend, my wife and I took B to Toys ‘R’ Us to a LEGO Movie Master Builder workshop, where kids got to choose pieces from a number of bins, sit at one of several long tables, and build their own Master Builder creation. There were some examples on printed handouts, and the store employees built a few of their own to display, but largely it was up to the kids what they wanted to create. Or… read more