Monday, July 18, 2016

Why Pokemon XY is Better Than Indigo League

What? How can XY be better than Indigo League, the show that started all?!


My four year-old is currently obsessed with Pokemon. My husband and I are old-school Pokemon fans, me from watching the original series and him from playing the first gameboy games.

The next generation fandom started with my husband and I impulse-buying coordinating Pokemon keychains (Squirtle and Bulbasaur). My daughter became obsessed with Squirtle, playing with the keychain whenever she could. We started with showing her some clips of Squirtle on YouTube, but eventually we just dove in with Indigo League, because naturally, you should start at the beginning, right?

We finished Indigo League on Netflix, but not having free access to Johto Journeys, we started Pokemon XY.

At first, I was against XY. Different voice actors! Different Ash outfit! Different Pokemon! Different companions!! What happened to Brock and Misty?! Who are these Clement and Bonnie people!?


For Pokemon purists, I say start from the beginning, but for young kids, XY is superior to Indigo League for these reasons: 

1. Ash (Main Character)

Indigo League

In Indigo League Ash is a whiney, arrogant, selfish boy. It is comical in the series that he thinks he's so great and keeps getting put in his place, but for a main character, his personality is kind of annoying and not what I'd hope for my kids. 


Ash is older, more experienced, and more mature. He is kind and considerate to his friends. He still wants to become a better Pokemon trainer, but he's not obsessed with personal greatness and has a much more humble attitude toward the process. In one episode he is rejected from a gym because he doesn't have four badges yet. He accepts the rule and maturely says that he will return when he has four badges. He is a much better role model for little ones. 

2. Companions

Indigo League 

As much as I love Misty (I dressed like her last month), she is very rude. She verbally abuses Ash in every episode. Ash treats her pretty poorly in the beginning too. In the episode where they visit her home town, her three sisters call her ugly. Lots of negativity with her.

Similarly, I loved Brock when I first saw the series in high school. He was hilariously falling in love with every girl they met in each episode. When Brock (and sometimes 10 year-old Ash) drools over a girl, I wonder at his intentions (hooking up?) and am offended at the blatant objectification of women.

Not behaviors or philosophies I want my 4 year-old picking up. 


Clement and Bonnie are a brother and sister duo. They are kind and take care of each other. Bonnie fills the Brock role of pointing out beautiful women to her brother, but her motive is to find her brother a good wife. Instead of targeting physically attractive women, she says "you seem like a keeper" about nice, smart, and pretty women. It fulfills the comedic part of the show with Clement getting thoroughly embarrassed, but doesn't diminish a woman's worth to looks alone. 

Sarina is the other female companion of Ash (yay for equal numbers of boys and girls in the main group!) and fills the role of beginning trainer. She is like Ash in Indigo league, except sweet naive instead of bloated with amateur arrogance. For people new to Pokemon, you can learn through her eyes. 

They are always encouraging and helpful toward each other. I don't think I've seen an episode with name-calling or arguing yet. 

3. More Pokemon

This actually bothered me at first. I thought, "Come on! I just learned the first 150, now I have to learn more?!" 

[To people who have no clue what Pokemon is, I describe them as animals that people catch and battle with. It's not like dog fighting, because that's what Pokemon exist for and what they like to do. There are plenty of episodes about the evils of mistreating Pokemon. The show promotes environmental awareness and positive care of animals.]

Though it's fictional, if it were a real world, there would be more than 150 types of animals. It makes sense that there are regional types. Once I got over missing Charmander and Bulbasaur, I actually started to like Froakie and Fenneken. 

Now that Pokemon Go is so popular, the Geek in me is actually glad to know some more obscure ones, so I can out-geek the mainstreamers. That sounds extra geeky, but some of you can relate.

4. Hidden Lessons

Indigo League definitely had some hidden lessons, mostly about animal rights and taking care of the environment. XY has up-ed the ante. I recently watched on with a hidden lesson about eating well! That's a win in my household. 

One lesson both series often teach is don't trust strangers to take care of your Pokemon, because they'll probably turn out to be Team Rocket.

5. Fewer Weird Characters

There were a couple Indigo League episodes where I might have laughed as a high schooler, but as a parent, I cringed. The episode where a maniac woman tries to kill all the jelly fish, and her entourage are young guys in speedos? Or the one where a bunch of boy bullies are controlled by one beautiful girl bully? 

So far with XY, the day players are less PG-13 or even PG. It's been a very G-rated show. 

6. Better Battles

XY just has better battles. The trainers call out more attacks. The animation is better.  

I recently watched a battle where Pikachu was blinded by something, and Ash called out detailed moves for Pikachu. I'm 30 years old and was entertained by it, so that's saying something, right? (about the show, not me!) 

Drawbacks of XY

1. The opening song isn't the full Indigo League version (there's no "You teach me and I teach you. Pokemon!!"), which wasn't the full-full version anyways.

2. Different voices. Ash's new voice makes sense, because he's supposed to be older. But Team Rocket's voices are strange to me, especially Meowth. I LOVED James' voice in Indigo League. The new voice is okay, but I keep picturing a voice actor in a studio, whereas the old James was just James. 

I LOVE Indigo League, so don't get me wrong. These opinions are all in the light of my four year-old watching the show and me as a parent watching for subtle (or not-so-subtle) negative influences on her character and the way she views herself. 

Charmander, return!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Pokemon Birthday!

Our oldest turned four this week. Her request was to have a Pokemon-themed birthday party. I did my Pinterest research and added some of my own creative ideas. We had a blast. Here's some photos of the day:

Pokemon Banner

I made this Pokemon banner by printing out pictures of my chosen five. I only have a B&W printer, so I traced, cut out, and glued colored construction paper on the appropriate sections. I outlined everything in sharpie. The Pokeballs are the centers of paper plates with red, black and white paper added. 

Cost: One construction paper pack and several hours of work. 

Pokemon Costumes

Our older daughter loves Charmander, and our younger daughter calls all Pokemon "Pikachu." I opted to purchase their hats and the Charmander tail online, but after they arrived, I realized I could have easily sewn them. I still had to sew a belt onto the Charmander tail, because it came with a pin that would have torn a hole in her shirt. 

I made my husband's Ash costume using this instructables post and purchasing the red trucker hat online, but I'll add my own tutorial here eventually. My Misty shirt is red ribbon sewn on as suspenders. I sewed the Pikachu tail and painted brown stripes on her tank top. 

Cost: About $70, but it would have been more like $50 if I had made the girls' hats. 

Catch the Pokemon Game

You can find more information on my Catch the Pokemon Game post, but I basically painted styrofoam cups and tied Pokemon toys to them. Then the party guests had to try to swing the toy up and catch it in the cup. 

Cost: $1 for cups and $3 for a pack of 24 Pokemon toys on Ebay (it takes like 3 weeks for shipping, so don't wait to the last minute for those). 

Pin the Tail on the Charmander

Another classic game with a Pokemon twist. I saw lots of Pikachu versions online available for purchase, but my daughter likes Charmander best, so I decided to DIY it. 

I practiced drawing Charmander 4 times, then sketched a large version on a poster in pencil. I traced my pencil sketch with a sharpie. I painted it, then re-traced the outline with the sharpie. I thought it needed something extra, so I added orange and yellow triangles for decoration. 

The tail pieces were construction paper cut in the shape of flames. 

Cost: $1 for a poster and $2 for orange and yellow paint. You'll need black, white, and blue for the eyes. $1 for construction paper tails. 

Pokemon Cake

I showed my daughter a few Pokemon cakes on google, expecting her to choose the one shaped like Charmander, but she's 4, and she likes toys on her cake. To my great relief, she chose a rectangle cake with a Pokeball and Pokemon toys. 

I just baked one cake, but baked a portion of the batter in a ramekin dish. I iced the rectangle in pink (per daughter's request), and mixed icing to make red and brown (black is hard to achieve). I iced it with a knife and the handle of a baby spoon, then added some Pokemon toys from the same batch used in the Catch the Pokemon game.

Cost: Cake ingredients $3 and Pokemon toys $3.

She loved it! In the photo below, you can also see the table decorations. That was a Pinterest find - two $1 table cloths taped together with black duct tape (2-person job) to look like a pokeball. 

That's about it! We had a great time. I really enjoyed crafting, sewing, painting, and prepping for the party. I'm glad we've finally gotten to the point where she can choose her party theme. Hope this is helpful for anyone planning a Pokemon party!

Pokemon Party Game: Catch That Pokemon!

This game is basically the same as a ball-and-cup game with a Pokemon twist. 


Red, white, and black paint 
Paint brush
White styrofoam cups
Yarn or string
Paper clips
Small Pokemon toys

STEP ONE: Paint the cups to look like Pokeballs. Let the first color dry before adding the next layer. 

STEP TWO: Cut yarn strips about 12'' long. Tie one end to a paper clip: 

STEP THREE: Poke small slit through bottom of styrofoam cup and slide paperclip in. 

STEP FOUR: Pull paper clip through and turn it sideways inside cup. 

STEP SIX: Tie other side of yarn to a Pokemon toy. 

To play the game, hold the cup with the toy hanging off the bottom. Swing the toy up and catch it in the cup. To add more challenge, try using your non-dominant hand. 

Have fun and Catch That Pokemon!!!

Friday, May 6, 2016

DIY Wubanub Repair

My 18 month-old is addicted to her pacifier. I tried to wean her over the past six months, but her behavior became very difficult (*I* had tearful episodes), and I finally decided that family harmony was more important than a toddler with a binky stuck to her face.

November 2015

We have loved the Wubanub! Amy has had three so far. Her elephant paci broke off, so we got her a frog, but we lost that in the Bass Pro Shop at Christmas (and they weren't very helpful in helping us find it...another post for another day). When we bought her the dinosaur, I said, "This is it! We're not buying her more pacifiers. They're intended for babies age 0-6 months!"

Well, this week the dinosaur binky fell off the wubanub. Zane wanted to buy another one, but they're $13, and I'm over buying her expensive pacifiers. I opened a package of pacifiers we already had from years ago, but she didn't like the shape of them.

I decided to take things into my own DIY hands.

First, I used a seam ripper to remove the chunk of pacifier that broke off and open the hole up to put in a new one.

I bought a 2-pack of 6+ month soothies for $6.50, which was still overpriced in my opinion, but at least I would be getting two wubanubs out of it, which would be $26. 

I inserted it into the hole and hand-sewed it in using a thimble to push the needle through the silicone. 

It was SEW easy!!

I actually made it harder for myself in two ways. First, I tried threading a strap through the holes and sewing that into the hole, but the strap prevented a good suck and got really snotty really fast.

Then I drilled holes into the soothie, intending to sew into the pre-drilled holes, but that wasn't good because I couldn't find the drilled holes when I finally got to the sewing part, and the needle goes through the silicone very easily. Pre-drilling probably just made the binkies more likely to break off again. 

Totally unnecessary!!

This project is easily accomplished by beginners and within an hour if you have all the materials you need. 

Recap Materials:
1. Old Wubanubs (or you could make your own wubanub from a little plush doll)
2. New soothie pacifiers
3. Seam ripper (could use knife, be careful!)
4. Needle
5. Thread
6. Thimble

Recap Instructions:
1. Rip out the seams and broken soothie piece from wubanub mouth.
2. Insert new soothie.
3. Hand-sew with a thimble.

Happy toddler. Happy sister photobombing. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

International Adoption Baby Shower

This post is long-overdue, but better late than never. My older sister just adopted a son from China. My mom, my other sister, and I threw her an adoption shower in December. I was in charge of decorations and activities.

Since the shower was around Christmas, we planned to incorporate red and green to our color scheme. I didn't want it to be overly Christmasy, so I made buntings with several bright colors to coordinate with the Christmas tree, but still made the party feel like a non-Christmas event.

We used pandas as our theme, because they're Chinese and just plain cute. I collected plush panda dolls wherever I found them (Ikea, Hobby Lobby, etc) and also made a couple to add to the batch. My two original creations were a fleece panda plush with an extra long neck and a panda face pillow cover. Both were gifted to my sister and nephew after the shower.

In my Pinterest research, I saw thumbprint guest books were a new thing. At first, I thought I'd make a large tree with a panda mommy and baby at the base, but then I saw the balloon idea. I searched for a panda version on Etsy to buy, but when I didn't find one, I just made my own!! 

I found a photo of a panda and mommy and drew them holding the balloon strings. Then we had each guest choose a color from our ink pad of assorted, bright colors, stamp their thumb or finger prints above the pandas like a balloon, and sign their names. Ours doesn't look perfect, but it looks pretty darn cute!! 

I drew another picture of a panda and mommy that didn't work so well holding a bunch of balloons, so I turned it into a decorative art piece by adding colored pencil and a sweet quote from Dumbo. 

I also found several sweet quotes that worked for a single mom adoption. After doing some research on Etsy, I decided (again) to just make my own word art. This quote made me teary. I ended up matting it in green for the shower, but this is just a screen shot of my word document:

We had several other panda accents including these adorable cupcake that my mom commissioned from Publix:

We had a great time celebrating my sister and new nephew, including a couple of low-key shower games, praying over them with baby shower verses, and of course showering her with gifts for her new life.