The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 89

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 89 covers our continued sleep problems, plus costume and karate cuteness as well as my problem with stories like Mulan.

I haven’t gotten to my Tarantino post over on UnitedMonkee post yet, but keep an eye over there for it to go live next week. lu in care bear costume

Can you handle the cuteness? To see Lu giving Jack and I check-ups check out the Photo Diary post from January 15th.

It took more looking around than I would have through, but I finally found a story about the Miss America contestant I was talking about. I’m not so sure about the article’s tone, but it seems like I got the basics right.  mulan

Am I being too sensitive about Mulan or is it better to wait and show our daughters material that includes stereotypes and long-held anti-women beliefs that in turn contradicts those idea?

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Tiny Titans: Welcome To The Treehouse

Tiny Titans class photoI’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.

Tiny Titans Welcome To The Treehouse Volume 1The very first comic I ever tried to read with my daughter was Art Baltazar and Franco’s Johnny DC title Tiny Titans. I was a huge fan when the book launched in 2008 thanks to its mix of inside DC fan humor and ridiculously adorable artwork. It was like a classic comedy comic, but tailor made for DC Comics fans like myself. However, she was probably two years old at that point and wasn’t interested in reading comics of any kind.

More recently, when I got the idea to start looking at various kids comics, I pulled Tiny Titans: Welcome To The Treehouse off my shelf. I got through the first issue of six collected in this volume and set it aside to do that whole parenting thing. Later that day we caught an episode of the excellent Teen Titans Go! on Cartoon Network. When that was over and I saw that my daughter had enjoyed herself, I showed her Tiny Titans and started reading to her, pointing out the characters as we went. She loved it and it has since become a mainstay in her reading rotation. Continue reading

Pop Poppa Original Recipes: Kielbasa & Cauliflower Soup

kielbasa soupAs I mentioned a few weeks back, I found myself in a dilly of a pickle one night when my slow cooker failed to cook slowly and I needed something to feed my family. I looked in my fridge, saw a packaged kielbasa sausage, some chicken stock, half of a head of cauliflower and figured I could make something work.

My initial idea to make a soup with the kielbasa was partly influenced by a slow cooker recipe I’ve made from Good Housekeeping called Kielbasa Stew. I had an idea that these basic flavors would work together. The red wine vinegar and ground mustard just came to me and wound up working really well to add some tang to the recipe.

Kielbasa & Cauliflower Soup Ingredients:

1 lbs. kielbasa sausage, diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves diced or grated on a rasp (my new preferred method)
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 celery stalks, cleaned & diced
Half a head of cauliflower, diced
2 cups of orzo
Enough chicken stock to cover (about 4 cups)
2 Tsp. ground mustard
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
Sauerkraut to serve

As always, I did all of my prep first which meant chopping up the vegetables and then the meat. I got the veggies cooking in a few tablespoons of olive oil as well as the red wine vinegar until tender in a Dutch oven which took about five minutes.

Then I added the sausage and cooked that for another five minutes, until it browned. After that, I covered with chicken stock, added the ground mustard and brought to a boil.

Once the liquid started boiling, I added in the orzo, gave the mixture a few stirs and then popped the lid on for 10-15 minutes until the orzo was cooked through. Once it is cooked, you’re good to go. I happened to have some canned Sauerkraut in the pantry, so that seemed like a natural accompaniment.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 88

pop poppa nap cast logoThe Pop Poppa Nap Cast #88 delves into the worlds of work, sleep (or the lack thereof) and She-Ra!

Follow the links for my posts on last week’s menu, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and the books I mentioned that were written and drawn by comic folks if you’re interested.

[youtbe=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4_353-fvTM&sns=tw]

The TTT video I mentioned that I was reminded of while watching The Goldbergs can be seen here.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Book Nook: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers A Pizza, Little Mouse Gets Ready & Hansel & Gretel

the glorkian warrior delivers a pizzaEvery time I go to the library with my daughter I scope out the kid’s graphic novel section which sits adjacent to the computers and play tables she loves to frequent. I walked away the other day with a pretty solid haul, all of which happen to be written and drawn by influential comic book professionals.

Written and drawn by James Kochalka, The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza is a fun comic book story about an alien and his talking backpack. Our hero gets what seems like a wrong number phone call ordering a pizza, but decides its his duty to actually make it happen, so he sets out on a wacky journey that introduces him to a new friend and a gigantic magic robot. It’s very much in the fun, crazy, surreal vein of other Kochalka works like Dragon Puncher and Johnny Boo when it comes to both artwork and story.

The 110 page book from First Second is a fun romp that might remind you of Adventure Time or something in that vein. As usual, I read these things before seeing if my three year old daughter is interested and I think I’m going to skip this one for now with her. There is a tiny bit of cartoon violence in there that and some talk of death — both of which are in Adventure Time, now that I think about it — but there’s a crazy twist at the end that I really don’t think she’d get right now. Maybe next year.

Two more quick things about Kochalka. First, if you do read this book, pass it to your kid and she or he digs it, make sure to check out his other books before passing them along. I mentioned Johnny Boo and Dragon Puncher above which are both kids books, but he also does adult work like Magic Boy, his journal comic American Elf and (hopefully) obviously SuperF*ckers that you might not want to pass along just yet. Secondly, American Elf fully inspired me to start doing Photo Diary back in 2011.

little mouse gets readyUp next we have Jeff Smith’s adorable Little Mouse Gets Ready which won the Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor according to a shiny sticker on the copy I borrowed. This is an offering from Toon Books aimed at kids my daughter’s age as it shows a young mouse getting ready to go play in the barn with his mom, brothers and sisters.

I’m embarrassed to say that I still haven’t finished Smith’s amazing epic comic book series Bone, but I’ve read enough to know that this 31 page storybook for kids fits perfectly in with the visual style established in his other work. You get a pretty good idea of it from the cover image above which features bold lines, warm colors and delightful characters.

I did read this one with my daughter and she told me she liked it, but she hasn’t become obsessed with it like some other books. Though, to be fair, she hasn’t been obsessed about any books for a while, partially because she’s been skipping naps, falling asleep on the couch and thus not having her normal “Books and Bed Time” routine.  hansel and gretel gaiman

Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti happens to be another offering from the Toon line, this time Toon Graphics. I first heard about this combination of prose and pictures back in September when I wrote about the book getting optioned for a movie over on Spinoff Online. I’ve read Gaiman’s more grown-up books like Good Omens, Neverwhere, American Gods, the short story collection Smoke and Mirrors and the incredible Vertigo comic book series Sandman. I was pretty excited because he is a writer who deals with fables in all manor of ways and I was curious to see what he would do with the Grimm brothers tale.

And I’ve got to say, it wasn’t much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid telling of this story about a pair of siblings whose parents ditch them in the woods and they eventually discover a mean old woman in the woods with an edible house who has nefarious designs for them. But, there wasn’t as much Neil Gaiman-ness in there as I had hoped. However, Mattotti’s artwork really does bring something new to this story. His deep black brush strokes fill each two page spread with the kind of darkness and shadows that you want to pour over to see if anything spooky pops out.

Because of the scarier elements of this book — which doesn’t clean up the violence from the original, but also doesn’t revel in it — I will also hold off on reading this one to my daughter. Heck, it almost gave me nightmares, who knows what she’d think?!

All-in-all this was a fun reading experience for me, even if it didn’t necessarily net much in the way of kiddo reading time offerings. Still, I love the idea that these people whose comic work I love so much are making things in various formats that I can share with my kids at various times and hopefully show them the quality of the work that these people do while laying the groundwork for future suggestions.

Quick Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

how to train your dragon 2A few years back my wife and I watched the first How To Train Your Dragon and enjoyed it. So, when the sequel came out, we wanted to give it a look, but knew that there was no way we’d get to see it in the theater. After it came out, I bumped it to the top of the ol’ Netflix queue and after a few days sitting around, we watched it with our three-year-old daughter.

If you’re not familiar with the films, they take place in a Viking-esque world that is inhabited by dragons. In the first film, the people of Burke come to respect the things they once hunted and killed thanks to the efforts of eventual dragon rider Hiccup (Jay Baruchel). By the time the second one rolls around, the people of Burke all have and love dragons, but there’s a warlord out there named Drago who is putting together a dragon army…for some reason. While trying to communicate how great the creatures are to Drago, Hiccup winds up meeting a mysterious person who helps facilitate a dragon sanctuary.

Overall, this is a fun, action-packed movie that looked like DreamWorks had warped a few levels in the old CGI department, but I don’t think I can out-and-out recommend it for fellow parents of young kids. The battle scenes are pretty intense and so is the lead bad guy Drago. Voiced by Djimon Hounsou, the so bad he’s bad baddie roars his way through most of his scenes (and also happens to look a lot like Marvel villain Blastaar). There’s also a very shocking death about 30 minutes before the movie ends that happened to go over my kid’s head, but didn’t stop her from asking “Where’s ____?” We’ve explained death to her as best we can, so she kind of understood “They died,” but I was a little worried that the revelation would be more devastating.

Still, she seemed to enjoy the movie even with those moments. I’m not sure how much of these movies she absorbs on the first go-around, but I bet she’d give it a thumb’s up. On the other hand, I’m not sure if it’s a movie that I’d add to the collection just yet because I do worry that after repeated viewings, those heavier elements might become more apparent. I don’t want to completely shield her from everything, but I also don’t want to expose her to too much. That’s the great complexity of parenthood!

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 87

pop poppa nap cast logo The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 87 goes back to cover New Year’s and my wife’s birthday, plus my attempts to get on an hourly schedule and the various ways they were thwarted this week.

Check out the Babes In Toyland post I wrote here.

scheduleHere’s a look at the schedule and check-list on the wipe board in my office.

WebMD has a solid post on Fifth Disease.

littlest pet shopLittlest Pet Shop Season 1 gets a big thumbs up from me!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

9 Crazy Things About Disney’s Babes In Toyland

babes in toyland posterBabes In Toyland was the first live-action, big budget Disney musical and it’s completely bonkers. Annette Funicello stars as Mary, Mary Quite Contrary. She’s about to marry Tom the Piper’s Son — played by Tommy Sands — but the evil Barnaby (Ray Bolger) gets in the way so that he can get hitched to her himself. He hires ne’re-do-wells Gonzorgo (Henry Calvin) and Roderigo (Gene Sheldon) to toss Tommy in the sea. Instead they sell him to Gypsies. That’s the basic plot…for the first half of the film. After that, the movie completely switches gears as Mary, Tommy and her siblings wind up in Toyland helping the Toymaker (Ed Wynn) and his assistant Grumio (Tommy Kirk) create toys for Christmas with the bad guys waiting to strike.

As I said in a recent Photo Diary entry, I really enjoyed this Jack Donohue-directed movie the first time around. Then, I put it on for my parents and wife — all big Disney fans — to watch on New Year’s Eve and realized this story is poorly put together, all over the place and plain-old-nuts in many ways. That’s what I’m focusing on in this particular post, though I liked the film enough on the third viewing to also list some awesome moments in a post that will go up next week. Continue reading

Who Decided That Bead Mazes In Doctors’ Offices Were A Good Idea?

doctor office bead maze 2

The giant bead maze at our doctors’ office.

Last night our daughter started getting a some red bumps on her face. They started on one cheek and traveled around her forward and down the other side. She didn’t seem to mind, but when they were still there this morning, I called the doctor and set her up with an appointment. But, this post isn’t about the actual problem — which the doctor thinks is the not-as-serious-as-it-sounds Fifth Disease and an ear infection — but instead the insanity that is a pediatricians’ waiting rooms.

Our doctors have always been great. Aside from one doc who left the practice shortly after we signed on, we have always had excellent care. Sure, they tend to run late, but what doctor’s office doesn’t? However, I do have one big complaint: the giant bead maze table in the middle of the waiting room.

doctor office bead maze 1

She literally can’t stop herself from playing with this thing!

Now, look, I love bead mazes (even though it took me about 20 minutes to figure out what they’re actually called). I was a big fan as a child and still like sitting with my kids as they play with the smaller version we have in the playroom. But it’s inconceivable to me that doctors’ offices still have these things in their waiting rooms. Who knows better than medical professionals how easily germs can spread amongst people in an enclosed space like a waiting room? You then throw in the fact that you’re dealing with little kids who love playing and these things — which are like toddler and pre-schooler catnip — and it seems nearly impossible to keep the spread of germs to a minimum when an enormous bead maze is just sitting there, begging for tiny hands to push dozens of colored blocks wherever they can.

Worse yet? This one has beads going around the legs. You know what that translates into? Kids crawling on their hands and knees all over the floor of the waiting room! I don’t consider myself a germaphobe, but I am extra cautious when I’m in a place like that that’s just packed with potential sickness. Needless to say, I Purelled the heck out of both of us as soon as we got into the actual exam room.

I hate when people complain about things without offering a possible solution. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can come up with one for pediatricians’ waiting rooms. On the plus side, these toys help calm the kiddos down before they see the doctors, but on the negative there’s the whole GERMS ARE EVERYWHERE thing.

What do you guys think? Am I being crazy about this or do you share my distrust of waiting room toys? Let me know in the comments!

The Big Hero 6 Special Features Look Pretty Rad

big hero six blu-ray If your pre-schooler is like mine, then they’re all about the Disney Channel and Disney Junior. The marketing wizards over there do a rock solid job of hyping their upcoming projects and getting the young viewers like my daughter super psyched about all of their projects. That of course includes Big Hero 6, which we planned on seeing in the theaters, but just couldn’t thanks to all the new house happenings.

Since we weren’t able to see this one theatrically, we’re anxiously awaiting the film’s arrival on Blu-ray. And it looks like this version will have the kinds of extra features Disney fans have come to expect from their various offerings according to a press release I just received.

In addition to the short film “Feast,” the set will include features like “The Origin Story of Big Hero 6″ which gets into the property’s comic book roots, a look at the half dozen main animators called “Big Animator 6,” deleted scenes, gags and a guided tour of the film’s many Easter Eggs. Check out this clip to get a taste of all the hidden Frozen references throughout the movie.

Big Hero 6 is scheduled to hit home video on Feb. 24th, though it will be on Disney Movies Anywhere and Digital HD on the 3rd.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 86

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 86 covers Christmas, sickness, sleep and Sh-Ra with a surprise appearance by Lucy!

 

For more information on Watts Christmas Wonderland, check out their site. Above you can see a shaky shot of the light-filled neighborhood we discovered and the solid Santa at the Newburgh Mall.

snow glow elsa

My First Disney Princess Frozen Snow Glow Elsa Singing Doll was a big hit with Lu. She also got Frozen stickers, jammies, jelly beans, slippers and more.

Above you can see She-Ra – Princess of Power – Season One, Vol. 1 as well as Lu brandishing her paper roll She-Ra sword!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.