Monday, January 11, 2016

Navigating comics for kids

Back in September of 2015 I started working for a new comic book and game store in Elkhart, In. Secret Door Games is a great small shop that offers comics, a wide verity of board games, trading card games, and role-playing games, books and toys. Before starting work here I read most of my comics in graphic novel format. Which meant that I read them much later than when they first were published. Now I can follow a handful of series as they come out. :) Good for me. Good for the store. My kids too before would check out graphic novels at the library, and still do to be honest. The library was and is great. I know that books in the kids section are safe for them to read. Graphic novels in the teen section I thumb through before allowing them to check out. And only I read graphic novels from the adult section.

Now that we have access to single issue comics the boys naturally want to read what they see in the shop. That's all great, but navigating what is appropriate for them (age 6,7 &9) is a bit of a challenge. So here's what I've learned and things to keep in mind when looking  to buy comics for kids.

Know your comic book publishers, their websites and their rating systems (if they have one). As you probably know the two big publishers for superhero comics are DC and Marvel. Each one of these have their own rating system. Knowing what their system is will help you figure out if you are okay with your kids reading certain story lines. To find their rating system visit  for DC and for Marvel
Both DC and Marvel have a kids websites (click the name for the link) Visiting those and seeing what comics are advertised or offered there can be helpful.

For my boys, I feel safe letting them read Marvel comics rated T or All Ages. Anything else I have to read first and most times I just say they have to wait till they are older.  Current favorite is The Totally Awesome Hulk and Avengers Assemble Season 2.  DC I'm only okay with them reading E rated comics. My frustration is that there are not alot to choose from and I find that the art in DC is more gory than I think necessary in the T and T+ comics. But that's a rant for another time.

Sadly IDW doesn't have a rating system. While they have great titles for kids including Classic Disney lines such as Micky Mouse and Donald Duck, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and My Little Pony, the only way to know if they are appropriate for your kids is to pick them up and read them. Basic illustrations can give you a clue though. There are several TMNT story lines and the cover illustration often foreshadows how dark the story line is.  But the only true way to know is leaf through it. Some of my boys favorites are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Amazing Adventures, and Angry Birds.

I love Dark Horse and Image comics, but most of their story lines are not suitable for kids. I cannot speak for teenagers though. That I'll leave up to the parents of teenagers. Although as a scary thought I'll be there soon. ;)

There is a website that can be very helpful. Kids Comics has lots of great links, games and previews for kids. This is a great way to see some of the kids titles out there and who publishes them.
Don't be afriad to talk to the friendly staff at your local comic book store. They will have knowledge of many of the comic lines they offer and can give you some detail about story line, violence and such. Be sure to express what you are looking for, and what you are trying to avoid.

Comic books are not only fun for kids and adults alike, they are a great way to get kids, especially boys, to read. Just check out this great article from  We here at the Earthmama household are quickly growing our comic book collection and loving it.

Let the comics abound!!

Menu Planning- Meals for the rest of January

Confession: I have NOT menu planned in a year or more. This has meant lots of frozen pizza, eating out, and panic, scrambling nights of "What do I cook?" This is made worse by the fact that 3 to 4 nights a week I'm not home for dinner due to work. Since my husband doesn't cook (ie hate cooking), I'm often left feeling guilty that I didn't plan ahead.

Well it's a new year. Sure we are already over a week in, but that doesn't mean I can't start anew. And rather than just plan my week of meals, I sat down and planned the rest of the month of meals. The internet and Pintrest are my friends. :) And should be yours two. So here it is. This months meals. Let my husband say he can't cook now. Blah! I won't believe it. Cause I have it all planned. All he has to do is follow the instructions.

January Week 2
Monday: Chicken pot pie from More with Less
Tuesday: GF Orange chicken over rice, frozen green beans
Wednesday: Asian Chicken Salad (using leftover orange chicken)
Thursday: Roasted Squash Lasagna, frozen peas, GF Pamelas Bread
Friday: Fend for yourself Friday! (this just means that they can have leftovers or frozen pizza. I'm leaving it in my husbands hands)
Saturday: Crockpot Pulled Pork, chips, carrots
Sunday: Cheese Corn Chowder from More with Less

Week 3
Monday: Italian Wonderpot, frozen peas
Tuesday: Crockpot Porcupine Meatballs in mushroom sauce, rice, frozen green beans
Wednesday: Midweek meal at church
Thursday: Creamy Pasta with Bacon and Peas
Friday: Fend for yourself Friday!
Saturday: Crockpot Mexican Tortilla Pie
Sunday: Popcorn Cheese and Apples

Week 4
Monday: Shakshuka
Tuesday: Porcupine Meatballs in tomato sauce over pasta, frozen corn
Wednesday: Crockpot Fajtas and toppings
Thursday: Southwest One Pot Wonder (use leftover chicken)
Friday: Meatball subs using meatballs from Tuesday
Saturday: Curred chicken and coconut rice, frozen peas
Sunday: Coconut chickpea curry over rice (used leftover chicken)

Originally I started meal planning due to the lovey lady over at Organized Junkie. You can check out her meal plan plus tons of others by visiting her blog at

Here's to eating well with less stress. And of course being able to answer that age old questions "What's for dinner?"

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Why you should read Tales of an Earthmama in 2016

It has been way to long since I have blogged. But 2016 is a new year, and I am committed to sharing my journey. But you may be thinking, so what? What does this blog have that's different? Well to be honest maybe nothing. Doesn't mean following won't be a joy. So here are some reasons I think you should follow my blog this year. :)

1) A household of 3 boys in Elementary school is never dull.
                 When I started this blog I had a toddler and a baby, was tandem nursing and cloth diapering. The journey was crazy, and now my 3 boys babies have grown into 3 boy kids with all the challenges that entails. I will be reflecting on how to continue to connect with my boys now that they are no longer little and cuddly.

2) Raising geek kids while maintaining the innocence of childhood for a while longer
               My husband and I firmly live and breath geek culture. We are both Star Wars, Dr. Who, and Star Trek fans. We are both into board games. He loves video games, mostly computer. And I love comics, mostly Marvel but I do love Batman, Catwoman and Wonder Woman. :) However as awesome as geek culture is there is lots of violence and gore, not to mention sex. Balancing what's safe for them to see  vs what needs to wait till they are older is a difficult process. We are not always right, but we try hard to find the right balance for our kids and our family.

3) Learning to balancing the desire to work with the desire to be present in the kids lives
                After 6 years of being a stay at home mom, I now gladly work outside the home. I have discovered that I need outside work. It allows me to nurture me which in turn allows me to be more fully present with my kids. But there are challenges. We constantly struggle with how to balance two working parents schedules with kids schedules and activities. As the boys schedules continue to change and grow this struggle will only continue.

4) Keeping a healthy diet, while creating easy, fast meals for our busy lives
                The goal has always been to eat healthy and local when possible. I will still be reflecting on meal planning, finding the right balance between healthy and fast, easy meals. In addition we still have one gluten free kids and the challenges that come with that :)

5) Trying to support public schools while fighting to make them better
              I'm a big supporter of public schools. But they are by no means perfect. If fact, their is much to desire in terms of my kids education. Follow us as we figure out how to fight for bettering our schools while still be supportive of our teachers and school staff who work hard withing the limitations they are given.

Overall you should follow me for your own reasons. If something I reflect on catches your attention there is your reason. Truth is I don't have a perfect life. My house is messy, my kids are loud and fight alot, and I often what to pull my  hair out. But my journey might help you. Whether it allows you to see you're not alone, it helps you as you parent your own growing little ones, or just makes your laugh, smile or say "I hear you," I hope you take something good away. Come join me on this journey.