Evolve Your Dad Skills with Pokémon Go

“Man, this Pokémon adventure is sick!” With that exclamation, my son then stops, turns, leans in for a big hug, and affectionately says, “Love you, Dad.”

These are the real moments. The moments that all dads (and moms) strive for. As parents we simply go from one magical moment to another. The other moments are fluff and filler. At least that’s how I feel about life in general. Raising my kids is no different than the rest of my adventures. Today’s post will address stepping outside the box to give your kids (and hopefully you) an epic time together that will be remembered forever!

I decided to break this article into two parts so I wouldn’t bore the pants off the few parents who simply will not try Pokémon Go. If you’re not going to be coaxed into giving it a go (no pun intended) than you can just read part one and leave it at that. For those parents who are, or would like to, play Pokémon Go with their kids, you can read the whole article and learn some tips on being a good Pokémon pal with your children.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Pokémon master. Heck, I’m not even a junior master. I’m just a dad who loves doing things with his kids. So, if you came here as a semi-pro looking for hot tips, you’re at the wrong place. There are tons of YouTubers who can help you out. That said, if you are a semi-pro I would love for you to read this and comment and let me know what you think of the article! Carry on.

Part One: Think Outside the Box with Your Kids

If you don’t know what Pokémon Go is, you can simply open your eyes and look around you. Probably 75% of the people you see walking and staring at devices are playing. Essentially it’s the latest craze and it is a very good opportunity for you to earn Dad or Mom Cred. However, it isn’t the only way…

Let’s start by saying: It does not have to be Pokémon Go. It just has to be something that your kids dig. As parents we often get caught in the paradigm of assuming our children will love doing the things we loved or did as we grew up. I mean, who doesn’t love camping? Or, watching re-runs of M*A*S*H? The simple answer is that your kids will (and should) do things with you (camping, a certain show, board games, and so on). That’s fine. But, if you really wanna melt their little hearts you gotta step outside your comfort zone. I’m talking way outside. You need to find a thing (or three) that they really enjoy.

In this article I call out Pokémon Go, because it is extremely popular right now. That said, your kids might not like it… Well, you gotta figure out what their passion is. That part is easy, but it does take a secret. Are you ready for the secret? …drum-roll please… Listen. Yes… It is that easy. Simply listen to your children and pay attention to them and you will find a world of things that excite them.

Once you know what the thing is, you need to make an effort. Since we’re talking about Pokémon Go, let’s use it as an example. An effort includes learning some about the game. Chatting with your kid(s) about it. After learning and talking, you actually download it (*GASP*) yes… I said download it. You didn’t think you were gonna get away with just talking for a few minutes and then moving on… Did you?

Truth-be-told: If you really wanna win your child’s heart, you gotta actually get in the trenches with them. So, download the app and learn to play it. Luckily for you, I give a few pointers in part two (below) that will help you get on your feet.

The good news about Pokémon Go is that it includes plenty of parent-child discussion time. It also offers you a great time to advise and even give lifesaving tips. For instance: When you go to cross the street and see your child has his or her nose in the device and steps out onto the asphalt without a glance for traffic, you can calmly (yes, calmly) stop them and explain their error. You can be stern and serious and still remain calm and understanding. Tell them what could have happened if you weren’t there (squished like a bug). Talk to them about school. Talk to them about life. You’ll have plenty of time, because a single Pokémon walking session can be from thirty to ninety or more minutes (depending on how much time you’re willing to give).

Now let’s get you up to speed on the game and ready to do some battling with your kid!

Part Two: How to Hang with Your Kids in Pokémon Go

Step one: download the game and create an account.

Step two: play alongside your kid.

That’s it!

Okay, there is way more to the game than that… But, that is really all it will take to make your kid think you are way cooler. After you’ve played a little (when you get to level five) you will face your first challenge… Choosing you team. There are three teams to choose from. I recommend simply choosing the team that your son or daughter is already a member of. If you’re on the same team, you get to battle together against other teams. This is tons of fun!

By the way… You will obviously have questions along the way about the game-play. Instead of sneaking off to search Google, try asking your kid. They will probably know the answer, and it will boost their morale (and confidence) knowing they are helping you with something instead of vice-versa. Watch them light-up and chatter with reckless abandon when you query them.

Here’s a few tips and terms that will help you along your path to becoming a level thirty-three master!

Tips

  • Don’t just evolve your Pokémon the second you get enough candy (see the Lingo section below). Instead save them for an “evolve session” where you’ll use a magic egg at the same time and double your XP. (you better check the lingo section again… hehe)
  • Make sure you “appraise” your higher CP Pokémon before transferring them. (ask your child how to appraise your Pokémon, or look it up together)
  • When you guys do your walk session, go to a local park that is big enough to walk around. Parks are where you find PokéStops and get goodies.
  • If/when you’re at a park, drop a lure and dance with glee as the Pokémon come rolling in.
  • When you use incense, make sure you’re walking around and not sitting still. When you’re moving, the Pokémon come much more often (up to five times as often) as when you sit on the couch.
  • When you hatch an egg, let your kid press the screen to launch the hatch and tell them you think they have a lucky touch. Then, when a cool Pokémon appears say, “See! You are lucky!!”
  • Pay attention to the level of your child and when they’re approaching a level-up. Leveling up (especially at higher levels) is one of the most exciting parts of the game. You should be there for a few and make sure you show enthusiasm as you high-five and congratulate them.
  • Ask your kid for tips, advice, and help while you’re learning the ropes. This is important!
  • Honestly appreciate the stuff your child says about the game. Listen.
  • Hold your finger on the ball patiently and wait for the aiming circle to shrink to a real small dot before throwing and your chances are increased for catching a Pokémon.
  • Learn to throw a curve ball (spin it before releasing it) and impress your kid!
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    Know the Lingo

  • Pokémon: Creatures that you capture in the game.
  • PokéStop: These are located at parks and other places of interest, and they are places that attract Pokémon. You also get to spin the sign every five minutes and get goodies.
  • PokéGym: This is where the battles happen. And, it’s one of the most exciting parts of the game. You also pick your team at gyms when you reach fifth level.
  • PokéDex: An index of all the Pokémon characters. As you find Pokémon in the game, they will show up here. Check your “Dex” against your kid’s one. It’s fun to talk about wishing you could catch some elusive Pokémon (they show up as numbers or silhouettes if you haven’t caught them yet).
  • Power Up: Using candy and stardust you can power your Pokémon up to their maximum level, making them more battle ready.
  • Evolve: Many Pokémon can evolve into a more powerful character. You need lots of candy for this move.
  • XP: Experience Points. You collect XP and eventually gain enough to level up. Each level requires more XP.
  • CP: Combat Power shows the combined power and abilities of your Pokémon (over 2,000 is a great target to attain). It’s how everyone compares their Pokémon against each other.
  • Balls: Poké Balls come in three types: normal, great, and ultra. Each level of ball is better at capturing Pokémon than the lower ones. Use the more powerful ones to capture rare Pokémon, or ones that you really need/want.
  • Candy: You get candy each time you catch a Pokémon and when you transfer one. You’ll need candy to evolve or power-up.
  • Stardust: You get Stardust when you catch a Pokémon, takeover a gym, or do a few other things. You’ll need stardust to power-up your Pokémon.
  • Potion: Potions are used to heal hit points (HP) after a gym battle.
  • Lucky Egg: These double your experience (XP) collected. They last for thirty minutes, so time their usage around times that you anticipate gathering lots of XP (like when you evolve or find new Pokémon).
  • Incense: Incense attracts Pokémon to you and lasts for thirty minutes. Use it when you’re walking around and you’ll find much more than sitting in one spot.
  • Razz Berry: This is delicious food that makes Pokémon like you and become easier to catch.
  • Eggs and Incubators: You can collect and incubate up to nine eggs at a time. Incubation takes either 2, 5, or 10 kilometers of walking. Each level of egg has better Pokémon. You can find some of the best and rarest Pokémon in the game with a 10km egg! (make sure you’re hanging out with your kid when some of the 10km eggs hatch, it’s a blast!)
  • Lure: Use a lure at a PokéStop and it will attract lots of Pokémon.
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    If you end-up needing more information, I recommend using YouTube. You will find LOTS of people who know a ton about the game. However, when watching with your kids, you need to watch out for a few rude guys who spit out the eff word (among other colorful words). Just move past them, because there are lots of folks on there who don’t cuss.

    Happy Pokémoning! Thanks for reading, and please chime in, because I love hearing your opinion and thoughts!

    -Vaughn

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    Father’s Day- A Different Meaning Every Year

    Each year, Father’s Day means something different to me. I can remember back to a few years ago, right before my first daughter was born, I looked at Father’s Day with a good amount of trepidation. It wasn’t that I had regrets about becoming a dad, but I knew that once Father’s Day rolled around I would have to put on the “proud dad” hat. It wasn’t a hat that I ever saw myself wearing simply because I didn’t think that I was old enough to be considered a “real” father. When Father’s Day finally arrived, I fully embraced it and took as many “Happy Father’s Day” remarks as I could. The weirdest part about all of it was when my own father said it to me. I immediately realized how being a father made me appreciate my own father even more.

    I used to celebrate Father’s Day in non-traditional fashion. My wife and I left the kids in the care of some friends, while we vacationed to the Ozarks. I only say “non-traditional” because I never imagined spending Father’s Day away from my children. However, the experience taught me so much about not only being a father, but being an individual. I read a quote a few years ago that went something like this: “The one thing that fatherhood will always remind you of is that your children will never be you and you will never be able to live their life for them.” To me, that means that even if you have a child, you should never lose sight of your own identity.

    I have conversations with both expecting parents and non-parents who seem to think that their life is over just because they’re bringing another life into the world. Most of you already know how far from the truth that really is. In fact, you should expect your identity to swell after you have children. It improves your drive and increases your concern for your own well-being. Plus, I found that you’ll only drive yourself insane if you don’t nurture your hobbies and spend some time away from the family from time-to-time. For instance, one weekend a month, a few of my buddies and I pick a city where a great band is playing. Then, we’ll spend the entire weekend in that city—child free. Next month, we’re actually all going to France with our spouses and while we’re there, we’ll be checking out The Black Keys.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, on Father’s Day, I do like being showered with the affection and presents of my children. I’m a huge fan of birthdays because I love receiving gifts, so you could imagine the expectations I have for Father’s Day. Right now my kids aren’t exactly old enough to pick out gifts for me, so I usually just put the request in to my wife and they present it to me. This year, I’ve already asked for the Bose Soundlink Bluetooth II that Verizon Wireless actually recommends specifically for Father’s Day. I hoped to have already installed a full speaker system in my house and on the back deck, but I haven’t gotten around to it. So, because I’ll be doing a lot of yard work this summer, it would be nice to have a quality speaker to take outside with me. Like I said, each year, Father’s Day means something different. We’re going to make this year about pumping up the volume.

    Guest author bio:

    Jared Harris is a father of two and recent college grad. When he’s not juggling work and his family life, you can find him playing his favorite albums in his man-cave. Follow him here – @JaredRHarris

     

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    A Son’s Eulogy for Julien Kim Ripley

    My dad, Julien Kim Ripley, died on December 4th, 2011 at 1:12 a.m. Two years ago, today. Not a single day goes by that I do not think about him. In tribute, I decided to re-post a eulogy that I wrote for him more than a year ago and posted on my HIV Longevity blog.

    Julien Kim Ripley (January 12, 1945 – December 4, 2011)

    580_k_dad_di

    Often when you see a headstone in a graveyard, it has the person’s name and then their birth and death dates separated by a dash. To me, that seems to say that the person’s life merely flashed by—a sprint—and not worthy of talking about. Well, Dad grabbed life by the horns and inspired others around him. His life was not just a dash. Quite the contrary… Dad spent every moment of his life improving himself and others around him. He had a vast thirst for knowledge and continued building it until his dying day.

    Dad taught me so much about life. He introduced me to music and showed me how to play the guitar and piano. He brought me into his office and helped me learn to use computers before most people even knew what they were. He instilled in me values, a sense of worth, honor, and courage. He took commitment to family and work very seriously. Dad was the hardest working person that I have ever known. He was also frank and insisted upon candid talking. Often he was brutally honest, and not everyone appreciated that, but you always knew that you would hear precisely what he was thinking. Dad was sincere and fair with his words. Rarely would he judge someone else. And, he would encourage me to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

    My favorite “Dad story” was also one of his favorites, even though it deeply embarrassed him. We’ve both told and laughed about this one a thousand times, so bear with me if you already know it… I used to work with Dad at his land surveying company, Rodgers and Associates. And, I would often use his desk and computer. One day I was typing away at his desk when he came in and I had to give up the seat. What neither of us knew was that I had spilled a few Milk Duds out of my pocket and into his chair. Well… Dad sat in them and didn’t notice. He sat there for an hour or so working diligently. Finally, a client came in to meet with him and when he stood to greet the man, Dad found he was peeling himself out of his chair. His rosy cheeks and demeanor must have given away the fact that something was wrong, but Dad simply smiled and shook the guest’s hand. Walking down the hall and to the Men’s room with his brown-stained Khaki’s must have been one of the most embarrassing things ever to happen to him. As furious as he was over this incident, Dad told me about it later that afternoon and he laughed at himself instead of scolding me. That was simply the kind of man that he was.

    I used to see Dad occasionally reading the obituaries. When I asked why, he said, “I read them every day just to make sure I’m not in them.” He continued with, “That way I know I’m still alive.” As I read his obituary earlier this year, I imagined him looking over my shoulder and saying, “Oh shit…”

    Since Dad’s passing, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from tons of folks who knew him, even friends from back in the 60’s who have nothing but fond memories. He touched so many lives and inspired so many people. Most of what I’ve heard was how honorable Dad was and how he made their lives better and stronger. All were thankful for meeting and knowing him. Mostly I’ve heard how Dad’s work ethic and principled beliefs rubbed off on them in a positive manner. That is the Dad that I knew and remembered. I’m proud to say, “That was my Dad!”

    As I sat with my Dad and listened to his “death rattle” breathing, I knew that he would not be with us much longer. And, I was right, because he died that night. I’m honestly not sure what made me travel down to my parent’s house that weekend, but I’m glad I did, because I was able to be with him in his last days. Odd as it may sound, I honestly believe that Dad was relieved to see me. Almost as if he succumbed to death with comfort, knowing that I was there. Hard to explain it, but it was a completion of sorts.

    Dad carried a fire in his heart. A strong fire that could be felt by everyone around him. I miss him every day of my life, but I still feel that fire, inside of me… I think that is because he passed it to me through his lessons and examples. Hopefully I make him proud as I work daily to strengthen and stoke that fire, in the hopes that one day my fire will be as large as his was.

    Dad was also a humble man. He never tooted his own horn, even though he had plenty of reasons to. He would never have approved of me writing my thoughts and memories for all to read… But, this is a healing process for me, and this is who I am. Fortunately, I know that the man I have become is directly in response to the way he raised and fathered me. So, despite his wishes to stay humble and quiet, I am standing on top of the highest place I know (the Internet) and shouting his praises!

    I miss my father so much! I will always miss him! And—yes—Dad’s life was much more than just a dash!

    Posted with love by a son who misses and feels you every day.

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    PEP Talk from the Grave

    My dad taught me countless things. On a daily basis I relate more than a dozen things that I do that came directly from his teachings. He helped me to mold the base of loyalty and creativity that became the grown up me. Among the manifold things he guided me on, he impressed three things into me more than anything else. Those three things were preparation, elbow-grease, and persistence. I do not remember him ever teaching me to combine these powerful tools, but I clearly remember individual lessons based around each one. The ironic thing about life is that after Dad left this life, I came to the epiphany that he had inadvertently taught me the secret to success in life. You see, my father recently died. I had the fortune and good luck of being down in South Carolina visiting him and my step-mom on the day he finally succumbed to lung cancer. Very early in the morning on Sunday, December 4, 2011, my dad passed. I know it sounds final and maybe even morbid, but I believe that it is not the end of my dad. Julien Kim Ripley lives on, through me. And, he will live on through my children as well. Over the past year and a half, I have spent time each day thinking about Dad’s teachings and the amazing things he shared with me. A few months ago I was designing an inspirational speech for Sodexo, and I listed the three most important elements Dad taught me. I suddenly realized (literally in an instant) that the three things worked in conjunction with each other. Beyond that, I also found that if setup and performed correctly, these three things would solve ANYTHING! On top of that, I almost jumped out of my skin, when I found that those three things formed the acronym and word, PEP. How fracking cool is that??

    Today’s blog article is going to briefly breakdown each ingredient and then mix them together to create a recipe for ultimate success.

    Preparation

    Be Prepared
    —Boy Scout Motto

    Dad instilled a sense of planning in me from a very young age. Dad was a land surveyor and engineer, so planning was practically ingrained in him. For Dad, preparation was almost OCD. He planned, mapped, or drew out everything (regardless of how small the task). I can remember the countless hours he and Mom spent mapping out our trip across America. I also remember many pre-planning session before going out on our boat. His fascination for maps and route-planning has rubbed off on me. Along with mapping and general planning, Dad got me and my brothers to join the Boy Scouts. While there, I learned more about preparation and planning than most anything else in my life. There are tons of books on proper planning and preparation. Even better, the web is chock-full of advice and information. Seek and ye shall receive!

    Elbow-Grease

    “There’s plain few problems can’t be solved with a little sweat and hard work.”
    —Preacher from the Pale Rider

    When I was eleven years old, my dad asked me to move some chopped wood from our large wood pile to the easy access pile by our side door. I remember moaning and slumping as I dragged my feet toward the log pile. I acted as if Dad had put some terrible burden on my shoulders and it showed in my demeanor. I kicked the ground with each step and when I finally stood before the enormous stack of wood, I almost cried. Picking up a single log and carrying it like it weighed 50 pounds, I sauntered back to our house. I dropped the log and was turning to go back for another single log load. As I turned, I caught my Dad’s eyes. Dad was working on another project. He always worked so hard. I mean HARD. Most of us have no concept of what “hard” really is… Well, if you saw my dad in action, then you would understand what I’m saying. He worked incessantly, with a purpose, and HARD. Dad glared at me momentarily and then he called me over. Even though he was always busy, Dad had time to lecture and teach me. He stooped his sinuous 6 foot 2 inch body down to my level, smoothed the angry look on his face, and then firmly said, “Vaughn, you work harder at getting out of work than doing the actual work.” I honestly didn’t fully grasp the meaning of such a profound statement when I was eleven, but I get it now. And, I’ve gotten it for years. As a matter of fact, it is often my mantra to help boost me in giving an extra push during hard work. My dad and Clint Eastwood were a lot alike, and I can easily see Dad saying the above quote instead of Clint.

    Persistence

    “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
    —Calvin Coolidge

    Out of the three, this one is often the toughest to stick with (no pun intended). Almost any project, goal, or outcome that is worth completing will have a trouble spot (sometimes several) that seems impassable. It is times like that when you must batten down the hatches, lean into the battle, and move forward despite your internal objections.

    One my favorite sayings that Dad used on me was, “You gotta keep trying until you get it right.” I know that it is popular these days to say, “There is no try” (usually conveyed in a shoddy Yoda impersonation). But, that is not altogether true. I think that most people mean try as a solution, not as steps along the way. What I mean (and what my dad meant) is that you must try, try, and try again before completing some things. When Yoda said “There is no try” he was talking about the final outcome … Like, “I tried, but failed.” In that meaning, there really is no try, there is only do or do not. But, we do try along our path to success and understanding that will take you leaps and bounds ahead of the curve.

    Bottom line: Being persistent is the difference between making something magnificent and failing to make anything.

    Each of those above ideas by itself is mighty powerful. But, when combined, they form one of the best known combinations to plan, do, and follow through. I guarantee that you WILL NOT fail, if you properly execute each of these in conjunction with each other. The next time you have a desired result, utilize PEP. Start by sitting down, hashing it out carefully, and outlining a defined plan of how to achieve it. In other words, Prepare! Once the preparation has been completed and you have clear milestones and an action plan, get down to it. I like to call this part Elbow-grease… Get some! As you are diligently working on completing your project, dig deep and find leverage and other tools to keep you going… Be Persistent! I know that some of you are saying, ”That can’t possibly be all there is to it.” But I can confidently tell you from experience, that it truly is all there is to it!!!

    “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
    —Amelia Earhart

    Dad may be dead, but his advice and ideals live on through me—and now—through You!

    Shared with love,
    Vaughn

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