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Nagged into horseplay

My daughter saddled up and rode away on her first real fad this week.

Not normally one to follow the herd, she succumbed after seeing horse-themed trading cards on a trip to Target.

It had been a good week for us all.

The children finished chores on time and now both were due their promised rewards.

My son, 9, bought football cards – a welcome departure from a popular trading card game he’d spent a couple of hundred dollars of chore money on.

The same trading card game had also inspired him to move up to electronic gaming and break at least two portable gaming devices.

Now my hopes were the Bobby Knight of electronic gaming would move into a more physical pastime of football.

My other child, a 6-year-old girl, debated purchasing either High School Musical 2 cards or some horse cards I’d never seen.

She bolted for the horses.

This meant research.

My son related he’d seen girls at his school playing with the horse-themed cards. He said it proved popular among the female gender (not his exact words, but close).

His sister snagged the next-to-last box on the rack at Target, meaning either they were on clearance or a popular item.

This meant more research – something must be going on in the kid world I wasn’t aware of, something beyond High School Musical 2, Hannah Montana or the Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

There are, of course, other online games played at the library or home. We frequent Disney.com, Nick.com and Nickjr.com.

Being in moving mode with the laptop packed away, the playing card purchase meant a trip to the local library – no problem since it’s our normal before-kindergarten hangout anyway – and deciphering how to use the website.

Before the library opened, our wanderings in the physical world took us to a pharmacy selling lifelike dog and cat robots. The furry robots lay asleep in a pet bed with their chests rising and falling. Impressed for about five seconds until finding out they weren’t real, my daughter moved on.

It was to be all about horses this beautiful October day.

Once settling in and signing in at the library, off we surfed to www.bellasara.com where a press release reads:

“Bella Sara, the horse-themed trading-card game, has won three new parenting awards: the iParenting Outstanding Product award, the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, and the Creative Child Seal of Excellence. 

“Designed by a Danish social worker to help young girls express their feelings, the cards feature horses, real and mythical. Enter each horse’s code online, and it comes to life in a stable where it needs to be fed, watered and groomed.”

 The press release goes on to say “Each Bella Sara trading card features a stunningly designed and imaginatively artistic horse image along with an inspirational saying that promotes inner beauty, emotional strength and self-worth.”

Both my daughter and I could barely contain our excitement.

After logging in, we discovered Bella Sara was a point-and-click type activity/game featuring horses needing virtual nurturing.

Time constraints (had to get her to the school bus) kept us from getting much more out of the virtual horse world but she managed to care for a horse given her named Peter. His “inspirational saying” was “Believe in Happy Thoughts. Then You Can Do Anything.”

My daughter shrugged off the saying and went right into caring for the horse, brushing it clean, feeding it apples and oats and then cleaning the stable.

She asked me if she did a good job and I indicated bar charts that showed her the equine was indeed clean, happy and well-fed.

My daughter had time for a quick jousting game that proved difficult for her and then broke and ran across the library for the comfort of Dr. Seuss.

She used some of his characters to create a story on a felt board. I felt bad when I had to round her up and head for the bus stop.

We plan more trips into the world of Bella Sara as I research just how one trots around the site.

Yet more trips will revolve around reading stories and using imagination on the library’s cool felt board.

The horse card site and its kin are cool for kids. Lisa Davis, a special contributor to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, wrote a good description in their Oct. 1 issue about such sites that can be read here http://www.star-telegram.com/408/story/253062.html.

Thankfully, my children don’t get or want much internet time for such.

And if possible I’d rather not pony up the cash.




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