GeekMom Smart. Savvy. Social. Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:00:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Tenth Doctor Gets a Latina Companion in the Comic Series Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:00:59 +0000 Eisner-winning writer Nick Abadzis talks the new Doctor Who comic series, which includes the first ever Latina companion.

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Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor #1

Doctor Who Adventures with The Tenth Doctor Issue, cover art by Alice X. Zhang. Image © Titan Comics.

Since the first announcement of Titan Comics’ new ongoing Doctor Who series, the anticipation for the July 23 release of the series’ first issue has been heavy among Whovians and comic fans alike, especially since the comic will introduce a brand new companion for the Tenth Doctor.

Eisner Award-winning Nick Abadzis penned the first 5-issue story arc for the Tenth Doctor’s adventures, with art by fan-favorite Elena Casagrande. Abadzis’ accomplishments include the celebrated comic Laika, a fictionalized account of the dog who would be the first living creature in space. As a lifelong Doctor Who fan, he jumped at the chance when Titan Comics Senior Editor Steve White offered him the book.

“I’d written the Tenth Doctor once before, a long time ago for Doctor Who Magazine, before I’d even seen David Tennant in the role on TV (it was his debut comic strip),” Abadzis said. “But now I know the character much better, so this is an opportunity to really add to the mythology, expand on what we know about him.”


Concept art by Elena Casagranda for The Doctor’s first Mexican-American companion, Gabby. Copyright Titan Comics

Abadzis said his favorite aspect of The Doctor was when he found himself in unfamiliar territory. He recalled watching the show as a kid and how he loved it when The Doctor went places and figured out how things work, be it an alien planet or ancient Rome.

“Sometimes he’d land somewhere and just ‘know’ things, and could be a bit insufferable for it, and sometimes that’s necessary to get a story started quickly. But I liked it when he got caught out or was shown something he didn’t know, and he was delighted by that,” he said. “That’s the core of the character for me, a traveler who is curious about the universe and wants to see amazing things.”

He said The Doctor does battle evil when he finds it, but he is also on a mission of discovery, sometimes taking his friends along for the ride.

“He’d bring the best out in people that way. I like The Doctor as a character when he’s an empowering force, someone who helps a local population deal with an invasion maybe, but someone who gives them confidence in themselves, too, which is something he also does for many of his companions,” he said.

Abadzis is already several issues in the current series, and is planning further adventures. He said writing Doctor Who is a natural fit. He said he never thought too hard about how he would take on the Tenth Doctor, and feels to a certain extent he is “recreating” a character that Tennant, writer Russell T. Davies, and other Doctor Who writers evolved over the course of the show. He hopes to remain true to that character, as well as add his own something special. That includes the new companion.

“I really liked the Tenth Doctor on TV, so you have a head start with the mannerisms and cadences of speech and so on, but you want to add to that, expand it further, cast some new light on his behavioral tics and traits,” he said.

“The Doctor is the ultimate cosmopolitan, a traveler and cultural observer as well as a hero who fights evil and injustice, so I knew I wanted to have him traveling with someone who would enable me and other writers of this series to show new aspects of his character; things we haven’t witnessed before, and that’s how we came to create a new companion for him, Gabriella Gonzalez,” Abadzis said.

Abadzis is breaking new ground with Gonzalez, a Mexican-American, as the first Latina companion of The Doctor’s. Abadzis said his editor, Andrew James and series co-writer, Robbie Morrison, were very receptive to the idea.

“She is an individual who, although she’s proud of her background and loves her culture and traditions, refuses to be completely defined by it, either by her own family or the country she’s grown up in,” he explained. “She’s American, she’s of Mexican origin, she’s modern, but she’s very much her own person and is ready to explore that and is chafing a little against family expectations.”

Gonzalez resides in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn, which has the largest Mexican population in New York City. In the story, Sunset Park is about to celebrate la Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) when an alien invader uses the celebration as cover for its own nefarious ends.

“When he lands in Sunset Park and meets Gabby, The Doctor thinks at first he’s rescuing her—and he is—but he’s not quite prepared for how useful she makes herself, by being brave and smart and thinking of possibilities he overlooks.”

At this point in the Tenth Doctor’s timeline, he has already lost companion Donna Noble, and didn’t think he’d find a companion to match her stature.

Admittedly, it takes a period of adjustment for both Gonzalez and The Doctor.

“Gabby responds to the best in The Doctor, and, uncomfortably at first, he does likewise. He’s the best character in the world to write, and hopefully Gabby is a great foil,” Abadzis said.

“She’s smart, a little bit tough in a self-protective way but she’s emotionally intelligent, she’s got good empathy. She draws, too–I don’t think there’s been an artist on board the TARDIS since (Fifth Doctor companion) Vislor Turlough.”

Abadzis said Gonzales should be the Tenth Doctor series’ companion for at least a year, but with The Doctor there is always a possibility to explore new, interesting companions in the future.

“There’s nothing to say that there might not be other companions who come along later, who might indeed be from other regions on Earth, or maybe they’ll hail from an alien world,” he said. “It’s Doctor Who–anything can happen.”

For those worried about the comic stories interfering with the television or other continuities or wishing to see some more familiar faces, Abadzis said he is aware of the pitfalls of writing in the gaps.

“I think little continuity references can be fun most of the time–they needn’t affect a story but it’s easy to drop them in and it’s a laugh for longtime fans,” he said.

“On a larger scale, you have to come to it with the right sensibility–it’s when you do it for gratuitous reasons that it can become something you can trip up over. Bringing back a companion for the sake of it rather than because you’ve come up with a great story and they’re the ideal character to help some aspect of it smacks of gimmickry.”

He also feels filling in continuity gaps is “a great pastime, but doesn’t necessarily make for original storytelling,” and creating a new and original story is something writers should always be pushing themselves to do.

“That said, I’m as big a fan as the next person, and if I come up with a brilliant idea for a story featuring Nyssa or Ian or Sarah-Jane, I’m gonna have a go at making it work,” he said.

He promised there would be plenty of surprises, including one returning foe in the first year as part of a story written by Robbie Morrison. There will also be many all-new threats.

“While we’re trying to recreate the general feel of the Tenth Doctor’s era, we want to make the comics must-reads, their own thing, a book you’ll really want to pick up and enjoy every month,” Abadzis said, “You can certainly expect some crazy happenings, some fun character dynamics, some unexpected twists and turns of events. I like to keep myself amused, so you can be sure I will be surprising myself whenever I have the opportunity–and hopefully the reader too.”

As for other incarnations of The Doctor, the first Eleventh Doctor Adventures issue by writers Al Ewing and Rob Williams, with art by Simon Fraser, will be released alongside the Tenth Doctor’s series, and the Twelfth Doctor’s series will follow later this year.

Titan Comics’ Doctor Who Issues #1 for both the Tenth Doctor and Eleventh Doctor Adventures come out Wednesday, July 23.

Abadzis doesn’t know what his editors at Titan Comics have planned for the other Doctors but he said is petitioning to write stories for the other incarnations. Hopefully, he said, this will be only a matter of time.

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The Scooby-Doo/Wonder Woman Team-Up You Didn’t Know You Needed Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:00:32 +0000 Prepare for nostalgia, geek parents!

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Scooby-Doo Team-Up #5

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #5 © DC Comics

Finding a great all-ages comic book that you actually enjoying reading with your kids is like unearthing a rare treasure. There are just a few titles that I can read to my five year old at bedtime, and even fewer that feature some of her favorite superheroes. So when I heard about Scooby-Doo Team-Up #5 starring Wonder Woman, I picked it up faster than you can say, “Jinkies!”

The story begins with Daphne and Velma learning to be Amazons on Themiscyra. While the two train while riding kangas, Fred and Shaggy hang out in the invisible jet, as men can’t set foot on Paradise Island. But there’s a mystery to solve, and Wonder Woman lets the girls know they came highly recommended for the job—by the World’s Greatest Detective.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #5

Art by Dario Brizuela © DC Comics

The comic effortlessly combines the feel of the Wonder Woman TV show (complete with Scooby-Doo singing the theme song to himself) with the personality of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, all with the look of a Super Friends episode. Prepare for nostalgia, geek parents! There are even references to the Golden Age adventures of Wonder Woman, and enough superpowered action to keep little readers’ interests.

There’s even a short scene where Wonder Woman explains why Amazons—who are dedicated to love and understanding—fight their foes, that answers the question well in terms kids can understand. Oh, and don’t forget, there’s a mystery for the gang to solve.

This sounds like a lot for one little issue of a Scooby-Doo to include, but the experienced writer Sholly Fisch accomplishes it all. And best of all, it’s just plain fun.

You can pick up two parts of the story digitally for $0.99 each (with the second part to be released soon), or swing by your local comic book store to grab the print issue for $2.99.

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The Simpsons Fans, Unite! FXX Announces Online “Simpsons World” Tue, 22 Jul 2014 04:30:34 +0000 Fox announced the complete The Simpsons series will be available through the FXNOW website and app for network subscribers starting in August.

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Simpsons FamilyPicture” © Fox. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

My family is ready with our Apple TV for next month’s The Simpsons excitement.

But wait! There’s more!

Accompanying FXX network’s launch of the first-ever The Simpsons marathon that will be running from August 21 through September 1, the network announced the upcoming “Simpsons World” on their FXNOW website and in apps for iOS, Android, and Xbox, offering each and every last episode to network subscribers.

This is an outstanding gift to the world; over the past several years Fox Networks has been working very hard protecting the copyright for the show, limiting their current streaming service to just a few episodes at the time via Hulu Plus.

Let me tell you what’s really cool about “Simpsons World.” Unlike other online content streaming services, “Simpsons World” will be fully customizable for a unique viewing experience. You can search via characters, guest stars, episode themes, and even your favorite quotes from the series.

Even though I had written last month about contemplating cutting the cord with our cable TV, this is actually part of our family’s motivation for delaying canceling our cable. Please note that you need a participating cable/satellite provider login and password to access FXNOW.

Read more about the announcement here.

Sound off in the comments if you’re excited about this availability. We want to hear from you Simpsons’ fans!

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ConnectiCon: A Much Needed Break From Reality Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:00:21 +0000 After a stressful week in the "real" world, Rebecca had a much needed geeky vacation at ConnectiCon. Read about how the kids and she spent a weekend at this multi-genre convention.

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Image By Lilianna Angel Maxwell

What a bunch of weirdos.

I can’t say I was in a good frame of mind when I went to ConnectiCon last weekend, but I certainly came home in one.

My family and I travel to Connecticut each year to this multi-genre convention of fandom and fun.  I was dragged there by a friend and enjoyed myself so much that I started dragging my own people with me. In the past ten years, I’ve only missed one. This year I took my two teenagers, plus one of my daughter’s friends. We stayed at the family of a friend’s house, camping in their backyard. (I utilized all the tips I suggested in a previous post to go to a con on the cheap.) At this point, the kids and I meet up with over a dozen people each year we attend—and always meet new friends, too.

So why the negative start? I had just spent a stressful week in the “real” world, and had a lot of work to catch up on. Going away for the weekend seemed like just one more item on my to-do list, and I wasn’t in the mood to cosplay, interview celebrities, or participate in discussions. When I walked into the con, I looked around and had a very negative attitude.

Then I realized that I go to these things all the time. I’m a weirdo!

For a split second I was dismayed. Did other people judge me that way? And then the atmosphere of ConnectiCon started seeping in: the relief of expressing something you love, the joy at seeing friends, the happiness at being yourself in an accepting little universe even if only for the weekend, and the fun of sharing it all with my kids. Who the hell cares if people judge me for being a geek! And I certainly will not start doing it to others. After that, the weekend was a blast. So what did my family and I do at ConnectCon? Lots!


Image By Rebecca Angel

The best part is seeing our fellow geeky friends. I had thought one of my best friends in the world (the same person who brought me that first year) couldn’t make it, but then he did! We watched the FMV Contest (Fan Made Videos) together. I try to pick the ones that really match the music with what’s going on. There was a superb one that used a Bjork song…and I didn’t write it down… and I can’t find a list on the website…


Image By Rebecca Angel

My son played Magic for most of the weekend. Although he had a great time, he felt like he had been at a party and only talked with one person. Next year, he said, he’d try to branch out in his activities more.


Image By Rebecca Angel


Image By Rebecca Angel

My daughter and her friend cosplayed on Saturday: Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games, and Chihiro Ogino from Spirited Away.  

We danced, danced on Friday, but I let my daughter and her friend dance on their own Saturday (my feet hurt by the evening—old lady is me.) They said it was lots of fun. They wanted to go to Tea Time, but were unable to get in. It’s a popular panel! Yay for tea!

Several of us went to see the 18+ Art Fight. This is where two teams of cartoonists are given random words/phrases from a spinning wheel and have to draw on a huge board. The artists (and words) change every five minutes, while a host chats with the audience, and makes comments and jokes about the art being made. Although the format is well-done, the 18+ excuse only led to frat-house humor. One of my group said he had seen their regular show, and with more random words/phrases, there was more creativity and less penis jokes. After fifteen minutes of the extreme sex humor, we got bored and left…


Image By Rebecca Angel

…to find a spot to see the fireworks! ConnectiCon coincided with the River Festival in Hartford, and Saturday night had a great show (complete with a beautiful full moon.) We decided to go outside the con to see them, but quickly returned after the fireworks were over. We missed the happy vibe of geeks, even for just an hour.


Image By Rebecca Angel

I enjoyed walking around the Artist’s Alley, bought some new comics, and chatted with artists, including this young girl and her proud mom:


Image By Rebecca Angel


Image By Rebecca Angel


Image By Rebecca Angel

I met other geeky families attending:


Image By Rebecca Angel

My daughter bought me an adorable Loki t-shirt. Yay! And I played LOTS of games (I’ll make a separate post about my favorites.) We saw the panel with Janet Varney, the voice actress for Legend of Korra. She was very entertaining, and even got some calls from other actors from the series to answer fan questions.

Oh, and the cosplay, the cosplay, the cosplay. I had been debating about this, but the She-Ra costume stayed home—maybe next time. Instead of my lame photos, check out this video by Beat Down Boogie of some of the fantastic work people do on their costumes.

This weirdo can’t wait till ConnectiCon 2015!

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Be the Artist: Georgia O’Keeffe Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:00:11 +0000 Take an up-close look at a familiar item to see something entirely new.

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Get up close and personal with an image or subject like Georgia O’Keeffe did, and learn an entirely new way of seeing things. Image by Lisa Kay Tate.

The Artist: Georgia O’Keeffe

When some people hear the name Georgia O’Keeffe, they think “western artist” or “southwest artist.”

It’s true, O’Keeffe created many of her most famous works during her time in Northern New Mexico. But her legacy is so much greater. In the art world, she’s recognized as the “Mother of American Modernism.”


American artist Georgia O’Keeffe gave art lovers an intimate look at the natural world. Images Public Domain.

She moved to New Mexico part-time in 1929, and by 1949, she had made it her permanent home. She was already making a name for herself in the New York art scene with her large-scale floral drawings of “enlarged blossoms.” These images were as if someone was viewing the flower through a magnifying lens.

In New Mexico, she painted flowers, churches, mountains, animal skulls, flowers, skies, and other aspects of the state she made her home.

In 1946, she was the first woman artist to have a one-artist retrospective exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Manhattan. She lived to be 98 and during the last decade of her life, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest honor awarded to American citizens) and the National Medal of Arts.

O’Keeffe loved painting the area around her famous Ghost Ranch home in Abiquiu, New Mexico. She knew how to zero in on the often-overlooked details of that world, a landscape or single object, and place it in the forefront of her art. She could make a dried-up pile of bones seem beautiful, a simple flower almost scandalously attractive, and rigid, dead environment look fluid and alive.

She said she wanted to “give that world” to others through her art.

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 2.46.54 AM

Looking at just one part of a favorite image in a different way can be tricky. Once this is done, drawing the image (below) is the easy part. Images by Lisa Kay Tate.

“I want them to see it whether they want to or not,” she said, describing her work in her New York exhibits.

The Project: Super Natural Floral Close-Ups

O’Keeffe was a master at taking everyday objects and focusing on an aspect of it that showcased an entirely new angle.

Although she focused on natural elements, such as flowers or skulls, our project will visit fictional worlds that contain unique natural elements, such as Hogwarts, Wonderland, or Pandora. As imaginative as some of these items already are, try to use O’Keeffe’s up-close way of looking at things to see them in a new light.

First, find a photo of a “natural” object from a fictional movie or book. Or, take a picture of a toy, theme park souvenir, or park replica that might represent this object.

Next, find a small section of this image and “close in on it” by drawing a circle or square around it. If you’re using images from a computer, you can crop and print out the cropped version.

Finally, draw or paint  just the isolated area. O’Keeffe used oils, but they can be messy for beginning artists. Try crayons, colored pencils, markers, pastels, or other mediums as well.

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 2.47.06 AM

The circled area on the original images in both of these pieces show that the area that has been “magnified.” Images by Lisa Kay Tate.

Try to look at the isolated area not as a “part” of a drawing or photo, but as the whole image itself.

These do not have to be excellent drawings, just as long as they are only of the area within the focused square. The purpose is to capture just one section of a bigger picture, not to duplicate it perfectly.

Younger artists might want to use easier images, such as animated drawings, rather than photos or intricate drawings.

When finished, show it to friends and family, and see if they can guess what it is. Sometimes, the answers may be as imaginative as the drawing itself. Other times, it will seem like they are looking at a whole new world.

Once O’Keeffe discovered the wonders of the close-up, art lovers never looked at a flower the same way since.

She explained this in her book, One Hundred Flowers: “If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.”


“Up Close with Audrey Two” by Lisa Kay Tate.

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GeekMom Video Playlist: Weird All the Way Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:00:28 +0000 This month, no video can compete with the brilliance of combining parody music and grammar geekiness. Thanks, Weird Al!

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Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 9.53.03 AM

Image by Weird Al

So I had some fascinating, educational, and inspirational videos to show you this month. Then my daughter showed me a music video, and really, there isn’t anything else you need to see. My son Luke, who always does his picks, agreed that this month should be dedicated to the Master of Geek Music: Weird Al. So here are a few of his videos that came out this week:

First, is the best of the bunch: “Word Crimes.” BRILLIANT. Teachers: Make your students memorize this for extra credit. My daughter clapped when he mentioned how people use “literally” incorrectly. This drives her nuts. Thanks, Al!



Next up is “Tacky.” (“At a funeral, taking selfies with the deceased.”)



Then, there’s “Foil.” Hee-hee. The way he draws out the sheet of foil is so silly. I’ll be singing this all day.



“Sports Song” is on his website, so check that out too. And I bet there will be more coming. Ever since “I’m A Danish,” I have been a big fan of his. The guy is a lyrical genius, and happens to have put his talent into making people laugh for decades. That’s reason enough to dedicate this month to him. Go Al!

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8-Disc Pee-wee’s Playhouse Blu-ray Coming in October Sun, 20 Jul 2014 11:00:42 +0000 Today's secret word is Blu-ray!

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Photo courtesy of Shout Factory.

Do we have any Pee-wee Herman fans out there? Well, get ready to scream real loud. Apparently, today’s secret word is “Blu-ray!”

Shout! Factory just announced plans to release Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series, an eight-disc Blu-ray set. The box will include all 45 episodes, as well as Pee-wee’s Christmas Special—and everything has been newly remastered for Blu-ray. Hopefully, there will be a lengthy list of other special features (commentary, interviews, outtakes, or maybe a little “where are they now” retrospective?), but nothing has been announced just yet.

Still, this is one of those day-one purchases. Pee-wee’s Playhouse isn’t just a cult hit; it’s the winner of 22 Emmy awards. It’s also home to Jambi the Genie, Miss Yvonne, Cowboy Curtis (a very young Laurence Fishburne!), Reba the mail lady, Captain Carl, Magic Screen, Conky, Globey, Chairry, Pterri, Randy, and all the rest. Of course, it also has Paul Reubens, creator of the show and the title character.

A while back, someone gave me one of the DVD box sets. This was actually years before I had my son. Now, he’s the one that has it in regular rotation and it’s completely awesome. It’s perfect for all ages!

Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series will be available starting October 21, 2014. If you’re not ready to fork over the $149.99 (MSRP), just say “Mecka-lecka hi, Mecka-hiney ho,” and order the four-disc Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Seasons One and Two DVD set, which will be released the same day.

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What’s In a Name: Coca-Cola Sat, 19 Jul 2014 12:00:32 +0000 Coca-Cola rolls out its "Share a Coke" campaign. Is your name teen- and millennial-approved?

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Image: Sarah Pinault

Last summer, Coca-Cola took the UK by storm with its “Share a Coke” campaign. Everyone I knew was either obsessed, intrigued, or amused by finding their name on a Coca-Cola bottle. My wonderful niece, knowing that we didn’t have this in the U.S., found three of the four names in my family. She perpetrated Coca-Cola forgery on a fourth. I have to admit, I was far more excited about this than I would expect. I still have the labels, and am just waiting for the right Pinterest project to Modpodge them to.

“Share a Coke” was launched in Australia in 2012 and has since been part of the Coke advertising strategy in 50 countries.  This summer, the campaign rolled out in the U.S. I saw my first bottle in our local Subway this morning. Coke has swapped out three of its logos on 20-ounce bottles and replaced them with 250 of the most popular first names among millennials and teens. Larger bottles, such as 1.25- and 2-liters, will brandish names like “Family” and “Friends.” If that’s not your cup of tea, be on the lookout for 12-ounce cans sporting “BFF,” “Grillmaster,” “Bestie,” and “Wingman.”

Of course, this campaign also comes with it’s own hashtag. You can use #ShareaCoke if you want to share your personal Coke story. “For teens and millennials, personalization is not a fad, it’s a way of life,” says Stuart Kronauge, senior vice president of sparkling brands for Coca-Cola North America. “It’s about self-expression, individual storytelling, and staying connected with friends. ‘Share a Coke’ taps into all of those passions.”


Image: Sarah Pinault

The “Share a Coke” cross-country tour, which will feature traveling kiosks, will make 500 stops this summer. Coke drinkers will be able to customize their own Coca-Cola mini-can and a second can for a friend.

So the litmus test of popular names in 2014 will be down to teens and millenials. Did you make the list or will you have to make your own?

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Build Your Own Ninja Turtle, or Not? Sat, 19 Jul 2014 11:00:06 +0000 GeekMom Sarah takes her 4-year-old to Build-A-Bear Workshop and learns a harsh lesson about passing on geekery through the generations.

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Build Bear Turtle

Image: Build-A-Bear Workshop

Last weekend, I took my boys, ages two and four, to our local Build-A-Bear Workshop. I was flying solo, but if you hit the store just as it opens, you’ve pretty much got the run of the place. My husband does not enjoy the same affection for an abundance of soft toys that my sons and I do, so I try and leave the voice of reason at home.

Build Bear Leo

Image: Build-A-Bear Workshop

This was to be a special event. Unbeknownst to my eldest son, the store had debuted a line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I felt certain that he would “neeeeed one,” and had thought briefly about using their online reservation system. This enables you to pay ahead of time and have the store reserve the carcass of your choice for you. If I believed the promotional emails I was getting (and I did), the store would be inundated with Ninja Turtles fans and was going to sell out quickly. Therein lay my first dilemma. I was certainly not going to turn over $100 plus tax on all four Ninja Turtles, and his favorite Turtle changes as often as his underwear. Most of the time it is Leonardo, as we are daily informed that blue is his favorite color. He will occasionally give allegiance to Michelangelo, as he knows that this was my childhood favorite. Sometimes he will even give a nod to Raphael as “red’s okay.” Poor Donatello never gets a look in. I felt pretty certain Leonardo would be the chosen one, but I have been wrong before.

Boy was I wrong this time.

We are Build-A-Bear Workshop aficionados. We have a bear, a bunny, a puppy, and a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer complete with roller skates and sound box. If I had my way, there would be an AppleJack in our house right now. My youngest son has yet to fully develop this inherited affection, but my eldest son at four (he would want me to add “almost five”) is a die-hard. It’s never, “We’re going to Build a Bear,” but always, “We’re going to Build-A-Bear Workshop.” Choosing the bear in question is a momentary thought for him; it is in the details that he thrives. He loves the construction, helping with the stuffing, and picking out a heart. He loves to watch the stitching and takes great pride in the bathing. He loves to name the bear and helps me fill in the birth certificate. He loves to pick out the accessories, which is usually a piece of equipment rather than an item of clothing.

On this particular visit, we came screeching to a halt after running the entire length of the concourse. We were faced with oh-so-many Ninja Turtles. The advertisement I had seen contained pretty decent pictures, and so they were of the quality I had expected—which incidentally, is greater than the quality I would expect of a cuddly Ninja Turtle. Having not read the details too deeply, they were bigger than I had expected them to be. They don’t come with their accessories; your base Ninja Turtle is $25 and if you want nun-chucks or swords, then you’re going to have to play the Grandma card.

Build Bear 2

Image: Sarah Pinault

Instantly, one of the lovely, calm, and patient, cast members started to engage my son in conversation. His side of the conversation went something like this: “Aha, aha, yup, erm, the blue one, yeah that one, aha, yup, okay bye.” All the while, his eyes darted around the store, and down the long row of empty bodies to the beloved “fluff machine.” He made a beeline for the bears, bypassing the buckets of Ninja Turtles. I asked if he wanted Leonardo. “Nope, this guy,” he proclaimed, holding up a generic black bear.

And so, I learned a classic lesson of geek parenting: You can lead your child to geek, but you cannot make them geek out.

Thus far, he has acquiesced in one form or another to anything we put in front of him. Darth Vader for Halloween? Sure. Rocket ship-themed birthday party? Let’s blast off! Frozen at the movies with mommy? Let’s go. Ninja Turtles cuddly toy, something that would have been cherished in my ’80s childhood? Nah!

So this is where it begins, where we start loosening up the steelton cables. We always knew this day would come.

Hero turtles

Image: Screenshot

I am kind of shocked that he wanted a black bear. The name is “Bathy” by the way, as in Kathy, but not. I had fully expected him to want Ninja Turtles, as he has been the one leading me back into my childhood memories. Although growing up in England, I watched the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. My shock was therefore not his rejection of my own love, but more a reaction to his preference of something so simple, over something he loves. He is getting quite the diverse personality, my little man.

I love watching him explore the world around him and being privy as he develops his own style. Sure it’s great when we share something. One of my favorite things to do is sit and read with him, and I love it when he chooses Each Peach Pear Plum. I also love it when he asks me to read his Yogi Bear comic books, though I hate reading comic books aloud. I love it when he wants to go swimming with me, but I also love it when he wants to race our bikes across the lawn. Then, I collapse in a non-bike-riding puddle.

He starts kindergarten this year and is about to get bombarded with a wide range of new influences, and I get a front row seat to everything he discovers and loves, and learns to love. I get to watch as he dislikes things and help him deal with that. I couldn’t be more excited and more terrified.

Now I just need to get my own Ninja Turtle!

The post Build Your Own Ninja Turtle, or Not? appeared first on GeekMom.

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Space Scouts Helps Your Kids Explore the Galaxy Every Month Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:00:44 +0000 This post is brought to you by our sponsors, Space Scouts. Did you know that it’s the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing? That’s the mission that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon and coined some of the most memorable phrases of a generation—not to mention inspired generations to come....

The post Space Scouts Helps Your Kids Explore the Galaxy Every Month appeared first on GeekMom.

Image: Space Scouts

This post is brought to you by our sponsors, Space Scouts.

Did you know that it’s the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing? That’s the mission that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon and coined some of the most memorable phrases of a generation—not to mention inspired generations to come.

One of my earliest space-centric memories revolves around a packet of pictures I got from NASA. I know the wait felt like forever after I sent in the request, but when the big manila envelope finally appeared in my mailbox—addressed to me—it was like Christmas morning. Inside were dozens of beautiful pictures of planets, galaxies, asteroids and other mind-blowing images. I remember spreading them all around my room, on the floor and over my bed quilt, and reveling in the vastness and beauty of space.

That feeling can’t be bought, of course. But it can be fostered. That sense of adventure in learning is what Space Scouts is all about. If your kids are anything like mine, they love getting mail. And Space Scouts has taken the excitement of mail subscription boxes and added education and exploration. Following Roxy and Jett, subscribers go on a space journey every month, as with each subsequent box they add to their story.

It’s not like a typical grab-bag subscription box. Space Scouts is meant to be an experience, from the first box forward. With activities, exercises, and fun facts, the story builds every month—starting with the introduction to Roxy and Jett and moving to the moon, the solar system, and beyond. These activities and adventures are meant to be part of a conversation with your kids, especially considering the importance of STEM education. So their website and social channels are designed in such a way to keep you in the loop, too.

Space Scouts is all about fostering a love of education through one of the oldest observable sciences in the world. For just $14.95 a month, you can get your little star-gazers started. Here’s what you’ll expect in your first and subsequent boxes:

Your child’s adventure begins with:

  • Introduction to the Space Scouts Program
  • Space Scouts Lunchbox
  • Space Scouts Solar System Poster
  • Space Scouts Activity Sheet
  • Space Scouts Sticker Scramble
  • Space Scouts Souvenir Toy
  • Space Scouts Constellation Card Startup Kit (cover & ring)
  • Introduction to Space Scouts Constellation Cards

Each month your child will receive:

  • Space Scouts Exploration Plan
  • Space Scouts Magnet
  • Space Scouts Sticker
  • Space Scouts Activity Sheet
  • Space Scouts Sticker Scramble
  • Space Scouts Souvenir Toy
  • Space Scouts Constellation Card
  • Space Scouts Constellation Activity Sheet

Sometimes it’s tempting to spend extra cash at hand—or even allowances—on easily forgotten toys and video games. But you never know if you’re kid has the makings of a Neil deGrasse Tyson if you don’t give them the tools to explore.

I’ve got to admit, my interest is piqued—not just for my own son, who’s almost 8, but for myself, too!

Space Scouts can be found on:


This post is brought to you by our sponsors, Space Scouts.

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