GeekMom http://geekmom.com Smart. Savvy. Social. Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:33:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 35 Ways To Make Summer Linger http://geekmom.com/2014/08/35-ways-make-summer-linger/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/35-ways-make-summer-linger/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:33:40 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151686 Mix up burp juice, fence with cardboard tubes, make zucchini gummy fruit, go backyard camping, and much more.

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family fun, outdoor fun, family traditions,

Summer isn’t over till you say it is! (CC by 2.0 Ano Lobb on flickr)

Summer is NOT over. Oh, it may feel like it now that school has started and Halloween accouterments are on store shelves. But it’s officially still summer until September 22nd.

There’s still plenty of time to fit in summer-y pleasure for your family. Not pricey get-your-ticket, wait-in-line amusements, just the sort of fun that stretches a barefoot, carefree feeling well into autumn’s first chill.

 

Do something messy outside.

1. Take a meal outdoors and sit on the grass to enjoy it. In our family, at least once every summer, we eat directly from the plate without hands or utensils. We call this “trough feeding.” Bet you can’t do it without laughing through the whole meal.

2. Designate an area of the yard where kids can play right in the dirt. They might want to use it to build mountains and valleys for their toy dinosaurs, cars, or action figures. They might want to dig holes, perhaps looking for archaeological finds using Hands-On Archaeology: Real-Life Activities for Kids as a guide. For a real mess, give them enough water to make a mud pit. Your status as an epic parent will linger (so will the stains).

3. Mix up some washable paint, then let the kids paint designs on the driveway.

4. Make drip castles at the beach or in the sandbox.

5. Throw a BYOB party. This is cheap, imagination-driven fun. Guests are charged with one simple task: Bring. Your. Own. Box. Together kids can construct a fort or spaceship or whatever they please out of the boxes, then spend hours playing in it. There are plenty of other ways to amuse kids with cardboard boxes too.

6. Roast or boil fresh corn at your next picnic, tossing cobs over your shoulder as you finish. When it’s time to clean up, offer a prize for whoever picks up the most cobs. (A great prize is offering to read a few extra chapters aloud in the book you’re doing together.)

7. Form bubble snakes using old mismatched socks.

8. Make sponge bombs out of household sponges, then soak and use for tossing games. Unlike water balloons, these are reusable. They also make a lovely smacking sound when dropped on an unsuspecting sibling from the top of a slide. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

 

Get some exercise. 

9. Make foam swords. For peace of mind you may also want to make foam-covered shields, foam body pads, and operate on a no-running-hits/no-face-hits rule. Any violation and parents get to use the swords. Or simply fence with cardboard tubes. The Cardboard Tube Fighting League rules are worthy indeed.

10. Go hiking. Before leaving, decide what each of you will keep your eyes open to see. Your son might decide to look for things that fly. Your daughter might decide to look for the color red. You might keep an eye out for poison ivy. It’s interesting how much more cued all of you will be to your surroundings when really looking.

11. Set up a bike, trike, or scooter obstacle course. Mark the course with sidewalk chalk or masking tape. The course may lead them around cones, through a sprinkler, under crepe paper streamers hanging from a tree branch, and on to a finish line. Next, encourage them to set up their own obstacle courses.

12. Find out how advanced hooping has become and how to get your kids started. You’ll want to provide a good example of hula hoop enthusiasm. Here’s how to make a hoop that will fit your, ahem, grown-up hips.

13. Take  after-dark walks. Kids enjoy this even more when they are in charge of the flashlights.

14. Set up relay races. It’s a great way to get your loved ones to hop in sacks and crawl with laundry baskets. When summer is gone you’ll want those photos.

15. Go on a camera scavenger hunt. First choose a theme, like Ten Things That Move or A Dozen Yellow Things. Then send kids out with cameras (disposable, digital, or cell phone cameras) to grab some images. Encourage them to find creative, funny, and unusual ways to interpret the theme. Pop the photos up on the computer screen or take disposable cameras to a one-hour processing shop.

16. Set up backyard bowling. Save 10 empty plastic bottles, set them up in a triangular pattern, then roll a ball toward them. This makes a satisfying clatter on the driveway. For a bigger challenge, fill the bottles a third to half full. Teach older kids how to keep score.

17.  Ask the oldest people you know to tell you about games they played when they were growing up. Then play them. Better yet, play them with those elders.

 

Make something tasty together. 

18. Anything cooked outside tastes better whether on the grill, over a fire pit, or over a real campfire. Slice a few inches open on an unpeeled banana, stuff in a dollop of peanut butter and a few miniature marshmallows, then grill till it becomes a warm pudding in its own banana container. Bake brownies or cake inside hollowed out oranges over a fire pit.  For more ideas check out Campfire CookingScout’s Outdoor Cookbookand Easy Campfire Cooking

19. Stick pasta salad on a skewer.

20. Make homemade, corn syrup-free marshmallows.

21. Write a message or draw a picture on the skin of a banana using a toothpick or pencil. It’ll darken within an hour.

22. Make ice cream in a bag.

23. Keep fruits like bananas, mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, and peaches in separate containers in the freezer. On different days let each child take a turn concocting a smoothie for the family by blending his or her choice of fruit with juice and/or yogurt in the blender. Serve in tiny cups for taste testing. Encourage the creator to come up with a name for the frozen delight,

24.  Make burp juice. Show kids how to mix a quarter cup or so of juice concentrate (undiluted) into eight ounces of unsweetened seltzer water. Adjust to taste with more juice or seltzer. Add ice cubes, then drink. It has the same carbonation level as soda without sugar or food coloring. We call it burp juice in our house because quick gulps bring on burps.

25. If you’ve got a food dehydrator and some monster zucchini, make zuke gummi fruit. Surprisingly tasty and surely a zillion times healthier. Remember, when kids help they’re much more likely to eat the results.

 

Engage in some science. 

26. Make rock candy that actually works.

27. Create your own eclipse.

28. Engage in some nephology.

29. Draw the solar system with sidewalk chalk.

30. Do some ice cube experiments.

31. Race balloon rockets.

 

Make it an adventure. 

32. Camp out in the backyard. Tell stories, play hide and seek in the dark, let kids use flashlights as they please.

33. Get retro and experience a drive-in movie with your kids. You can search this database to find one nearest you. If there’s no hope of finding one remotely close by, set up a backyard movie theater. You might want to invite the neighborhood for an 80′s film fest. To give it that drive-in vibe, kids can make their own cars out of cardboard boxes. That way during the movie they can sit with their feet up on a cardboard dash and spill popcorn all over the cardboard interior without anyone bugging them about it.

34. Give the kids a budget and let them plan what they family will do next Saturday.

35. Most important of all, leave time for make-believe, daydreams, and on-the-spot fun.

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Giveaway: Product Protection Is Now SIMPLR™ Than Ever http://geekmom.com/2014/08/simplr-product-protection/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/simplr-product-protection/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:08:06 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151653 Protecting production just got easy thanks to SIMPLR™ product protection plans for all your prized possessions.

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01 SIMPLR™

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf SIMPLR™.

Let’s face it, kids can be a destructive bunch. It’s just a fact of life that even the most careful children sometimes break things. I lost many a necklace to my baby’s chubby little fingers and now that they’re older, our tech is at constant risk. My preteen daughter once fell on the stairs and smashed a brand new iPod to bits. A protection plan like the ones offered by our sponsor SIMPLR™ would have made my life a lot easier.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf SIMPLR™.

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Board Game Hacks: Games to Play in a Classroom http://geekmom.com/2014/08/board-game-hacks/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/board-game-hacks/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:30:37 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=150540 When asked to break-up a boring day in the classroom the day before a big vacation, GeekMom Cathe performs board game hacks to use games in the classroom.

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Classroom Board Game Hacks

Need a game to play with your classroom full of kids? Try hacking rules to these favorites! Image: Cathe Post

When asked to break up a high-energy classroom the day before a big vacation, I take games. But sometimes it is difficult to find games that can be played with more than ten players. Hacks need to be made to the rules. I taught art in four different second-grade classrooms last year, and all of them asked me to bring in games on multiple occasions. The teachers would dread that final day before spring break/winter break/summer vacation. Teachers appreciated the educational choices that could be played with 20+ students at a time. The kids liked most of the games, with a few exceptions. The ratings below represent how many classes liked the game.

Happy Birthday cards are silly! Photo: Cathe Post

Happy Birthday cards are silly! Kids will take the time to read the text of these fun gifts. Image: Cathe Post

Happy Birthday: Happy Birthday is a game similar to Apples to Apples. The game revolves around the idea that you are going to a birthday party and only have some crazy, strange gifts in your closet to take. The judge (or the birthday person) picks their favorite and least favorite gift. The players who brought those gifts to the party get points. Classroom Rule Adjustments: The kids already sit in groups of 3-5. I had each table be a “team.” Each team would get a set of cards and would have to work together to pick the gifts they thought the judge would think was awesome and awful. This was great for building teamwork skills. It also allowed kids who played the judge/birthday person to read the gift cards aloud in front of the class, which they enjoyed. Additional games of the same type would work: Dixit, Apples to Apples, or Apples to Apples Junior Grade: A+ (All four classes loved it and wanted my copy to keep in their classroom. Adults probably will not enjoy this game as much as the kids.)

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With an overhead projector, 20 Express cubes can be easily seen by an entire class. Image: Cathe Post

20 Express: This is a math and number-line game disguised as a guessing and party game. Classroom Rule Adjustments: None needed to be made. Grade: C- (One of the four classes tolerated this game. Since they had been working on their number line during the year, it felt like I was teaching them instead of playing a game. Of course the teachers LOVED this game.)

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Using all three sets of Story Cubes in a class means there are enough for 27 people to play. Image: Cathe Post

Rory’s Story Cubes: These cubes have been written about extensively by GeekMom Jenny. Basically, these dice have little pictures on them. When you roll the dice, you can make up stories using the pictures as prompts. Classroom Rule Adjustments: If you only have one set of cubes, you can split the kids into groups and have each group take turns rolling a die and come up with a story in their little group. If you have enough cubes to give one to every student in the class, the kids have time to come up with possibilities of what their cube’s function could be in a large story. Additional games of the same type would work: Rory’s Voyages Cubes and Rory’s Actions Cubes Grade: A- (The kids liked this game, however, the story often turned into who ever the “character” was picking up a bunch of items or finding them, and then blowing up or dying.) Honorable Mention: Bane! (which isn’t on Kickstarter yet, but would be a great start-of-year game to play) The social game is basically Rock, Paper, Scissors played with cards instead of hands. Look for the Kickstarter hopefully in November.

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Giveaway: DisneyNature Bears Blu-Ray and iPad Air Cases http://geekmom.com/2014/08/bears-blu-ray-giveaway/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/bears-blu-ray-giveaway/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:00:23 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151637 Enter for a chance to win a DisneyNature Bears combo prize pack: a copy of the Blu-ray and a limited-edition Bears iPad Air case.

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Image: DisneyNature

Image: DisneyNature

On Earth Day weekend last April, my family took a trip to the theater to see DisneyNature’s latest film: BearsThis film is educational, exciting, and humorous all at the same time. Sky, Amber, and Scout are the members of a brown bear family and viewers follow them on a year-long journey of survival. The young family deals with weather, tides, predators, and fellow bears’ aggression while they eagerly await the annual salmon run and fantastic feast that follows.

Last week we received a Disney Blu-ray of the film and we watched all of it the same evening. My sons know and love the film’s narrator John C. Reilly from Wreck It Ralph; his flavor of humor in the narration is right up their alleys. He instills incredible personality into the film, and his storytelling makes this my favorite DisneyNature film to date! He does an especially touching job personifying Scout, the male baby bear.

The cinematography is amazing. I spent much of the film asking, “How did they film that?”, with scenes of fighting, scavenging for food, and devouring salmon… As if you’re standing right there on the riverbanks watching it all.

Well wouldn’t you know it? There’s a short seven-minute film included on the Blu-ray titled “How Did They Film That?” It goes over the techniques and challenges the film crew encountered during their two years in Alaska making this film. I was fascinated with how the film crew would snowboard around with their film equipment to get as close as possible to the bears. You’ll even get to experience a videographer as he wipes out in the snow! Viewers will also learn about the underwater filming that was a critical part of the completed movie; the divers used special scuba equipment that kept the bubbles from disturbing the bears. Not only did I learn from the film itself, but the extras on the Blu-ray will offer quite a bit of insight.

The other Blu-ray extra worth mentioning is the six-minute short titled “Welcome to Alaska” about Katmai National Park in the southwestern part of the state of Alaska. The film discusses the logistical challenges in getting all the equipment to the required locations via small airplane and rubber rafts. I enjoyed the discussion about the highly variable weather that the film crew had to endure. It was a huge challenge for the crew to keep up with Sky and her two cubs.

Enter our GeekMom giveaway for a chance to win a Blu-ray and iPad Air case combo prize pack! Image: DodoCase.

Enter our GeekMom giveaway for a chance to win a Blu-ray and iPad Air case combo prize pack! Image: DodoCase.

If you are interested in winning one of the three combo prize packs we’re giving away: your very own copy of the DisneyNature Bears as well as a limited edition DodoCase brand Bears commemorative iPad Air case, valued at $95, please take part in our Rafflecopter giveaway below. Winners will be notified on September 5, 2014. Good luck!

DisneyNature Bears is a terrific addition to any family’s Blu-ray collection. It retails for $39.99 and can be purchased at major entertainment retailers such as Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GeekMom received a copy of this product for review purposes.

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Tiny Hands Apps Puts the Joy of Learning in Toddlers’ Hands http://geekmom.com/2014/08/tiny-hands-apps-puts-joy-learning-toddlers-hands/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/tiny-hands-apps-puts-joy-learning-toddlers-hands/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:28:23 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151645 As the mother of two kids in a very tech-connected geek household, apps are often on our minds. Which is why I’m so excited to share Tiny Hands Apps, our sponsor, with you. Our daughter, the youngest, is only two. And while she’s fascinated with the iPad and certainly wants to use it like her...

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Image: Tiny HandsAs the mother of two kids in a very tech-connected geek household, apps are often on our minds. Which is why I’m so excited to share Tiny Hands Apps, our sponsor, with you.

Our daughter, the youngest, is only two. And while she’s fascinated with the iPad and certainly wants to use it like her brother does, there’s not much out there that caters to her. Generally speaking, it’s too complicated for her—and to be honest, I don’t just want to throw her the iPad to keep her busy when it’s not something that’s helpful for her.

That’s where Tiny Hands Apps comes in. Tiny Hands Apps are designed with toddlers in mind, from top to bottom. They’re educational and fun, and go beyond being just apps—really, they’re developmental apps. Everything is designed with a great deal of thought, not just a bunch of bright colors and sounds. In fact, Tiny Hands Apps are put together with certified child psychologists and produced in such a way to be exciting and interesting but never compromising on the content.

Even better? There’s no ads. No pop ups. No network access. Your littlest curious kiddos are free from the advertising crush that we so often see in games. It’s a gateway to learning without interruption.

Image: Tiny HandsA great example is Tiny Hands Raccoon Tree House. Your toddler sees a friendly raccoon character, and a story to go along. But you’ll know that it’s far beyond that. Tiny Hands Raccoon Tree House includes sorting, classifying, hand-eye coordination, concentration, vocabulary… and so on.Image: Tiny Hands

But that’s just the beginning. The world of Tiny Hands Apps is full of bright and colorful fun, learning about the world and all that’s in it.

We all know that it’s almost impossible to avoid technology—and we certainly never would want to. But we always want to make sure that we’re delivering the best quality to our children, both appropriate and exceptional. If you have a toddler who’s ready, we can’t think of a better place to start than Tiny Hands Apps

You can see the full lineup of Tiny Hands apps at the iTunes store, and follow them on Facebook, too.

This post is sponsored by Tiny Hands Apps.

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DIY Star-Lord-Inspired Care Package http://geekmom.com/2014/08/star-lord-care-package/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/star-lord-care-package/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:15:15 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151599 Ease those back-to-school jitters with this Guardians of the Galaxy goodie bag.

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This Peter Quill-worthy care package lets your child know they are always in your heart whether defending the galaxy or spending the weekend with the grandparents. All images by Lisa Kay Tate.

awsome mix

Make your own version of Star-Lord’s “Awesome Mix” tape for a care package, or give it as a gift on its own.

I think many parents might agree that the unsung hero in this summer’s blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, was Meredith Quill, the mother of Peter Quill.

Moviegoers only got to see Peter’s mom for a short time at the start of a film, but we seemed to learn quite a bit about her from her deathbed. She loved “awesome” music, and used her enthusiasm to not only grow closer to her son, but to make him happy and hopeful when life can throw some nasty curves. She raised a strong-willed and independent kid on her own, despite his dad being an incredibly long way away. Her very last notion before departing this Earth was to feel the simple touch of her son’s hand. Even more than two decades after her death, her memory and strength continued to inspire Peter in the direst of situations. What a great mom!

All parents know the importance of maintaining that connection with their son or daughter, even when they know they might not be physically able to be with them.

Take a tip from Meredith’s playbook, and create something special for your own “Star Lord” with a Peter Quill-inspired care package. This gift will help ease those nerves and fears that can come from a first day at a new school, an overnight sleepover, weekend visits to relatives, or just the rainy day blues.

Start with one plain black backpack or drawstring sackpack and fill it with the following items:

“Awesome Mix” CD
Baby Groot Craft Kit
“Orb” Snackholder and Other Treats
Science Fiction Book or Comic
Troll Doll, Trading Cards, and Stickers

The “Awesome Mix.” The Awesome Mix is an essential item. Anyone not living under an intergalactic rock is aware the actual “Awesome Mix, Vol. 1” is available for purchase, but I suggest giving a homemade mix. Use some favorite songs from the Guardians soundtrack, and add a few that meant something to you as a kid. My mix includes selections, “Come and Get Your Love,” “Cherry Bomb,” and “Spirit in the Sky” from the actual “Awesome Mix,” but I added bands like The Stray Cats, Johnny Cash, The Smiths, Social Distortion, and others from my own childhood. If you’re having a hard time thinking of song ideas, Entertainment Weekly put out a hypothetical “Awesome Mix, Vol. 2″ playlist, and it is actually pretty good. Really, it doesn’t matter what songs are on the disc, as long as it is personal. That’s the beauty of the mix tape.

If your child has their own digital music player, sneak a downloaded playlist onto it, and include a hand-written list for reference.

Baby Groot Craft. Simple craft kits are a good way to enjoy some down-time on trips or at recess, and this “Baby Groot” kit uses only a few materials. There are some pretty realistic-looking “Baby Groots” out there right now, but the point of this craft is for it to be easy enough for a school-aged child to put together on their own.

Place six light brown chenille craft stems (cut in half) in a zip-top bag, with a handful of dark brown pom-poms and a small paper drinking cup. Cut three small slits of black craft foam, and lightly tape them on the bottom of the cup to use for Groot’s face.

To make things simpler on the crafter, fill cut a small Styrofoam square so it fits in the bottom of Groot’s cup. This will make it easier to just stick the end of his stem in the cup. Also, Elmer’s makes school glue in travel sizes (1.25 oz) that will easily fit in the bag.

baby groot

Construct a little companion with this “Baby Groot” craft.

I recommend making your own Baby Groot first to see how it comes out, and take a picture of it to include with a copy of “Baby Groot Instructions.”

Book or Graphic Novel. I can never pack an overnight or weekend bag for myself without some sort of reading material. Include a copy of one your favorite science fiction novels or graphic novels. If you want to stick with the Guardians of the Galaxy theme, Dan Abnett’s prose novel, Rocket Raccoon and Groot Steal the Galaxy is a fun read for ages nine and older.

To go that extra mile, the official movie site for the Guardians of the Galaxy has a “Make Yourself a Guardian” activity where you can put yourself of your kid in the famous “line-up” image. These can be printed out on card stock and made into cool personalized bookmarks.

orb

Decorate a fillable plastic holiday ornament to make an “Orb” for snacks and other surprises.

Treat-filled Orb. Care packages always have to have treats. A neat way to package some loose treats or small trinkets, is by painting a clear plastic fillable ornament black, and drawing some curvy designs on it using silver 3-D paint. Once it dries, fill it with popcorn, candy-coated chocolate pieces, etc.

Include a couple of bags of healthy treats (raisins, granola, or trail mix), as well as something just for fun that meets your own child’s dietary needs. For some reason, I can see Peter (even the grown-up Peter) really getting into Pop Rocks.

Troll Doll and Trading Cards. Finish off with a few of Peter’s relics from his childhood, as seen in his ship, The Milano. Peter has a favorite orange-haired troll doll, but any discount store troll doll will work. I used a troll-like fairy toy called a Zelf in my example, since they are similar designs. Also shown in Peter’s sleeping area were several retro stickers, such as the iconic happy face and American flag stickers that adorned lockers in the 70s and 80s, and trading cards (Alf, Garbage Pail Kids). I personally can’t stand Garbage Pail Kids, but did include some retro-style Star Wars and Batman designs.

This care package doesn’t have to be limited to these listed items, or even include all of them. Whatever you put in there, remember you don’t have to be galaxies away to let your daughter or son to know they are always close to your heart.

 

book stickers

Retro and movie-themed items help to fill a backpack.

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NYCC’s Batman Promotional Poster http://geekmom.com/2014/08/batman-promotional-poster/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/batman-promotional-poster/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:44:21 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151632 DC Comics' promotional poster for New York Comic Con featuring the Dark Knight.

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Batman Francis Manapul

Batman Francis Manapul

DC released a promotional poster this week for the upcoming New York Comic Con this fall. The art is by Detective comics artist and co-writer, Francis Manapul.

I’d love to have this poster available as a print but I suspect only attendees will have a chance at it. If you want to go to the con, better go over to their site and snap up the last few remaining single day tickets ($35) for Thursday. I highly recommend going on Thursday—it’s the least crowded day and also the day many exhibitors tend to hand out freebies.

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GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Alien Smugglers, Zombies & A Mysterious Superman http://geekmom.com/2014/08/comic-book-corner-08-27-2014/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/comic-book-corner-08-27-2014/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:30:49 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=150961 Reviews this week include a new series on alien smugglers, a book starring a hero zombie you should be reading, and the newest installment of DC's weekly book, Futures End.

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gi zombie #2

Cover by Darwyn Cooke, copyright DC Comics.

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week.

Dakster Sullivan — Starburn #1 by Kelly Bender and art by Brian Balondo (Emerald Star Comics)

starburn-ad

Starburn courtesy of Emerald Star Comics.

Starburn follows a group of scoundrels that make their living by smuggling, stealing, and killing (not necessarily in that order). The team consists of mostly aliens, with three humans thrown into the mix.

I get a Han Solo-like feeling when I read about Guage (human male), but I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because he had the nerve to ask the Captain if he had a plan other than for them to fly into a mission blind. Captain Aphi comes off as an alien who cares for his team, but also likes money. I haven’t decided which he would choose, if it came down to only having one or the other.

Amongst the team, there are two strong female types that know how to handle the trouble they find themselves in. The creative team gets bonus points for both women being 80-percent clothed.

After an introduction to the characters, the story picks up and takes off into their first mission. It comes off as an easy pick-up-and-deliver job, but of course, something has to go wrong and we are left wondering how they will get themselves out alive.

I’d recommend this book for anyone 14-years-old and up because of a violent scene where heads fly (literally).

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Corrina —  Star Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie #2 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Scott Hampton

Futures End #17, various creators, DC Comics

One title is far too long and isn’t at all reflective of the material inside and the other title still bothers me for the missing apostrophe.

Of the two, read Zombie. It’s about an intelligent zombie who works as a federal agent and is infiltrating an American militia bent on anarchy. Zombie has a female partner and the power of not being able to die, and, as Palmiotti promised me at Boston Comic Con, he indeed rides a missile, a la Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. The book has a similar sensibility to the movie, though without the political commentary. I have no idea who’s reading this except me (sales of #1 were very low), but if you like the work of the creators or zombies or cop stories and you have a skewed sense of humor, you should be reading this. Plus, the cover is by Darwyn Cooke.

Futures End is one of the DC events books, detailing how things have gone wrong on two different earths five years into the DC future. I didn’t like the first few issues and I don’t like it much now, but the story has improved marginally and the various creators seem to be using Lois Lane fairly well. Plotwise? Lots of DC characters are doing some things that seem random that will no doubt be connected at the end, and this entire story will all probably be retconned because the future will be reset so that these events never happened and Green Arrow is alive. Killing off a character now starring in a hit television show is certain not to stick.

The bright spot in #17 is the revelation of who’s pretending to be Superman. Hint: It’s one of the popular theories.

Age recommendation:

G.I. Zombie: 12 +

Futures End: 10 +

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

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Adventures Of Superman #16
All-Star Western #34 Final Issue
Aquaman #34
Batman ’66 #14
Batman Beyond Universe #13 GM
Batman Eternal #21
Batman Superman #13
Bodies #2 (Of 8)
Catwoman #34
DC Universe Vs The Masters Of The Universe TP GM
Dead Boy Detectives #8
Fables Vol. 20 Camelot TP
Flash #34
Green Lantern New Guardians Vol. 4 Gods And Monsters TP
Harley Quinn #10 GeekMom Recommended
He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe #16 GM
Injustice Gods Among Us Year Two #10
Justice League Dark #34
New 52 Futures End #17 Weekly Series
Red Lanterns #34
Secret Origins #5
Sinestro #5
Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie #2
Superman #34
All-New Invaders #9
All-New Ultimates #7
All-New X-Men #31
Amazing Spider-Man #1.4
Avengers #34
Avengers Undercover #9
Avengers Undercover Vol. 1 Descent TP
Cyclops #4 New Series
Deadpool Vs Carnage TP
Fantastic Four #9
Fantastic Four Vol. 1 The Fall Of The Fantastic Four TP
Guardians Of The Galaxy #18 GM
Inhuman #4 New Series
Jessica Jones The Pulse The Complete Collection TP
Marvel Masterworks Atlas Era Tales Of Suspense Vol. 1 TP
Marvel Masterworks Marvel Rarities Vol. 1 HC
Marvel Previews #133 (October 2014 For Products On-Sale December 2014)
Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man #29
New Warriors Vol. 1 The Kids Are All Fight TP GM 
Original Sin #5.4
Original Sin #6
Oz: Dorothy And The Wizard In Oz TP Kid Friendly
Savage Hulk #3
Secret Service Kingsman HC (Premiere Edition)
Silver Surfer #5
Thunderbolts #30
Uncanny Avengers #23
Wolverine #12
Wolverine And The X-Men #8
X-Force By Craig Kyle And Chris Yost The Complete Collection Vol. 2 TP
X-Force Vol. 1 Dirty Tricks TP
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24 #5
7th Sword #4 New Series
Borderlands The Fall Of Fyrestone #2 New Series
Cartoon Network Super Secret Crisis War #3 (Of 6) Kid Friendly
Ghostbusters #19
Godzilla Rulers Of Earth #15
Illegitimates HC
Kill Shakespeare The Mask Of Night #3 (Of 4)
Last Fall #2 (Of 5)
Magic The Gathering The Complete Collection Oversized HC
Mars Attacks Deluxe Edition HC
Ragnarok #1 New Series
Star Trek Harlan Ellison’s The City On The Edge Of Forever The Original Teleplay #3 (Of 5)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Works Vol. 3 HC
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles In Time #3 (Of 4)
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #32
Transformers Vs G.I. JOE #2 New Series
V-Wars #5
Archie Archives Vol. 10 HC
Baltimore The Witch Of Harju #2 (Of 3)
Blood Blockade Battlefront Vol. 6 TP
Captain Midnight #14
Conan The Avenger #5
Conan Vol. 16 The Song Of Belit HC
Deep Gravity #2 (Of 4)
Dream Thief Escape #3 (Of 4)
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan The Sunday Comics Vol. 2 1934-1936 HC
Emily And The Strangers Breaking The Record #3 (Of 3) Final Issue
Goon Occasion Of Revenge #2 (Of 4)
Groo Vs Conan #2 (Of 4)
Halo Escalation #9
Hatsune Miku Unofficial Hatsune Mix TP
Massive #26
Mind MGMT #25
Pariah #7 (Of 8)
POP #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series
Star Wars Legacy II #18
Sundowners #1 New Series
Tomb Raider #7
X Vol. 3 Siege TP

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback

The post GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Alien Smugglers, Zombies & A Mysterious Superman appeared first on GeekMom.

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How ChicoBags Changed The Way I Live http://geekmom.com/2014/08/chicobags/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/chicobags/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:00:56 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=150718 How hard is it to really change a family's habits? When one family tried giving up plastic bags, having the right tools helped them succeed.

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Photo: ChicoBag

Several months ago, I was walking by the new bookshelf at my local library and an interesting title caught my eye. Covered in pictures of trash, the cover of the book said Garbology. Intrigued, I picked it up to investigate further. It turns out there is a group of volunteers at the University of Washington who study trash. By studying modern waste, they hope to learn ways we can avoid being covered in garbage in the next hundred years or so. Studying trash is not as weird as you might think, considering people like my husband, an archaeologist, study the trash of ancient cultures to learn more about them. The group at UW just has to deal with a bit more smell.

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Photo: Avery Trade

I immediately checked out the book and found that I had trouble putting it down for the next few days. I learned a lot about the island of trash floating in our oceans, the ugly truth about recycling, and how trash has been managed in the United States for the last decade.

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Photo: Sierra Club

One chapter that really struck a chord with me was the discussion about plastic grocery bags. I live in a pretty forward-thinking mountain town in Colorado. I am very familiar with the folks in line at the grocery store who refuse to use plastic bags. I’ve always admired them and wished I could be so organized and socially conscious. My excuses were common. I have four kids, three of them hungry boys. I buy a lot of groceries. Could there even be enough reusable bags in the world to tackle my weekly food stash? I’d tried using canvas bags a few years ago. It always seemed like half of my cart was filled with the pile of bags. Then, I had to dig them out once we got to the check out. Slowly my handy canvas bags were used for other purposes and disappeared from my van. Without really realizing it, I slid back into our “plastic bag only” way of life.

I was once again inspired when I read the chapter in Garbology about plastic bags. It covered how they are not as recycled as people would like to pretend. It also talked about how many times the displays at the grocery stores, where you can bring back your bags to be recycled, don’t really make it to recycling centers, and end up in the landfill anyway. And it also dissected how it’s much harder to truly recycle a plastic bag than it is things like glass bottles and metal objects. I could spend all day tracking down articles that prove the above facts to be true or false, but either way, I figured that giving the reusable bag habit another try could only be a positive change for our family and for the environment.

One of the companies mentioned in the book was ChicoBag. About a decade ago, a guy named Andy Keller stopped by his local landfill to drop off some landscaping waste. He was amazed to see so much plastic floating around in the air, as discarded grocery bags escaped from the trash heap and caught the breeze. On the drive home, he noticed more bags, stuck on fence posts, and caught in tree limbs. He immediately decided that he needed to do something that would make taking reusable bags easier to work into our everyday lives. The story involves some sewing attempts on a secondhand machine and a lot of redesigning. Keller knew the bag had to be easy to haul around, yet sturdy and useful.

In the end, he created a company called ChicoBags, which is now one of the top producers of reusable bags, grocery and otherwise.

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Photo: ChicoBag

Immediately after reading about the company in Garbology, I emailed ChicoBags. I told them my situation. I challenged them to convince me, the mom to four hungry teen children, that I could make reusable bags work in our lifestyle. Fortunately, they accepted my challenge and a week later, a box arrived in the mail. We unpacked the wide assortment of styles that we’d been sent and discussed how, as a family, we were going to make a big change. It might be a bit rocky at first, as old habits are hard to break, but it would be worth it in the long run. Now that we had the supplies, we had no excuse.

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Photo: Judy Berna

That was several months ago. I was supposed to give it a month’s challenge, then report back to ChicoBags and to our readers. But, as is common, life happened instead. We had some pretty major family health issues and a few major summer trips. The whole time, we were consistently using our ChicoBags and I was making mental notes that I really—I mean really—needed to get this post written.

This is what I found out: When I finally got serious about almost completely ceasing my plastic bag use, when the right product is around, the change becomes easy.

One of the selling features of the ChicoBag and the reason I have fallen in love with them, is the fact that they fold up into teeny tiny bags that are easy to have around. At any given time, I have one or two in the bottom of my purse, for those last-minute stops at the drug store or quick stop. Here are some pictures of one of my favorite styles, The Micro. It’s literally about the size of an egg, but unfolds into a decent-sized bag, that is strong enough to hold a bowling ball.

No kidding.

It’s super easy to have these everywhere, in my glove box, on the key chain, in my purse, or in my son’s backpack. They would take up almost no room in a diaper bag and could be used for anything a plastic bag can be used for. In fact, I might click over and purchase some more of these little guys, as they are one of the key reasons I can truly give up plastic bags.

The Micro Photo: Chico Bag The Micro, opened. Photo: Chico Bag

The close second for my favorite design is the Original ChicoBag. It stuffs into a pouch the size of my palm and has a caribeener so I can clip it to my purse or my kid’s backpack. Unfolded, it can hold up to 25 pounds. It comes in 10 different colors and retails for six bucks. This is the bag to stock up on if you feel the need to use less plastic at the grocery store.

The Original. Photo: ChicoBag The Original. Photo: ChicoBag

I’ve done canvas bags in the past. They were hardy and reusable, yes. But even after complicated folding efforts, they took up a lot of space… in my van and in the grocery cart. My new routine involves grabbing the one “opened” bag I have, that is filled with the compressed bags, and heading to the store. It takes seconds to open up the number of bags I need at the check out. The ones I dont need stay nice and tidy in their little zipped up pouches. Because the fabric is so incredibly light, it takes mere seconds to stuff the bags back in their pouches once the groceries are neatly stacked in my home pantry. In fact, I can see a preschooler or young school-aged child having fun with the job of making the big bags small again. Drop them back in the “carrier” bag and you are ready for the next shopping trip. It’s really that easy.

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Photo: ChicoBag

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Photo: Judy Berna

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Photo: Judy Berna

This is what our life looks like now: On the coat hooks by the door, there’s one large ChicoBag that has assorted folded up bags inside. If I’m going to the library to return books, I grab the size bag I need, unfold it, and fill it up. If I’m going to the grocery store, I grab the whole bag and put it in the baby seat part of the cart, right next to my purse. No digging around for my reusable bags when it’s time to unload a full cart onto the conveyor belt. I even have an assortment of produce bags that are vented and washable, so I can say goodbye to the plastic bags in the produce aisle too. In the picture above, you can see the produce bags and the sandwich/lunchbox bags, which can fold to two different sizes.

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Photo: ChicoBag

I love that all of the bags are hardy, made from recycled materials, and come in minimal packaging that is mostly cardboard, headed to the recycle bin. The company has many other types and styles of bags, from bags you can travel with to many fun fashion bags. Their website will suck you in and teach you about the environment, while offering you an amazing assortment of options if you’d like to give up the plastic habit.

I never thought I’d be one of those people who was dedicated enough to totally swear off the plastic grocery bags. They were just too convenient and it was too easy to just forget about them once I’d thrown them in that recycle bin at the grocery store. But I’m now a happy convert. I use my variety of ChicoBags because they are easy and convenient. The fact that they happen to help my carbon footprint is just a bonus.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

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Kick-Butt Disney Princess Cosplay, No Princes Needed, Thank You Very Much http://geekmom.com/2014/08/disney-princess-cosplay/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/disney-princess-cosplay/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:30:13 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151582 These Disney princess cosplayers are tough enough to save the whole land from evil!

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Image: The Will Box

The thing with the Disney princesses is that parents, and especially moms, seem to take one of two sides. They’re either fine with the pretty princesses and their flowing locks and their penchant for getting into trouble that requires saving by a prince, or they find them horribly objectionable for those very same reasons. I fall into the first group.

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Image: The Will Box

I’m totally fine with the Disney princesses and I loved it when my girls were young and wore costumes all day. One loved Cinderella and by the time she outgrew that phase, and the dress, it was nearly as tattered as Cinderella’s rags. I’ve often wondered if they’ll still like the princesses and have favorites once they’re adults.

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Image: The Will Box

This group of women clearly never outgrew their fondness of the Disney princesses and decided to cosplay the characters as warriors instead of damsels in distress. I absolutely love this cosplay and the fact that these princesses are perfectly capable of saving themselves, their princes, and probably everyone in the land!

Jasmine: Gladzy Kei
Megara: Megan Langan
Elsa: Jessica Nigri
Anna: Vivid Visions
Cinderella: Jessica Roh
Snow White: Andy Rae
Ariel: Caroline Dawe

Photography: The Will Box

You can see even more pictures from the photo shoot over at Fashionably Geek.

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