Bonnie Burton and Anne Wheaton Talk #VandalEyes at Emerald City Comicon

Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton pose with Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton at Emerald City Comicon 2014. Photo: Kelly Knox.

At the Espionage Cosmetics booth at Emerald City Comicon 2014, a very special, geektastic set of nail wraps made its debut. VandalEyes, the googly eye sensation that got its start on Twitter, can now grace your fingertips in style. Haven’t heard of VandalEyes yet? Googly eye connoisseurs Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton talked to me at the con about how #VandalEyes got started, why they teamed up with Espionage, and how you can support googly eyes for a good cause.

Bonnie Burton, author of the Star Wars Craft Book and all-around craft maven, has long been sticking jiggly plastic eyes on objects, from puppets to, well, everything. “I used to do this when I was in college, to my roommates, and I would do it later when I was more of an adult couch-surfing at people’s houses,” Bonnie said. “I would wait until everyone went to sleep, and then I’d put googly eyes on everything inside the fridge. It’s just something I’ve always done because I think it’s hilarious.”

Not even the house of Bonnie’s partner-in-VandalEyes-crime, Anne Wheaton, was safe, but it wasn’t long before she joined in the fun. “Bonnie came to visit me a couple of years ago,” Anne told me. “She was putting googly eyes on things around my house, and I said, ‘Oh my God! I used to do things with those all the time when I was a kid.’ So then we both started doing them, and Archie McPhee started making them [self-adhesive].”

Once the quirky retail store Archie McPhee made their Emergency Googly Eyes kit—inspired by Bonnie when she requested a tin to put googly eyes in—sticking the plastic eyes on everything soon became an internet sensation. “We started doing it more and more on Twitter, and Anne is the Queen of Puns, so she came up with the idea [of #VandalEyes],” Bonnie said. The hashtag evolved into a website,, where the work of the googly eye army can be seen on everything from food to airplane tray tables.

VandalEyes in action. Photo: ©

VandalEyes has even made its way onto television show sets and talk shows, thanks to Anne and Bonnie’s friends. “We’ve gotten all of our friends addicted to it, like Seth Green,” Bonnie said. “When you watch the show Dads, you’ll see VandalEyes pop up in the weirdest places [on the set].”

“Seth does a show called Robot Chicken, and my husband [Wil] worked on it a few weeks ago. He said even at the Robot Chicken studio—googly eyes everywhere,” Anne said. Seth Green even talked about his love of VandalEyes during an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s talk show last year.

So of all the places to stick googly eyes, why fingernails?

VandalEyes fans have long been gluing tiny googly eyes to their nails or painstakingly painting them on themselves. When Anne saw the Kickstarter from Espionage for their nerdy nail wraps line, inspiration struck. She contacted Espionage Cosmetics through Twitter, proposing a VandalEyes collaboration, and heard back from the company quickly with a resounding yes.

Anne and Bonnie worked with Espionage to create the VandalEyes nail wraps design, looking at Pinterest for inspiration, while also thinking about practical, everyday use. “I’m super rough with my hands, so I wouldn’t want eyes above, because I would hit them and they’d go flying,” Anne said. Bonnie agreed. “I worried about the same thing, because I’m such a tomboy—I can barely keep nail polish on… googly eyes would just go everywhere.”

VandalEyes Nail Wraps (and ECCC Exclusive). Photo: Kelly Knox.

Bonnie and Anne were drawn to working with Espionage Cosmetics because of the company’s obvious passion for geeky cosmetics. “It was a fun experience because they love what they do,” Bonnie said. “It was fun to be part of working with people that thoroughly love and enjoy their jobs, and love their products.”

This was no more apparent than during the VandalEyes photo shoot with Anne and Bonnie at the Espionage office, where the duo was greeted with detailed, handcrafted dresses covered in plastic, jiggling eyes. “And the funny thing was [about the dresses], we thought they were gorgeous and when we put them on, they were so loud because of all the pupils were hitting,” Anne laughed. “They were so loud, we couldn’t even hear what we were doing, and we were leaving a trail of googly eyes everywhere.”

VandalEyes Tee photo: © WeLoveFine

Not only did the glow-in-the-dark VandalEyes nail wraps make their debut at Emerald City Comicon, Anne and Bonnie teamed up with WeLoveFine to offer exclusive VandalEyes T-shirts at the con and online—and their commissions go to charity. “Our friend Sean Bonner designed the logo for us so Espionage could use the VandalEyes logo on our wraps, so we just decided that would be the best thing to do for the shirts as well,” said Anne. “The proceeds go to the Pasadena Humane Society, which is a non-profit organization that I’m a board member of.”

“We both have rescue dogs, so that’s a big deal for both of us, to be able to give back to the Humane Society,” Bonnie told me.

With the googly eye army poised to take over the internet, fingernails, and T-shirts, Bonnie and Anne can’t help but be amused by it all. “It was just something we did to crack ourselves up,” said Bonnie. “We had no idea that it would become such a phenomenon.”

The Cliffs of Insanity: Why GeekGirlCon Is Uniquely Satisfying

Geek Girl Con artist
This young artist, known as Small Boss by her mother, Tristan Tarwater, was offering her pictures for free at her mother’s exhibition booth at Geek Girl Con. She drew this magical rabbit for me. Photo by Corrina Lawson.

My adventures in climbing the cliffs of life’s insanity this year have included ConnectiCon, PAX East, Boston Comic Con, and New York Comic Con.

But the experience attending Geek Girl Con was different.

I’ve been trying since I left Seattle last weekend to put my finger on why. It’s not that I saw friends I never get a chance to see. I’ve been able to do that at every con. It’s not that it’s all about geekery. All the cons were. And it’s not even that there were more girls at  Geek Girl Con, as there were lots of women at the other cons too, especially the college-aged kids at ConnectiCon.

I finally came upon the answer when comparing the New York Comic Con program book to the Geek Girl Con guide.

The other cons were largely about what we consume: books, shows, movies, comics, games.

Geek Girl Con is about who were are and who we could be.

GGC was a conversation about how geeks of all types interact with the world.  And that includes children, too. Maybe that’s why GGC, instead of wowing me or overwhelming me, created a huge number of “aww…” moments that warmed my heart.

Here’s a sample of the workshops available on Saturday  at GGC:

Turning Your Art Into An Online Business; Labor of Love: Why Women Make Transformative Works; Women in Gaming: A New Frontier; Geek Etiquette, Everything I Thought I Knew About Fashion History Was Made Up by Victorians; Strong Female Characters in Young Adult Literature; Geek Girl Style; Helen of Troy Unlimited; We Are Fandom, Hear Us Roar; Deconstructing the Mary Sue Myth; Octobriana, the Black Heroine and Wonder Woman: A Comic History; Race in Costuming and Performing; You and Your Connected Kid; Geeks in Education; Making Giant Robots Go; Home Geek Home; Fan Studies, Past, Present and Future; Making Science Fun.

Here’s a sample of Saturday’s programming at New York  Comic Con, excluding the major television shows:

50 Years of Doctor Who; IGN Presents X-Box Fun; The Mythbusters; Comics for Everyone: Creating Stories for All Ages; IDW: The Ultimate Panel; Mad about MAD; Avatar Press Uncut; Justice League Forever Evil; We are BOOM; Kodansha & Funimation; Rocket Girl; Thief (a new video game); Spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski; Sword Art Online; Diamond Select Toys; Celebrating 36 Years of Judge Dredd.

In essence, most of the panels were about things we’ll eventually purchase or pop culture items we already love. There were a few more academic discussions, such as Geeks of Color Assemble! and The Mary  Sue Presents Representation in Geek Media, plus one on Breaking Into Comics, but it’s easy to see the difference in programming comparing the two lists. That doesn’t make NYCC wrong or evil but it explains the far different vibe between the two cons.

Leaf rubbings at the GGC Science Zone photograph by Kelly Knox.

There was also a consideration for children that I didn’t see evident at the other cons. NYCC had a kid’s day and this year they added a kid’s room, but it was one of the conference rooms downstairs. It’s a decent start and the kid’s room had some programming, but the entirety of GGC seemed set up to allow the younger set to have fun too.

The DIY science area at GGC had seven stations, designed to not just teach science but give the kids something hands-on to do in an interactive way. At the lower level, gaming areas were set up like at PAX and PAX East and a few other cons, but they seemed designed to also let parents and kids take a break instead of walking around.

Sure, some people tried to sell stuff and GGC had a nice exhibition area with a lot of cool crafts, from knitted cats to artwork, to geeky jewelry and t-shirts. Right outside that area was a signing area for those who wanted to visit with the creators who attended. Yet the placement of those tables seemed designed to encourage conversations rather than move along fans.

Basically, I went expecting a regular-style con only with more women. What I found was a community basically throwing a huge getaway weekend. Instead of being exhausted at the end, as I feel like at most cons, I left energized and excited about the future.

I need to find a way to get back to Seattle next year. And I need to bring the minions and my husband this time.

Geek Girl Con, Kelly Sue DeConnick, GeekMom Book
GeekMom Kelly Knox with Comics Writer and mom Kelly Sue DeConnick, who pronounced herself thrilled to have a copy of GeekMom, the book.

The Cliffs of Insanity: New York Comic Con and Geek Girl Con

geek girl con logo
The official logo of Geek Girl Con

On this week’s adventures climbing the cliffs of insanity, I’m going to talk about the fun to be had at cons. Particularly, New York Comic Con this weekend and Geek Girl Con, which begins on Saturday, October 19.

The East Coast has been getting into the massive geek gathering thingwith New York Comic Con, which started on Thursday. Like Comic Con International in San Diego, NYCC is only partially a comic con. The exhibit floor at the Jacob K. Javits Center is packed with booths from all the big video gaming companies, often with soundtracks blaring, there are many panels concentrating on television and movies, and prose publishers big and small are there too.

I’m headed in Saturday, and especially looking forward to two panels, The Mary Sue Presents Representation in Geek Media with Jill Pantozzi, Susana Polo, Jamal Igle, Kate Leth, N.K. Jemisin, Phil Jimenez on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. and Comic Chix with Kate Kotler–LIVE!, a live version of the popular podcast featuring Bonnie Burton, Jill Pantozzi, Joan Hilty, Kate Kotler, Meghan White, Molly McIsaac, Sarah Miller, and GeekMom’s own Nicole Wakelin.

As for the rest, since I’m going without kids for the first time, I’m looking forward to walking around without much of a plan at all, save to speak to creators in artists’ alley, my favorite place in any con. I hope to report back next week with some interviews, including one with Dan Jolley, the creator of Bloodhound, a short-lived DC series getting a second (and well-deserved) life. You can look for my tweets at either @GeekMomBlog or @CorrinaLawson.

But the con I’m most looking forward to in October isn’t this weekend, it’s next: Geek Girl Con in Seattle, and that’s only partially because I’m part of three panels, Home Geek Home with an incredible lineup that includes Bonnie Burton and fellow Geekmoms Kelly Know and Jenn Fujikawa on Saturday;  Romance is a Feminist Genre, my own brainchild, which will talk about why the romance genre is so awesome and positive for women on Sunday at 10 a.m.; and Women in Comics: What’s Left To Do, a panel featuring members of the pioneering feminist webzine, Sequential Tart.

Mostly, I already love this con because of this mission statement:

GeekGirlCon is dedicated to celebrating female involvement in all fields of math, the sciences, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, fiction, gaming, and more.

As Kelly Knox pointed out in her preview post for GGC, this is a con that has nearly *everything* geeky. I’m not going to find a DIY science zone for all ages at NYCC or in San Diego or at Boston Comic Con, which was very superhero focused. GGC promises to be a shorter version of a Maker Faire combined with feminism combined with geeky pop culture.

And it’s in Seattle. Where I’ve never been before.

Alas, there’s one person I won’t be able to meet in Seattle, Batgirl/Tomb Raider/Red Sonja writer Gail Simone, who was a guest at the first two cons. But speaking of Simone…she made news already this week.

Red Sonja: image copyright Dynamite Entertainment

The Barbarian and the She-Devil Are Getting Back Together

Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja are getting back together, in an adventure kind-of-way. Because the rights to new stories about the characters are owned by separate companies, they haven’t appeared in a story together for over fifteen years. From the press release:

Dynamite Entertainment and Dark Horse Comics are proud to announce the 2014 crossover of swords-and-sorcery icons Red Sonja, She-Devil with a Sword and Conan the Barbarian, a reunion that fans have asked for since their last team-up over fifteen years ago. Two series will be published, Conan/Red Sonja and Red Sonja/Conan, by Dynamite and Dark Horse, respectively. Acclaimed writers Gail Simone and Brian Wood are confirmed as the writers for the epic crossovers, both firmly established as valuable contributors to the Robert E. Howard fantasy mythos.

The most important parts of that statement for me? Brian Wood and Gail Simone are writing this.

So far, no word yet on the publication date or the artists for the series.

And, by the way, if you’re not reading Simone’s Red Sonja series and you’re a fan of fantasy sword and sorcery stories, you’re seriously missing out.

Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout Tomorrow!

Felicia Day, Bonnie Burton, SF Romance

As someone who has been flogging the “romance is fun for geek girls” theme for some time now, I’ve been thrilled to watch the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club with Felicia Day, Veronica Belmont, Bonnie Burton and Kiala Kazebee take off.

This week’s selection, to be discussed on the Hangout tomorrow, April 30, at 8 P.M. PST is Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher. Continue reading Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout Tomorrow!

GeekMom 2011 Holiday Gift Guide #3: Books

Third in our series of 2011 Holiday Gift Guides lists over two dozen books that we have discovered in the past year. Some are for grown-ups, some are for kids, and some are for babies. Some are educational, and some are just for fun. What are your favorite geeky books from the past year? Share your favorites for any age in the comments.

Image: LucasBooks

Bonnie Burton’s Star Wars Craft Book
If your craftiness has a geeky or Star Wars bent, don’t miss Bonnie Burton’s fantastic book, the Star Wars Craft Book. She has created Star Wars-themed crafts ranging from crochet to paper crafts to planters. There is something in there for all skill levels and relating to all Star Wars movies and shows.

Image: John Booth

Collect All 21 by John Booth
Geeky people of a certain age, usually those of us born in the late 1960s or early 1970s, have great nostalgia for the original Star Wars movies and all of the cultural references and personal experiences that came along with them. If you’re wishing to relive your childhood, or wanting to learn about what it was like for those of us who lived through that time, John Booth’s Collect All 21 is a must read. John takes us on his own personal journey, from the original Star Wars movie until the present, of all his experiences with Star Wars, from a young child, to being a parent of a young child.

Image: Kids Can Press

Evolution by Daniel Loxton
Teaching critical thinking skills from an early age is vital, so that kids can make their own decisions and not get sucked in or persuaded by emotional arguments or fallacies. Daniel Loxton’s excellent children’s book on evolution, called Evolution oddly enough, is a perfect place to start. It is quite lengthy, and addresses all of the arguments that people may try to use to dismiss evolution. Read this one with your children, and discuss the many questions that will likely come up afterward. This is an important read for all families.

Image: Kids Can Press

Ankylosaur Attack by Daniel Loxton
For kids who love dinosaurs, and especially love looking at pictures of dinosaurs, check out Ankylosaur Attack by Daniel Loxton. In the book, he weaves a storyline together that is filled with information and facts about the ankylosaur, alongside visually appealing digitally created illustrations that any dinosaur lover will enjoy. This book is aimed at young children, but parents will also enjoy reading it with their kids.

Image: Marvel

Jane Austen Comic Books From Marvel Comics
$14.99 to $19.99 each
If you prefer your Mr Darcy in comic book form, or you like a bit of very traditional romance in your graphic novel, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and now Emma from Marvel comics should appeal to you. With beautiful artwork and masterful retellings of the original stories, these aren’t to be missed.

Image courtesy Sarah Spear

My Little Geek
An adorable board book for your little nerdling. Or a great gift for the geeky mother or dad to be!

Photo credit: No Starch Press

The Cult of Lego
Just when you thought you knew all there was to know about Lego bricks, along comes a new book called The Cult of Lego, by John Baichtal and Joe Meno. These guys have done their research and compiled it in an interesting and organized way. The book is thick, and filled with pictures and fun facts, so even those who dread books with long text (and pre-reader kids) will enjoy it. From how the bricks are made, to the fan clubs associated with the brick, just about every category you can think of is included. This is a must have for any Lego lover, young or old. It sells on for $24.80 and is worth every penny.

Photo credit: Jim’s Pancakes

OMG Pancakes
Just under $13
Who doesn’t like pancakes on a lazy weekend morning? The perfect book for any pancake lover in your family was recently released. It’s called OMG Pancakes, by Jim Belosic. We reviewed it at and it just has to be mentioned here in our gift guide. If you’ve been looking for a new family tradition, pancakes may be your answer. From airplanes to space ships, Jim makes it look easy, with strategic photos and specific directions. At just under $13, this one should be a gift to yourself, as well as your favorite pancake loving friend.

Photo credit: Perigee Trade

The Monster Doodle Book
Just over $11
If you have any long drives over any rivers or through any woods this holiday season, this may be the book you need. It’s called The Monster Doodle Book, by Travis Nichols, and can be found for just over $11 at Filled with partially finished monsters and monster themed challenges, it will keep your kids busy for hours. On our drive across the country a few months ago, we passed it around, from kids to adults. Everyone found a challenge they were willing to accept. Never underestimate the fun of a good old fashioned doodle!

Stargazer Volumes One and Two by Von Allen, Graphic Novels for Children
Three girls are transported to a magical world by an amulet that one inherited from her grandmother. Not only is this an incredibly imaginative world well-rendered by Allan’s art but, at its core, it’s about the friendship between the girls in the face of adversity. There just aren’t enough girl friendship comics in the world and to find one that’s also a well-written fantasy is a real find.

Image: Random House

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This is a must-have book for anyone who grew up in the 80’s or has a healthy appreciation of the Big Hair Decade and the classic games it spawned. It tells the story of Wade Watts, a high school kid in 2044 who spends his time in a virtual reality called the OASIS where you can be anyone and anything you can imagine. When James Halliday, the genius behind it all, dies, he leaves behind the ultimate Easter Egg. Find it and you get his company and his fortune. Wade and thousands of others obsessively study Halliday’s life and his love of the 80’s as they make their way through a virtual world laden with pop culture and video game references. It’s not all virtual though, as there are very real world consequences to their actions that will keep you guessing right up to the last page. Oh, and if you prefer your books in audio, this one is read by ubergeek, Wil Wheaton.


Owly & Wormy, Friends All Aflutter by Andy Runton
Want to introduce a young child to comics? This is the first picture book outing for Owly & Wormy who have been appearing in Andy Runton’s series of graphic novels since 2004. This beautiful full-color book will captivate pre-readers with its charm and even the youngest of children will understand the story through the expressions of the characters. Once they’ve digested this picture book, they are primed and ready for the first graphic novel, The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer.


The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists
Much like the previous Geek Dad books by Ken Denmead, publisher of and, this one will inspire you and your kids to try new things as you explore and learn. And although it’s a GeekDad book, you’ll find plenty of projects based on ideas from our very own GeekMom editors Kathy Ceceri, Natania Barron and Jenny Williams, so don’t think it’s exclusively for the dads of the world. Projects are rated for cost, difficulty and duration so you know exactly what you’re in for before you start. Whether it’s a weekend full of fun or an idea for a science fair project, this is a book parents and kids will both enjoy.

The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide
This beautifully illustrated guide details the animal population of the Star Wars universe. Organized by planet, it contains a brief description of each ecosystem, before delving into a more detailed account of individual species. Annotated and rendered in pen and ink, it is a beautiful and informative guide to the backdrop of the movies.

photo by Cathe Post

Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)
Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)
is a great book of activities you might normally not encourage your child to take part in – let alone learn from.

Image source: Apress

Robot Building for Beginners (Technology in Action)
Robot Building for Beginners is a book for the high school student who wants to learn about robotics by building robots from scratch. This book takes you through electrical engineering concepts and teaches how to recycle old computer parts into cool new robots. (Full disclosure, one of our GeekMom writers is a published Apress author.)

Image Attribution: Make

Best of MAKE
MAKE is one of the hottest reads in the geek community. If you are just catching on to the MAKE craze and wonder what you have missed. This book gives you 75 of the best do-it-yourself projects from the first ten magazine issues.


Goodnight iPad: A Parody for the Next Generation by Ann Droyd
This Goodnight Moon parody is a sweet story of putting our electronic devices to sleep. It reminds everyone young and old that we need to disconnect sometimes.

Image: First Second Books

Nursery Rhyme Comics
$18.99 retail, $12.26 Amazon (hardcover book)
An incredible assortment of artists contributed drawings to this gorgeous, contemporary hardcover collection of Mother Goose rhymes. Each poem is its own little one- or two-page comic strip. The format is genius and will appeal to both little ones and older kids. In the hands of some of the finest illustrators in the business—people like Gene Luen Yang, Raina Telgemeier, David Macauley, Dave Roman, and living legend Jules Feiffer, for Pete’s sake!—the familiar rhymes take on a dynamic new life. See our GeekMom review.

Image © DC Comics

X-Files/30 Days of Night Graphic Novel
For those of us whose favorite shows have ceased to be and gone to join the choir invisible, getting new canon stories is a rare and joyous thing. This year saw the publication of a new X-Files comic, crossed over with horror franchise 30 Days of Night giving Philes new material to enjoy. This excellent horror story is great for fans of both franchises and even general horror fans will enjoy it.

Image © James Hance

The House at Chew Corner by James Hance
James Hance is the creator of “Relentlessly Cheerful Art” and his Wookie the Chew series of prints have been hugely popular with geeks. Follow the adventures of Chrisolo Robin & Wookie the Chew over 24 pages inspired by the work of A.A. Milne, George Lucas and E.H. Sheppard.

Photo credit: Chronicle Books

Big Vegan
The holidays bring an end to the old year and a look ahead to new resolutions–and at the top of most resolution lists is a desire to “eat healthier and lose weight.” If you’re like my family, you are still interested in eating meat but are experimenting with part-time veganism or vegetarianism by participating in meatless Mondays. The Big Vegan cookbook by Robin Asbell is a primer on preparing vegan meals that look beautiful, taste amazing, and are easy-to- prepare. Author Asbell gently leads the reader in preparing meals that bring grains and vegetables to the fore of the dinner plate in an informative resource appropriate for the lifelong, committed vegan as well as the sustainability-minded noob.

Photo credit: O' Reilly Media

Fashioning Technology
Have any girl makers on your gift list interested in:
• Learning how to construct and wire their own beaded LED lamp?
• Repurposing and rewiring their old Gameboy charger instead of throwing it away?
• Learning how to work with polymorphic plastic (which is, frankly, a really cool, easy-to-use medium)?
• Making jewelry that glows, earphones that double as winter earmuffs, or whimsical interactive toys fuelled by solar power?
Well, first they’re going to have to learn how to solder, sew, and calculate resistor value—but Suzy Pakhchyan’s book, Fashioning Technology, makes all of these tasks seem do-able and exciting! Her book provides clear, comprehensive instructions for each of the dozen projects listed and includes lots of helpful color photos for visual learners. Additionally, the book is affiliated with an online community where young makers can find guidance, tutorials, and links to resources as well as view videos and photos of completed projects.

Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm

Can You See What I See? Toyland Express
I never thought I would say this…but now that my sons are teenagers, I miss their preschool obsession with trains and can’t help but get a little weepy-nostalgic whenever I see a preschooler in striped coveralls and an engineer’s cap… If you’re lucky enough to have an engineer-in-training on your gift list this year, know that they will adore Toyland Express, the latest addition to Walter Wick’s “Can You See What I See” series of picture-find books. The book works on a number of levels, from a simple reader, to a picture-find adventure that reinforces vocabulary and listening skills, to a sweet story of old toys that find a second life among new children, depending on the needs of the reader.

Image: Penguin

Manga Biographies
Shopping for a fan of manga? Introduce her to famous historical figures with the manga biography series from Penguin. The lives of the 14th Dalai Lama, Gandhi, or Che Guevara pop off the pages in these easy-to-read paperbacks.

Image: Penguin

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School
The idea of having kitchen skills has been largely lost in the fast food, ready-to-eat American household. If you’ve got a young person in your life who could benefit from learning the basics, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School is an excellent introduction to becoming adept at putting good food on the table.

Image: Adams Media

Math for Grownups
If you’re shopping for a young adult who’s heading out in the world, consider a gift that will keep on giving. Math for Grownups offers up solutions to some of those real life problems that may leave you scratching your head. The author discusses the math behind big issues like figuring out just how much you can afford to pay for a new home and smaller problems like what size turkey you’ll need to feed your Thanksgiving guests. With clear and concise instructions it’s easy to calculate whether or not a big warehouse membership is worth the cost, how much carpet you’ll need to cover your floor, or (maybe more importantly) how many miles you’ll need on the treadmill to burn off one doughnut. Read the full GeekMom review.

Image: Amazon

Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
Unlike the other children at school, Wesley dislikes pizza and soda, and he refuses to cut his hair in the style worn by all of the other boys. He is an outcast, much to the dismay of his parents. Call him a geek, even. Wesley spends his summer vacation creating his own civilization complete with its own alphabet. Weslandia is a captivating picture book that is among my family’s favorites.

Check out our previous GeekMom Gift Guides: #1: Holiday-Themed Gifts and #2: Games.

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GeekGirlCon is This Weekend…See You There?

Be still my heart! There is actually a convention for us girls now! It’s in Seattle, so those of you on the East Coast have a ways to trek it (haha, I made a geek funny), but there is indeed a convention made “just for her” and it’s called GeekGirlCon!

That said, I’m dragging my husband with me this weekend to the maiden-voyage of the event. I was looking forward to the GeekGirlCONcert, but it is on Friday night and we won’t make it into Seattle until Saturday. The rest of the weekend proves to be just as entertaining though, with celebrities like Star Wars crafter Bonnie Burton and TV writer Jane Espenson. (I might have a small geek-out if I meet either of these ladies this weekend.) D&D  blogger and podcaster @SarahDarkMagic will also be there, and I’m crossing my fingers to run into her and meet her in person (since I have been following her on Twitter FOREVER).

There are a slew of workshops and games to play in the gaming room. With names like Steve Jackson and Looney Labs on the playlist and workshops like “How to Paint a Miniature,” I have a feeling a major part of our weekend will be spent here (since our daughter will be attending too).

There is a Masquerade on Saturday that my daughter and I might take part in or at least attend for photos. We will be wearing our matching Pokémon skirts that were a hit at PAX, but whether we make it depends how tired we are by Saturday evening.

My list of vendors to visit is HUGE. I’m quickly becoming a comic book fan as my daughter is interested in them too. There will be several female comic book authors and artists there to visit. I’m also looking forward to seeing what the Cute Factory is all about and Geek Stained Glass.

Finally, Sunday I will be moderating the Geeks Raising Geeks panel. Panelists include Nancy HolderBelle HolderCarrie GoldmanKatie GoldmanJenn FujikawaSharon Feliciano, and Stephanie Kaloi.

If you are going to be in Seattle this weekend, I hope to see you there. I will be tweeting (@GamerMom1_0) if I can get reception on my phone. Be sure to say hello!

Maker Faire 2011, San Mateo: Wrap-Up

This was my third year attending Maker Faire and helping at the GeekDad booth (this year, the GeekDad/GeekMom booth!). Every year is different. Our booth and the Faire have only grown each year, but the experience has also been fundamentally different each time.

The first year I attended (2009), we had a lot of things to hand out and to give away as prizes, and had a very Lego-centric booth. We did a lot of explaining about what GeekDad was, and handed out neat Wired items. It was the first time I ever worked a booth, and it was an incredibly positive experience.

My second year (2010) had more things to give away as prizes, but fewer to just hand out. It was still an amazing time since even more GeekDads made the trip out. But people kept asking, “But what about GeekMom?”

This year, the Faire experience was different. I spent most of my time safely ensconced in the booth, away from the intense crowds. I had the great company of even more GeekDads and GeekMoms (including our own Natania Barron and Cathe Post), plus great GeekDad families that came along for the fun. Bonnie Burton even stopped by to say hello. But the highlight for me was meeting and getting to know our special guests, John Kovalic and Bob Boyle. Both spent much time at the booth drawing cartoons for visitors and being generally charming.

From left, sitting at the table: Jonathan Liu, Bob Boyle, and John Kovalic. Photo: Jenny Williams

In addition to their cartooning prowess, we also had GeekDad Jonathan Liu dazzling everyone (including the aforementioned cartoonists) with his Etch-a-Sketch artwork. At other booth stations, we had Lego building, game playing, ThinkGeek music toys, Hexbugs, electronics (courtesy of DigiKey), and plenty of GeekMom and GeekDad merchandise for sale. We also shared the booth area with Chris Anderson and his UAV group.

Maker Faire is always an exhausting but exhilarating experience. The people we met were all either interested in learning about our GeekParenting empire, or were showering us with praise for the work we do. At least those who could get through to our booth. The crowd at the Faire has grown to a size where it is a bit of a detriment to enjoyment, but with some patience, it is still worth going.

I know my fellow GeekMoms and GeekDads will echo my sentiments: Maker Faire is a great time. There is something for everyone, and it is fun, educational, and exciting. If you couldn’t make it out to the annual “flagship” event in San Mateo, California, this year there will be a GeekMom/GeekDad booth at Maker Faire NY in September! Visit the Maker Faire website for details!

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