Clever Entrepreneurs Create Havens for Creative Geeks & Gamers

The popular image of a gamer is typically a skinny kid in a hoodie hunched over a controller in a basement somewhere. In reality, anyone can be a fan of video games, or a LARPing enthusiast, or a Dungeon Master, and the characterization of these enthusiasts as anti-social loners is often far from the truth.

In fact, the very nature of games requires social cooperation, and in most cases, “the more, the merrier.” More importantly, gaming tends to attract players with vivid imaginations and a passionate creative spark. Far from preferring to toil alone in a dark room, many gamers actively seek like-minded peers to improve and expand their game experience.

Continue reading Clever Entrepreneurs Create Havens for Creative Geeks & Gamers

A Cosplay Primer for Parents

I tend to be a pretty involved parent when it comes to current trends, shows, music, and fads. So when my 9 year-old son came to me three years ago and asked to make a “Half-Life Costume”, I was surprised I had no idea what that was or how to do it.

A bit of research on the internet had me spiraling down the rabbit hole, into an entirely new world: The world of cosplay. Continue reading A Cosplay Primer for Parents

My Geek Epiphany

My husband always stumbles into these conversations, innocent in his observations.  Surely he meant no harm. One comment that, for the first time in a long time, had me questioning myself, my history, and my own reality.

He made just one comment that, for the first time in a long time, had me questioning myself, my history, and my own reality.

“You were NOT a geek when I met you.”

Continue reading My Geek Epiphany

We’re Adorkable: Geeky Ways To Keep The Romance Alive

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togevvew today.”

OK, maybe not marriage per se, but if I’m thinking of all the adorkable ways my husband of 14 years and I keep the romance alive? Quoting The Princess Bride comes to mind. Besides, who doesn’t hear that quote in his/her head at

Given the time of year, a lot of recent conversations lately revolve about the irrational desire to force romance for a fake holiday. In all this conversation, however, one topic seems to get lost. Love and romance, at least the ones that endure for the long haul, consist of small gestures as opposed to big ones.

If my entire relationship with my husband was based on those moments of grand overture? We’d either be poor or divorced by now.

The real romance in our home lives in the small, daily gestures. However, those gestures look different in a geek home than in a non-geek home. As a nontraditionalist, I openly admit that I’m the person who finds flowers a bit depressing. After all, it’s basically taking a beautiful living thing, killing it, giving it to someone in its rigor mortis, and watching it slowly decompose. I feel like everything says romance EXCEPT that. But hey, I’m a little weird.

So how do we keep the romance alive? What do we actually do that I feel is different from non-geeks? Continue reading We’re Adorkable: Geeky Ways To Keep The Romance Alive

Geeky Gardening: Welcome to My Gardens!

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

Welcome to the first installment of what I hope will be a fun series of posts involving…you guessed it! Geeky gardening. Why geeky? I mean, don’t old ladies and homebodies garden? That doesn’t quite follow what might be most people’s mental image of  “gardening.”

I suppose it all depends on the mindset. Like most things, context is key. As has been discussed elsewhere, there is more to geekery than comics or video games or Dungeons & Dragons. You don’t have to be into tech. You just have to be into something. I’ve know people who loved jewelry or rocks or theater or art who are every bit as geeked out about that thing as I am about board games and fantasy novels and Hello Kitty. So, gardening.

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

Ever since I moved into my very own house, gardening has been important to me. In fact, I picked this house especially because it had so many possibilities in the tiny yard. I’ve fit gardens into every nook and cranny of this place.

Why does gardening get my geek on? Well, it’s related to my love of fantasy. I’ve always associated nature with fantasy, I’ve always felt really close to the things that I’ve always imagined when I’m in the woods or a garden. Not a weed-killed, overly fertilized, bark-mulched garden, but a natural-ish, native flowery, bird-and-bee attracting garden. It’s easy to imagine that the birds and bees are fairy friends, and that there is always something just out of sight, in the corner of my sight, but never quite “there.”

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

There is also the science aspect of gardening. What plants grow in the shade versus in the sun? Which plants like each other? Which plants will kill each other? How much water do these need? What animals will they attract? What type of soil would work the best for them?

And then, of course, there is the artistic aspect of things. Should each garden have a theme? Or should things just run wild? What types of stones or statues should go there? What colors should be there?

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

There are no right or wrong answers to most of these questions. Even the ones that seem obvious, like should this plant be in the sun or shade, have variables. A full sun plant can be in a somewhat shady spot, but might be smaller. A shady plant can go in a sunny spot if you water it enough. The possibilities for gardens are endless, and you can have a garden of any shape or size, even in something as small as a shoe box.

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

So stay tuned! I’m going to try to post a new article in this series regularly as my gardens progress through the seasons and as I “finish” each one over the summer. Next up: Gnomes!

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors


Fund This! Geek Illustrated Cookbooks, Inked Geek Shirts, and Interstitial Art!

This edition of Fund This features a geek cookbook, geek ink shirts, and art that pushes the boundaries! This month I was really attracted to campaigns that were taking fandom or known genres and pushing them into new and fun contexts. I wanted to see campaigns that were about pleasure and enjoyment, and I think I have found some great examples. Happy Funding!

Photo courtesy of the Interstitial Arts Foundation

Interfictions Online The Interstitial Arts Foundation is raising funds to create an online home for their artists. In case you are unfamiliar, Interstitial Art includes those media and projects that fall outside the accepted standards or boundaries of acknowledged genres. They push the limits of what is expected and/or possible. Funds raised will go towards building two new online issues, paying the artists a fair wage for their work, and maintaining the online anthology free to the public. Interfictions Online is an amazing resource for cutting edge ideas brought to life, and as an artist myself it is one of the places I go for inspiration and aspiration. I look forward to seeing their next issue!

Image courtesy of the Inked Geek Kickstarter

Inked Geek Shirts I am a Geek. I have tattoos. I must have at least one of these shirts, thank you very much. There are only a few days left on this campaign and it is fully funded, but I could not leave it out in case any of our geeky readers wanted in on the action! I have included a picture of my favorite design above, but they also have Pokemon, Harry Potter, and Star Trek represented.

kitchen overlord
Image courtesy of Kitchen Overlord

Kitchen Overlord‘s Illustrated Geek Cookbook From the popular Kitchen Overlord blog comes a fully illustrated cookbook featuring their most popular recipes, and some new exclusive ones too, accompanied by the fandom characters that inspired them. Besides being a very cool and very beautiful ode to food, comics, and culture, the book covers over 120 years of Geek culture, and I am pretty sure my family would beg me for a recipe a day from their favorites. Of course, the book is the primary reward, but if you want to kick out a little more dough (see what I did there?), you can actually have them design a recipe based on your favorite fandom with an acknowledgement. I would love to see what she could do with my family’s requests!

Re-Defining Tea, Re-Defining Me

tea puzzle
Image By Rebecca Angel

Here on GeekMom, we have expanded the term “geek,” beyond STEM, Star Wars, and dice to encompass anything that you are overly excited/obsessed/people-think-you’re-weird about. This is how I am with tea. Yes, I’m geeked about tea, but I’m talking semantics. I consider tea to be any beverage with steeped plant matter.

If you stop by, I offer you a cup, and you say, “Oh, I don’t like tea.” I convince you to just try a wee something I brewed; I give you a cup of eggnog heated slowly with chai and a dash of brandy. You will say, “GOOD GOD, I LOVE TEA!”

I can hear someone saying, “But I can’t drink eggnog.” That’s not the point (and you really should try my alcohol free, coconut milk version). Every culture in the world drinks plants in water for medicinal and comfort purposes. I say all of it can be called drinking tea!

But what about camellia senesis (the Latin name for black, green, white, oolong, ceylon, etc. tea)? I adore this plant, don’t fret. Camellia senesis is the most common beverage in the world. If you ask for a cup or tea in any restaurant in Cairo, Tokyo, or Boston, you will get these leaves in a cup with steaming hot water—except for Boston, where it will be lukewarm with a tea bag of bitter crap… but I digress.

I used to be quite stringent in my definition of tea, using the term “tisane” to mean an herbal drink, not camellia senesis. This did not make me more of a geek, just a snob. Then the migraines galloped into my life. I suffered on a regular basis until I tried keeping away from all caffeine. Goodbye to my beloved tea—even decaf had that .00001% too much. But it worked. My migraines corralled themselves, but I missed my cuppa.

I started experimenting with purchased “tisanes,” garden herbs, bark, ANYTHING. Peppermint and chamomile are lovely, but there are a wealth of options to try. Rooibus (African red bush) is a great one to add warming, full-bodied flavors like cinnamon, licorice, or ginger. Tulsi (Holy Basil) is a perfect base for high blends like mints, citrus, or flower petals. Spiced cider became a tea for me during the winter. In March, the most depressing month of the year in upstate NY, my tea was “whatever” with two spoons of hot cocoa.

With caffeine off limits, my beverage world exploded. I stopped being such a damn tea snob, and started experimenting, enjoying, and expanding my definition of tea.

The only beverage I couldn’t call “tea” was hot buttered rum. Very tasty, but no plants steeping. Oh, and coffee. That was a line I wouldn’t cross. Besides, it has caffeine, so not on my safe list anyway.

Currently, I am able to drink small amounts of caffeine, and have enjoyed putting back traditional teas on my liquid menu. I’m more than happy to gulp Starbucks chai lattes when I’m on the go, but it’s hard to pay for something I can make so much better at home.

If you do stop by for a cuppa, I will most likely make you the best Earl Grey you have ever tasted. But if vacuum cleaners are “geeky” because they are robots, then my mulled wine can be tea because it’s a hot cup of comfort and hospitality—and that’s the whole point of tea!

Geek the Library Asks “What Do You Geek?”

Question from Geek the Library (photo courtesty

I like paper crafts and posted about the Foldable Me personalized paper figurines a few weeks ago. My own Foldable Me rules over our family room, and was with me when I heard from one of our Foldable Me raffle winners that her little paper doll was featured in a “What Do You Geek?” display at her library. I was curious and followed up to find out more for GeekMom readers.

It turns out this is part of Geek the Library, a national program to get people excited about making connections between their personal passions and libraries and the synergy that brews when enthusiastic geeks and treasure troves of knowledge intersect.

Kim, our contest winner, and library fan and informant, is a Children’s Librarian (aren’t you feeling warm and fuzzy already?) and mom to three geeklings. I got info from her and from the sponsoring group, OCLC, a library cooperative that strives to support libraries by increasing efficiency, innovation, and collaboration. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, OCLC sponsors the Geek the Library program, which helps local libraries to use high-quality marketing and outreach materials to connect with community members to express their enthusiasms in terms of “I geek ____”—with each person filling in the blank with their own individual passion. Once people are talking about their passions, they can explore how the library supports and enriches opportunities to grow in their geeky pleasures. In turn, as we all become friendlier with our libraries, we use them more, educate others about their charms, and defend their honor against library bullies who would cut funding.

The Geek the Library campaign invites everyone to “get your geek on” and “share what you geek,” and complete that phrase “I geek ___” — the answers are shared on the website, along with a story or video describing the delights of our geekery. Anyone can order a preprinted shirt or a customized tee that proclaims the objects of our geeking.

If you are lucky enough to have a library participating nearby, you can join the portrait gallery of geek specimens recorded in a gorgeous palette of black and geek. One library had two photo shoots: the first, the usual suspects of librarians, civic authorities, and similar library denizens. When such eye-catching geek posters were displayed from that episode, people were so enthusiastic that a second shoot was scheduled and the queue stretched across the lobby—you can see photos at the Geek the Library site and at the Waterford Township Library Facebook page.

I asked Kim, a participating librarian, and Linn Edvardsen, who helps coordinate the program at OCLC, to answer some questions about it.

GeekMom: Tell us a little about Geek the Library and how you got involved.

Kim: I’ve been a Children’s Librarian for over 15 years, and am the mom of 3 geeks-in-training. Geek the Library is a movement to raise local awareness of public libraries. OCLC supplies publicity materials nationwide, and then we tailor them to our own libraries.

GM: What do you geek? Has involvement with the organization affected the way you pursue your passions?

Kim: Oh my goodness, so many things: I’m a “classic” geek. I love science fiction and fantasy. I play RPGs, have boxes of comic books in my basement, play with Legos, Skylanders, and have even more boxes of action figures (I’m old enough that my Star Wars figures are originals). I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface.

GM: I understand you set up a display of your own geek passion, Batman, at your local library. Can you describe that for us?

Kim: We’re using one display case to showcase staff geeks—a new one every two weeks. That’s been a lot of fun, seeing what else everyone puts in the case. Batman was the focus of my display, since that’s what’s on my Geek the Library poster, but I wanted to share all my passions. I love the concept of I-Spy books, which make you study the whole page. I’ve done other I-Spy style displays and it seemed like the perfect format to make anyone who glances at the case see everything. I collected a bunch of different stuff from home, then spent three days staring at it, trying to come up with rhymes. The final stanza directed people to go find my poster. It’s full of a sampling of my action figures, dice I use in RPGs, Legos, some Skylanders and Webkinz, and, of course, lots of Batman books and videos. Lots of colorful objects. I even included the Foldable Me I won from one of your contests. The case is in the front lobby, and circulation staff say lots of people stopped to look at it. Mission accomplished!

GM: What has been the most pleasant surprise for you with Geek the Library? What has been the biggest disappointment or let-down? Has anything made you burst out laughing? Which of the “I geek…” slogans on the GtL website is your favorite?

Kim: Biggest surprise? How much fun it’s been. I think this has really engaged our community. I love looking at the different posters decorating our building. Not so much “burst out laughing” as “Interesting—I never would have guessed that based on their looks.” My favorite slogan isn’t on the national site, but I have several here at Waterford—especially those who took the effort to bring in props for their Geek. I think the biggest let-down was when I was at a community event and so many adults still thought “geek” was a bad term.

GM: Do you have any tips for our readers who are interested in libraries, geeking, or Batman?

Kim: Support your local library! If there’s something that interests you, ask the staff—if they don’t know where to find information, most librarians I know would be happy to find out. Don’t be ashamed to be passionate about something—that’s what being a geek is all about. (Just ask the women who run this website. )

Linn Edvardsen, Program Manager for Geek the Library also answered a few questions for us.

GeekMom: What, overall, is the goal of Geek the Library? How does a library become involved? Can just anyone nominate a library to participate? How did the concept develop?

Linn: The overall goal is to get the community talking! Geek the Library takes a light-hearted approach to the very serious subject of library funding. Over the past four years, Geek the Library has helped hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. get attention and start important local conversations about the value of the library and the need for funding. Libraries use the campaign as a springboard to actively engage their communities by making new and personal connections—Geek the Library takes the message out of the library and encourages a community dialogue. It starts with ‘what do you geek’ and builds from there. Talking about what people geek, what they’re passionate about, and how the public library supports it really brings the community together.

The campaign is open to all U.S. public libraries—regardless of size or resources. Printed materials, online templates and other resources, and ongoing support are provided for free. Libraries can get more information about the program at

GM: When did Geek the Library start, and how long will it continue? Is it growing or changing, or does it just do the same activities at all libraries in all places?

LE: OCLC partnered with [communications agency] Leo Burnett in 2009 to create the concept. It was important to develop something that got attention and helped libraries start conversations. “What do you geek?” is an amazing ice breaker and it gets to the heart of the matter: Whatever you are passionate about, the library supports it. We piloted the campaign with libraries in Iowa and Georgia in 2009-2010, during which we confirmed that the campaign gets attention, raises awareness and encourages action.

Since we opened up the campaign to all U.S. public libraries in August 2010, we’ve enrolled over 1,000 library locations. We are very thankful for the continued support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has allowed us to extend program enrollment through June 2014 (with support through June 2015), and provide robust support, including one-on-one assistance.

GM: Do you have a favorite response (story, video, poster) so far? Have any of them made you laugh, cry, shout, or meet a new friend?

LE: There are so many great stories from local campaigns. Most library participants localize their campaigns to include local people, and the result is a wonderful story about their community. One good example is Chelsea District Library in Michigan. This library partnered with a local photographer (who ended up doing the majority of the work for free) and produced hundreds of unique posters highlighting what the community geeks. It’s amazing to see!

GM: What do you geek?

LE: I geek the American Dream!

Check out the photos below and go to to share your passion. Tweet your geek declaration to GeekMomblog or post your geek portrait on our Facebook page. And support your library!

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Location

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.
Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

If you are not getting married in a church, picking a location for the ceremony and reception can be difficult. However, the location was the only thing about our wedding that was not a difficult decision. Andrew and I had the wedding and reception at a beautiful, Tutor-style mansion, bed and breakfast called The Quamichan Inn.

I’m not sure I can say enough about the awesome that is The Quamichan Inn. Getting married at The Quamichan Inn was the only thing that was not negotiable. People often asked, “Why did you choose this location?” The only answer I could give was, “Because it is my favorite location in the Cowichan Valley.”

Everything from price, to service, to location, to atmosphere and ambiance, to food, to comfort was, in a word, perfection.

The back of The Quamichan Inn. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.
The back of The Quamichan Inn. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.

We had the ceremony in their beautiful gardens and had the reception indoors in the room dedicated to conferences, meetings, and receptions.

Andrew and I decided to rent all of the rooms from the Friday before the wedding to the Sunday after. Plus, we rented our suite—the Quamichan suite—and one more room until the Monday following the wedding. We didn’t have to worry about settling our bill for the weekend, which included the rooms, all the food and alcohol, minus the $500.00 deposit, until it was time to check out. A lot of places require that you pay for the food and alcohol before hand, based on the number of guests who RSVP’d. However, because of a combination of the small party and the number of services used, The Quamichan Inn didn’t create a bill until afterwards, and only charged us for those who actually attended, instead of the anticipated numbers. We still had to give them anticipated numbers so they could shop and prepare accordingly, but it was one less bill to worry about leading up to the event.

Even though we live in the same town as The Quamichan Inn, staying at the location of the wedding and ceremony meant that all we had to do on the big day was get up, eat the breakfast that was prepared for us, get dressed, and show up by walking down stairs. We also didn’t have to worry about how much we drank the night of, because all we had to do was walk upstairs to eventually go to sleep. Everything else was done for us by the amazing staff at the bed and breakfast.

Considering I only managed one hour of sleep the night before the wedding, and two hours the night of the wedding, staying on location without any added worries was an even bigger benefit than anticipated.

The three rooms that were not occupied by Andrew and I, and my boys, were used by out-of-town guests. The Quamichan Inn wasn’t big enough to accommodate all of our out-of-town guests, as they made up the majority of our guest list. But, renting the entire bed and breakfast for the weekend meant that the guests who were staying at hotels just down the road were free to come and go at any time during the weekend. The Quamichan Inn became our home, but without the worry of having to clean up after entertaining our guests.

We didn’t have to do any set-up or take-down. We didn’t have to worry about hiring a catering and wait staff, or a bartender. Guests didn’t have to pre-select their meal choices. Andrew and I pre-selected the soup, salad, and dessert. Guests chose one of three mains when it was time to sit down for dinner.

Getting married under a "Make it so" pennant banner. Banner made by Jules Sherred. Photo by Jules Sherred.
Getting married under a “Make it so” pennant banner. Banner made by Jules Sherred. Photo by Jules Sherred.

All people had to do was show up and have a good time.

And what a good time it was. Even the staff got into the fun. They couldn’t stop talking about it, even after it was all over. The head waiter, Daniel, was absolutely superb. We had one waitress who was excited beyond words when she learned she would be on service the day and night of our wedding. She even squee’d when we told her, after she asked if it was okay, that she was welcome to wear a costume, too. After that conversation took place on the Friday night, my youngest, in bewilderment, asked, “Did that just really happen?”

At first, we were concerned that there would be an issue with a bunch of people running around in costume the day of the wedding. But, as soon as we told The Quamichan Inn’s coordinator, Colleen, what we had planned for our day, the entire staff at the inn started to bustle with enthusiasm. The chef, Steven, who is also a geek, asked if it was okay to create a sci-fi themed menu. We obviously said, “yes,” and forgave the typo on the menu because everyone was so excited about our day.

The menu. Photo by Jules Sherred.
The menu. Photo by Jules Sherred.

Even people who came in for dinner on the Friday night, after learning about our wedding because the staff couldn’t stop talking about it, asked if it was okay to drive by the day of and take a look at all of our costumes.

Another thing the staff did was come in early on Saturday to open the bar early. We served the hors d’oeuvres at 2 p.m.—an hour before the ceremony—which amounted to a late launch. Some guests started to consume their alcohol then. We had a mix of a cash bar and provided a half of a liter of wine for each guest who was drinking. Then, at last call, we ordered another four liters of wine for guests. When we woke up the next morning, we still had two liters remaining.

The food was to die for. I was worried that I didn’t order enough hors d’oeuvres, but I was wrong. There was plenty left over. When it was time for the ceremony, the staff put the leftovers in the fridge. Then brought them back out to help people sober up (with plenty of free coffee) once the evening’s entertainment was over, and the guests were mingling.

The dinner, again, perfection. Huge portions. Delicious. Served with precision timing.

Talking about money and costs in public is not good manners. All I can say is that between the amount of food we received for the price charged, and the beyond amazing service, which started when I booked The Quamichan Inn last year, I feel like I ripped off the location, even after paying the tip.

The staff at The Quamichan Inn made everyone feel like they were in their own homes, and helped to make our wedding weekend celebrations better than we could have possibly imagined. There are no words to express just how amazing they were.

The set table. Photo by Jules Sherred.
The set table. Photo by Jules Sherred.

I cannot recommend enough going the bed and breakfast route, if it is available to you. Weddings and receptions are stressful enough as it is. If you can find a location that does it all for one price, it is one less thing to stress out about. If you live anywhere near The Quamichan Inn, meaning anywhere on Vancouver Island or the lower mainland, definitely consider getting married and having your reception there. You will not regret it.

Still to come in this series over the next few months:

  • Gifts
  • Things we’ve learned, and other miscellaneous things we did.

You can read Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture here. You can download the first six previous posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI, here. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

Finally, if you got married outside of a church, what about your location made it special?

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

There are many differences between marriages in the United States and Canada. I explored some of these differences in an earlier post about the ceremony. The change of last name after marriage is another one of those differences.

In Canada, the rules around this are relatively simple. At least, in my mind. One of the reasons this post is so far overdue is that the United States has 50 states, each with their own rules about such things. In some states, the bride simply has to check a box when signing the marriage registry and her last name is changed. In other states, the bride has to notify difference agencies in order to change her last name. In only a handful of states, it is legal for the groom to take the bride’s name. I’m not even sure what the rules are in the states that allow same-sex marriage. Trying to research the rules in the United States surrounding this left me a little bit weary in the brain.

But, what I do know, or at least what I have been lead to believe, is that in the United States it is considered a legal name. In Canada, that is not the situation. Because of Canada’s views on multiculturalism, and there are many Canadians who come from countries where it is not the norm for the bride to assume the groom’s last name, the act of changing your last name is one of culture and not law.

When two people get married in Canada, either spouse is allowed to assume the last name of their partner. It doesn’t matter if it is a same-sex marriage or an opposite-sex marriage. But, that is all it is. It is a legal alias, one that can only be used if not intended for the purposes of fraud. In fact, up until recently, you had to have your spouse’s permission to use their last name on your passport. Of course, with the exception of Quebec, where you are not allowed to use your spouse’s last name for any reason whatsoever. Also, Quebec does not recognize common-law partnerships.

Some people decide to assume their spouse’s last name in the workplace and add the legal alias on their bank account, which requires proof of marriage, but keep their identification under their birth name because it is both expensive and time consuming to change these things. There are only a couple of provinces that do not charge to change identification after marriage.

Also, because Canada has common-law marriage laws, in some situations you don’t have to be legally married to assume your partner’s last name. Recently, passport laws have been changed to make it easier for both legally married partners and common-law partners to use each other’s last name on their passports. Spouses are no longer required to get permission for use of last name and common-law partners are now allowed to have a passport issued using their partner’s last name with a letter attesting to the fact they’ve been living in a marriage-like relationship for at least 12 months.

In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, they have a common-law marriage registry. If your common-law relationship is registered with the province, you are allowed to assume your partner’s last name for the purposes of a driver’s license, healthcare card, and other provincially issued identifications.

In all provinces except for Quebec and British Columbia, you are allowed to create a double-barrelled last name comprised of two parts, either hyphenated or not. Unlike some South American countries, it does not matter in which order the last names are places. In Quebec, there is no way around this law. In British Columbia, you have to undergo a legal change of name in order to use a double-barrelled last name.

The process in British Columbia is very simple. When I changed my first and middle names, it took less than two weeks for Vital Statistics to process the change, even though the website says four to six weeks. However, undergoing a legal change of name in Canada is not something you do lightly. If you do decide to legally change your name, for all intents and purposes, you are going through a rebirth. Your original birth records are destroyed and new ones are created in your new name. Then you are issued a new birth certificate, not an amended one, reflecting the new name.

I changed names because I’m a trans man, and for my marriage to be legal the officiant has to use the names on my birth certificate, and I couldn’t get married with a feminine first name. In this case, there aren’t too many ramifications involved in making this decision.

Because of how our name laws work, if you want to legally change your last name after marriage, one really needs to think about that. Why? Because in Canada, upon getting married, you can either use your last name at birth, assume your current spouse’s last name, or assume the last name from any other marriage. You are allowed to go back and forth between your legal name and any other alias at any time, as long as you are not intending to do fraud. This means that once I am married, there are three last names both Andrew and I are allowed to use, as we have both been previously married. But, if you go through the process of legally changing your last name, you cannot just simply go back to the last name with which you were born. If you got divorced and wanted to go back to your last name at birth, then you would have to once again go through the legal name change process, paying all of the fees involved, and spending a lot of time updating your identification, bank records, employment records, etc.

Even though it took less than two weeks for my legal name change to be processed way back in April, two months and hundreds of dollars later, I have only now received the last of my new identifications.

Many times when talking with my American pals about my name change and a handful of my Canadian pals who were unaware of our laws, they assumed that I was referring to changing my last name. I was actually changing my first and middle names, a process with laws no less conflicting between provinces. In British Columbia, it doesn’t require going to court, or placing adverts in the paper declaring intent because doing so places people in jeopardy. It really is as simple as filling out a form and having the Royal Canadian Mounted Police do a criminal record check so that any record that may exist will follow to the new name. Other provinces have different procedures, so confusion around all of these things is very understandable, especially from a cultural point of view.

In case you are curious, I will not be assuming Andrew’s last name after we are married. I’m very attached to my last name. Andrew has somewhat suggested that he would be willing to adopt my last name, but I think that would sound funny. Also, for those curious about what middle name I ended up choosing, I went with Coniah.

Still to come in this series over the next few months—I will finish the series after the wedding:

  • The location
  • Gifts
  • Things we’ve learned, and other miscellaneous things we did.

You can download all six previous posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI, here. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

Finally, if you are an American, what is the procedure for changing the last name in your state? Please let me know in what state you live. That would be very helpful. If you live outside of Canada and the United States, what are the laws where you live?

Integrating a New Geek Into Your Family

Rory, our new geek. Photo: Jenny Williams
Rory, our new geek. Photo: Jenny Williams

The past several months have been an interesting and very rewarding experience. The kids and I have managed to integrate a new geek into our home and our family.

Rory moved in last December. It was an easy transition for me, since I’m the one who wanted him there. It was a bigger challenge for the kids, since they’d had a much harder time with the divorce than I did. Plus, Rory was now in a role that, while not replacing their dad to the kids, filled the partner role in my life. But, we found that with shared interests, both those that had already been established and those that were newly acquired, everyone bonded more closely.

The kids and I brought a lot of board games to the table. I’ve loved games my whole life. My daughter also enjoys them. My son is obsessed. Rory’s often up for a good challenge, and has really enjoyed playing games with us. We also have been introducing and encouraging a lot of geek culture in him. Star Trek, Doctor Who, and the like.

Continue reading Integrating a New Geek Into Your Family

Confessions of a Lonely Geek

I'm a lonely geek in an office of non-geeks \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
I’m a lonely geek in an office of non-geeks \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Most of my life I’ve been the only geek among those I see everyday. As a child, I was usually the only girl in boy-dominated courses and as an adult I’m the only female in my department. I’m also the only geek at my workplace. All of this can make for some lonely days.

The only daughter of three kids (and the middle child at that), I’m the only geek in our family of five. Before I was in high school, I received my first laptop for Christmas and I took it everywhere (even the grocery store). I saved up my allowance for a printer and scanner and eventually my parents bought me a tower PC with a flat screen monitor. When something computer-like broke in my house, I was the one they called to fix it.

At school I was one of two girls in my HTML and PC troubleshooting courses. The guys never seemed to mind and I really enjoyed learning. I experienced the same thing in college when I was going for my Associates of Science in Computer Engineering degree. In my three years in college, I only had another female in my class three times. Continue reading Confessions of a Lonely Geek

What It Means to Be Geeky

Photo: Judy Berna
Photo: Judy Berna

I have to be perfectly honest with you. When my writer’s group friend approached me after one of our monthly meetings, and asked me if I’d ever be interested in writing for the GeekMom blog, I immediately had my doubts. GeekMom? Wouldn’t a Geek Mom be someone who understood a whole lot more about electronics, computer programming, and , um…math, than I ever would? I was an English person in high school and college. Math and the sciences were not my strengths.

But my friend, who is an editor for the blog, wouldn’t let me off so easily. She was on a mission to gather a group of women who were passionate about a lot of topics. I quickly came to see that the term ‘geek’ in the world of GeekMom actually stood for more than just a love of science. Now that I’ve been around the block a few times as a core writer for GeekMom, I’ve fallen in love with the concept.

GeekMom Laura Grace introduced us, as we branched away from the GeekDad forum, in this way – “Every day demonstrates that fostering our own passions requires us to value them. Give them a little space. Hoist up our geek flags and let them fly.”

Here at GeekMom, when we say you ‘geek out’ about something, it doesn’t matter the topic. Anything that makes you happy, keeps you engaged, makes you squeal when you get to participate in it, can be considered geeky. Some of us geek out about science related topics. But beyond that, many of us geek out about so many other things.

Through this adventure I’ve met some of the most amazing people. Well, I use the word ‘met’ quite loosely. Most of the smart, funny women I’ve learned from and grown with, as we’ve discussed a huge variety of topics on this blog, I’ve only met online. We’ve had long email exchanges and encouraged each other in our individual passions. I’ve learned about conventions and hobbies I’d never known about before. I have come to understand huge areas of interest that were always foreign to me before. That’s not to say I adopted their hobbies. But I’ve loved learning about them, and understanding in a much deeper way, how we are all amazing women because we are all made up of a unique variety of passions.

I decided it might be time to show our readers just how diverse our group is. If you think you can’t relate to a website called GeekMom, read on. I almost guarantee that somewhere on this list you’ll see yourself. When I put the question out to our GeekMom writers, “what makes you geek out”, these were some of the answers I got back. Who do you relate to the most?

GeekMom Jules –

Academia and learning (specially STEM, some history)


World religions

Star Trek

WordPress Design (seriously, if I can find an excuse to buy another domain and design another website, I’ll do it)

GeekMom Rebecca –

Tea. Check out her tea blog!  

Science literacy and creative arts


Making a labyrinth for a history camp for kids

Sexy fictional men

FONTS! I am a total geek about fonts!

GeekMom Dakster – 

Comic books – I read pretty much anything that doesn’t involve sex or drugs. Batman and Booster Gold are my favorite characters in DC and the X-Men and Avengers are my favorite in the Marvel Universe.

Cosplay – I already own three professional grade costumes and hope to make some more.

Photo: Dakster Sullivan
Photo: Dakster Sullivan

Retelling’s of classic stories such as Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella.

Music – I love all types of music. Soundtracks and Taylor Swift are my current favorites.

Dancing – I allow myself one hour a night to pop on my headphones and dance to my hearts content

Justice League, Batman and Superman animated series

IBC Root Beer – My happy hour drink of choice
Computers – I’m a notwork admin after all
New Tech
Shiny objects
Writing – I love to write stories, especially comic book stories.

GeekMom Ariane –




Casual gaming

DIY/Crafts (though I’m terrible at them!)


Playing music (saxophone)


New experiences (I am easily bored, so I tend to obsess over a topic and then move on. You should have seen me in my saltwater aquarium days! Ah, back in the good ol’ days when I had no kids and unlimited time and money to pour into random hobbies! I also love seeing new sights, trying new foods, and making an adventure out of everything.)

GeekMom Laura  –

Subversive cooking,

Open source and collaborative solutions to social ills

Small scale sustainable farming

DIY, particularly pushing myself to learn new things

Mediation, peace-making, history and current application of non-violence

Neuroscience and other research as it pertains to learning

Natural learning and homeschooling

Body-mind health, lately focused on healing from/preventing trauma

Anthropology, particularly relating to hunter-gatherer lifestyles

Foreign films

All things pertaining to reading including libraries, book-related art, writing, and most of all, reading itself

Outsider art

Strange maps

All things bookish

GeekMom Brigid –

Music (indie,punk and Yann Tiersen)


Food – husband and I are gourmands of the local and sustainable but wholly decadent variety

Wine – wait thats also food

Cheese – oh wait thats food too

Art – nouveau, pre-raphaelite and some contemporary



Books – both for their contents and their value as artful objects

Mythic & Magic

Squirrels! (Yes, you read that right. Some day I’ll get her to write a post about why she loves squirrels)


 GeekMom Corrina –

Also a tea geek. Loose tea all the way.

Comic books, especially superheroes.

English royal history. Yes, I have the entire royal line of English Kings from William the Conquerer to Prince William memorized.
Sherlock Holmes

GeekMom Patricia

College sports

Star Wars

Books, books and more books (which is why I got my knickers in a knot about my oldest son not loving books as much as the rest of our family, but that seems to have resolved itself now, phew!)

Military: history and current affairs

Running, fitness

STEM, especially when it comes to seeing youngsters develop a love for STEM

Gadgets and gizmos <– this is part of what I LOVE about GM!

Gardening geekery

GeekMom Andrea

Scifi (not so much fantasy, though I’ll read anything with a dragon or King Arthur on the cover).

Emotional health/mental health/how the brain works/what drives behavior.

Special education/how we learn.

Contemporary music–anything recorded since the 40’s. Classical: not so much.


How things work. Especially things with knobs or screws or wires.

Learning new stuff.

 GeekMom Natania –

Rock music

Ukuleles, guitars, amps, gear

Romantic poetry

Middle English romances


Thrift stores/antique stores/old stuff/vintage stuff

Pre-Raphaelite art/William Morris/furniture

Cooking (especially making complicated things, like beer)


Social media/the web/analytics/data

GeekMom Kriss –

Growing things. You should see my collection of seeds.

A beautiful bounty. Photo: Kris Bordessa
A beautiful bounty. Photo: Kris Bordessa

Real food.

Vintage fabric.

Treasure hunting (thrifting/garage sales)

Hawaiiana/‘ukulele music.


GeekMom Mandy

Fantasy and Sci-Fi (I like fantasy a little better)


Disney (just found out that my in-laws might start being snowbirds in Orlando, which means more Disney trips for us)

Movies in general – my husband and I see a lot of movies in the theater and have a huge collection of Blu-Rays. We rank our favorite movies throughout the year.

 GeekMom Rachel –


Cooking (baking and making bread)

Gadgets (tech and cooking gadgets)

Home Entertainment (movies and TV)

circuits with without soldering)

GeekMom Melissa

Books, books, books, especially children’s books, and especially especially the work of L.M. Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Noel Streatfeild, and Maud Hart Lovelace. I’m a card-carrying member (literally, it’s in my wallet) of the Betsy-Tacy Society.

Bee-and-butterfly gardening. We’ve planted milkweed everywhere we’ve lived.

Gardening literature, especially the work of Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence. And Allen Lacy. I could read nothing but horticultural lit and be happy.

Japanese candy. Fortunately I have Kristen in my life to keep me supplied. :)

Fiber and fabric, all the fiber arts. I haven’t *made* much since my kids came along–my old loom is gathering dust in the garage–but anything to do with yarn makes my heart go pitty-pat.

British period dramas. Helloooo, Downton Abbey. And Lark Rise, Cranford, Garrow’s Law, Berkeley Square, all that stuff.

Education & homeschooling philosophy. Charlotte Mason, John Holt, the works.

I get very excited when I have a new social media platform to figure out.

GeekMom Amy –

– Kids’ books, especially the picture book variety

– Kids’ games and apps

– Kids’ TV

– Animated films

I guess I have a few grown-up things, too:

– Design

– Movies (particularly the libraries of directors like Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and the Coen Brothers)

– Violent or otherwise adult TV (play really well in contrast to the kids’ stuff: The Wire, Lost, Breaking Bad, etc.)


GeekMom Sarah – I’ve really learned a lot from reading the posts on GeekMoms and I now get excited about things that I wouldn’t have before, like the space program, STEM and Firefly which I just started to watch last week.

I geek out over amigugrumi and knitted goods. For example, I just created a Jayne Cobb hat for a friend and am working on some Amigurumi patterns of the Octonauts for my son. I avidly follow several amigurumi blogs and am constantly trying to come up with my own. I will spend a fortune on Red Heart Yarn and get high looking at the colors!

I also geek out over books. Old books, new books, vintage books, paperback books, hard cover books, pre-release editions, first editions, foreign language editions. I love to judge a book by it’s cover, as long as I can savor it for a while!

I geek out over Disney, that is my life long passion. I wrote my Bachelors thesis about how Disney represents foreign cultures to America.

I’m a big TV geek, some sci-fi, some not. X-files, Star Trek (TNG), Buffy and the life. I am currently devouring Heroes, having missed it the first time around. But I also have an obsession with Mash, The Good Life (Good Neighbors in the US) and anything from old school British comedians. Old cartoons, new cartoons. Okay this list could be endless!

GeekMom Sophie

Well obviously X-Files is my number one geek out, I can literally talk for hours about even the tiniest detail of the show. I cosplay Scully, have two shelves of books, another shelf of the VHS tapes, the complete DVD collection plus other DVDs and random collectibles. I’m now building a collection of art pieces based on the show, got a private commission and a limited edition show piece in there already along with an original sketch drawn by the actor who played Langley. A friend’s old boyfriend did some graphic design and made her and some friends (including myself) these adorable cartoon badge sets, they’re like XF for kids so Mulder’s shooting an alien with a water pistol and the Cigarette Smoking Man has a lollipop instead. So freaking cute and there’s only three or four sets in the world.

As you might be able to tell, geek art is another huge geek out of mine. I wish I’d had time to keep Geek Art going but I couldn’t manage it alone alongside GeekMom and life.

Disney theme parks is a biggie, I’m not especially bothered about the films although I own most of the classics, for me it’s the parks. I have a whole shelf of books on the architecture, conceptual history and behind the scenes information. It’s why I was so thrilled to interview Len Testa last year, he’s an idol of mine for really getting into the nitty gritty of how the parks run. I’m hoping to get the Poster Art of the Disney Theme Parks book at some point.

Scores/sountracks from film/TV. I have dozens of them and look forward to their releases almost as much as the film itself. I’m so excited at the prospect of Volume 2 of The X-Files scores, more Hobbit and Hunger Games this year. I’m also hoping that the Room on The Broom score by Rene Aubry will be released and dream of a Castle score one day. The first X-Files autograph I collected was Mark Snow, I have a limited edition signed CD sleeves from the Vol one box set, the demand was so high the site crashed minutes after I got through!

GeekMom Kelly –

Video games, in particular the creation/development and game soundtracks

Comic books

Star Wars

Harry Potter


A long time ago I used to geek out about anime big time. I wrote something like 100 reviews for an anime review site, and I watched every series completely before I reviewed them. I shudder to think how much time that adds up to. It later turned into love for Japanese dramas, which I still enjoy.

Oh this is a weird one, dancing shows. I love So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. I even figured out the choreographer for a random commercial and geeked out that I got it right. Dancing With the Stars isn’t my thing because I don’t think it’s fair to the stars to be judged.

 GeekMom Helene  –


New advances in science

Science education




Doctor Who

BBC shows

My Little Pony

Cake decorating


Girl Scouts

GLBTQ equality activism

Breast and Ovarian Cancer Info

And that leaves me, GeekMom Judy –

Reading/books (I have a library card from the NYC Public Library System, because I couldn’t resist, even though we lived in Upstate and just visited New York City 3 or 4 times a year)

More specifically, Memoirs. (after having written my own, and having spent decades reading others, I am still fascinated to see how a person goes from childhood to adulthood and becomes who she’s supposed to be. It’s twice as fascinating to me as a story someone made up)

My newest 'baby'.
My newest ‘baby’. Photo: Judy Berna

Prosthetics and Amputees (I love telling you about the amazing products and professionals that have blessed my life, and the athletes who have inspired me)

The new Revolimb
The new Revolimb. Photo: Joe Mahon

Lego anything, including learning about the behind the scenes action. (with three sons, and having collected sets for almost 20 years,at each holiday and birthday, we have about as many bricks as Legoland)

Travel/Exploring new places (with an archaeologist husband, we’ve seen some pretty amazing places, following his job around the country)

Winter Sports, including skiing, snowboarding, sledding and snowman creating. It was a huge treat for us to attend the Winter X Games, just up the road from our house, for the past two years. Those athletes are our rock stars.

Super Pipe Practice. Photo: Judy Berna

And speaking of rock stars, in the past few decades I’ve come to really appreciate and love small indie bands. You know, the chicks and dudes who play because they love to? Check out this amazing song, “Not Born to Beauty” that says it so well (track 8).  We have a fantastic local venue in my hometown, and I have an old artificial leg that has the whole Bacon Brothers Band’s signatures on it. I’ve met the most amazing people, who also happen to be talented musicians.

The whole band signed it!
The whole band signed it! Photo: Judy Berna

So that’s our list. What would be on your list? What topics would you like us to write about more, or cover less? We’d love to hear what you love to read about. Welcome to the new, independent GeekMom. Welcome to your






Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding Reintroduction

Jules and Andrew Save the Date-01
Imaged commissioned from Matt Schubbe

With just over three months until the big day, and with GeekMom moving to a new home, I thought now would be an excellent time to reintroduce my geeky-queer wedding planning series to existing GeekMom readers, while giving new readers an opportunity to easily catch-up with the series.

What happens when two previously married people — one a trans man from Canada with two teenage children, the other a pansexual from the United States with no children, both geeks — decide to get married?

For your convenience, I’ve turned each of the previous six posts in this series into downloadable files — PDF, ePUB, and MOBI, all DRM-free.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction is the first post in this series. In the introduction, you’ll get a little taste of the many things my partner and I have been learning as we began this next chapter in our lives.

Download the PDF, ePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings is the second post in this series. Because of the nature of our relationship, people often wonder, “So, who did the proposing and how?” The answer is no-one. In fact, had he proposed, automatically my answer would have been, “No.” You now may be wondering, “Wait, so how are you engaged?” You may also be curious as to why I would have said no, had he asked. The answer to these questions, and more, is very long and complicated, and is found in this post.

Download the PDF, ePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire is the third post in this series. The most difficult decision Andrew and I faced when planning our wedding was answering the question, “What are we going to wear?” In the end, we decided to have a United Federation of Planets wedding. What that means and entails is found in this post.

Download the PDF, ePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests is the fourth post in this series. When you are planning a wedding, tradition and etiquette will tell you there are many things you must do. You must select a wedding party. Traditionally, there are also rules about whom you should choose. Traditionally, the parents of the individuals getting married must assume certain responsibilities. The guests are also seen to have specific roles within the whole affair. But, what if both parties have already been once married and divorced? What if one of those individuals is a trans man? What if the people getting married have different cultural backgrounds? What if a geeky element is being added? These questions are only a small fraction of things Andrew and I had to sort out as we began to plan our geeky-queer wedding. Our solutions — including the possibility of the kal-if-fee — are found in this post.

Download the PDFePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony is the fifth post in this series.In this latest geeky-queer wedding post, I explore the ceremony, including vows and legalities; the type of ceremony we will be having; and the process of going through a legal name change, and the reasons behind that need.

Download the PDFePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception is the sixth post in this series. When planning our geeky-queer wedding, Andrew and I had to make up a lot of things along the way, while balancing some of the traditional aspects that we find appealing. Sometimes, creating a new guide for our circumstances has been a little difficult. Other times, it was as easy as figuring out what aspects we really do not like in traditional weddings, and simply eliminating them; sometimes replacing them with our own special touches. The reception is another one of those situations where the end result is due to a process of elimination and supplementation, balanced with a couple traditional elements.

Download the PDFePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you’d prefer to download these posts as one file, you can download Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Parts One – Six as a PDF, ePUB, or MOBI.

Still to come in this series over the next three months:

  • Last names and culture
  • The location
  • Gifts
  • Things we’ve learned, and other miscellaneous things we did or are doing.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

Finally, did you do anything unique or out of the ordinary for your wedding and/or reception?

Geeking Out My Photography Business

Image by Helene McLaughlin © Rassilon Photography

When I decided to pick up my camera to earn a few extra bucks to pay bills while I stayed at home with my boys, I always wanted to focus on geeks. I wanted to set-up photo booths at geek conventions for folks to get pics of their costuming at conventions. I wanted to get pictures of little kids geeking out over a comic book or their favorite superhero. I wanted to find a pregnant geek who wanted to paint Chuthlu (or pie charts) on their belly. I wanted to be a geeky photographer for geeks. Well, in an effort to bring in even a single client a month, I didn’t turn away any potential client. I was, however, always on the lookout for that amazing geeky shoot.

Last week, I finally got a chance to do exactly what I wanted in a Doctor Who themed shoot and I was ecstatic!

Very good friends of mine asked me to take their daughter’s annual birthday pictures, normally they go to a chain studio and get a very generic picture. This year, they knew that I was doing a bit of photography, so they asked if I’d be interested. Of course I agreed! I like to make each shoot a little different, give each one a bit of personality. When I thought about this 9-year-old girl’s shoot, there was no question as to the theme, she had to have a Doctor Who themed shoot.

Together we pulled together some of the fandom items laying around our respective houses and headed out for a shoot that was easily my favorite family shoot.

The resulting images are just some of the amazing images that I captured of this young geek and her awesome parents.

Continue reading Geeking Out My Photography Business

6 Reasons Love Actually Is the New Christmas Classic, Even for Geeks

Love Actually promotional poster with yes, Colin Firth. Image copyright Universal Pictures, 2003.

“Do you know it’s been almost ten years since this movie came out?” I asked my husband. I’d finally procured Love Actually through Redbox, in spite of trying every on-demand video service known to man and failing miserably, and now our holidays were complete. You’d think that this time of year, Netflix and Hulu and Zune would be tripping over themselves to procure the rights. But apparently not. Even a film that boasts more celebrated actors than a night at the BAFTAs apparently can’t wrangle it up–and even in spite of the fact that half of my social media friends seem to be looking for this movie and anticipating it as fervently as I am. But regardless. We watched the film last night, and I realized how it’s become a tradition in our family. Naturally, I wondered why that’s the case. And lo! This post was born.

For the uninitiated, Love Actually is a 2003 British film starring a bevy of English heavyweight actors (Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth, just to name a few). It’s a movie that follows many pairs of people, and their families, through the five weeks leading up to Christmas, and even features Martin Freeman (currently sporting furry feet as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit movie) as a rather sweet body double for adult film scenes. While the people range from the Prime Minister himself (played by Hugh Grant) to a novelist (Colin Firth) and a graphic designer (Laura Linney), their lives at first don’t seem connected, but eventually come together. Not to mention, there’s an adorable little kid who you might now recognize as the voice of Phineas and Ferb‘s own Ferb Fletcher (and soon-to-be Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones), Thomas Sangster.

The relationships in the film; there is nothing geekier than a flowchart. Image by WCityMike, public domain via Wikipedia. Click for larger version.

Which is all to say if you haven’t seen the movie, and I can’t imagine that you haven’t, well, this will be full of spoilers. But considering this movie is ten years out now, I’d say we’re in fair territory.

So here’s a few thoughts as to why Love Actually may just be one of the best holiday films out there, and perfect for those who might be tired of the classics and prefer their holiday fare with a little more wit and authenticity.

It’s not really about Christmas. Okay, so it’s technically about Christmas. But there isn’t an overwhelming, over your head gravity about it. It would still be a good movie without the Christmas stuff, which you really can’t say for about 94% of what passes as holiday fare these days. Sure, the main message that comes across is that Christmastime is about love, honesty, and openness. The characters manage this to a variety of levels of success, from get-you-in-the-heart romance to the lingering questions left by Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman’s married couple (more on that later). Christmas is the setting; it’s got that holiday warmth, but there isn’t any sappiness to the point of eye-rolling or religious proselytization (or cute animals or horrible CGI). Plus there’s no Santa business. It’s about what people actually do on the holidays without banging you over the head with Christmas spirit.

It’s about real people. Granted, they’re fictional characters portrayed by actors. But save a cameo by Claudia Schiffer, the majority of the actors aren’t exactly runway ready, and all the characters have a real sense of authenticity about them. The wardrobe, the lighting, the camera angles–these work to bring a further sense of humanity to the actors. You feel for Natalie (played by Martine McCutcheon) because while she’s a gorgeous woman, and certainly catches the eye of Grant’s PM, she’s not classically so. People call her chubby (which is rather silly–my one gripe with the film is that the screenwriter often relies on fat jokes, to ill effect). She’s awkward and silly, she isn’t well-spoken, she has a bit of a potty mouth. She’s from the bad side of town. But you like her right off the bat. Same for Thompson’s character, who’s discovers her husband’s flirtations with a gorgeous office aid. She covers up–smothers–her fury and betrayal in front of her kids at the flip of a switch, because that’s what must be done. There is hardly any drama, it’s all kept behind her guise in order to preserve herself and her kids. Sure, this movie never won Oscars. But some of the performances are so real, they’re heartbreaking.

It’s got a (mostly) amazing soundtrack. Mostly. There are a few questionable choices in there. But any film that starts with a live rendition of “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles and ends with “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys is clearly doing something right. So, yes, you have to endure “All I Want For Christmas” a few times, and certainly the “Christmas Is All Around” retooling of the classic Troggs song gets a little old by the end. But the scene where Hugh Grant dances through his Downing Street to “Jump (For My Love)” by the Pointer Sisters is nothing short of iconic. Plus you get a brilliant performance by Thomson during “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell, a beautiful moment between Linney and her Brazillian hunk with Nora Jones’ rendition of “Turn Me On” and that staple of the early aughts, “Here With Me” by Dido. What results is a soundtrack with Christmas selections, but not burdened down with the Jingle Bell Rock, y’know?

It doesn’t tie everything up in a pretty bow. Sure, a good chunk of the stories are ended nicely. People get together, take risks. But even in the epilogue we see that things don’t always end up perfectly. Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson are still on the rocks. There’s no sign of Laura Linney’s character who, in spite of catching the eye of Karl, the office stud, can’t separate herself from her mentally ill brother in order to have a relationship. Because, as many of us are well aware, Christmastime and the holidays can sometimes get you through tough things but there’s no guarantee of a happy ending. It’s a romantic comedy that’s aware of the tropes of the genre but doesn’t exploit them to the point of disbelief. You’re left wondering where these characters’ lives will go, and there’s a certain sense of kinship at the movie’s end, without much holiness.

It’s got Colin Firth. While I feel this is self-explanatory, I’ll break it down for you a little more. I probably don’t have to tell you that Colin Firth has a certain special place in the hearts of many a GeekMom out there. Most of us can trace it back to the BBC Pride and Prejudice series from the 90s. But clearly there’s a Firth factor in this movie, even moreso than others I’ve seen. What do I mean, exactly? Well, his is the only narrative aside from Bill Nighy’s that’s essentially cut off from the rest of the film. He’s a writer (swoon) whose girlfriend cheats on him with his brother while he’s away at the wedding of his friends (Kiera Knightly and Chiwetel Ejiofor). He only sees them at the beginning and end of the film, while he’s away for the rest of it in France. Essentially he’s got his own separate story going on that, yes, feels a bit forced at the end. Except he’s Colin Firth. And clearly the producers were well aware that so long as he was in the film, it would be a huge benefit. So, yes. That is all ye need to know.

It’s one of the geekiest gateway films out there. Sure, there tends to be a concentration of actors appearing in geeky films when you get to the UK. However, you’d be hard pressed to find a movie that includes actors from Harry Potter (Rickman, Thompson, and Bill Nighy), Pirates of the Caribbean (Knightley and Nighy), The Hobbit (Martin Freeman), Serenity (Chiwetel Eljofor), Game of Thrones/Phineas and Ferb/Dr. Who (Thomas Sangster), X-Men: First Class (January Jones), the Narnia films (Liam Neeson), Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson, Firth, and screenwriter/director Richard Curtis), and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Freeman, Rickman, and Nighy). And really, that’s just scratching the surface.

More than anything, Love Actually is a movie by people who get it. That get that the holidays are about love and loss and memories. It’s about new beginnings and it’s about endings. It’s about family and second chances, and sometimes it’s about the same old, same old. It’s love, in its many, many forms, lighting the way through the coldest season.

James Stowe’s D&D For Eight Year Olds: Streamlined Character Sheets for Kids

Image by James Stowe, via his website. A bard gal. Couldn’t love her more.

This weekend I was looking for easier 4th Edition D&D modules, and came upon the art of James Stowe through the magic of a Google Search. I couldn’t be more in love! This dad was searching for the same sort of thing I was, but instead of waiting for someone else to put it together, well, he did it himself. His series “D&D For Eight Year Olds” is ideal for starting a game with the younger crowd not quite ready to jump into the nuts and bolts of D&D.

I absolutely love the artwork and his clever re-tinkering of the spells, but it’s even better that he did an entire series for boys and for girls. As an avid RPG gamer girl, I can’t tell you how tickled that makes me. Extra super bonus? They come in wide variety of shapes and sizes! Because no matter what you look like you can still rock out and have a blast playing D&D.

You can find the whole set, as well as more of his great art, over at his website.

Zen Alarm Clock by Now & Zen

I’m a meditation geek and whenever I can find a new app or tool to include in my practice, I like to try it out. The Zen Alarm Clock by Now & Zen is my newest mediation tool and so far I’m loving it. You can use it as an alarm clock, interval timer, countdown timer, and a meditation timer. I’m currently using it mostly as an alarm clock.

I’ve tried various alarms in the past to help wake me up more naturally. The app/device was either to loud or to obnoxious to keep me using it for more than one or two nights. The nice thing about this alarm is the chime that it gives off when it’s time to wake up. It gradually wakes you up with a metal chime and it gets louder every ten minutes until you are fully awake and ready to start your day in a more natural manner.

The first time I used it as an alarm clock, I thought the low setting was too low and jumped straight into the higher volume tone. Big mistake. It woke me up alright, but it certainly wasn’t gradual. It read the instruction manual on how to adjust the chime and the volume, and the next morning, I woke up in a much better mood.

The digital zen alarm clock is also the perfect chime for anyone that likes to take their meditation routine on the road with them. I like it because it doesn’t require any cables to power up (batteries not included), and it’s small enough to fit in my backpack for when I feel like taking my meditation to a new spot.

The Zen Alarm Clock comes in ten different styles (including two different sizes) and is the perfect gift for the meditating geek in your family.

In exchange for my time and efforts in reporting my opinion within this blog, I received a free review sample. Even though I receive this benefit, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.


The Weekly, Geekly, Rewind — August 20, 2012

Image by: NASA, public domain

This week’s rewind includes a veritable smorgasbord of lovely links that encompass elements found all around the geek stratosphere! Beware weather, embrace the partial quotient algorithm, and join in our book club this month as we’re reading Madeleine L’Engle’s classic, A Wrinkle In Time.

Fun & Kids:
The GeekMom book club is reading A Wrinkle In Time this month — and sponsoring a giveaway. Check out the post for a chance to win.

Looking for an indoor hobby to replace all those outdoor activities? Teach your geeklings to sew! 

Traveling in NYC? It’s not too late for some free summer fun.

Ten Surefire Signs Your Kid is a LEGO Geek

Check out Cathe’s awesome paper floor project.

Dak’s one of our resident Star Wars geeks, and she’s ramping up for Star Wars Celebration VI. Here’s a look at behind the scenes of the 501st Legion.

Looking for a way into the New 52? Check out Dak’s primer.

Dive in to Destination Imagination

Looking for some help with those end of summer travel plans? GeekMom Sarah shares her tips for traveling with toddlers and babies.


Science & Math:
GeekMom Patricia wants to remind folks that we’re coming up on the busiest part of the Atlantic hurricane season so don’t forget to be prepared and stay aware!

Be mathematically deviant: Partial Quotient Algorithm: An Alternative Method for Long Division


Rebecca’s trio of posts are particularly pertinent as the school year kicks into gear!

Intel Leads Education and Inspires the Next Generation of Thinkers

Utopia: School and Video Games!

Involve Me And I’ll Understand: Teaching, Games, and the 21st Century

Why should kids pitch in with household tasks? There are great reasons, like boosting learning and long term success. Check out the facts in How Kids Benefit From Chores.

You know playing an instrument is good for the brain. Why not try the easiest instrument, one found in every home? Find out how in Hide Your Spoons.


Beautiful Beatles cakes at CakeWrecks

3D printed steampunk dice, oh my!

Fixing scuffs on your furniture… with a walnut?

The Airpod. It’s a car… that runs on air.

Geek Burlesque is Like Nothing You've Seen Before

“Rated R for Violence” Epic Win Burlesque
Image via Ben Trivett Photography

Have you ever been to a burlesque show? There are two different types of burlesque, traditional and neo-burlesque. Traditional burlesque integrates striptease with a bit of Vaudville, comedy sketches, acrobatics, juggling, live vintage music, and singing. This is the burlesque that most people are familiar with. During the mid-1990’s neo-burlesque emerged. While neo-burlesque still focuses on striptease and dance, it integrates popular music, performance art and exploration of gender identity. Both versions of burlesque embrace all body types in a deliberate attempt to debunk the traditional definitions of beauty. Burlesque isn’t about demeaning women, quite the opposite in fact:  it is about empowering them.

If you have never been to a burlesque show, maybe now is the time to go. Still not convinced? How about if it incorporated a Ghostbusters parody, a Star Wars vs. Star Trek battle, steampunk, or maybe a zombie hunt? Burlesque dance troupes around the country have begun catering directly to the geek culture by bringing beloved geek themes and striptease together in a very memorable way. While you may be wary of attending a striptease act, consider for a moment if you would like to attend ComicCon or other cons where cos-play is prevalent. The burlesque costuming is rarely more risqué then some of the more memorable cos-play costumes.

Continue reading Geek Burlesque is Like Nothing You've Seen Before

Pixar Week: Why Do We Love Pixar Films?

We can't help ourselves, Pixar knows how to make everyone relate to their characters, whether they're toys, fish, robots or (in this case) superheroes. Photo: Dave Vollmer.

During these weeks leading up to the release of Brave, we GeekMoms have been happily discussing our favorite Pixar films, our favorite characters, and our favorite storylines. Also, we’ve been sharing memories of our first Pixar films and our first experiences with taking our kids to Pixar films on the big screen.

I shared my story of our September 2004 evacuation for Hurricane Frances. We had one kid’s DVD for our brand new portable DVD player: Finding Nemo. What do you think we listened to for 12-hours in each direction? “Just keep swimming…just keep swimming…just keep swimming….”

Which leads to the question: Why do we GeekMoms love Pixar so much? Why aren’t we this excited over, say, Madagascar 3?

Continue reading Pixar Week: Why Do We Love Pixar Films?

Geeky Gifts for Your Geek Dad!

My husbands very first Father's Day gift. Its very hard to top that each year, but I keep trying!

If you are anything like me, shopping for a man might just be the hardest thing to do in life. I never want to get them gifts that they won’t use or that are too practical. Ever since I got him an AWESOME first Father’s Day gift, I feel I am resorting to the same gift certificate to iTunes or some electronics store, instead of something unique. Ever since becoming a writer for GeekMom, I’ve found that there are geeky gifts lurking around every corner that are perfect for my geeky husband, in order to find them, you just have to know YOUR geek.

ThinkGeek Bacon Jam

For the Bacon Lover – Bacon Jam

Think Geek has found another undeniably AMAZING bacon concoction to make your mouth water. Dad will likely want to eat this sweet and savory treat right out of the jar, but my husband thinks that it would be awesome in an omelet or on pancakes. I think it tastes a little like teriyaki beef jerky (which is a good thing in my mind). Trust me this will likely become as much a staple in your home as ketchup. I should mention that you will be supporting a small business as well!

For the Star Wars Bibliophile – Star Wars Bookends

ThinkGeek Star Wars Bookends

For the avid Star Wars fan, check out these great bookends by ThinkGeek. Its as if the iconic Star Wars logo was severed by a light saber and stuck on a shelf. Even if your dad is not an avid reader, when pushed together, they still make a great decoration for the home or office. These bookends are great for holding books, DVDs, CDs, Cookbooks, kids bedtime books, bathroom reading material, or pretty much anything you imagine!

Image from

The Art of Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The Art of Star Wars the Clone Wars takes you behind the scenes of one of the most popular TV series on air today. Included in the back of the book are lithographs worthy of a nice frame.

For the Sock Enthusiast – Geek Socks 

ThinkGeek Statement Socks

If your geek guy never really cares whether people look at him funny, because he is proud of his collection of  thousands of brightly colored socks, then this is the gift for you. I love the bright colors and bold, print that is impossible to miss in passing. Make a statement, with your legs!

ThinkGeek Doctor Who Embroidered Polo Shirt

For the Whovian – Doctor Who Polo Shirt

Some geeks just want to be able to express their geekiness at work. Graphic t-shirts usually don’t count as work approved attire (in most work places), so these high quality polo shirts with embroidered Doctor Who symbols are awesome. These shirts look classy and yet still scream geek.

Portal Turrets from ThinkGeek

For the Portal Fan – Inflatable Turrets

Sometimes the only way to protect your lawn from your neighbors dog is to take matters into your own hands. A friendly Portal turret is the perfect way to keep pesky dogs off your lawn. So maybe it doesn’t really shoot bullets, but consider these inflatable friends as the modern scarecrow.

Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme 2-Pound-Loaf Breadmaker

For the Chef – Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Breadmaker

So bread machines might seem a bit cliche, but when they are done right, the bread you make can save your family money and really taste delicious! GeekMom Arianne says, “My brother received one of these for Christmas from my parents a couple of years ago, and we’ve enjoyed all the breads he’s made for us. My husband wants one of these now too! I’m worried about all the delicious carbs he’ll be making, but there’s something to be said about making all your own homemade bread!”

LEGO Limited Edition Moleskine Notebooks

For the Lego Lover – Limited Edition Lego Moleskine Notebook

Its good to have a place to jot down your ideas for that next new Lego CUUSOO model, or even what size screws you need to get for your latest robotic project. Moleskine notebooks are known for their quality and durability, add to that the iconic lego bricks and you have a winning combination.

Biscotti TV Phone

For the World Traveller – Biscotti TV Phone

My husband travels a lot and phone calls are enough for me, but for my kids its tough not to be able to see the person on the other side of the conversation. The Biscotti Phone is a tiny device that ca easily be packed into a suitcase that will turn any TV with an HDMI port into a TV phone. You can can call via a Biscotti account or connect with a Google Talk account, both completely free. The camera is particularly nice, because even though it is the size of a biscotti cookie, it can focus an entire room into view, pan, zoom via a very small remote control.

Image from

For the Jokster – I Am Better Than Your Kids – by Maddox

Based on the website that went viral in the early 2000’s, the book features more kids drawing and hilarious commentary from the author. The destructive criticism will have you laughing out loud, if you enjoy a good swear word that is. Crude humor at its best, this book embodies everything a church book club would disapprove of.

*Note: Many items for this review were provided by the manufacturers for review, but opinions expressed are my own or those of other GeekMom’s as stated.

My Little Geek Is Now an App

A while ago, I reviewed the adorable book My Little Geek by Andrew & Sarah Spear with illustrations by Edit Sliacka, and I’m back once again to let you know that it’s now an app! If you are looking for books to read on a plane or car trip, this is a must-load for the iPad or for your iPhone.

Pick it up here at the iTunes store!

ChatWithTheBand – A Ustream/ Google+ Hangouts-esque Facebook App For Musicians and Artists

If you are a musician, or artist, and have been lamenting over the lack of interactive chat features on Facebook similar to Google+ Hangouts, finally, there is something similar available to those who make use of Facebook fan pages. The app is called ChatWithTheBand. ChatWithTheBand lets you video chat with fans and listen to tracks as a social group right from your band/artist Facebook page. Some may liken it to having your own dedicated room hosted on your Facebook page, but with extra features including video chat, virtual gifts and SoundClound integration (coming soon).

If you’ve made use of Google+ Hangouts to interact with others, you are already familiar with the benefits of having a video chat. The interface for the ChatWithTheBand is a little bit different. Fans are not automatically added to the video chat portion, even if they are part of the chat conversation. They have to be invited by whomever is hosting, similarly to how you’d invite someone to share your stream on Ustream. One benefit to this Facebook app is that your friends can sign-up for notifications when broadcasts begin. That feature is something that is missing on Google+. Another benefit is that it does not appear to have the limited seating that Google+ Hangouts has.

ChatWithTheBand is currently in beta. They are looking for people to join. I personally have not been able to test this app as I am not on Facebook. Therefor, I cannot give a proper review of it. However, I think the premise behind it and what I’ve seen in the demo videos are very useful. I know a good number of independent musicians and artists who’ve had a lot of success using Facebook to interact with their supporters, and I think they could benefit from this app. I also know a good many musicians and artists who’ve lamented about some of the drawbacks to using both Ustream or Google+ Hangouts to host listening parties, live concerts, Q&As. This may just be the answer.

Find out more, see which artists are already using ChatWithTheBand & watch demo videos at or click here to join the beta.

If you do decide to use this app, I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts, especially if you’ve used other services such as Ustream and Google+ Hangouts.

The Greatest Show on Earth

Did you know the term geek originated from the circus?  It was originally used to describe “a performer engaging in bizarre act.” Even some of our comic book heroes owe their look and some abilities to the circus. Dick Grayson is a perfect example. Before his parents died, his family was the circus. The skills he learned as a trapeze artist would later help him as Robin, Nightwing and in some circles as Batman. The big top tent and the three rings you see in the comics are now part of history, welcoming in a new circus for the newer generations.

When I told my grandmother I was visiting the circus with Brandon she got all nostalgic. The circus coming to town was a big deal when she was a kid. Back then the circus was still performing under the “big top”. As a child she would go to the train station to watch the circus train come into town. She could recall watching the men put up “the big top”, the smell of the saw dust, the feel of the bench seats and the sounds of the house band playing.

America's Favorite Cowboy
America's Favorite Cowboy

I started to think about my son’s experience. We drove to an arena, parked in a garage and walked into an air conditioned building with soft seats. You couldn’t smell the animals, let alone any saw dust. Instead of a tight rope walker, we saw a tight rope riding motorcycle and aerialists. The special effects were amazing and in perfect synchronization to the events in front of us.  There was no lack of souvenirs to purchase as well as popcorn, cotton candy, and any other junk food you wanted to devour.  One thing I was surprised to see was a nine piece house band!

Just like in the old days, they are still a “traveling city“. The circus train is a mile long and carries all 80 performers from show to show. They even have a nursery and a school for the kids that tour with their parents. The performers travel with each other for the entire two year run of the show. I guess when you live within two inches to someone for that long; you become a family pretty quickly.

My son, Brandon, (6-years old), went nuts over the animals in the pre-show. During the show he showed a little less interest. I’m guessing it was because the animals were much further away this time. As they set up for the big cats, we were treated to the tight rope portion of the show. This wasn’t your grandmothers tight rope walkers. Ringling Brothers had tight rope riding motorcycles with aerialists underneath! The really amazing part was when the motorcycles rode the rope upside down and did a full 360.

Dragon Wisdom
Dragon Wisdom - Martial Artists

The funniest reaction Brandon had all night was with the fire jumpers. The martial artists brought out a circle of swords and jumped through with scary ease. One of the jumpers took out a metal hoop and placed it in the middle of the wheel. The performer then lit the hoop and set the wheel to turn. Another performer put on a black hood and got ready to jump thru. As soon as Brandon realized what was about to happen he yelled “DON’T DO IT!” The performer accomplished the feat with not so much a singe and my son relaxed again.

I have to admit the big cat trainer had me worried a few times. Those cats looked like they wanted to bite his stick in half. In the end he survived and the cats did a great job. The cutest part of the act was when Prince, one of the tigers, went up on a big disco ball and stood up on his hind legs. The ball started to turn and he kept perfect balance as if to say “Look at me, aren’t I cute?”

Tiger "Prince"
Tiger "Prince"

I knew the elephants would have a special part in the show, but I had forgotten just how neat it was to watch. Just like in the movies they walked the floor and did their balancing act. A pretty girl in a sparkly outfit rode on one of their trunks and eventually on their back.

During our backstage tour we got to see just how much is put into the show.  With everything we saw I was really amazed to hear that in only 18 hours they can have a venue set up and ready for the show. The setup of our new arena in Orlando is very different than what they have had in the past. Space is limited so they have to store a lot of the animals across the street under the parking garage. To get the animals to the show they have to stop traffic and walk them all across. Could you imagine driving down the road and seeing a lion, some tigers, and a few elephants blocking your path?

The clowns were by far my favorite part. I had the chance to meet a few and they were really down to earth. My favorite skit they did was after the martial artists. They came out and re-enacted the entire martial arts skit and it was hilarious. They never brought out the traditional small car, but I didn’t miss it. I was to busy laughing while they danced to “Kung Fu Fighting“.

Despite the many changes over the years, I think my son still had some of the same amazement in his eyes that I imagine my grandmother had at his age. The show might be longer, the performers and the effects different, but it is still an American classic and the Greatest Show on Earth!

“In exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.”

Circus Then and Now Comparison
Circus Then and Now Comparison

To experience Ringling Brothers in your town visit here.

To Get tickets for just $12 (plus facility and handling fees) by using promo code MOMMY at checkout on This offer is available for all tickets except Circus Celebrity, Front Row and VIP. Some performances may be excluded from this deal.

For those looking for something really special, try the VIP Family Four Pack, which includes 4 VIP tickets, 4 small Lemonades, 4 small Popcorn Boxes, and 4 jumbo Lollipops. The package is $170 and is a savings of over $50! To get this package use promo code FAMDEAL at checkout. Some performances may be excluded from this deal.

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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Reminder: Enter the Busy Beaver Button Co.’s Free Button Giveaway!

Don’t forget, before tomorrow (Thursday) at midnight Eastern Standard time, place a comment on our Busy Beaver Button Co. giveaway post to be entered to win one of three free button packages. Create buttons for parties, family reunions, holiday get togethers, or just indulge your geeky interests.

Three winners will be selected at random. Visit Monday’s giveaway post to enter and for more details!

(Note: Only comments on the original post will be eligible to win.)


Coming Soon:The Walking Dead Video Game

The Walking Dead series on AMC is in its second season and is hugely popular, so it seems only natural that it would be getting its own video game. Although there is no release date yet, sources say that it should be coming in late 2011 or early 2012. It will be available for the Playstation 3, Xbox, and Wii game systems, and also for PC and Mac. I haven’t heard about a rating, but if I had to guess it would be that it will be rated “M” for Mature, which means my kids won’t be playing it, but I will!

Telltale Games is the developer, and they have confirmed that it will not be the typical “first person shooter” that most other zombie-themed games feature. The game will not feature the plot of the show or the comics; rather, it will introduce the player to new characters and situations. It should go without saying that there will be zombies. The game play will involve making decisions, solving puzzles, and “figuring things out” in order to move on. Certain decisions will give you a certain kind of gameplay, reminding one of the “choose your own adventure” books. There isn’t any video of game footage available yet, but I can imagine that the player’s stress level will be high during the decision making process during gameplay, due to the fact that there may be zombies hanging around. The Walking Dead comic series creator and television series executive producer/writer Robert Kirkman is fully supporting TellTale’s issue of this game, and it has been reported that he is pleased with what he has seen so far.

Screenshot of The Walking Dead game featuring new characters Lee and Clementine, from

Most people assume that since I am such a huge fan of the zombie genre, that I also play zombie video games like Resident Evil, Dead Island and all that good stuff. I actually don’t play first person shooter games, but this one sounds like something I would enjoy very much, considering that it is not like that, but it still has zombies in it. Strategy and puzzle games are right up my alley. One little tidbit I heard is that Glen makes a cameo early in the game, which is cool because he is my favorite character from the comics and the AMC series. If this video game is slated for holiday release, I will definitely have it on my Christmas list. If not, my birthday is at the end of January!

To sign up for updates about the game from TellTale Games as soon as they are released, visit the official site at telltale

Review of Just Dance 3 for Wii

Image from Just Dance 3 Wiki.

I have two boys in my house and watch as they play video games that they like; the ones where you have to beat a level or find the secrets, beat the boss and save the day. My attention span for those kinds of games fell by the wayside about the same time as the Super Nintendo. There are a few video games I do still like to play, the more recent of those being the Just Dance series of games.

Just Dance 3 was released for Wii, Playstation 3 and XBox in early October. It builds on the already popular franchise by adding lots of hit songs and new modes to extend and vary game play. The best thing about these series of games is that they get you off the couch and moving around. Although I do occasionally play them by myself, I have the most fun when family and friends are visiting and we are all playing together. It seems that Just Dance has replaced our old get-togethers that we once dubbed “Rock Band Parties.”

Just Dance 3 isn’t just for people who have the moves of a professional dancer. Anyone can play and have a great time, no matter if they can really dance or not. It’s easy to start it up and get to the mode that you want to play. If you are so inclined, you even have the choice to “Just Sweat,” which is a training program that does calculated cardio. If not, you can just dance, alone or with a group. Basically, you choose from about 45 different songs, some available as downloadable content, and just follow the moves of the on-screen dancer. You hold the Wii remote (or no controller, if you are playing Kinect) in your right hand and the sensor keeps up with where it is in relation to the dance moves happening on screen. My boys and I had a blast with this game, discovering the new songs and watching the dancers, who are always in funny-looking costumes and doing creative, different dance moves that keep you laughing while you’re dancing.

A screen shot of "Apache (Jump on It)" from the Ubisoft website.

New to this version are the Dance Crew Mode, Smart Shuffle, Flash Mob Mode and Dance Mash-up. I tried out one of the dance crew songs by myself, “This is Halloween,” and although it was fun, it would have been a blast if three other dancers had been in the living room with me. I danced to a lot of the songs so I could get an idea of the new moves and scoring. The scoring doesn’t make you feel too bad if you stink at it; you get a number of stars and a rating like “Energetic,” or “Wild,” or even “Creative.” You don’t get booed, which is nice, especially if you have kids playing who may not do so well at first. I’m interested in trying out another new feature in the Wii version, the “Hold My Hand” mode, where up to 8 players can share 4 Wii Remotes and dance together. It sounds pretty cool, but I don’t know if my living room can hold that many dancers, so we might have to save that for a church youth party with the kids.

We don’t have to have a party or a get-together to play this game; my kids get excited when I want to play any video games with them, even this one. My son Michael has some great moves, so when I convince him to take a turn, it is quite entertaining. It never fails that if we put in one Just Dance game, we will end up playing all of them that we own, Just Dance 1 and 2 and Michael Jackson: The Experience. Ubisoft has released several dance games, like one just for kids, one that features Broadway tunes, and one that features The Black Eyed Peas.

My cousin/best friend Sara and I always play Just Dance when we spend time together.

For myself, when I popped in Just Dance 3 after everyone in my house had gone to sleep for the night, I had an absolute blast playing it. My favorite song to dance to was “Apache (Jump on It).” I couldn’t stop smiling and thinking about Carlton and Will doing their strip-tease on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air years ago. I would recommend this game for anyone who already has the previous Just Dance games, or who has never even played them. If you plan on having a get-together for the holidays this year, this would be a perfectly fun way for everyone to work off all of that yummy cornbread dressing and pumpkin pie!


For a listing of all songs featured in the game, and more information, check out the Just Dance 3 Wiki.

I received a copy of Just Dance 3 for the Nintendo Wii gaming console from Ubisoft for review purposes.

Geeky Crafts at the Maker’s Fair

I let my geek flag fly and made a little money at the Texas Avenue Maker's Fair in Shreveport, LA.

Every once in a blue moon I get in a crafty mood; I put my laptop aside and take out the paint, scissors and glue. Occasionally, I take my hand-made wares to a craft market, or in this case, a maker’s fair, and sell them to those who might appreciate them. This past weekend, I took some of my usual; aged gift tags, a few painted signs, and highly-scented potpourri (which has been dubbed “Christmas Crack” by one of my frequent buyers; she says she can’t start the Christmas season without it).

I took my chances and made some geeky wares to sell this time. As a kid, I loved making Shrinky Dinks. While browsing Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago, I found a new product: Shrinky Dinks that you can print on. My imagination reeled with the possibilities. I made earrings, necklaces, book marks, zipper pulls, and cell phone charms. Now many people in my town and the surrounding area are sporting Dalek and TARDIS jewelry, Nyan Cat book marks, and even a few pieces that feature The Goonies, Ghostbusters and lots of other fun stuff you won’t find at your local shops. As proud as I might be of my geeky goodies and the profit they turned, I am even prouder of the fact that both of my sons participated in the maker’s fair for the first time and made their own little bit of money.

My fourteen year old, Michael, played two separate sets on his acoustic guitar, and with permission from the organizers, collected tips in his opened his guitar case. He got a lot of compliments on his playing skills and choice of songs; he is a fan of classics like The Eagles and Bob Marley, and good old grunge-rock, Nirvana.


My son Michael playing some tunes to entertain the shoppers.

Sammy, who is eleven, set up a small area within my booth space and sold his hand-made duct tape items. Most popular were the wallets, which several people had custom-made while they shopped. He turned a pretty darn good profit, and was excited that even our mayor bought a wallet from him!

Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover holds his new duct tape wallet, made by Sammy.

All in all, it was a pretty fun day. There were so many different and interesting makers, so many cool things to see and buy, and lots of yummy food to eat. We are looking forward to being a part of the next Texas Avenue Maker’s Fair, which I am pretty certain will be happening again!