Growing Down: What Mothering Has Taught Me

From becoming more responsible to reliving my favorite stories with my children, being a parent has been a blast! While it has helped me “grow up” I have most certainly grown down. I am still new to the extremely rewarding field of being a mother. My oldest child is three years old and I have a set of twins that just turned one. I know the years ahead will bring much more adventure, but I’ve learned so much in my three years of motherhood.

Continue reading Growing Down: What Mothering Has Taught Me

Help Kickstart “End of the Line – The Game of Post-Apocalyptic Family Survival”

The first game I played from the folks at Fight in a Box was Squirrel or Die. It’s a quick and easy game that involves tiles that will either help your squirrel survive the winter or see him starving. Win or lose, it’s a fantastic little game. That’s why I’m very excited for their new Kickstarter for End of the Line.

Continue reading Help Kickstart “End of the Line – The Game of Post-Apocalyptic Family Survival”

Who Made the Cut For This GeekMom T-Shirt and Why

Mom. Mom is a loaded word. Just as recipes for things like tomato sauce vary from family to family, so does the definition of mother. Every family, for example, prides itself in its recipe being The Right One. In the same way, every family believes its definition of “mom” is The Right One. Why? Because the ingredients in the recipe create a sense of family taste profile, in the same way, the definition of mom, based on the nuances of the family dynamics, make up family relationships.

Thus, a “mom” is more like an emotional comfort food than a person.

When GeekMom put out the merch design call, I figured that I had nothing to offer. I mean, I teach writing, not design. Then I started thinking about all the moms I love in fandom. I realized that a GeekMom Ampersand shirt and print would have precisely the kind of inside geeky reference I love, but I couldn’t discriminate against fandoms.

My first pass had only the fandoms that I knew geeks loved best online (Marvel, DC, LotR, Harry Potter). These caused a bit of a stir, not only for the choices of fandom but the choices within the fandom. The more I delved into the lack of mothers in various geek fandoms, the more I learned that we have a wide array of mothers represented in our fandoms.

Continue reading Who Made the Cut For This GeekMom T-Shirt and Why

How to Make a Dancing Baby Groot Costume With Only a Few Failed Attempts

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Chef, Honey-Where-Are-My-Pants Guy, Dancing Baby Groot, and Rocket Raccoon.

When my husband and I got married, we were warned that we would fight about money or sex. Not us. We fight about the direction a costume is taking during construction. It has happened every time we have made costumes. After the second design failure on Groot, we just let it go (great, now that song is stuck in my head). Neither of our ideas were working, and we weren’t doing so well.

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What you will need for your Dancing Baby Groot costume. Image: Cathe Post

For this Dancing Baby Groot tutorial you will need:

A Flower Pot (Ours was about 14″ in diameter, choose your accordingly)

Leggings (Brown)

Sweatshirt (Brown)

Close-cell foam 1″ thick

Gorilla Glue

Cheap Sunglasses

Cheap Plastic Foliage

Brown Painter’s Paper  Brown Paint

Green Painter’s Paper Green Paint

Brown Gloves?

Cardboard

Moss

Old Tennis Shoes

More Gorilla Glue

Patience

A sense of humor

Instead of a tutorial, I plan to drink wine. Acceptable? While drinking, I will share what my husband did for the other three members of our household.

Let it be known that gender roles do not apply in my house. Not only does my husband cook, he also busted his butt to sew and paint our costumes in time for GeekGirlCon in mid-October. He is the most awesome guy in the world.

Groot
First we tried gluing, then we tried sewing, finally we said a few choice curse words and painted the grain on. All images: Cathe Post

We first tried twisting and crumpling painter’s paper and using Gorilla Glue to adhere it to the sweatshirt. This worked, but was a big mess and hard to keep positioned while the glue dried. There were many colorful metaphors uttered…

Next, the twisted pieces of paper were hand-sewn onto the sweatshirt. This made our daughter look like a brown box instead of a long treeling. Plus the paper was stiff and LOUD. More cursing ensued.

Groot’s pot was constructed by cutting a flower pot in half, adding cardboard, and using copious amounts of Gorilla Glue to attach old sneakers to the bottoms. For grip, a collectible card game playing mat (basically a giant mousepad) was cut and adhered. There was no cursing involved in the making of the flower pot. Now, wearing the flower pot did cause my daughter to utter a few choice phrases (to be fair, that thing had to be a pain in the arse to walk in).

As a finishing touch, I loaded I Want You Back onto my phone and connected the iFrogz Tadpole speaker GeekMom Jenny previously talked about to the inside of the flower pot. When we get around a bunch of people, my daughter could dance like Baby Groot.

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Rocket Raccoon and Groot

The Rocket costume went much more smoothly, though my costume had the most materials and items to purchase of our three costumes. Thankfully, with the announcement of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 being a definite, I know I will get future use out of my costume—and have time to make a sweet gun!

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“Honey, where are my paaaaaants?”

My son’s costume (only to be worn for our Halloween commitments) went the smoothest of the three costumes, was the cheapest, and took the least amount of time to make. My son, quite specifically, asked to be the guy from “Honey, Were Are My Pants?,” the silly fictional sitcom from The Lego Movie. Honestly, when you are four, isn’t that the best part of the movie? Thanks to having a cardboard supply that multiplies like tribbles, having yellow rain pants (needed in the Pacific Northwest), and a pajama top the same color as the guy’s shirt, we only had to purchase blue spray paint and World Market Cheesy Snowballs (because the container looks like a Lego mini-figure head with a bit of modification). We had a selection of acrylic craft paints and a few different spray paints, so we didn’t even have to purchase those either. My son, needless to say, thinks that the costume is awesome—because, “Everything is awesome!”

Great. Now I have that song stuck in my head…

Thankfully, we got most of our arguing and Vulcan-Death-Match fighting out of the way on Groot’s costume. By the time the Lego guy’s costume was finished, we didn’t care where our pants were.

If you want to tell my husband that he did a geek-tastic job on our costumes, tag @timsmartini on Twitter. After making costumes for everyone else, he was too tired to make one for himself, so we dug out an old chef’s jacket and hat we’d ordered from a uniform supply. Instant costume!

Happy Halloween from Rocket, Groot, Honey-Where-Are-My-Pants guy, and Chef!

GeekMom To Be Featured on NickMom Television This Sunday!

NickMom, Forbidden Planet, GeekMom
My minions at Forbidden Planet before the filming in November. Photo by Corrina Lawson.

GeekMom is coming to your television on Sunday night. Myself and my crew of minions will be featured in a episode of Take Me To Your Mother, which will air on NickMom this Sunday, March 23 at 10:00 p.m. The show features comic Andrea Rosen.

“She just had a baby and dove head first into motherhood. Only problem? She did zero prep work to get there. Now… she’s on a mission to seek real advice from moms everywhere and from different cultures, backgrounds and interests on how to raise her only son. Because, in her own words, she doesn’t “want to raise a jerk.” — From the NickMom website.

Here’s the link to find the channel on your TV: http://www.nickmom.com/channel-finder/

We filmed the show last November, taking the MetroNorth train into Grand Central Station, and then walking down to the Forbidden Planet store.  The filming took over four hours, as the crew stopped and started filming to get just the right shots.  Our “geek” setup was a book signing, with us standing in line, with other geeks. Cthulhu Mom was absolutely wonderful and I’d recommend this episode just for her, even if we weren’t being featured.

Here’s hoping we were all ready for our close-ups!

My “Bad Boy” Valentines

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Image By Lilianna Maxwell

This drawing was a present from my daughter: me having tea with Wolverine. But she made me old because it was more “appropriate” since I’m married to her father. I found that hilarious because he’s a fictional character so what’s to be worried about? Only just my total obsession with Wolverine.

And other “bad boy” fictional characters.

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Image By Rebecca Angel

You are quite sexy
Yet so two-dimensional
Abarai Renji

This would be followed “xoxoxoxoxo” and then I’d be too embarrassed to sign my name—assuming Renji and I would be in the same junior high classroom, forced to exchange valentines. Considering he doesn’t really exist, I suppose I shouldn’t feel any shame admitting that there was a time when I would spend free moments rummaging on deviantart for any and all renditions of my favorite Bleach character, that I became obsessed enough to write a haiku, then a song called “Two-Dimensional Love.” The lyrics are about falling in love with someone fictional, being aware of it, knowing it’s ridiculous, but you just can’t help yourself.

Renji is loud, quick to anger, and jealous. So why do I love him? He’s also fiercely loyal, first to defend others, and when he is gentle—it is a beautiful moment. Renji, Wolverine, Zuko

Lately, my crush is Loki. I remember the first Thor movie; I never mentioned to anyone that I found Loki attractive because his helmet was so silly, his hair was kinda floofy—but I was only trying to talk myself out of yet one more dive into bad-boy fandom. I want to kiss that smirk off his face! I thought I must be the only one.

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Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World Loki (Tom Hiddleston) © 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Oh, was I wrong.

What’s up with the bad boys, you wonder? When I was chatting with a fellow geekmom, we both admitted to being attracted to fictional characters that we would never want in real life. She married a computer programmer, I married a molecular biologist—both are sweet, soft-spoken men that bake cookies with their children. My husband has never gotten into a physical fight in his entire life, and I don’t see him starting now. The only arguments he gets into are verbal, and never gets above a tolerable volume—he mostly just points out logic and facts. The one time I was majorly insulted in his presence, I defended myself while he silently put a hand on my shoulder.

Sometimes I want to imagine what it would be like to have a hot-tempered manly man. But in my bed, not daily life. Fiction is great that way. Whether it’s a TV show or comic book, I’m introduced to lots of sexy men that would piss me off in the real world. In the second X-Men movie, Wolverine says to Jean Grey, “I could be the ‘good guy’.”

No, you can’t.
And I love you that way.
XOXOXOXOXO
(from the geeky girl in the corner)

So, ladies, what are your favorite bad boys of geeky fiction?

GeekMom Jenny Williams Talks Parenting and What It Means to Be a Geek

“Imagine the possibilities.”

That statement pretty much sums up the parental journey for a lot of us. Those are also words that inspire GeekMom Jenny Williams, our fearless co-founder/editor and one of the core contributors over at GeekDad.

Jenny recently sat down for a chat with The Parentalist, where she touched on her family’s 40-day road trip (which included a stop at NASA!), homeschooling, her passion for mental health, and much more. The interview covers a ton of topics and, of course, all of the possibilities that come with being a GeekMom.

“The reason ‘imagine the possibilities’ works well for me is it reminds me that almost all of the options in the world are available to me. I can do anything I want. I can achieve anything I want. You just have to be open to sometimes unconventional ways of doing things.”

The entire interview is available as a podcast or you can watch it in the video above.

11th Annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair 2013: Play is Magical

11th Annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier
11th Annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier – November 23, 2013

“Wow! That’s so cool!”
“Can we take this home?”
“So much better than last year!”

Words I heard most during my first visit to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair (ChiTAG) at Chicago’s Navy Pier on Saturday, November 23. ChiTAG is over two days—15 hours of magical play including demonstrations, board games, card games, outdoor and indoor toys, lovable plushies, puzzles, game tournaments, building events, and even characters walking around. Maybe you’re a veteran to toy and game fairs, but talk about overwhelming and sensory overload! Everywhere you turn there is something to see, touch, play, and learn.

Illinois State Yo-yo contest at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier
Illinois State Yo-yo contest at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier
Ben's Bubble Show at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier
Ben’s Bubble Show at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier

While my high-school teacher husband attended the Games for Educators Conference, my children and I walked over 120 booths checking out familiar companies, new inventors, and fun products. With toys and games for every age, it was hard to figure out where to even start walking. There were some seriously excited and passionate first-timers sharing their dreams, and professionals from around the world.

Plush toys at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier
Brobo, Planet Sock Monkey, and a giant “Zero” (@NumbersAlive) plush

Tenkai Knights by Ionix was a big hit with my son. Lego-compatible, they are the transformers of the building block world and geared towards ages 8+. We tried out board games, too.

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Games at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier
Wordsearch by Goliath, Daytrader, Schmovie, Fastrack by Blue Orange, Settlers of Catan, King of Tokyo, Indigo by Ravensburger, and Spontuneous

Plenty of outdoor toys, too. Like Ring Swings, Crazy Cart by Razor, and NEOS by Playworld Systems.

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I wish we had a chance to ride the Crazy Cart.

Building toys are always popular, whether they light up or end up demolished in a heap of sticks.

Building toys at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier

Building toys at Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier
Building toys like Laser Pegs, TomTecT by Kapla, Ogo Bild (http://bits.ogosport.com/), and Stick Storm are always popular

And here’s Stick Storm in motion

One game, Karoman, incorporated assembling the character with which you play. After you build your collectible character from dense paper board, you use it in battle against other characters. Karoman is making its way from Indonesia to the United States.

Karoman at Chicago Toy and Game Fair
Karoman Revelation 2 collectible characters

The best part of the whole experience wasn’t so much being able to play with toys, but meeting Young Inventors with their games. There were over 100 participants in the Young Inventors Challenge this year… the twinkling eyes and jumpy, excited kids, so much fun!

Young Inventors Challenge at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair 2013
Young Inventors Challenge at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair 2013

I wasn’t able to attend the second day of ChiTAG. It would have been interesting to participate in the World’s Largest Playdate and the Worldwide Champion USA Pre-qualifier for Settlers of Catan. (No doubt I am way out of my league with those players.) I admit I’ve underestimated the importance of playing games—there’s discovery, strategy-building, and social benefits. It comes down to this: Toys and games are for every age. It’s magical.

I can’t wait to share my follow-up reviews and even introduce some newcomers to the field of toys and games. The Chicago Toy and Game Fair is a must-visit next fall.

Win Your Own Copy of the Geek Mom Book!

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© Potter Craft

If you haven’t already picked up the book penned by our very own talented founding editors, this is your chance to win one of five copies of Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families.

The Geek Mom book contains a wealth of project ideas, recipes, and other suggestions to turn a rainy afternoon into an unforgettable time with the entire family.

The contest runs today through October 21, and five lucky winners will receive a copy of the book. To enter our giveaway, just log in to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win). You can then like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for up to two entries! If you already like/follow us, it will still enter you in the giveaway. Five winners will be chosen at random at the end of the contest and their names will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget, so you can check back to see who won.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Join GeekMom and GeekDad at PAX Prime 2013!

GeekDad and GeekMom Panel at PAX 2012 / Photo: Tim Post

Labor Day weekend is almost upon us, which means it’s almost time for the Penny Arcade Expo! Gamers gather in Seattle, WA every year to celebrate games of all kinds and socialize with their fellow geeks. GeekDad and GeekMom are back again this year to bring you “Raising the Next Generation of Geeks” on Saturday, August 31, at 11:30 AM in the Serpent Theater.

Curious what’s on deck for this year’s panel? We’ll be back with the same great discussions with geeky moms and dads on the panel and in the theater. This year you’ll also hear not just from the parents, but from the parented — our kids who have their own take on what it’s like to be the next generation of geeks.

GeekDad/GeekMom Scavenger Hunt

This year at PAX Prime we thought it would be fun to encourage participation in the con and mix it up a little bit with our prize giveaways. Here is a list of people to find, games to play, and activities to do at PAX. The idea is simple. Use your phone or your camera to take a picture of yourself doing each of the things on the list and bring the phone or the camera to the PAX Prime GeekDad/GeekMom panel on Saturday. We will score your entry to see how many points you have earned. You may even get to pick from our fantastic pile of prizes!

The Rules:

1. The GeekMom/GeekDad scavenger hunt is to be played for fun. If you won’t be happy unless you win a certain prize or get the highest score, please put down your camera and find something else to do at PAX.

2. Get a picture of yourself doing the activity or with the person listed in the scavenger hunt. This is a photo scavenger hunt—no picture, it didn’t happen. If you are taking a picture of a person, it must be clear that they are taking the picture with you. Walking by in the background doesn’t count.

3. GeekDad/GeekMom staff are the final word in scoring. Arguing could lead to disqualification.

4. Prize distribution:
There will be three brackets in this contest: 4-12, 13-17, and Adult (including kids ages 0-3). At all GeekMom/GeekDad panels, prizes are distributed at the discretion of the panel. Scoring well in the scavenger hunt will be taken into consideration but will not be the only consideration when giving out prizes. Adults and teens should expect that preferential treatment may be given to children in the audience. Participation is not a guarantee of any prize.

In the case of ties:
For the kids and teens bracket, ties will be broken by age, youngest first. In the case of the adult bracket, ties will be broken by a friendly game Agricola or—if time does not allow—rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock.

5. Grumbling, complaining, or any other form of breaking Wheaton’s law may get you disqualified from the contest. (See rule number 1.)

Thanks to our Donors!

As always, we’re incredibly grateful for all the fantastic folks who donated prizes for our PAX panel giveaways. Here’s a list of our prize donors—click on the links to find out more! (We have a few more potential donors that we’re still finalizing details with, but we’ll update this list as soon as we know.)

Activision
AEG
Calliope Games
Catalyst Game Labs
ChessMate
Cleaner Science
Days of Wonder
The Doubleclicks
First Second Books
FitDesk
Flying Frog Productions
Floodgate Games
Gamewright
GeekMom
geekthelibrary.org
Greater Than Games
Gunnar Optics
Indie Boards & Cards
Little, Brown
Looney Labs
Marvel/Disney
Minimalist Parenting
Nerf
No Starch Press
Paizo Publishing
Playroom Entertainment
Scholastic
Shout! Factory
Spin Master
Stronghold Games
Tasty Minstrel Games
ThinkGeek
VEX Robotics
Viz Media

As you can see, there’s quite a list of goodies. We have a few more potential sponsors that we’re still working out details, but we’ll update this post as we go. Don’t forget, though—to have the best chance at winning some prizes, you’ll want to keep the photo scavenger hunt list handy on Friday!

I’ll be there along with fellow GeekMom Kay Moore. We hope to see you this weekend at PAX Prime!

Do You Want to Write for GeekMom?

Not now, Vadar, I am VERY BUSY searching for like-minded GeekMoms
Not now, Vader, I am VERY BUSY searching for like-minded GeekMoms

Well, do you?

We’re looking to add to our fine roster of writers here on GeekMom, and would love to hear from YOU, if you’re interested!

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Someone who is super crafty! The nerdier your ninja crafting skills, the better!
  • Someone who has a knack for coming up with cool activities geek parents can do with their kids – toddlers to teens.
  • Someone who is a Maker, anything from robotics to geeking up traditional DIY.
  • Someone who is super tech oriented. Do you love gadgets? Do your palms itch to try out new devices? If Mashable and Gizmodo were sentient beings, would you have them on speed dial?
  • Science! Are you involved in the field of science in some way? Maybe as a teacher, professor, or researcher? (Or MAD SCIENTIST who lives in a spooky castle with a neon light that says “boo!”)
  • CosPlay! Are you the kind of person who thinks Halloween is a high holy day – but once a year isn’t enough for you? Do you know where the fabric district is in not only your town, but the towns that host major conventions? Are there random sequins all over your house? We’d love to hear from someone who will share their love for dressing up, and teach folks how to do it themselves!

or finally

  • Are you a GeekMom who lives in the Los Angeles area? There’s so much cool geeky stuff that goes on here in Hollywood, we just can’t cover it all. And by “we,” I mean, “me,” since I’m the only GeekMom that’s in LaLa Land. I’m just ONE PERSON FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY. Please help me do and cover all the cool events and stuff that happen here on a regular basis.

If you are a mom-writer with a flair for the geek, and if any of those descriptions fit you perfectly, then here’s what I want you to do: I want you to send me a nice email at geekmomkristen@gmail.com introducing yourself. Tell me what your specialty is, and what you could bring to the table. If you have a blog, by all means, please send me the URL so I can internet stalk you. If you have articles you’ve written for other websites, I want to read them, so go ahead and include links to those too!

Looking at Life Through Facebook

I love TMNT. Can you tell? \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
I love TMNT. Can you tell? \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Many parents start baby books for their children. Looking at my son’s book, I realized he won’t learn as much about his early years through his baby book as he will through my Facebook page and the posts I’ve written for GeekMom.

The other day at my mom’s house, I discovered my baby book. I’ve never seen it before and she warned me not to be disappointed that it wasn’t filled out completely. Having a son of my own, I completely understand that she only filled it in up to my third year of life.

Continue reading Looking at Life Through Facebook

Welcome to the New GeekMom!

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The Editors and Contributors of GeekMom are very excited (and not a little bit nervous) to announce today that we’re flying solo once again!

What we mean is that we’re back doing this blogging thing all on our own now, as we did before we moved over to Wired last May. We are no longer affiliated with Wired.com.

Six years ago, our founder and patron Chris Anderson started the current incarnation of GeekDad as a personal blog to share online the projects he was doing with his kids. At the time, in his position as Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of Wired magazine, he arranged to host the blog on Wired.com, and started a partnership that saw the blog grow exponentially and bring a new demographic of readers to the Wired universe.

In September of 2010, the four women writing for GeekDad–Natania Barron, Kathy Ceceri, Corrina Lawson and Jenny Williams–founded GeekMom with a batch of intrepid contributors. We were proud to join the GeekDad on Wired.com last year.

But time moves on. Chris, as well as Wired.com EIC Evan Hansen who was a great champion of the partnerships with GeekDad and GeekMom, have departed Wired. Now seems the right time to take a bold step forward, and away from our comfort zone.

As such, we’ve re-launched on our own server with a whole new look. But underneath it’s the same team of Editors and Contributors who have brought you the best, geekiest news, projects, humor, and great personal stories for the last six years. In the coming months, you’ll see us start to stretch our (again, metaphorical) wings as we broaden our content offerings and even expanded our membership. But at its heart, GeekMom will continue in its core mission: to write about whatever interests us as geeks and parents.

You can continue to connect with us at the following places:
Twitter
Facebook

But you will need to update your RSS to catch all our new content.
Our new RSS newsfeed address.

Change is scary, but the timing is right to make this move. Our time partnering with Wired was wonderful, and we leave wishing our friends there continued success as the best tech magazine and best online news organization in the world.

Now it’s time to reverse the polarity, run a bypass, get up to 88mph, and shake the pillars of heaven!

[Oh, and while the timing may be suspect, no, this is not an April Fool’s Day joke. This is for real.]

The GeekMom Meetup: Waxing Philosophical

I get as excited about meeting fellow GeekMoms in person as a kid going to Disneyworld! GeekMoms Mandy, Ruth and I were at Dragon*Con together this past summer. Photo: Dave Vollmer.

When the GeekMoms get to meet in person, it’s a pretty big deal.

We call them “meetups” in our group. I’m not sure if there’s some official name for it: when you get to meet in person someone with whom you had this non-in-person relationship for so long. For many of us, after months and months of our online relationships, discussing future GeekMom post ideas, debating current events in parenting, tech news and our assorted fandoms, and sharing news of our lives (such as new babies and upcoming marriages), getting to meet in person is truly wonderful.

GeekMom Natania invited our family over for a delicious Mediterranean dinner! The kids enjoyed playing Zombie Dice with her husband Michael. Photo: Dave Vollmer.

We GeekMoms keep informal tabs on who has met whom in person. Most of the time we’re meeting at assorted cons (ComicCon, Maker Faire and SXSW seem to be biggies). Sometimes ladies can get together at press junkets, or we can take vacations that allow us to cross paths, such as what GeekMom Jenny did in summer 2011, fitting in meetups with 12 GeekMom and GeekDad writers.

We aren’t tracking as a competition necessarily, but more for the pure statistical fun of it. I actually think it would make a cool infographic: like a circuit chart with most of the editors in the center, with the other contributing writers radiating out like spokes … but those spokes would have connecting lines also.

(Okay GeekMoms, which of you is up to the challenge to make the infographic?)

As we wrap up 2012, I can proudly say that I have met five of the GeekMoms this year. My chances of meetups are pretty few and far between.  For starters, I live in a relatively out-of-the-way part of the country. How do I measure “out of the way?”  Let’s use a simple geeky metric: My nearest Apple Store is FOUR HOURS AWAY in New Orleans or Birmingham. Since I’m out of the way, I certainly don’t expect anyone to make their way to my house, unless they’re traveling from Texas to southern Florida or something.

GeekMom Amy met our family at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, helping bide the time while we waited…and waited…and waited…for the parade to begin. Photo: Dave Vollmer.

For me personally, I get as excited as a kid going to Disney World! I think about how I’m going to dress, what kind of things we’re going to talk about — which you can’t plan, I don’t know why I bother trying to predict it — and whether our kids will get along, for those GeekMom meetups that include our kids.

So far, I have had a wonderful time with the things I’ve gotten to do with the GeekMoms I’ve spent time with in person. All of the experiences have been different, and all of them lots of fun.

Natania and her husband, GeekDad Michael Harrison, invited our entire family over for dinner this past spring and cooked us a fantastic meal of gyros and hummus. The kids enjoyed learning Zombie Dice, and we talked about as much as we could possibly fit into our three-four hour visit. Natania was in her third trimester of her pregnancy with her daughter and we talked about everything from babies, to being a working mom, to the work she does as GeekMom’s Senior Editor.  I also learned a lot from both Michael and her about some of the GeekMom and GeekDad blogs’ histories.

Meeting Ruth and Mandy was more chaotic. We had a great time together at the Dragon*Con panel. It was certainly worth it to see Ruth stand up in the middle of the panel to act out the scene from Clerks II, in which Randal acts out his impression of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Like many of the GeekMoms’ meetups at cons, Dragon*Con was very crowded, so it was a miracle that I even crossed paths with Ruth and her husband again at all. My family had the chance to walk with Mandy and her daughter in the parade, and that was a great time to chat with Mandy.  I remember learning SO MUCH about Firefly from her that weekend.

GeekMom Andrea and her family made the trip up to meet our family on the North Shore of Long Island. We enjoyed a beautiful morning at a waterfront park. Our kids enjoyed hanging out together, our husbands found a lot of talk about with each other, and Andrea and I could have talked all day! Photo: Dave Vollmer.

The most recent two ladies I had the chance to meet were during my recent trip to New York for Thanksgiving.  Amy took the subway down to Central Park West and hung out with us while our family was waiting to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She stood with us in front of the “Ghostbusters Building” while we waited, and we chatted about what life is like living in New York City, her daughter’s experience as Zita the Spacegirl at NY Comic Con, and our both having seven-year-olds who are blasting through the Harry Potter series a bit faster than many people think they should.

Andrea’s family drove up from their part of Long Island to meet my family in a quaint town on the North Shore. We ate breakfast at a fun diner (where I think our four sons collectively consumed about 10 pounds of bacon!), then enjoyed hanging out at a waterfront park while the kids ran around exploring the park and the piers. My sons really enjoyed talking to Andrea’s sons, who played the same video games and offered numerous tips and stories for Minecraft, Portal, Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies … among my boys’ favorite video games right now. Andrea and I talked about the military family life and parenting boys.

My husband and kids have been along for the ride on all of these meetups. It’s been most gracious of them, and as you can see from the photo captions, my husband has been the photographer for each of these pictures.

I think it takes a special kind of guy to come along on all these meetups. Dave has enjoyed getting to know this world I’ve been with for less than two years. The kids have been great also, they’ve enjoyed meeting other geeky kids who enjoy the same things as they do: Mario Brothers, Star Wars, LEGOs, Minecraft and maybe even My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!

So who’s the target of GeekMom Patricia’s next meetup? I think it’ll be a couple of west-of-The-Rockies GeekMoms in 2013, but I’m not offering any more detail than that! My family has a military move coming up in mid-2013, but until my husband has orders in hand, we aren’t going to publicize where we’re going.

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

 

Education:
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.

 

Shinies:
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.

The GeekMoms Podcast #28: Taking Kids To Cons

The GeekMoms Podcast

This week GeekMom Nicole Wakelin is joined by fellow GeekMom Mandy Horetski to talk about some upcoming conventions and how to manage them with the kids in tow. Mandy is attending Dragon*Con at the end of the month and Nicole is at GenCon right now playing all the games. Listen in as they talk about the things they’re most looking forward to, how to manage those scary cosplay moments, and what each con has to offer to people with families. They also talk about their various panels so you can stop by and say hello!

Subscribe in iTunes, via RSS or direct download
Music: Rebecca Angel

The Weekly, Geekly Rewind – August 13, 2012

Image by: NASA, public domain

Fun:
Fourteen Fictional Foods You Can’t Have (And Recipes for Them) – Lembas, anyone?
Jules introduces the Geeky Queer wedding series (worth a click just for the amazing save the date announcements)
Five Little Zombies and Fred – a not for children children’s book by our own Jules Sherred.
A comparison of Small World in both physical and iOS versions: Late to the Game: Small World — iPad vs. Board
A Vice We Like: Binge Watching – Can’t write. Watching Mad Men.

Politics & History:
A fantastic interview with former US Representative Patricia Schroeder.

Science & Technology
Curiosity Landing Keeps Us Awake
Politicians have taken no stance. Emergency services have no plan. But don’t say we didn’t warn you. Check out the geekiest threat coming your way. Robot Overlords.
Will Fracking Impact My Family? – Laura sorts through what we know and what’s at risk.

Mars Rover!
Are You Curious About Mars Curiosity?
Mars Curiosity Lands Tonight
Bring Mars Curiosity to Life Through Lego CUUSOO

Rants:
An Open Letter to Joss Whedon: More Heroines — Certainly, if there’s one director in Hollywood to turn to, it’s him!
10 Things We’re So Over on Pinterest — Jars. Hair bows. Nail polish. Fetal goats. Wait, what?

Links we love:
Darth Vader and Son – ’nuff said.
Baby Leia Costume on Etsy
Roller Derby darling — with CATS
Gorgeous movie quote typographical art

Name the GeekMom Pony!

Introducing the GeekMom Pony! / Image: Dakster Sullivan
Introducing the GeekMom Pony! / Image: Dakster Sullivan

This past June, I was inspired to find my inner child and rediscover my love of My Little Pony. I learned that people have been making custom ponies for years now, and it got me thinking about making one of my own. At first, I thought about making an Aayla Secura pony (that turned out to be harder than I thought). Then I had another idea… why should I make a pony for myself, when I have an entire group of great women who would love to share her with me?

I set out to bring to life a little pony for our team to share. Her mission will be simple…to share our love of everything geeky with the world. Traveling from writer to writer, her stories will be something fun we can all enjoy writing and reading about. From conventions to theme parks, there’s nothing that this little pony won’t do.

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you all to the newest member of the GeekMom team. Except there’s one problem — she doesn’t have a name!

Now, it’s up to you! We need to name the GeekMom pony. Between now and Monday, August 13th at noon, leave a comment with what you think we should name her. On Monday, we will select five names by random and then vote on them behind the scenes. The winning name will be announced on Wednesday, August 15th.

The person who suggests the winning name will receive a GeekMom T-shirt.

So what are you waiting for? Lets name that GeekMom pony!!

Desktop Gremlins Makes a GeekMom Papercraft!

geekmom papercraft banner
Image: Desktop Gremlins

Our friends at Desktop Gremlins, home of awesome papercrafts that require no knives or glue or tape, have created a brand new papercraft, just for GeekMom!

Completely official and sanctioned, our new GeekMom papercraft is available for a free download. Print it out on some nice photo paper, cut out, and assemble. The instructions are right on the sheet, and it’s an easy way to show your support of GeekMom (plus it just looks cool).

If you’re also a reader of GeekDad, check out the GeekDad papercraft, also from Desktop Gremlins. If you have a great time with these, visit the Desktop Gremlins website to download and print their other free papercrafts. They are fun to put together, and fun to play with!

What to Expect When You're Reading GeekMom

Real Geek Girls or not? Image: Nicole Wakelin

You know that rare but amazing feeling when you meet someone and just click? You may not share the same opinions but what you have in common is open-eyed curiosity, a sense of humor others don’t always get, and absorbingly passionate interests. You realize: This is an epic friendship in the making. 

That is what you find here at GeekMom.

Every day we head in all sorts of unexpectedly fascinating directions.

We express our GeekMom-ness as we enthuse about passions that include and stretch well beyond traditional “geek cred” boundaries.

We write (not always in nice inside voices) about the media, including cliched portrayals of working mothers, a  lack of strong female characters in superhero comics, and the need for more of Dana Scully-like characters.

We share plenty of parenting inspiration. For example Kari Byron (yes, of MythBusters fame) discusses how to get your kids interested in science. And every day we write about parenting topics like raising introvertsgetting kids to do laundry, living with cooking geeks, and deciding to buy your kid a smartphone.

Sometimes we write about throwing awesome parties for our kids, like an Angry Birds themed birthday or a pre-school pirate party. Sometimes it’s just about the cake. You know, zombie cake or Hello Kitty cupcakes.

Sometimes we write about what jabs us. Bullying experienced by our children, politics that disenfranchise women, and social media attacks on geeky men.

And we provide a needed heads-up like explaining Wheaton’s law, geek dating tips, and how to know you’re married to a geek dad.

Oh there’s so much more. You’ll find out. Meet up with us tomorrow and the next day and the next. GeekMom. We’re pretty epic.

GeekMom Is Joining Wired.com!

 

On behalf of the other editors, our publisher, and all of our writers, I am extremely pleased to announce that GeekMom will be joining Wired.com starting on or about May 9! You will still be able to reach our site by pointing your browser to www.wired.com/geekmom, but you will notice some changes, seeing our content on the Wired site instead of on our usual layout.

We will be joining our companion site, GeekDad, as representing the geeky parenting side of Wired. We will still be two separate blogs, but we will likely have some joint efforts.

To our readers, thank you so much for supporting us since we set out. You have helped us grow, and we’re so grateful for your comments, contributions, and community.

To our sponsors, thank you for believing in us enough to advertise your geeky products and services.

We look forward to you all joining us in our new setting!

This Week With The GeekMoms


This week, Jules‘ youngest turned 13. Now she is officially the parent of two teenage boys. Jules is also happy to announce that next week, Sunburst Award winning Canadian author Alyx Dellamonica will be co-hosting Jules’ Geeky Pleasures Radio Show. They plan to discuss her newest book Blue Magic, LGBT issues, and more. If you’ve missed on of Jules’ Geeky Pleasures Radio Show interviews, you can subscribe to them on iTunes.

Nicole Wakelin is heading to Boston Comic Con with her girls and can’t wait to see their reaction to their first comic convention!

Chaos Mandy is hoping the rain will hold off so she can go to the local flea market this weekend. She is in search of Magic cards among other things.

Kelly Knox
is heading to the Seattle Center this weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair and Space Needle. Any time there’s a festival laden with food trucks, she’s there!

Kris Bordessa is preparing for a couple of short work-related trips that will take her to both Oahu and Maui. She’s thrilled that while she’s on Maui she’ll have a chance to attend her college son’s performance at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. The concert will feature students from the Institute of Hawaiian Music at University of Hawaii, Maui College along with Grammy winner George Kahumoku, Jr.

Brigid spent the better part of the week designing illustrations for a new secret project she’s super stoked about. She updated her website with a new look, and is sharing gratitude.

Kristen Rutherford is playing the part of Jeanne in the English dub of the French animated film A Cat In Paris and gearing up to write another round of Nerdist specials for BBCA. Here, we define “gearing up” as “thinking about cool, nerdy things to do and see in London.” Isn’t there some sporting event happening there soon?

Marziah was on the Computer America radio show on Wednesday. You can catch the podcast online.

Melissa Wiley spent the week geeking out over a Jane Austen connection in her current garden-lit reading binge—and delighting in introducing Brambly Hedge to her just-turned-six-year-old.

Ruth has been crafting for her three-year-old’s Star Wars birthday. As a result, she’s gotten covered in spray paint, spray-bonded sand to her fingers, and stained the kitchen with red velvet cake.

Rebecca Angel is still sick from PAX, just barely managing to sing a few songs at last week’s GeekFest. She is adamant about getting well because on the 26th is her birthday. Yes, it is an official GeekMom High Holy Day. All Birthday wishes should come wrapped in Get Well wishes. Thank you.

Dakster Sullivan will be at Walt Disney World on Friday to celebrate her 27th birthday. Saturday, she will be helping her husband at his first official 501st legion troop at Acme Comics in Longwood, FL! Her son Brandon is already looking forward to the milkshake he gets after every successful troop.

Corrina has just returned from a whirlwind trip of Chicago and would love to recommend Yolk on Michigan Avenue to anyone in that area. Truly wonderful. Also Red Velvet French Toast.

GeekMom And GeekDad PAX East Panel To Be Live Streamed!

PAX East, April 6th-8th, Boston, Massachusetts

Join the GeekMoms and GeekDads for Raising the Next Generation of Geeks on Saturday, April 7th at 7:00pm in the Naga Theater. You’ll hear from Matt Blum, Corrina Lawson, Rebecca Angel, Doug Cornelius, and Nicole Wakelin who’ll tell you everything you need to know about raising good litle geeks.

Should you let your toddler play Skyrim? What’s the best way to introduce your child to RPGs? How do you handle it when your kid doesn’t want to play a game because he thinks he’ll lose? What do you say if your daughter says she likes “Twilight” more than “Buffy?” These questions and many more will be discussed by writers for GeekDad.com, GeekMom.com, and geek parents in the audience. Come share your stories and advice for how to ensure our kids grow up to be geeks like us! Don’t have kids? Show up and find out what may be in store for you if you ever do!

You won’t be able to join the gaming masses at PAX East? No worries! This year select panels are streaming live on twitch.tv so you can watch us from the comfort of your living room. But if you are at PAX East, come by and say hello. Did we mention we’ll also be handing out some loot? See you there!

On Proving Geek Cred

Real Geek Girls or Not? Image: Nicole Wakelin

I don’t need to prove my geek cred to anyone. Neither do you. In fact, the idea that we need to prove anything about how we self-identify is ridiculous. If I see myself as a geek because I like (insert topic here) then that should be good enough. It’s not like calling yourself a doctor because you think stethoscopes are neat and then attempting open heart surgery. No life hangs in the balance. It’s just an identifier, a description, something as easy to break out as saying you’re tall, or introverted or forgetful. So why does it garner such passionate debate when some who’ve embraced the label claim it is being used unfairly by others?

It happens every few months, usually because someone has written an article about geeks, or labeled themselves as a geek. There is intense Internet debate, usually a good bit of it leaning toward the nasty, as “real” geeks try to explain why the term was unfairly used, why it was undeserved, why it should be given back to those who own it. As if anyone can own a word. You can buy a vowel on Wheel of Fortune, but that’s a game show. You can’t own a word in the real world.

I have been calling myself a geek and a nerd for years. Yeah, comparing those two terms alone is probably a doctoral thesis in the making, but that’s not the point. I think I’m a geek. I think I’m a nerd. Not everyone I meet might agree with me. I don’t wear lots of geeky shirts. I don’t like argyle socks. I love games but am a terrible gamer. I don’t like Lord of the Rings. I am still a geek.

I think that some of the problem comes from what has defined the word geek for so many years. Not the guy biting the head off of a chicken in a circus freak show, but the way those of a certain age had the label applied to them in a none too complimentary way when they were younger. It still happens now. There are times when being called a geek or labeling yourself as one is just fine, and maybe even, dare I say it, cool. But there are still times when it’s used to call someone out as different and not fitting in with the crowd.

But the cool factor, the acceptability, the marketability of the word is still new. The guys who tinkered around with computers in the 80’s, who were aces at Tempest in the arcades and had scientific calculators in their back pockets lived through a time when geek was an insult and never, ever a compliment. This goes for women, too. It was not cool to hang out at the comic store, recite lines from Star Wars or read Tolkien. You were a geek, and by definition you were an outcast.

Clearly, the word has changed over the years. It’s come to mean many things to many people. It is still at times used as an insult, but just as often it’s used as a point of pride. Calling yourself a geek shows that you are proud of who you are and your passions. It shows you are part of a group that generally, is accepting of others because most geeks have at some time felt like an outcast. But, hasn’t everyone felt like an outcast at some time? Hasn’t everyone, from the football fanatic to the comic book collector wished that people understood them better? Yes, I’m going to have to say yes.

So, when someone you don’t think deserves the label geek uses it, just leave it alone. Articles like this one in Forbes calling out fake geek girls are just ridiculous. Sure, geek is having it’s heyday right now and people will use the word however they choose. Sometimes because they genuinely identify with it, and sometimes because they think it may garner them positive attention. Truly, it doesn’t matter. The meaning of the word will continue to change as how we identify ourselves changes.

Geek is just a word. It’s what you are that actually matters.

The GeekMoms and GeekDads at SXSW!

South by Southwest, Austin, Texas March 9th-18th

Join the GeekMoms and GeekDads for “The GeekFamily Guide to the Movies” on Monday, March 12th from 11:00am to 12:00pm in the Austin Convention Center, Room 15. You’ll hear from GeekDad Anton Olsen and GeekMoms Andrea Schwalm, Ruth Suehle and Nicole Wakelin. Here’s the panel description…

If there’s one thing geeks know, it’s movies. But how do you raise your geeky kids to watch the right movies? Join writers from Wired’s GeekDad.com (named one of the top 10 Best Blogs of 2010 by Time Magazine) and GeekMom.com blogs as they discuss the ins and out of parenting, kids and movies. They’ll tackle such difficult questions as: Why is the mother always dead (or die) in Disney movies? How young is too young to watch the Lord of the Rings? Should you let your 8 year old watch the “Chucky” movies? What if he begs really hard? How can you encourage your kids to make their own movies? How do you explain to your kid that they can not convert their mother’s car into a land-speeder?

Come share your stories and get candid advice from fellow Geek Dads and Moms! Don’t have kids? Show up and find out what may be in store for you if you ever do!

The GeekMoms Podcast #11 The Nerdist and The Sparkle in Nathan Fillion’s Eyes

Nicole Wakelin is again joined by GeekMom Kristen Rutherford to talk about her work on the special The Nerdist Year in Review which airs right after Doctor Who this Christmas Eve on BBC America. She also shares some interesting tidbits about the show’s special guests including Wil Wheaton and Nathan Fillion. They also talk about the scary of American Horror Story, and the wonder that was In Search Of.

Nicole: Twitter and Website
Kristen: Twitter and Website
Music: Rebecca Angel

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Comments, questions, suggestions? Email podcast@geekmom.com

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey – Review

Last week, I had the pleasure, the very wonderful pleasure, of taking my youngest son Sammy to our local indie theater for a viewing of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey. The film follows the rise of Kevin Clash, puppeteer and voice of every child’s favorite furry, red Sesame Street character, Elmo. With a lot of documentaries, I expect to be amazed at the amount of turmoil or struggle that the subject had to endure to make it where they are today. Not so with Clash; it was refreshing to see that he had very supportive parents, who instead of making excuses when others ridiculed his hobby of making puppets, they encouraged him and found ways to to help him achieve his dreams, and Kevin Clash was a big dreamer.

The film makers did an excellent job of telling Clash’s story, narrated briefly in part by Whoopi Goldberg. At the young age of nine, Clash had already started making his own puppets, in large quantities no less, giving them names, distinct personalities, and using them to hone his craft. He hoped to someday work with The Muppets or on Sesame Street, and as the years flew by, he moved up to local children’s shows, eventually landing a puppetry and acting gig on then popular and now classic Captain Kangaroo. Through the love and support of his family, not to mention an opportunity to meet famous Muppets creator Kermit Love (thanks in no small part to his mother), Clash eventually attained that life-long goal of working with all things Jim Henson.

Official movie poster via Wiki

The story of how the character of Elmo emerged in the midst of it all is one to only be seen in the film. One thing I will note is that the actual name and puppet of Elmo was in use for awhile on Sesame Street before Clash made him who he is today. The character was so unlikable that the puppeteer that brought him to life couldn’t stand having to do so when the time came. Now anyone who has children, and even a lot who don’t, can tell you what Elmo represents, because of those three little words that he says that define his personality: “Elmo Loves You.” Clash certainly embodies the love that the character of Elmo represents, by using his talent to allow children to have private visitations with him and Elmo, courtesy of the Make a Wish Foundation, which gives children with a terminal illness a chance to live out their biggest hopes and dreams. This was the point in the film where tears started to flow freely from my eyes, and I looked over to my son and saw that same expression of sadness and joy combined on his face, reflected in the glow of the projection on the screen.

The film runs only a little over an hour, and when the credits began to roll, I exclaimed out loud, “No, don’t be over yet!” There were only a few of us in the audience, but my son and I started to clap and the rest of the theater joined in our applause. It might have been the clapping of only a few hands that night, but it was richly deserved. I would recommend that if you have any chance of seeing this movie in a theater, that you don’t miss the chance to do so.

I was compensated two tickets by the Robinson Film Center in Shreveport, LA for the viewing of this film for the purpose of this review.

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 ForeverGeek.com.

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 games.com/walkingdead.

What Veterans Day Means to Me

My son Michael, Master of Ceremonies at the Veterans Day Ceremony at his school.

A few days ago, my son Michael had the privilege of being the Master of Ceremonies at the Veterans Day Ceremony at his middle school, Caddo Middle Magnet. He did an excellent job, and I am very proud of him. Why did he get picked to do it? Because the person organizing knew that he is the son of a Veteran that has given so much for our country.

Today is Veteran’s Day, and my sons are sans their dad. He’s not deployed this time, but away for training that he needs to transition to a new job in his full-time Army National Guard position. He’s been a full-timer since about one month before 9/11. Since then he has deployed two times, been to several schools and trainings, and been away quite a lot due to his job obligations. My sons have come to terms with the fact that dad won’t be here for some birthdays and important holidays.

Our boys have learned the fine art of how to Skype with dad, how to deal with an emotional mom, how to make their own fish sticks or hot dogs for dinner when said mom just wants to sit on the couch and watch re-runs of The Golden Girls when having her own personal pity party, and how to be just a little more resilient to some things in life that a lot of kids their age don’t have to deal with. They’ve also learned how to get ready for an awesome day: Dad coming home. They know how to help in getting the house clean and ready, make welcome home posters, make chocolate chip cookies, rake the yard, and make the best of a great situation.

Sammy readies his sign for dad's bus to arrive!

Last year, their dad was deployed for the entire year. The boys, especially Michael, were very nervous the entire time. Sammy was four and Michael was six the first time he deployed, so Michael remembers the events better than Sammy does. Their dad had trained in country for six months, then was in Iraq for six months before he was badly injured by a vehicle-bourne improvised explosive device (VBIED) and came home earlier than the rest of his unit. It was a tough time; he had to recuperate and we had to deal with explaining it all to our young children. It was pretty funny when he came home, all wrapped in bandages and looking pretty rough, when Sammy, only four years old, said, “No offense Daddy, but you look…kind of ugly.” We still crack up about that every time we talk about it.

 

 

It’s extremely heartwarming to see the average citizen walk up to a member of the Armed Forces that is in uniform, simply shake their hand and say, “Thank you for your service.” It means a lot to the families and friends of Veterans and currently activated military members, that the sacrifices of our military are appreciated not just today, but everyday.

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.