Wednesday, July 16, 2014

One Week til SDCC!

Just one more week until thousands of nerds will descend upon sunny San Diego for Comic Con. Here's my checklist of things to do in the week leading up to the big event. They are mostly for those of us who are traveling to San Diego, but I think there are some things that are good even for people that do live in SD.

One Week:
*Car maintenance. This is for all of us out of towners who are driving there. Get your oil changed, tires rotated, filters changed. Not only will it help with  your gas mileage, you'll have some piece of mind that your car isn't going to crap out on the way there or on your way back home. Also, if you take it to get maintenanced and they find something majorly wrong with it, this week will give you the chance to a) fix it or b) secure another source of transportation.

*Confirm accommodations. Make sure the hotel knows you're coming! If you're staying with other nerds, make sure those arrangements are still in place, and make sure you know how everything will be split (food/gas/hotel room costs) so there's no surprises.

*Check for tickets to events. Yes I realize you should have been doing this for months now (I know I have), but it seems like a lot of the announcements for things happen in the days leading up to it, and even during the convention itself. Its also wise to set up your phone's Twitter notifications now for NerdHQ and any other vendor/celebrity/event that you're hoping to see. Sure the notifications might be annoying for this week, but you'll be grateful to have them once its go time.

Four Days- Shopping!
*Snacks. I can get away with buying things about four days away from an event without having someone in my house finding it and eating it! Pack snacks that are lightweight, don't require refrigeration, that are filling yet easy on your digestive system. I would also suggest water over sodas or energy drinks, but thats up to you. I like to bring a few flavor packs for my water bottles for variety.

*Toiletries. If you don't travel much, you may not have your toiletries in order. Basics are shampoo/conditioner, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, a razor, Q-Tips, hair brush and deodorant. But you know what you need, so shop accordingly. If you're flying in, you may want to avoid the TSA hassle and just buy them once you get to San Diego.

Two Days- 
*Paperwork. Put all your SDCC paperwork in an envelop and then pack it! Or put it somewhere you'll remember to grab it when it's time to leave. I have a binder where I keep all of our important household papers and I have a folder just for SDCC stuff. Its easy to locate, and easy to remove all the stuff once I need it.

*Start packing. I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to procrastinate. Starting early gives me the chance to come back to it when I want, or as the laundry is clean. Its also a good way to see if I'm forgetting something.

One Day-
*Fill Up Your Gas Tank. Better to do it the night before, that way if you're running late in the morning its one less thing you have to worry about.

*Finish Your Packing. If you didn't finish it yesterday, do it now! Don't forget your paperwork, toiletries and chargers for your phone, laptop, camera, etc!

*Make A SDCC Mix. I like to make CD mixes and playlists, so any excuse to make one is good for me.

*Go To The Bank. Remember, you're going to need some cash. Not all vendors take cards, and you might just need it for incidentals.

*Go To Sleep. Its going to be a long, exciting, busy day tomorrow, you're going to need your rest!

Happy Comic-Conning everyone!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Poppin' Off- Summer Movies

I haven't been able to get the movies too much this summer, but here are the reviews for the ones I've seen lately. And there's probably some spoilers in here (especially for HTTYD2), so read at your own risk if you haven't seen any of these movies yet and want to.

22 Jump Street

This was one of the movies I was looking forward to seeing this year. It didn't disappoint, although it's focus on "doing everything exactly the same" kind of made the movie drag a little for me. The comedy was still on point, and bringing in Jillian Bell (watch her on Workaholics) was a really good choice, she played her part well. There was a hint of 23 Jump Street, but if they really make a third one...I guess thats up to them. They did have a lot of movie posters in the credits showing the potential ways they could drag out the franchise, but they were just jokes. What was funny though, was that a lot of people took them seriously when I went to see it, and one guy was like "Great! I should've left right when it ended. Now I know what the next movies are going to be!" And he was totally serious. 22 Jump Street is a fun summer movie, even if it is a little predictable.

How To Train Your Dragon 2

I really liked the first How to Train Your Dragon. I didn't like this one. I felt that it was really meant for adults. My husband and I took our children to see it because they really wanted to. My son (8) liked it. My daughter (4) hated it. She couldn't sit still (which she only does if a movie can't hold her attention), and thought the bad guy was too scary. I thought it was bullshit that they killed the dad off the way they did, and overall, the whole tone of the movie was dark. There was a lot of conflict in this movie, mostly internal dealing with Hiccup not knowing who he is and where he wants to go in life; but externally as well, with the bad guy trying to take the dragons. I was really disappointed with this one, I thought they could've done better.

Earth to Echo

Earth to Echo is another movie that my kids really, really wanted to see. So we saw it. It wasn't as horrible as I thought it was going to be. Its a cool little sci-fi movie for kids that doesn't get so deep they can't understand it. The premise has been compared to E.T., but I didn't really gather that from the movie at all. It focuses on three boys who live in the same housing community, but are being forced to move due to construction. Of course, it comes out later that the construction is a cover for trying to find Echo's ship. Anyway, the boys spend their last night together trying to find Echo (through maps that this little alien has sent to their phones) and then helping him find his way home. Its filmed predominantly Blair Witch style, handheld camcorders and Go-Pros, so if motion sickness is an issue for you, I would suggest taking some Dramamine before you watch this (I did). Its a good movie to see during matinee prices, or it'll be a good one to rent once it hits Redbox.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What's In My Bag- SDCC Edition (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)

Its that time, people! No more counting down the months until San Diego Comic Con, its now just days away! Today I'm sharing what I plan on taking to SDCC with  me, what I recommend you bring with you, and....there's a tiny, non St Jude related giveaway at the bottom of all this :) So lets get started.

1. You will need something to haul your goodies. Yes, you get that free bag when you come into the convention, but I find them not at all practical for my hauling needs and usually just fold it up and put it in my backpack. Backpacks or messenger bags are my bags of choice for conventions, but everyone has a preference. I just like them because you can distribute weight evenly across your back (backpack) or switch shoulders accordingly (messenger bag).

2. Cash or Credit Cards. Nobody fools with checks anymore, just don't do it. And sometimes, people don't mess with credit or debit cards either, so cash is always a good idea. Large amounts are not recommended, if it gets lost or stolen, well, you're out a lot of money. I say, bring $50-100 cash per day, and leave your cards for the rest.

3. Pens, pens and more pens! Or at least enough that if you lose one (or two), you will have another for those impromptu "Can I have your autograph!?" moments. I like Sharpies because they don't usually smear, but again, its really your preference. Also, the scrapbooker in my says to chose something acid and lignin free, so they will last as long as you need it too.

4. Notebook, sketchbook or other writing surface. This goes along with the pens. If you run into a celebrity, you need to be prepared. I like to carry a Moleskin or Mini Smashbook with me for just that occasion. They also make really awesome mini scrapbooks. Wristbands, ticket stubs, stickers, etc can all be put into it at random, and you come away with a fun souvenir at the end of the con.

5. Medication and bandages. I have carried a mini pharmacy with me ever since jr high (maybe that's why I chose it as my career path lol). The Girl Scout in me lives by that Boy Scout motto of Alway Be Prepared. I'm not suggesting bringing prescription meds into the convention (unless you absolutely need them), because they run the risk of getting stolen. I'm talking the travel size painkillers, anti-diarrheals, Dramamine (random nausea is an issue for me), those types of medications. You don't want to miss out on anything because of an upset tummy or a raging headache. I also carry a travel size first aid kit with me, because I'm clumsy and nobody wants me bleeding all over their merchandise.

6. Personal care items, whatever that means to you. I like to bring hand sanitizer (usually more than one bottle) with me, because I'm a little germophobic. I think that comes with being a mom. I wasn't as obsessive about germs until I had kids. I also carry flushable wipes, because sometimes you have to use that stall without toilet paper. Some people bring toothbrushes and things to the convention for touchups throughout the day, I just bring a lot of gum.

7. Electronics. (Cell phone, camera, iPod, Nintendo DS, etc) Bring at your own risk, but if you want a way to unwind or to capture those "OMG I can't believe that just happened/that's so cool/WTF moments", you will need to bring at least one of those items. That also entails bringing the proper accoutrements. Extra batteries, charging wires, whatever. I personally bring my phone and camera, and then hope they don't die. I am notorious for leaving my charging wires at the hotel or even at home, meaning I usually have to go out and buy some aftermarket wire.

8. Snacks. Convention food is way overpriced and not that great, so I like to bring in my own snacks. Dried fruit, fruit snacks, 100 calorie packs of anything are usually good enough to hold me over until we can find a restaurant to go to, and they are small enough that they don't add a lot of bulk to my bag. My husband will usually bring his Camelback with him, so we just drink from there as needed.

9. A deck of cards. Or any other small, portable game. I haven't had the pleasure of waiting in that Hall H line, but I've heard its a doozy. What better way to bond with your fellow con goers and choke back the boredom than with a game? Cards Against Humanity is great for those with a twisted sense of humor, Uno is nice for those who might be a little more timid. Or just bring a regular deck of cards. You can play countless games with it, and they double as a nice writing surface should you run into a celebrity and you don't have anything else for them to sign.

10. Poster tube. This is not a bag item, but you will definitely need one. We bought one at WonderCon this year for $10 and it was a good investment. Our posters came home in one piece; I can't say the same for other years when we just rolled them and put them in the bag.

So those are my SDCC must haves. Did I miss anything? And since I rely on these items so much, I thought I'd share some of them with one lucky winner! I know its not as cool as The Nerd Fu's Comic Con Survival Pack giveaway, but its my way of sharing my SDCC excitement with all of you! Also, you can enter this even if you're not attending a convention any time soon, I seriously carry most of this in my car/purse at all times.

Prize includes:
*1 Smash journal
*1 Smash gluestick/pen combo
*1 roll of Scotch comic washi tape
*2 black Sharpies
*1 Bandaid travel first aid kit
*1 travel pack of Cottonelle flushable wipes
*1 pack of  Doublemint gum
*1 Dial hand sanitizer
*1 travel sized Advil
*2 sheets of stomach relief tablets

Rules are in the Rafflecopter Terms of Service, but the basics are that this is open to US addresses only. No giveaway accounts allowed, you will be disqualified. None of these options are mandatory, enter as many or as few ways as you like. Contest ends on July 17, 2014 at 12am Pacific Time. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Convention Going With Children

Here we are, just a few weeks away from SDCC. I have been reflecting on my experience with it last year, and everything I read in preparation for it (since it was my first year), and the thing that stood out to me most was the lack of posting about attending it with your child/ren. While I am not bringing my children this year, I did last year. And I have taken them to other conventions. So I thought that I might try my hand at writing my thoughts on convention going with child/ren, and what might make it a little easier for those of you will be bringing yours this year.

1) Let them pick their own snacks. A few days before we go to a convention, I take my kids to the store and let them choose a couple of snacks they'd like to have while we're traveling. I let them pick snacks for the car ride as well as the convention itself. Pre-sliced, pre-packaged fruit slices are a usual pick, so are fruit snacks and crackers. I don't buy candy beforehand, because we usually end up buying some at a gas station on the way there. Letting them choose what they get to snack on makes them more excited to go and to actually eat that snack when it comes time.

2) Give them something to take care of. It will cut down on meltdowns if you give them something to focus on. I let each of my kids bring in a small backpack. It gives them the responsibility of hanging on to something, and it cuts down (a little) on what I have to carry while there. I put a couple snacks and a water bottle in each pack, along with their DS and some crayons. Which brings me to my next point.

3) Bring some lightweight entertainment. Children aren't meant to have the longest attention spans, and they may not understand why you're looking at booth after booth and not buying anything. Since I let each child bring in a backpack, I also let them bring in their DS. I also put some crayons and a small pad of paper in each backpack. That way, when you do stop to rest or to eat, they have something they can do to unwind.

4) Be upfront about your budget and stick to it. My husband and I will tell our kids, "You can each spend $20" or something like that, and then we stay firm. If we didn't, they'd buy every toy at the convention!

5) Skip time intensive events. This is up to you, really, but I know that my kids wouldn't stand in a line for hours to get into a panel that takes another hour. So my husband and I don't attend panels when we have our kids. This could be an age thing though, and ours are still pretty young. Older children might not have an issue with the wait.

6) Ditch the big stroller. If you have a child that still needs one, use an umbrella stroller or something similar. Luckily our kids were out of strollers by the time we went to SDCC, but the first few WonderCons we attended my daughter still needed one. All we had for her was her big stroller, which was nice because I could put her diaper bag and everything at the bottom, but got to be cumbersome a few times when we hit high traffic areas.

And this one isn't so much for the children as it is for you. While the geek community is known for being pretty open minded and understanding, know this- not all of them will love that your children are there. I never experienced that until SDCC last year. My children are well behaved (for the most part) and I take pride in that. They never take things or touch things in booths without asking, they don't throw themselves on the floor causing traffic issues, they don't scream and throw tantrums. So I was really surprised last year when a group of male con goers made some really crappy comments when my daughter and I walked past them. Things like, "What kind of idiot brings their kids to this?" and "Couldn't let the hubby have one day to himself? Just had to drag the kids along huh?" Really? They probably weren't parents, so I'm sure they don't understand what its like, but it was still so rude. And yes, I know there is childcare available at SDCC, but its expensive, and it fills up quickly, so that wasn't an option for us. As long as you know that your kids are awesome, don't let the haters get you down. But know that they are there, and will probably say something really douchey.

I hope that these tips have helped. If you have any that you'd like to share, leave them in the comments below :)

Fun With Ivory

Here is a fun little project to entertain your kids this summer. I wish I could take credit for it, but sadly I cannot. I found it here.

All you need for this project it a bar of Ivory soap, some wax or parchment paper, and a microwave.

Place the wax paper on the tray in your microwave, then place the bar of unwrapped soap on the wax paper. I set my microwave for five minutes, but stopped it a few times because the cloud got so big I had to readjust how it was sitting in my microwave. The soap will blow up as it sets in the microwave, but will deflate a little once you pull it out. This may be the only time you want to stand in front of the microwave, because the soap changes so quickly and its really neat to look at. 

This is what my bar of soap looked like after I pulled it out of the microwave. Please note, it will be hot when you first take it out, so give it a minute or two before you hand it to your children to play with. 

And that's it! It does get really flaky too, so either stick it in the bath with your kids, or have them play with it outside. Otherwise you will have soap flakes everywhere!

I received the bar of Ivory soap complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. I wrote this blog post as part of a brand challenge.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July to all my American readers out there! Be safe, drink responsibly, and don't set too many things on fire :) And to my non American readers, happy regular July day!

Poppin' Off- Girl Meets World

Last Friday was the series premiere for the Disney Channel's Girl Meets World. I went back and forth about wanting to watch it. I loved Boy Meets World, and I worried that this show would ruin it with the horrible cheesiness and overacting that comes with Disney's programming these days. So I set my DVR to record it, and waited until that Saturday to watch it. 

It didn't disappoint me. I felt so excited to see Cory and Topanga together again, although I felt very old. The Daily Beast did a really good article about why BMW fans would hate GMW (read it here). It basically states that we wanted this so badly, but its not meant for us, and for that, we will shun it. Isn't that so true of so many shows we've seen end, only to be brought back and then cancelled because its not the same? I had to take that into consideration while watching GMW. I am not the Disney Channel's target audience, so the show isn't going to be scripted for me. There were times where the show came off cheesy, and there were times where it touched on my sentimental heart strings (Mr. Feeny in the subway anyone?). But if I were twelve years old, I would have loved it all (even if I wouldn't have understood that Mr. Feeny reference). My son was excited to see the show as well. He's eight, and he watches Boy Meets World reruns with me sometimes. He was happy to see Cory and Topanga again, and the kid stuff was something that he could relate to. 

Boy Meets World was a lot of things to me. It was wholesome, because teevee still was (for the most part) back then. The life lessons in BMW were abundant, and the cast felt like long lost relatives. What they went through, I could relate to. Girl Meets World won't be that for me, but it might be for my children. 

I will continue watching GMW. I can't wait for the return of Minkus, and other friends from the past. And I hope that the show will become something like Boy Meets World for this generation, it certainly has the potential. 

I will leave you with one of my favorite Mr. Feeny quotes, because even though it was said about seventeen years ago, its still relevant.

Girl Meets World airs on Fridays on the Disney Channel. Check your local listings for times.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Quick WoW Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone! This WoW Wednesday will be quick, as there's not much going on.

We're in the home stretch of the Midsummer Fire Festival. I haven't even done the quests this year on any of my toons (aside from honoring and desecrating some flames). I just don't have love for this holiday, and I've been really focused messing around with my 90 on Timeless Isle. The Midsummer Fire Festival runs until this weekend.  Don't forget to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July! Also, the Darkmoon Faire will be back on Sunday- yay!

And for some exciting news, I have paired with Neri at Mama Needs Mama for a fantastic giveaway! You have the opportunity to win the badass Warforged Mount for World of Warcraft and a $15 iTunes gift card. Visit her site to enter! I wish I could enter this giveaway, I love this mount! And the hitching post that comes with it to transform your party's mounts is pretty awesome as well.

PS  Just a little note to remind you of the League of Legends giveaway that I'm currently having. Remember, you have to donate through my donor page to be eligible, or all of your entries will be disqualified.