Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dragon Con Memories

Pregnant at Dragon Con
 Today after work I head down to Atlanta for my 7th Dragon Con. Because I can’t concentrate on anything but the con at this point, I thought I’d share some memories I have of past cons.

My first Dragon Con was in 2007 and this was the only Dragon Con I attended without my husband. I went with friends and had a great time. The highlight to this con was being able to have dinner with my friends and Peter S. Beagle, along with Peter’s agent and business partner, Conner. Peter S. Beagle is a really interesting guy who wrote one of my favorite books, The Last Unicorn. He had some stories to tell!

The next Dragon Con was a really interesting experience because I attended the con eight months pregnant with Emily. I tried to tough it out and stand in line like normal the first day, but I was very happy to sit with the disabled folks the rest of the con. I waited for the panels like everyone else, but got a chair and was able to go to the bathroom and stay hydrated better.

This Dragon Con was also where I had the best baby shower ever! We played games and then we had
Heil Pooh!
dinner at one of the hotel restaurants. My friends are funny and we played little party games while we had dinner. They also got cupcakes with Pooh on them, but Pooh looked like he was saluting a certain evil dictator. We all found this so funny. 

Emily was 10 months old at the next Dragon Con and I had the brilliant idea of bringing her to the con to watch the parade. I had seen the parade a few years before but I didn't remember there were so many scary things. She was okay for most of the parade, but flipped out when the zombies came by. Her fear of zombies started then, but now she likes pretending she is a zombie so she’s a little less afraid of them.

The next few Dragon Cons were pretty normal. Not anything out of the ordinary happened. Last year, I got to be on my first panel. It was a geeky parenting panel through the Kaleidoscope Track. We also brought Emily back down to the con, again for the parade but this time to march in it.

Two Snow Whites!
Emily had seen pictures of me in parade from years before and wanted to be in it. I got us both Snow White costumes and we marched with the Kaleidoscope Track. She did pretty well, but it was much more humid than usual. We made it through the parade and met up with Todd.

We had some lunch and then went to get Rose McGowen’s autograph. She thought Emily was adorable but she was starting to get very tired. We had one more stop though to the dealer’s room. Emily loves my smellies (Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfume oils). Since BPAL was vending at Dragon Con for the first time, I knew I had to take her to the booth.

I’ve known the owners of BPAL, Beth and Ted, online for years. They have a daughter who is a few months older than Emily, so I really wanted Emily to meet Beth especially. Emily really liked Beth, especially when she gave Emily a little goodie bag with free samples. Later that day, Emily drew Beth a picture in thanks.

Those are just some of the highlights of my past Dragon Con trips. I've enjoyed going immensely every year and I’m looking forward to having a great time again this year!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Dragon Con Schedule

Dragon Con is coming up this weekend! I’m lucky enough to be a panelist for several panels for the Kaleidoscope track. I thought I’d post a schedule of those panels in case any of you wanted to check them out!

Friday, August 30
10:00am - Princess, Fairies, and Pirates – Marriott A708
A discussion of favorite Disney characters: Snow White to Merida, Prince Charming to Captain Jack Sparrow.

Sunday, September 1
4:00pm - Phineas & Ferb, Come to Danville - Marriott A601 - A602
Danville has everything from Fireside Girls to secret agents to evil scientists. Discuss your favorites.

I’ll also be marching in the parade with Whedonverse track on Saturday morning in my Kaylee costume.

If you see me, feel free to say hi and come by the panels if they interest you!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Late Bloomer or Slacker?

Todd and I when we started dating
I had a bout of insomnia last night so I do what I always do - turn on my phone and read Facebook. One of my friends had posted an article from Time Magazine - Grow Up, Not So Fast. It describes the trend of people who bounce from job to job, aren't getting married and settling down and sometimes moving back in with their parents. It really described me and it kind of pissed me off because the article says that people make these decisions because they aren't ready to grow up.

It did take me a while to graduate from college in part because I was immature. When I started college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I went to college because that was the thing you did when you were done with high school. I floundered quite a bit trying to find myself. I went through several majors before I settled on Broadcasting.

The last few years of my college experience were stressful. I had a bad relationship with a man who I was engaged to at one point. We broke up right before my last year of college. And my mom had cancer. She fought hard, but she was very sick by the time I graduated.

Because my mom was so sick, I moved home right after graduation. My mom passed away less than a week after I got back home. My mom and I had been close and even though it had been coming for a while, I was just shocked and stunned. My sister was living at home at the time too, and we both stayed there for a while because we didn't want my dad to be alone.

My sister moved out about a year later once she got married. It was another year before I moved. In that year, my chronic migraines started. I was in and out of the hospital and only was able to hold onto my job because of FMLA. I got my pain under control and moved across the state to move in with Todd.

We struggled with jobs because the area of Michigan we moved to didn't have a lot of work. He found a job but it was just a temp. job, even with his vast amounts of experience as a machinist. I bounced from job to job, having three jobs in two years. Because we were struggling we made the decision to move to North Carolina.

Todd held the same job for eight years, until he changed jobs recently. But I still was bouncing. I got one job right after we moved here, but I ended up being fired after a year because of company politics. I got another job that I loved that I had for two years, but I lost that job in 2008 because of layoffs because of the economy. After that, I couldn't find a job and had a newborn, so we decided that I would go back to school. I re-entered the job market after getting my second degree last year. I had a temp. job for about five months. My assignment ended and I got my current job working in tech support. I've had this job for a year.

I was 29 when we got married and Todd was 31. We had a baby a few years later and we do have a house. But I don’t think my living with my dad or bouncing from job to job has anything to do with not wanting to be an adult. It’s hard out there, especially now with the crappy economy. We are doing well now that we are both working, but it’s been a struggle not that long ago.

People coming out of college are faced with a poor job market and low paying jobs. It’s no wonder that people are living with their parents and putting off marriage and kids. And it has nothing to do with the lack of wanting to be an adult.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Back to the Future: The Game Review

I was eight years old when the first Back to the Future movie came out and I remember going to the theater to see it. I loved it and I still love the whole trilogy to this day. So I was excited when I heard about Back to the Future: The Game which is by Telltale Games.
I had heard about the episodes of this game that had been released for the computer but I never opted to play them. But I was glad when I heard that all five episodes were going to be bundled into one game for the PS3 and Wii consoles. The version of the game that I played was for the Wii.
The gameplay in this game is a bit simple. You are basically pointing and clicking on people and objects to reach the goal for the various level. There are some puzzles but they are fairly simple. There is a ‘hints’ button that will help you if you get stuck and I honestly used that a lot because it make it easier to get through the levels and not just have Marty run around aimlessly.
I think the strength of this game is with the voice actors and the story. Christopher Lloyd did the voice for Doc. Michael J. Fox wasn't available to voice Marty, but the voice actor who did, AJ LoCascio, did such a good job of sounding like Michael J. Fox that it was hard to tell the difference.
The story was really interesting too. I really did feel like I was playing through a whole new set of Back to the Future movies. The game took me two days, which was about 15 hours, to play. I had a hard time stopping because I wanted to know what happened next.
The only issue I had was that with the WiiMote, because it was hard to click on some things. Especially if it was in a part of the story that I had to click something at a certain time. I would eventually get it but it would take me several tries.
All in all, Back to the Future: The Game is a pretty interesting game if you are a fan of the Back to the Future series. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a point and click game where you get to star as Marty McFly. This game is currently available for both the Nintendo Wii and the Playstation 3 as well as for PC/Mac computers.
Note: I received a copy of this game for review purposes.

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Thoughts on Ben Affleck as Batman

Emily is a super hero too!
Last night, my Twitter feed exploded with the news that Ben Affleck was cast as Batman in the new Batman / Superman movie. Most of the reactions I saw where negative. My initial reaction was Wha??

I like Ben Affleck and I think he’s a good actor, but I can’t see him as Batman. It seems like such a miscast to me. My husband had a similar reaction to mine but he also said that he’ll go see it.  I’ll go see it too, mostly because I love Batman.

When I was in high school, I started watching the animated Batman series that was on at the time. It would air right after I got home from school so it became a routine for me to watch it.  Because I loved the animated series, I subjected myself to the awful Batman movies of the 90’s. Now the first one with Michael Kenton was excellent, but the other ones were increasingly more and more painful to watch.

When the series was rebooted a few years ago, I still went to see it because I still love Batman. Christian Bale was an excellent Batman and I enjoyed all three of the movies he was in. I wish he would come back for this Batman/Superman movie. But instead, we get Ben Affleck.

I’m still going to wait and see. I’m not a huge fan of Superman, but I’ll still see this movie. Once it comes out, I’ll write a review on how well Ben Affleck is as Batman.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Tale of a Fat Cosplayer

Me as American McGee's Alice
As a child, I loved Halloween and being in plays in part because of the costumes. I never grew out of wanting to dress up and pretending so it’s a very good thing I’m a geek. But I've also never been skinny at all. As I got older, I got wider for a variety of reasons. I try to exercise as much as I can, but chronic pain issues can get in the way. Despite this, I still cosplay.

I am a fat cosplayer.

My husband and I have been watching Heroes of Cosplay on SyFy. We both like the show because the costumes are beautiful. But it seems like there is a lot of focus put on perfection and less on the fun. In the first episode, it showed one of the cosplayers freaking out because she had gained some weight. In the second episode, a newbie to cosplay competitions said that she thought anyone should cosplay what they wanted. She got looks from the experienced cosplayers like she was crazy. One said that if someone is going to be 300 lbs. and cosplay, they are going to get negative comments.

I've been cosplaying on and off for about 15 years. I've never been skinny but I've never gotten negative comments before. Even if I did, I probably would just ignore it because I love cosplaying. Now I do try to pick costumes that won’t make me look fatter than I am. I never wear skin tight or skin showing costumes because I wouldn't be comfortable and it wouldn't look good.

Cosplaying is fun and that’s why I do it. Even though I’m overweight, I’m going to keep cosplaying. I already have all my costumes planned for Dragon Con and I’ll be walking in the parade again. I'll also be admiring everyone else's costumes - fat or thin.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Love the Dragon Con App!
I've been going to Dragon Con for many years. Traditionally, this would be the time of the year that the pocket program would be released. It would come in the form of a spreadsheet and would take a long time to pour over all the panels and events that were being offered.

Some people would print out their pdf pocket program and bring it to them to the con. I would always just use the copy provided when I would pick up my badge. It is always pretty flimsy and would start having major wear by the end of the first day. It would be falling apart usually by Sunday.

While it was organized in a way that it wasn't too hard to find out where you were going and wanted to do, it could be cumbersome at times. All of that changed last year with the release of the Dragon Con app.

The app is available for Android and Apple phones. It has all of the schedules for each of the tracks, maps, news, lists of vendors and more. It also has a great feature were you can add friends and then be able to see their schedule.

The full schedule is out now, and I was easily able to go to all my favorite tracks and add the panels that sound interesting to my schedule. Of course, there are some time periods were I’d need five more of me to do everything I’d want to do, but it’s easy to adjust the schedule in the app.

Now I can just pull out my phone and see what I want to do next at the con instead of flipping through the pocket program. It’s a wonderful app. The only real flaw that it has is that you have to generate a different friend code per person. That can get tedious when you have a large amount of friends. I’d love it if next year each person could get one friend code that is unique to them to give out to all their friends.

Otherwise, the app makes everything so much easier when trying to juggle the awesomeness of Dragon Con. I’d recommend it for any Dragon Con attendee with a smart phone.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why I'm Not a Brony

Emily with Twilight Sparkle 
I’m going to start out this post by saying I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a brony. I think if I was younger and/or didn't have a young child, I would be a brony. But there is a reason why I'm  not.

When I was a kid, I loved My Little Pony. Not so much the TV show but the actual toys. My favorite was a pink Pegasus pony that I played with all the time. When the new show came out, Emily was a toddler. She was really into shows like Dora that were not fun at all for me to watch. So we caught My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic when we could because it’s a much better show than Dora.

She didn't like it as much when it first came on, because I think she was a little young for it. But now that she’s nearly five years old, it’s one of her favorite shows. We go through periods where we watch a lot of ponies. She just got the new Equestria Girls movie a few days ago and we've already watched it several times.

Because I watch My Little Pony with Emily, I have no desire to watch it when she’s not around. I think this is the main reason I’m not a brony. While I don’t mind watch ponies, after watching the Too Many Pinkie Pies episode again and again, I’m a little turned off by it.

I can understand why other people are bronies though – it’s a very good show. There is just too much of a good thing sometimes, especially when you are the parent of a preschooler.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Disney World Honeymoon - Part 1

I love Mickey Ears!
This is the 3rd post in my series of Disney trips I've taken in the past. You can find previous installment here -  part one and part two.

Since I remember more of this trip, it will be in several parts.

I always wanted to go back to Disney World after my trip when I was 16. I spent seven years in college after I graduated from high school. My college roommate and I talked about taking a trip down to Florida, but it was just too expensive.

After I graduated, I moved back home because my mom was sick. She died less than a week after I moved back in. My life was in serious flux then so I didn't even entertain any thoughts of Disney. I met and started dating Todd. We moved in together and then as time progressed we got engaged.

We moved from Michigan to North Carolina about six months after we got engaged. Because we were still going to get married in Michigan, we decided to wait a year after the wedding to take our honeymoon.
Planning a long distance wedding is hard so we hadn't really talked about honeymoon destinations. One day, when Todd was sick with the stomach flu, the subject came up. He gave me a choice of Las Vegas or Disney World. Can you guess what I picked?

Even though I was still in the midst of planning a wedding, I started to look up information about planning a Disney World honeymoon. I started to realize that it was going to be more complicated that I had originally thought.

I found which is a forum for planning Disney trips. It was and is an invaluable resource. It was there that I found my travel agent with Mouse Fan Travel. She helped with the planning, made all our dining reservations and even got us a discount that saved us nearly a thousand dollars.

Neither Todd nor I had ever stayed in a Disney resort so we decided we wanted to do that for our honeymoon. We also opted to use the Disney Dining Plan, which was pretty new then. On the dining plan, we got one fast food meal and one sit down meal a day, plus one snack a day and a refillable mug.
Since we only live about nine hours away from Disney World, we decided to save money and drive. We made pretty good time and got to our resort, Caribbean Beach, in the late afternoon. We didn't make any dining reservations for that night because we didn't know what we were going to do. We ended up eating at the restaurant at the resort, Shutters. It was good and they gave us free champagne because of our honeymoon.

The next day, we went to the Magic Kingdom. Originally we were going to use that day as a rest day but Todd’s favorite ride, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, was going down for rehab and this was the only chance we were going to get to ride it. We spent about half the day at the Magic Kingdom, riding all of our favorites. Then we spent a little time back at our resort before we went to our first dinner reservation.
I had spent a lot of time on the restaurant section of the disboards forums since I hadn't eaten at any of the table service places before. One place that was highly recommended was Ohana in Disney's Polynesian Resort. I had heard that you could watch the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks right from the restaurant and the music would be piped in.

We waited a while to be seated but we were able to explore the resort which is beautiful. Finally we got our table which had a perfect view of Cinderella Castle out of the window.  The food is served family style and it’s all kinds of meat – ribs, smoked turkey, pork loin and more. It was so yummy!

It’s all you can eat so the server would come every once in a while to refill our food. When Wishes started, I was entranced by the fireworks show. I didn't hear our server behind me and he scared me so much that I nearly jumped out of my chair. Todd thought this was really funny.

After dinner, we went back to our room and passed out. We had an early day in the morning as we were spending our first anniversary at Epcot. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fencing – A Very Geeky Way to Exercise

When I was in college, I had to take a physical education class in order to get my degree. There were many options that I could have chosen, but I jumped at the chance to take fencing. I quickly fell in the love with the sport, even taking it for a second semester just for fun.
Fencing class started out a little slow as we spent a lot of time practicing the en garde position. But once we mastered that we got into the fun stuff, which was attacking each other with our foils. It was so much fun because it was like living inside a fantasy movie but it was a great work out too. Once I was out of college, I didn't get to fence again though I did keep my equipment for years in hopes of finding another chance to fence.
If you want to see how cool fencing looks when done correctly, there is a video that shows it here. You can also go to the USA Fencing website to see if there are any fencing clubs in your area.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bullying And How To Help

Me as a child who was bullied
Bullying is one of those hot topics right now as it seems to be rampant across the country. It is one of the topics that I care strongly about because I was a victim of bullying myself when I was younger. has a series of articles with tips to help parents deal with bullying.
I was a short, quiet girl when I was a child. I was also very geeky and didn't really try to go with the crowd at all. This probably made me the ideal target for bullying. When I was in middle school, I became the target of a girl who was much bigger than I was. She would call me names, push me into windows and would smash me in the head with a brush in shop class. It was one of the worst times in my life.
I remember begging my parents not to go to the principal because I didn't want it to get worse. The only place I felt safe at school was in band class, because there were too many people in there for her to beat me up. Finally my parents did go to the principal, and the abuse did finally stop. I did become even more segregated and shunned from my classmates, but it was a relief to not be beat up anymore.
Even though Emily is only four, I’m already worrying about bullying for her. So I was really interested in what had to say on the subject. They surveyed 500 parents and 500 principles on the subject, and the results were a little scary.
From the press release:
Parents report that the vast majority (75%) have been involved in bullying in some way (as a bully, victim or witness).
Only about a third of parents feel fully prepared to help their child work through a bullying situation whether the child is a victim (33%), a witness (40%), or a bully (42%).
Only 38% of principles report that they have sufficient resources to effectively implement bullying programs, curricula & policies in their schools.
Because of this survey, has published some tips for parents. There are tips for all parents to help stop bullying, for parents of kids who are bullied and for parents whose kids are the bullies. These tips may be able to help parents help start a dialogue with their children or even figure out why a bully is doing what they are doing. Because there is usually an underlying reason that needs to be figured out before the bullying can be addressed.
Bullying affects so many people, and it can result in death. This makes it so important to have ways to deal with bullying if it comes up for your child. As a victim myself, I truly hope Emily never has to go through what I did.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dragon Con Nightmare

My missing costume
This year’s Dragon Con will be the 7th one I've attended. I've had many Dragon Con dreams over the years, but last night I had my first Dragon Con nightmare.

It was the Friday of the con, and we were running late. I couldn't find the costume I wanted to wear that day so I just threw on this blue sleeveless dress that was handmade and looked like crap. Once we got down to the con, I went to another panel at 10 am, forgetting for a moment that I was supposed to be a panelist on another panel.

I got to my panel a few minutes late and there was hardly no-one attending. The other panelists and I talked about Disney stuff, but soon we were alone as the people left. It was sad.

Todd was at the con, but so were several members of my family. Some that wouldn't ever attend something like Dragon Con in real life. My dad was there too, and he actually came to Dragon Con a few years ago in real life. It was just odd.

After the failure of the panel, I decided I looked awful in the blue dress and I needed to go home to change. I looked for Todd all over the con and finally found him pouting because he didn't have any money to spend. We were leaving the con together when my alarm went off.

I think my mind was stressing over the fact that I can’t find one of my costumes in real life. It’s somewhere in the mess that is my office. I thought I had plenty of time, but yesterday I realized that there is only two weeks until the con.

To keep from having another nightmare, I really hope I can find my costume today!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Please Don't Scream

I've worked in customer support type jobs for years and had to deal with angry people. I've been in that position myself where I’m upset with company and it’s no fun. I do wish people could keep their composure and not scream.

Customer service isn't for the faint of heart. Most of the time you are dealing with people who are pissed for some reason. One of my first customer service jobs was for a company who took people’s pictures and made them into throws. These were very popular around Christmas time as presents.

There was a deadline to get your order in to get it before Christmas, but some people ordered after or an issue happened that caused their throw not to arrive by December 24th. One time, it was because of a massive storm that shut down a whole town including the mail service. People were still really upset.

I found working that job that I had a knack for dealing with the issues, calming people down and not getting upset for being cussed out. One girl that started at the same time had a lot of issues with being upset when a customer got angry and yelled. She only lasted a couple of weeks before she quit.

Even though I’m in tech support now, it’s still pretty similar. I try to help the customer the best that I can with their internet issues. Like with customer service, the customers can get very angry as well as start screaming and cussing.

I understand that people get upset but I dislike it when they take it out on me. It still doesn't bother me too badly but I just find it rude. I’m a living, breathing person who doesn't need to be screamed at no matter how upset a customer is. It also tends to give me a migraine. One customer kept getting shriller and shriller as she screamed. My head ached badly after that call.

One time, I was on the other end of the call. I was getting packet loss on my line which was causing my internet to be all goofy. I called my ISP and I got a tech that obviously didn't care about doing anything to help me. It made me angry, but I was pretty calm and just demanded a supervisor.  The supervisor was much more helpful and was able to resolve my issue.

If you get angry and feel the need to scream at a customer service rep or tech support, please refrain from screaming. I know that it can be frustrating but the person on the other end is just that – a person.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Stigma and Misunderstanding of Migraines

The face of a migraine sufferer (or me)
Before I started suffering from chronic pain, I thought that a migraine was just a bad headache. I bet a lot of people think that. Migraines are so much more than a bad headache – it’s a whole neurological disease. People with migraines know what a debilitating disease this can be and we are sick of being trivialized.

Kmart is running an ad currently that has a husband and wife taking about surprises with the new Kmart pharmacy. Most of the “surprises” have nothing to do with health issues – for example the husband says to begin how his mother in law was just supposed to visit and then stayed for 30 years. But at one point the wife says in retort that she doesn't have migraines implying that she does have migraines.

Now if the wife was suffering from some other disease like MS, it would be totally taboo for her to say that she doesn't have that disease in jest. For some reason, Kmart and their parent company Sears, doesn't think that migraines are bad enough of a disease that it can be used in this fashion.

Migraines should be considered seriously but obviously they aren't. This makes me angry because I know how hard it can be to suffer from migraines. I end up in tears sometimes because the pain and other symptoms can get so bad. I've also lost several friendships because they think I’m trying to get attention or not as sick as I say I am. I pretty much don’t have any close friends outside of the internet because I don’t get out of the house much.

You can read more about this and even see the ad at and you can also go to to sign the petition.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Rant - The Cost of Medicines

A very expensive medicine
I have a whole host of diseases and conditions. Most of these I can manage without medicine, but a few I need my meds to be able to function. Thankfully most of my medicine is fairly cheap and doesn't become too much of a burden financially.  But I think the cost of some medicines is insane and it’s price gouging a lot of the time.  I had an experience with this lately with some new eczema medicine.

A little bit of background on my issues with eczema. I've always had dry skin since I was a kid, but I always just though it was dry skin. About six or seven years ago, my skin was so dry that I was scratching it until I bled. I tried some home remedies that didn't work so I ended up at the dermatologist’s office where I was prescribed with very bad eczema.

Many people with eczema will have a patch here or there on their bodies, but I have patches pretty much on my whole body. My upper torso is worse than my bottom. My arms and neck are always hotspots for me, but I can get patches anywhere. The only thing that works is a medicated crème.

Last week, I had to go to my yearly visit to my dermatologist to get my prescription refilled. These visits usually annoy me because the doctor usually is with me for less than five minutes with me just saying that I still have eczema and him refilling my crème. It’s usually an expensive five minutes that can cost me $60 after insurance covers some.

But this year, I saw a new doctor to the practice. He went over my symptoms and checked me out. I liked him a lot better than my normal doctor. He also prescribed me a new medicine called Protopic along with my crème. The nurse gave me some samples of the Protopic along with a $40 off coupon. That made me a little nervous about the cost.

I took my prescriptions to my local pharmacy and picked them up a few days later because the crème can take a while to be ready because it’s a compound. When the lady at the pharmacy looked up my account, she thought I might have an insurance issue because the bill was nearly $200!

After being sent to the drop off window, another pharmacy tech looked up my account and said my insurance was fine. It was just that the Protopic was $180 even after insurance. He also said in a sympathetic voice that it was just the small tube.

While the samples had worked pretty well, I wasn't about to pay $180 for a tube of something that wouldn’t last very long. I opted to get my crème and another prescription that I had refilled. The bill for those came up to $20.

I am just annoyed by the cost of that Protopic. I have to wonder what is in it that makes it so expensive, yet I have probably over $100 in free sample of the stuff. I know that I’m lucky and most of my medicine is pretty cheap but it just seems like such a racket to me. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kinect Disneyland Adventures

I love all things Disney. When given the choice between Las Vegas or Walt Disney World as a honeymoon destination, it took me about a second to decide on Disney. I’m counting the days (62!) until we can take my daughter to Walt Disney World for the first time for her 5th birthday.
When I heard about Kinect Disneyland Adventures for the xBox 360, I knew I had to have this game. While I haven’t been to Disneyland, I've read and seen TV specials about it. I hope that I will get to Disneyland someday. It is actually on my bucket list to visit every Disney park in the world.
Emily knows the Disney characters pretty well thanks to TV and movies. When I first fired this game up and got to talk to Mickey Mouse, she was so excited. One of the fun things you can do is run around the park and meet up with characters. You can give them hugs, take pictures with them, get autographs and more.
The characters will also send you on tasks. Most of the early tasks are to help you get around the game. You can run around the entire park but you can also access the menu to go to the parts of the park that you want. The tasks and riding the rides will give you the opportunity to get coins. You can uses these coins to buy things in the shops around the parks. Much like in real life, you can get clothes, autograph books, pins and more in the shops. You can use these in the game to outfit your avatar, interact more with the characters as well as help you with tasks.
As soon as I finished the beginning tasks, I headed straight to The Haunted Mansion, which is my favorite ride at Disney. The rides in Kinect Disneyland Adventures are mini-games. You are given instructions on what movements you will need to use for each game before you enter it. For The Haunted Mansion, you move through the mansion and you fight ghosts with a flashlight. With the way the mini-game is set up, it is like moving through the actual ride, especially since there is the Ghost Host talking in the background with lines from the ride as well.
Some of the mini-games are more enjoyable than others. My least favorite was It’s A Small World but it was mostly because it was a very active one. You are rowing around the world and stopping to do native dances on the way. I was pretty beat by the time I finished with it.
There are some buggy issues with this game that I've found. I haven’t been able to do the arm movement I need to with the characters to get their autograph and it takes a little to get walking when I’m out in the park. There was a part of the Pirates of the Caribbean where I had to row but also had to use my oars to whack alligators. I was doing more whacking than rowing, but it was more funny than anything because it really amused my husband and daughter.
All in all, I love this game. I really makes me feel like I’m in the actual park and the games are really fun to do. When we first got the game, Emily had some trouble playing it on her own because she was only three. Now that she's nearly five, she can play it better than I can. She loves playing the games and visiting her favorite characters. It is fun to watch her and think about how in a couple of months she'll be living a real life Disney World adventure.
Note: I received a copy of this game for review purposes.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mommy Spider Sense

Emily wasn't a very good sleeper when she was younger. It took a long time for her to be able to sleep through the night. I would wake up whenever she did so I spend a good couple of years really sleep deprived.

She’s nearly five now, and has been sleeping well in her own room for a couple of years. She generally doesn't get up at all unless she has a nightmare or needs to go to the bathroom. Todd is the night owl in the family, so he generally takes care of any nighttime issues.

I was in the middle of a dead sleep in the middle of the night last night when I thought I heard Emily’s door open. It seemed like it was partly in a dream but it bothered me enough that I got up and checked on her. Sure enough, she was awake and upset because she had had a potty accident.

Todd was dozing in the chair as he does nearly every night and hadn't heard a thing. He woke up and we got her calmed down and into clean clothes. He ended up taking over and getting her tucked back in so I could go back to bed since I work early in the morning.

Even though it’s not often anymore, I’m glad I still have my mommy senses from when she was a baby. She was half asleep and really upset when I went into her room. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Miss You, Mom

Me and my mom
Eleven years ago, my mom passed away. Even though I was technically an adult, I was still a kid in so many ways. I had just graduated from college a few days before she passed. She actually made it to see me graduate but had to be in a wheelchair because of being so weak.

She had been one of those super healthy, really skinny people. She never really got sick until she got colon cancer. She fought the cancer for nearly 2 years but in the end, it had spread and there weren't any options left. She was barely 51 when she passed away.

I miss her everyday because she was a great mom. She was looking so forward to being a grandmother, even though it was still a while off before Miss Emily would be born. I wasn't even dating Todd at that point. She would have adored Emily.

Today is especially hard for me as well as my dad. But as Christians, we both know that we'll see her again. I have a feeling that she is also keeping an eye on us. Every once in a while, I feel overwhelmed by her presence. Still I wish she was still here.

I miss you, mom.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always – A Children’s Book

Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always is a new children’s book by award-winning author and illustrator Tao Nyeu. This book is comprised of four short stories revolving around the ups and downs of friendship of two underwater creatures, Squid and Octopus.
Friendship is a complex subject and it can be one that is hard to grasp for very small children. As kids get a little older and form their own friendships, Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always can help mirror some situations kids will get into as they make friends. The stories cover subjects such as how to deal with disagreements, being there when your friend is upset, and what to do if you are a little different.
Emily has had several best friends in her short life, and she is able to relate her friendships with the one that Squid and Octopus have. Tao Nyeu‘s illustrations are very cute and really helps to bring the message of friendship in the stories across.
I would highly recommend Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always, especially for preschool and kindergarten ages.
Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

Monday, August 5, 2013

What My Migraines Feel Like

Me in the midst of a migraine
The only name that I was given for my chronic condition was daily chronic headaches. I usually describe them as pain in my head that I have all the time that can get migraine bad. I think a lot of people think of migraines as a really bad headache, but they are much more than that.

When my pain levels are low, my pain is usually just located in my forehead. It’s usually a dull ache that I can generally ignore. This is how I feel most of the time and the pain never goes away completely.

My pain levels can shoot up for a variety of reasons. I have triggers like changes in the weather and the smell of raw onions. But sometimes my pain levels can go up for no known reason. When they go up, that’s when I start having migraines.

When I get a migraine, the pain moves down my face and my whole face will hurt. If the pain is bad enough, my teeth will ache and the pain has even moved down as far as my neck and chest. I also get auras. My sight will start to get fuzzy which can make it very difficult to look at a computer screen especially if I’m in a room with bright lights. I’ll also start to lose brain power. I just can’t think as quickly or as well as I do when my pain levels are low. My sensitivity to light gets worse and my depression gets worse if the high pain level lasts more than a few days.

My migraines aren't just a lot of pain, but it’s a whole neurological meltdown. I try to muddle through the best that I can. No medicine works so I tend to wear cold packs to try and dull the pain. Otherwise, sleep is usually what helps the most. Thankfully the pain and auras do ebb away and my pain level drops back to normal levels so I can resume my normal life.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Girl and Her WWE Brawlin’ Buddy

Emily and her Rey-Rey
My husband and I are big wrestling fans. We spent our first Valentine’s Day at a WWE house show — after which he asked me to move in with him. We watch live WWE shows a couple times a year, and last year we went to WrestleMania. But we don’t usually watch the weekly WWE shows with our daughter because it can be a little violent. If my husband does watch, he usually fast forwards through most of the matches to get to the talking segments that move the storyline along.
WWE has a large line of toys, most of which are action figures geared towards older kids. My husband likes collecting them, so we have several still “mint in the box.” My daughter also has a few, although she doesn’t play with them very often. But we were in the toy aisle looking at action figures recently when my daughter first spotted the new WWE Brawlin’ Buddies.
WWE Brawlin’ Buddies are soft toys that are designed to look like the most popular WWE wrestlers. Each Brawlin’ Buddy will say the wrestler’s catchphrases when touched in the stomach. It is a great toy for a younger child because it is cuddly but can still be used to re-create wrestling moves. Even though it’s geared to appeal more to little boys, my little girl wanted one from the first time she saw one.
My daughter liked the Rey Mysterio Brawlin’ Buddy the best. I don’t know if she was drawn to that Buddy because it’s very colorful or because Rey Mysterio is one of my favorite wrestlers. He was trained as Luche Libre, which is a style of wrestling in Mexico. Luche Libres often wear colorful masks and part of this style involves a lot of high flying moves, which make Rey Mysterio a very entertaining wrestler to watch.
When the Rey Mysterio Brawlin’ Buddy arrived, he became one of my daughter’s favorite toys. She likes pushing in his stomach so he’ll talk, but she also treats him like her other stuffed animals. This means he has had to endure a few tea parties and dress up sessions in his time with us. But she has fun with him, which is the point.
I’m a firm believer that there shouldn’t be gender discrimination with toys. That’s why I am always happy to let my daughter pick what she wants even if it isn’t geared towards girls. And even though WWE Brawlin’ Buddies are advertised as a boy toy, my little girl loves her Rey Mysterio.
Note: I received this toy  for review purposes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

In Praise of Cosplayers

Emily and I as Snow White
It seems like after ever major convention there is a post that appears on the internet that makes fun of cosplayers. I’m not sure why people feel the need to do this. But I do know why I love cosplaying and why I’ll continue to do it, even if I end up being made fun of on the internet.
My love of costumes go way back to when I was a child. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, partly because of being able to dress up in costumes. As I grew up, I discovered anime conventions. As I started to attend these cons, my love of costumes resurfaced. It is always so fun to put on a costume and pretend to be a famous character. My favorite costumes at the anime conventions were the ones from the Final Fantasy games. I even had a Summoner Yuna costume that is one of my only costumes I still have from my anime days.
I’m not the best at sewing, but I don’t let that stop me. For some of my costumes, like my Kaylee costume from the pilot of Firefly, I was able to just find the clothing items I needed. When I wanted to do Kaylee’s dress from the Firefly episode, Shindig, I had more of a challenge. But did I manage to come up with a plan to make this costume. I've worn it for several years now and it’s my favorite costume.
The vast majority of the feedback that I've gotten on my costumes is positive. I received a lot of positive comments on my Shindig dress last year at Dragon Con. It made me happy to know that other people enjoyed seeing it.
I also cosplayed as a Disney Princess last year at Dragon Con. I was Snow White because that was what my daughter wanted me to cosplay as when we marched in the parade. It was amazing to see small kids’ reactions to me. Their eyes would get wide as I waved at them in the parade. Those kids’ smiles made me feel like a real princess.
I generally talk to people in my geek groups about cosplay. But there are also several websites online, like, where you can connect with other cosplayers. This is a place where you can talk about costumes with people who love them as much as you do.
If you want to cosplay, I say go for it and ignore the bullies. It doesn't matter if you have the best costume or look just like that character. It just matters that you are having a good time.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Emily and her Oddly Named Imaginary Friend

When Todd and I started dating, I let him know that religion is very important to me. Thankfully, he was already a Christian with a belief in God. He didn't really care what domination we were, so we are Lutheran since that’s what I grew up as.

Emily’s been a member of the same church since she was a baby. She was baptized when she was about three months old. She started going to preschool at our church last year and attended her first Vacation Bible School this summer.

Because we are a Christian household, we pray and talk about God a lot. Since Emily is four, she is able to understand some of it. We focus on how God loves us and I have also told her that thunder is just God bowling because the noise freaks her out.

Right after VBS this year, she started talking more about God and how he was with her. It morphed into god being her imaginary friend. Her friend, god, is a little boy about her age who likes cars. She doesn't talk about him all the time but sometimes, and she does know he’s imaginary and that it’s just a game.

I haven’t discouraged her at all, but I do wonder what some people might think when she starts talking about her friend, god, in the store. But I want to encourage her to use her imagination because I think imagination is a good thing.

Did your kids ever have an oddly named imaginary friend?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dragons Love Tacos – A Children’s Book

In literature, dragons are fierce beasts that don’t seem to be very picky about what or who they eat. But in the children's book, Dragons Love Tacos, written by Adam Rubin, we find that dragons actually have some specific tastes when it comes to food.
Dragons Love Tacos is an adorable book that tells how dragons love tacos and parties, but how they hate spicy salsa. This book is one of Emily's favorites. We've read it so much that she can 'read' it on her own now. The story is perfect for younger kids and matches well with the great illustrations by Daniel Salmieri.
I would recommend Dragons Love Tacos highly for any child because of the cute story about kind dragons who just want to eat tacos. Dragons Love Tacos is available in hardcover.
Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.