Saturday, September 28, 2013

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons by Shelly Mazzanoble

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons by Shelly Nobleman is a wonderful take on a how to book on life that centers around Dungeons & Dragons.
The book showcases life lessons that playing Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) can help you with, such as religion, moving in with a significant other, dealing with your parents, changing up your routine and more through Shelly’s life as she lives in Seattle and works for Wizards of the Coast
This book was really easy for me to read. If I hadn't had things like work and a preschooler to care for, I would have probably read it in one sitting. I enjoyed reading about Shelly’s adventures, both in real life and as a D&D character. It also made me really miss playing D&D quite a bit, and role playing in general. I’d love to get out my dice and roll up a character to help work out some of my issues.
Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons is currently available in traditional paperbackKindle and Nook versions. I highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially folks who love gaming, D&D in particular.
Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thoughts On Living Together Before Marriage

Our Engagement Picture
One of my twitter friends asked how many of her friends / followers lived together before marriage last night. I was one of them who said yes. I think living together before marriage is a great idea, but I didn’t always think that way.

When I was younger, I saw the world in black and white. I am a Christian, so back then I thought living together before marriage was morally wrong. I got to college, and I found that things were not as black and white as I thought they were.

I didn’t date a lot and I didn’t start dating until college. I only dated my first boyfriend for about six months. He was really clingy and I realized I didn’t really like him that much, so I broke up with him.

My next serious boyfriend was a guy I was madly in love with. He was the first guy I lived with, and we were so very wrong for each other. Living together just made our problems worse and we fought all the time. Finally we broke up. I was very upset but I felt a bit like a weight had been lifted off of me. It did take me a good year to finally get over him.

When I met Todd, we started out long distance since we were living on different sides of the state. We’d communicate via email and talk on the phone about once a week because we were on separate work shifts. Our second date was on Valentine’s Day and we went to a wrestling house show with some friends. After the show, we went out to dinner. Todd and I had gotten to the restaurant first and we were just talking. During this conversation, he asked me to move in with him.

I was a bit freaked out because my last living with a boyfriend experience was such a miserable ordeal. But Todd, logically, pointed out that it would be hard to know if we were compatible doing the long distance thing. His logic won out and we moved in together.

It was a completely different experience because it just felt so comfortable and normal living with him. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but we are able to communicate fairly well to have a happy relationship that lead to marriage.

Now I’m a huge fan of living together with a significant other before marriage. It’s a great way to figure out if you are truly compatible or not.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Final Thoughts on Heroes of Cosplay

One of my
early costumes
I’ve been a cosplayer for about 15 years now, so I was excited to see Heroes of Cosplay. The show was interesting and the costumes were beautiful but the attitudes of some of the cosplayers were crappy. I’ve already ranted about a few things on the show, but I wanted to share my feelings about the show as a whole, especially the finale.

Knowing this was a reality show, I know that it was edited together to make drama. And sadly, some of the elitist / size-ist attitudes shown in the show have basis in real life because I’ve come across it before in my own cosplaying journey. I have no doubt that Monika is at least as half as bitchy in real life as she is on the show because you can’t really edit some of the hateful things she said.

But what bothered me the most is what information that came out after the finale was aired. The following has spoilers if you haven’t seen the last episode. In the group competition, there was a group of femme Doctors from Doctor Who. They were shown getting into a scuffle with the ‘heroes’ from LA after an audience member shouted about how out of towners should go home. It caused quite the issue in the back stage area, with one of the ‘heroes’ in tears.

I felt bad for the ‘heroes’ when I watched the episodes, since they were the cosplayers I liked most on the show. But then the Doctor Who cosplayers story came to light. Apparently, the thing shouted was something along the lines of ‘everyone who isn't a SyFy plant, I love you,” but that was apparently dubbed over with the out of towners line. Also, from the Doctor Who cosplayers have said that the skit in the group contest wasn’t told to them until they got to the con, since it was the first time it had happened at Planet ComicCon. They were shown to be villains, rather unfairly from what I’ve read. You can read one account from one of the Doctor Who cosplayers' on tumblr.

While I did enjoy the show for the most part, I think it gave cosplayers a bad name in some ways. Some of the cosplayers had the right attitude, but some didn’t at all. I honestly hope that it doesn't come back because it will just be about the drama again and not about the fun that cosplaying should be.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Banned Book Week: Harry Potter and The Banned Book

I didn’t get into the Harry Potter books right away. I think I had heard about them but I didn’t get around to reading them until the next town over from my hometown banned them.
The fact that Zeeland, MI school system banned the Harry Potter books was big local news so my dad (who is a geek as well) picked up a copy of the first Harry Potter and got hooked.
We went on a family vacation to Arizona around that time and my dad brought Harry Potter with him. I started reading it then, and I became a Harry Potter fan at that point. My mom read them as well, and even my sister did, even though she didn’t like anything else remotely geeky.
I’m sure my family would have gotten into the Harry Potter series at some point, but I do think it’s funny that the reason we got into the series was because it was banned.
The Harry Potter series isn’t one of the top banned books, but it was the one that directly affected me. I thought it was silly that it was banned, but I’m glad I was able to get into the series at that point in time.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Tokyo Heist – A YA Mystery

Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn is a young adult novel that follows sixteen-year-old Violet, who finds herself in the middle of an art heist. Violet is swept to Japan and attempts to unravel the mystery of a missing and previously unknown Van Gogh painting. In the meantime, she must evade the Japanese mafia and her artist father out of danger.
Anime and manga are a big part of the story, as Violet is a big fan of  both. A budding artist, she writes and draws her own manga, Kimono Girl, throughout the book. When I was younger, I was a huge fan of anime which I think helped me enjoy this book even more.  While Tokyo Heist is mainly a mystery, it does highlight the strained relationship Violet has with her father.
The relationship grows and changes as the book goes on, which adds another level of complexity to this highly engaging novel.
Tokyo Heist is recommended for ages twelve and up. As an adult, I did enjoy watching the mystery unfold. I would recommend this book to any reader who loves mysteries, art, anime or manga. Tokyo Heist is available in hardcoverKindle and Nook versions.
Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Our Talk Like a Pirate Day Adventure

Last year, Krispy Kreme had a promotion where if you came in and talked like a pirate on September 19th, you'd get a free doughnut. If you dressed up like a pirate, you got a free dozen doughnuts. I checked a few days ago, and they were doing the promotion again this year.

Once I got off of work yesterday, I got dressed in my costume. I wore my Ren  Faire costume plus a bandanna and my Mickey Pirate Ears, since this year they were requiring that you have at least three pieces of pirate gear on. Since Emily likes dressing up too, she wore her pirate dress up vest. Todd came with us, but he  didn't have any pirate attire.

Emily was very excited to get her doughnut. She went up to the cashier and said "Argh, may I have a doughnut please.". The lady got our doughnuts and we sat down to eat them. Todd opted to just buy some fancy doughnuts including a couple that were decorated just for Talk Like a Pirate Day.

It was fun and the doughnuts had just come out of the oven so they tasted so good. I don't know of any other businesses that do Talk Like a Pirate Day promotions, but I'm really glad that Krispy Kreme does one.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Official Theme Song for Talk Like A Pirate Day

Me with Pirate Ears!
Talk Like A Pirate Day is a fun holiday that encourages everyone to talk in pirate slang every year on September 19th. Many people know about the holiday, but what they may not know is that this piratey day has it’s own theme song.
Tom Smith, the world’s fastest filker, wrote the official theme song for Talk Like A Pirate day. The song is a fun pirate shanty that gives instructions on how to get the most out of talking like a pirate one day out of the year.
Here is video of the song! And enjoy Talk Like a Pirate Day, Mateys!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Videos Games Don't Cause Violence!

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone blames a tragedy on video games. When I was in college, Columbine happened. There was a lot of talk about how violent video games were a large part of why Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold committed this heinous act of violence. I was broadcasting major at the time and I spoke at length in my classes how video games were not to blame.

I’m an avid video gamer and I like games that can be a little on the violent side. My husband, who wouldn't hurt a fly, loves the first person shooter games. We've both been gamers since we were kids, like a lot of people in our generation. Since Columbine, every time that there is a shooting someone in the media tries to blame it on videos games which I think is ridiculous. Especially since neither of us has felt the urge to go shoot up anywhere despite hundreds of hours shooting things in video games.

More and more people play video games now than they did in the late 90’s, so if video games were to blame, there should be a lot more of these violent attacks. The blame should be put squarely on the shoulders of the person responsible – the person who did the shooting.

Banning videos games or monitoring who buys them isn't going to do anything. Now I do think parents should be active in their kids’ lives and make sure they are monitoring what kinds of games they play. Emily is nearly five and she’s already a big games. But she plays things like Kinect Disneyland Adventures or the Toy Story 3 game. We also limit her time that she can play video games because she’s like her parents and could sit playing all day.

The tragedy a few days ago was horrific and it made me very sad for the loss of life. I know that videos games didn’t play any part because it sounds like the shooter, despite playing video games, was a very disturbed person. Fox News used this opportunity to call for a registry to track video game purchases since they think that playing video games are so obviously the problem.

So I will repeat the rant that I’ve said for nearly 15 years. Video games don’t cause violence, people do!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Really Liked Sleepy Hollow - So It's Doomed

Last night, Todd and I watched the series premiere of Sleepy Hallow. I've always been interested in the Sleepy Hallow legend since I saw the Disney cartoon version as a kid. I was really excited to see this new show and it didn’t disappoint.

The story was solid, the characters were interesting and Ichabod came off as a fish out of water without being cheesy about it. I’m looking forward to seeing the next episode. But because I like it so much, it’s probably doomed.

I’ve had a history of really liking shows from the pilot and then that show only lasting one season. Especially when Fox is involved, which is the network Sleepy Hallow was on. When I was in high school, I loved a show called Earth 2. It was a sci fi show that followed a group of people who were looking for a new Earth because their kids were sick from living on space stations. It was excellent but it was canceled after only 22 episodes.

A few years later, Firefly came along and that story is pretty well known. I’ve been a Browncoat from the beginning since I started with the pilot they showed, The Train Job. At least with Firefly, the fandom is still going strong and there was a movie.

But I don’t have a great track record with liking shows from the beginning and having them last. I hope Sleepy Hallow will break the curse (especially since it’s on Fox) since it looks like it will get very interesting!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The New Normal

Since the time we started dating, until about a month ago, Todd always worked 2nd shift. He prefers it because he’s a night owl and doesn't like getting up early. I've nearly always worked some variation of 1st shift, which has made a unique dynamic in our relationship.

When we first started dating, we were on separate shifts and we were five hours apart. We’d talk once a week and then usually see each other once a month. We would email back and forth several times a day.
Once we moved in together, we were still on separate shifts. Both in Michigan and once we moved down to North Carolina, we didn't see a lot of each other during the week. But we’d call, text and still email back and forth.

When Emily was born and I got laid off, we had a lot of time together. It was 2008 and the economy was so bad that Todd kept having extra days off of work. It was nice to have him home, especially with a newborn. That only lasted about a year. I didn’t go back to work, but instead went back to school to get my 2nd degree. We were back on our old schedule for the most part.

But about a month ago, things got really bad at Todd’s job. He had hated it for years and they didn’t treat him very well at all. He had applied to a few jobs here and there, but nothing panned out because he wasn’t very serious about looking for a new job since as much as he hated his old job it paid well.

It got to a point that he had to look for a new job. One company replied back less than 24 hours after he sent his resume. He had an interview a few days later on Monday. By Wednesday he was hired and by Friday he was working.

His new shift is a little weird. He works Friday through Sunday – 7 pm to 7 am. He’s dead during the weekends but then he has four days off. It’s been awesome having him home more.

There has been some adjustment. I haven’t been sleeping well on the weekends so far because of him being gone all night. Beyond that, it’s been awesome to have him home more. He has more time for me and Emily, plus I have to cook a whole lot less.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Even Geek Parents Can Embarrass Their Geek Kids

My geeky Dad with my sister and I in the early 1980's
I was always a geek growing up and that was thanks in large part to the fact that my dad is a huge geek himself. One of my earliest memories is sitting on his lap in this old, brown chair we had as he read Lord of the Rings to me. My dad is super smart and a scientist to boot, which just adds to his geek cred.
You would think that being a geek myself from an early age, that my geeky dad wouldn’t be able to embarrass me. All kids are embarrassed by their parents, but it may be a little harder to embarrass a geek kid.
When I was in the 8th and 9th grade, I was really getting into Star Trek. It started out with Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was on the air at that time. I eventually got into the original Star Trek as well. We lived near to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and there were one day Star Trek conventions that happened every so often.
At one of these conventions, the guest was James Doohan who played Scotty in the original Star Trek. Usually there was a question and answer session before you could get in line for autographs. I remember very clearly sitting near the front with my dad at this q&a session and that my dad asked a terribly complicated science question. I don’t remember what the answer was, but I do remember that I wanted to disappear into the ground. I was so embarrassed. My dad wasn't though and we went on to have a good time getting our autograph from James Doohan. But it’s something I still remember, 20 years later.
I’m sure all parents embarrass their kids at some point. But only a geek parent could embarrass a geek kid at a Star Trek convention.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Disney, Characters and Cosplay

I love the Disney characters. Even though we were both adults, I made reservations for character dining on our Disney Honeymoon. It was such fun to meet Pooh and Minnie Mouse as well as others. But we didn't stand in line to meet any of the characters.

Since this trip will be for Emily, I know we’ll be waiting in line for some characters. I do have two character dining reservations, one for Chef Mickey’s on our first night so Emily can meet the big cheese right away. While the Disney characters are usually well done, it’s pretty much just paid cosplay.
Dragon Con Jack and Sally

We attend Dragon Con every year and the costumes there are usually some of the best at any con. There are always a bunch of Disney cosplayers, which includes me since I cosplay as Snow White. This year while we were waiting for a panel to start, I saw a couple cosplaying as Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before
Christmas. Their costumes were wonderful!

I’m planning on attending the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year, and I was excited to hear that Jack and Sally were going to be doing meet and greets at the party. I was excited, until I saw the picture of the characters. Sally is ok, but the Jack’s head is really misshapen. The cosplayers at Dragon Con did a much better job than Disney! Now I’m not going to bother waiting in line for several hours to meet Jack and Sally.

The meet and greet wait times can be insane for some characters especially for special events. For Friday the 13th yesterday there was a Villains event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. People crushed into the park to get a chance to meet some of their favorite villains. A person in my October trip group on Facebook tried to get the Studios but apparently the traffic was backed up all the way out of Disney’s property!

I follow some Disney bloggers and at least one was able to get in. Kenny the Pirate runs a wonderful blog and has a great app that helps you find and meet characters at Disney World. He tweeted last night that he waited 3 ½ hours to meet Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas. Other villains had wait times that were an hour or more. I didn't wait more than an hour and a half to see Patrick Stewart speak at Dragon Con – I just can’t imagine waiting 3 and ½ hours for a quick meet and greet with someone who is basically a cosplayer.
I am looking forward to doing some meet and greets for Emily. And I’d probably wait 3 and ½ hours to meet Sophia the First since Emily loves her. But I hope we don’t have to. We have Magic Bands and I've been trying to fiddle with Fastpass +, and I've been picking a lot of characters meetups just so we can free up some time for some rides.

Friday, September 13, 2013

My Disney World Honeymoon - Part 2

This is the 3rd post in my series of Disney trips I've taken in the past. You can find previous installments here -  part one, part two and part three.

On our first wedding anniversary, we spent the whole day in Epcot. I don’t remember why we picked Epcot for our actually anniversary, but I’m glad that we did because it ended up being a magical day.

During our honeymoon trip, it was the Year of a Million Dreams. We hadn't really gotten any dreams yet but we ended up getting a ton on this day. We started out by riding Soarin’ which I enjoyed but Todd not so much because he doesn’t like heights. As we were walking over to where Test Track and Mission: Space were we spied something odd.

It was a bunch of cast members shouting ‘yay’ and waving their arms. Since I had read a lot about the Year of a Million Dreams before we left, I knew it had to be the Dream Team. It was them and we got our first Dream – Dream Fastpasses! This meant we would be able to use the fastpass line for every attraction in Epcot that had fastpass access.

We went off and rode some rides. A little while later, we ended up in the same spot and the Dream Team was there again! This time we got a free pin lanyard with two Dream pins on it. The Dream Team and Todd joked that we were stalking them.

Even though we didn't see the Dream Team again we did get another dream. When we were at The American Adventure, we were a bit early for the show. The cast member near the door told us we had a call and lead us to a phone in the entryway. On the other line, was Mickey and Minnie congratulating us on our marriage. We were also made the First Family of that show so we were allowed to sit in the balcony area to listen to the Voices of Liberty preshow as well as being the first people in to see the American Adventure show. We also got a dream certificate.

We spent most of the rest of the day wandering around World Showcase. We spent a lot of time in the Japan area getting most candy and treats. Finally we ended up in Germany for our special anniversary dinner at the Rose and the Crown.

The food was delicious and once it was time for the fireworks show, IllumiNations to start we were lead onto the patio area. We had a wonderful view of the fireworks and once they were over, our dessert was waiting for us.

The next day we ventured off of Disney’s property to check out Universal Studios. We got there pretty early and the lines were really short most of the day. One of the first rides we did was the Mummy roller coaster and it was one of the most intense rides I've ever been on. Todd lost his sunglasses and I was holding on to my glasses for dear life since I didn't have a spare pair.

We did most of the rides in the original park and then had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Then we headed over to Islands of Adventure. This was before the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was there but there were a lot of cool rides.
Scary Hulk coaster

Todd rode on the Hulk roller coaster first but I chickened out. He said it was a great coaster. We did most of the rides, though we got soaked on the Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls ride. We rode a few more rides after that, including the Jurassic Park ride that was awesome. But finally our soaked clothes dampened our fun and we headed back to the car.

We actually lost our car and circled the parking lot a dozen times before we finally found it. I was so relieved once we found it.  We spent the rest of the day just relaxing at our resort.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Movies Set in the Harry Potter Universe

Harry Potter cosplayers from the D*C 2007 Parade
It was announced today that new movies set in the Harry Potter universe have been green lit by Warner Bros. The movies will be based on one of the textbooks, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, with the story supposedly following the author, Newt Scamander, as he writes the book.

While I love Harry Potter, both the books and the movies, I’m not sure how I feel about this. It seems like a money grab a bit, but on the other hand I’d love more from the Harry Potter Universe.

I’m sure I’ll go see the movies though, since I am a geek. Hopefully they will be as soon as the other movies in the Harry Potter Universe.

What do you all think of the news of new movies?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

One Month Until Disney!

Dressed as Sophia & ready for Disney World!
Today is a special day for me that doesn't have anything to do with the events of 12 years ago today. Today is exactly one month until we go to Walt Disney World!

I've talked about my previous trips and I’ll finish up my write up of my Disney honeymoon soon. Disney World is my favorite place in the whole world. It was only three months after we got back from our last trip that I became pregnant with Emily.

Since I was pregnant, I've been dreaming about taking her to the World. When we were on our honeymoon, Todd and I both decided that we wanted to wait until our child was old enough to walk on her own and be potty trained. We originally thought about waiting until her 6th birthday.

Because of the way the school cut-off falls in NC, Emily is still in preschool this year. Because of that, I convinced Todd that we should go this year instead of next year because she wouldn't be missing actual school. My logic won out and I started planning our trip in earnest in March of 2012.

I've been working with a great travel agent over at MouseFan Travel to get everything set. My travel agent, Sara, was able to get us the coveted Be Our Guest reservation as well as a great early reservation for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. We are also lucky enough to get to try out the new Magic Bands!

There have been several things that nearly derailed our trip. First, Emily had to have dental surgery back in

May and we weren't sure if we could afford both.  We were able to come up with the money and Emily’s teeth have been very healthy since her surgery.

Then about a month ago, things got very bad for Todd at his job forcing him to find a new job. Thankfully he
found a new job that he likes a whole lot better right away, but it made me a little nervous for a while there.

But here we are, one month away and everything is all set. Our trip is paid off and mostly I just need to pack. I got Emily a Sophia the First dress last week for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and even made her a countdown chain.

She’s excited but I know I’m more excited than she is. It’s been a heck of year but in 30 days I’ll be in my favorite place in the whole world and that will make everything better.

9/11 Memories

Since today is 9/11, I thought I post some memories I have of that day in 2001.

I was still in college at that point and living with some friends. I didn't have any early classes that day so I had been in my room playing a video game all morning. My door had been open and one of my roommates popped his head in to tell me that there was an attack in New York.

Classes ended up being canceled so I spent most of the day watching the news in shocked horror. A bunch of people ended up coming over to our apartment but we didn't talk much.

I did end up on the phone with my mom, who told me to go get gas in my car. I went out by myself for some reason and it was eerie out there. There were hardly any cars out except for the long lines at the gas stations. I had to wait a while to get gas and it was so quiet despite all the people also waiting to get gas.

I also ended up going out with some friends to get gas in their car. That was a little better because we were talking some and it wasn't so lonely.

The next few days were strange as well as more news came out about the attacks. It was a sad and strange week for me because my grandmother passed away a few days after 9/11 happened.

Eventually things resumed normalcy, but on this day I’m always taken back to the horror of that day. I didn't know anyone who died in either New York, the plane that went down or the Pentagon, but it was still something that I think changed everyone in America that day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chronic Pain and Suicide

My two big reasons for living
I was reading the blogs I follow yesterday and I came across The Bloggess’ post about Suicide Prevention Week. Her post has some great links to where you can get help if you are feeling suicidal. But I thought I’d talk a little about chronic pain and suicide.

When I was a teenager, a friend of the family committed suicide. He was in a dead end job and his wife had just left him. Since I was so young, I saw things more in black and white. I couldn't understand why anyone would take their life. Now that I’m older and have more life experience, I can understand it a little more.

It always makes me sad when I hear that someone with chronic pain has committed suicide, but I can understand. I've had those thoughts myself sometimes. I've never been really suicidal, but some days when the pain is really bad and I get really depressed, it’s hard not to have those thoughts.

Living with chronic pain is hard even on the good days. I’m one of the lucky ones. I can hold a job and do fun thinks like Dragon Con and Disney World. But sometimes the pain levels get unbearable. This past Sunday night I was in a lot of pain and Todd was working. I was going down the path of bad depression, but I wasn't suicidal thank goodness.

I have had vaguely suicidal thoughts in the past, especially when my chronic pain first started. Chronic pain plus depression and anxiety is not a good combination. I've thought about how I would do it but that’s as far as it’s ever gone.

There is so much to live for. For me, I have my wonderful husband and child, plus all my friends and family. And I’m a Christian so I don’t really want to tempt fate / Hell by taking my life. I just try to take it one day at a time.

I hope that if I became truly suicidal, I would get help. Life is precious, even with chronic pain.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Birthday Party Gauntlet

A few weekends ago, Emily was invited to two back to back birthday parties. Originally, Todd planned to come with us, but since he got a new job where he works on the weekend, I had to endure the birthday parties solo.

Now I don’t mind taking Emily to parties, but I’m an introvert and a geek. It’s hard for me to make normal conversation with people sometimes. So the whole afternoon was really tiring – it made me think of the episode of Hercules where Xena has to go through the gauntlet. Of course, with less hitting and pain than she had to endure.

The first one was an outdoor pool party. It’s been unseasonably cool for August
in NC, so it was I wasn't sure if Emily would want to swim. She did and ended up having a great time splashing in the pool and tossing water balloons. Though she would stop playing every little bit because she want her towel and want me to hold her. My pants got a little wet.

I talked with the other parents. The mom of one of the birthday girls and I talked about Disney since they are going a few weeks after we are. The same birthday girl’s grandmother is someone I know from church so I talked to her a bit too. I also took a lot of pictures on my phone.

As the time when on, it got even more overcast and Emily got cold. We got her changed and then it was time for cake. They had a bunch of food to munch on plus hotdogs so we were able to have a good lunch. There was cookie cake too which Emily liked, but was more interested in getting more

We left with just enough time go get across town to the 2nd party. At this point, I was starting to feel tired. I hadn't slept well the night before since Todd had been working all night and it was starting to catch up with me.

The 2nd party was a Dora themed party at the Little Gym. The kids got to run around and play on gym equipment while the Dora theme song played over and over. This was the most painful part of the day because I don’t like that song even once. But dozens of times got to be very grating on my ears. The guy running the party would stop the song o’ doom to do some activities with the kids. They played with a bouncy mat, got to run around after bubbles and had some fun with a parachute.

Emily’s best friend, William, was there so she spent most of her time running and playing with him. Once it was time for cake and presents, I was really tired. We stayed long enough to watch the birthday girl open her presents and to have some cake. Then we headed back home.

Even though it was tiring for me, I was glad we went to both parties because Emily had a great time. It was nice for her to see her friends since she didn't have a whole lot of playdates this summer. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Book Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty is the story of Alice who loses ten years of memory after she a head injury during a spin class. The last thing she can remember is being happy married to her husband Nick as well as being pregnant with her first child. She now finds herself to be in the midst of a divorce as well as the mother of three kids. Alice embarks to remember her missing years as well as try to reconcile with the man she loves so much.
This book was one that I found hard to put down. I felt a lot of sympathy for Alice as she tried to piece together what had happened to cause her marriage to break down to the point that it was ending. I felt like I had a lot in common with young Alice, partly because I lost two days a few years ago that I still don’t remember. What Alice Forgot also made me think a lot about my past and how my future is going as I wondered what my marriage and I would be like in ten years.
I would recommend What Alice Forgot to anyone. It is an engaging book with interesting characters and an intriguing premise.
Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

How a Fair Ride Nearly Killed Me

I was reading the Illustrated with Crappy Pictures blog today and it was about an outing they went on to a county fair. It was a sweet post about seeing animals and accidentally eating prized tomatoes. I used to go to the Ottawa County Fair every year when I was a kid, but the last time I went I had a horrifying experience.

When I would go to the fair, I would go to ride on the rides. There was usually a set price you could pay to ride unlimited rides, so I usually got that. I was home for the summer from college one year when my mom and I went to the fair.

My mom and I rode everything that day. I’m not much of a thrill junkie but the rides at the fair are usually pretty tame. I had ridden the pirate ship before so I didn't think anything of it when my mom and I got in line. I was in for the most terrifying ride of my life.

The ride started out normally enough, but the guy running the ride let it swing further and further. I really thought we were going to actually turn upside down. My mom was great and held it together for me and another girl who was on the ride alone.

Finally the terror stopped and the ride was over. I couldn't get off of their fast enough. Once we were on solid ground, my mom admitted that she had been scared too. My mom was a bit of a thrill junkie and wasn't afraid of anything. So that made me feel cold all over to think my mom thought we were going to get hurt too.

To this day, I refuse to ride on the pirate ship no matter where it’s at. Just seeing a pirate ship ride like that makes me feel anxious and scared. I’ll ride roller coasters and other scary ride, but no pirate ships. Never again!

HERO Games

I've played quite a few role-playing games (of the rolling dice sort) over the years. I started out with D&D and then played quite a bit of World of Darkness in college. But of all the systems I've ever played, HERO Games is my favorite.
I was introduced to HERO Games when my husband and I made our first friends after moving to North Carolina. They were a geeky couple like we were and they were looking for some gamers to join them in a weekly game. I jumped at the chance because it had been years since I had been in a regular game. The system they played in was HERO Games.
It took a little while to get used to the new system, but I quickly fell in love. Character creation can take a while because it is a system that is very character orientated. But there is a computer program,HERO Designer, that speeds up the process a great deal.
You can play any sort of game you want in HERO from fantasy games to superhero ones to anything in between. There is combat like in other role-playing games, but the stories tend to be more character driven. I've played in games that there was little to no combat but it’s still very fun.
When you create your character, you decide on a variety of things like strength, intelligence and other things you would find in other games. You can put points into how attractive your character as well, which is a neat little quirk of the system. But the most interesting thing, to me, is that you get to give your character advantages and disadvantages.
The disadvantages can make the games very interesting, especially if your GM uses them. I think the most unique disadvantage I've seen was when a friend of mine played in her first game Her character was completely blind, which is a huge disadvantage. It made things difficult for the whole party sometimes, but it made things interesting as well.
For anyone who might be looking for a new role-playing system to play in, I would greatly recommend HERO Games. It will probably always be my favorite system because of the story and character driven elements to it.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dragon Con 2013 - Sunday

This is the 3rd installment of my Dragon Con Trip Report. Click the links for Friday's post and Saturday's post!

The Sunday of Dragon Con is always the last day for us because we like to get home as early as possible on Monday since we have a three and a half hour drive. Plus I had to work the next day so I like to rest and recover on Labor Day.

Sunday we slept in a little. I slept as long as Emily would let me, but I let Todd sleep for a while after that. Emily and I played the Dino Hunt Dice that I had gotten her the day before. I won the first two games, but she stomped me on the third game.

We got Todd up and I got dressed. I wore my American McGee’s Alice dress and it was really comfortable. We got down to the con and went to the Sheraton for another ghost investigation panel. It was just as interesting as the first one we went to, but there was a jerk in the audience. They did a q&a session after they did their presentation, and this guy started basically attacking them. Saying that that must not think that their research wasn't good or true if they hadn't entered some contest where if you prove the existence of life after death you’d win a million dollars. The spirit hunters didn't know what he was talking about and he was just really being a dick. After he said his piece, he just left.

I know that people are skeptics but there is no reason to be a dick about it, especially at a panel on the paranormal track. Dragon Con even has a whole skeptics track for those who don’t believe. It was just rude.

But from there, we went to get in line to see a paranormal illusionist. Neither Todd nor I knew what to expect but it sounded cool and we were already in the Sheraton. It ended up being awesome! It was creepy and interesting and his tricks were top notch. He had a lot of audience participation and it was one of the highlights of the con.

From there, we were going to head back to the food court, but it had started pouring and we didn’t have an umbrella. We waited a few minutes but when it looked like it wasn't going to let up anytime soon, I broke down and bought an expensive umbrella from the gift shop.

I huddled next to Todd and we made it back to the Peachtree Center without getting too soaked. My feet were wet though because I was wearing my crocs. Since it was pouring, everyone had come inside so it was suddenly very crowded. We had to wait in line just to get into the food court. We got food and then went back to the Marriott (and had to wait in line again) to wait for the last panel I was going to be on.

We had about an hour before the panel started and ended up being first in line. We ate our lunch and had fun
Phineas and Ferb cosplayers!
people watching as we waited for the panel. Since I was a panelist, I got to go in early which was cool. The panel was on Phineas and Ferb and it was a lot of fun. We had a pretty full room and a few Phineas and Ferb cosplayers!

Once the panel was over, so was Dragon Con for us. I was beat and there wasn't really anything else that I wanted to do so we headed out.

It was an interesting Dragon Con. I didn't go to any of the huge panels this year and found that I had more fun going to the smaller panels. It was crowded but I still had a lot of fun and will be back next year!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cosplay and Snobs

An example of piss poor cosplay
So I have another Heroes of Cosplay rant. I love the show for the beautiful costumes, but sometimes the attitudes on the show annoy me to no end.

In this week’s episode we see Monika being uber bitchy at every turn. I’m not sure why and I’m not sure if they edited her to be that way, but her attitude really sucked. Especially when she was so mean to Becky who I think has made some wonderful costumes. Cosplay should be about wearing costumes and having fun, but Monika sucked all the fun out.  It was a shame too since Fushigi Yugi is one of my favorite animes.

Now I’m not a very good cosplayer. I buy costumes and I hobble other ones together. I hand sewed my Kaylee layer cake dress and it turned out ok, but it’s falling apart now. I've had people look down at me for even thinking about making the layer cake because it’s complicated. I was told that I shouldn't do it unless I can sew really well and I got a snotty attitude from another layer cake cosplayer when I marched in the Dragon Con parade a few years ago.

Yes, it was kind of crappy, but it turned out better than I thought. And I had fun wearing it, which is the point of cosplay. Now I wouldn't complete in any of the cosplay contests, especially at Dragon Con, because I know my costumes aren’t that great. But I cosplay to run around in a fun costume.

I wore three costumes at Dragon Con this year. Two of them I bought and one I put together. I didn't get a lot of people asking me to take my picture, but a few people did. I can’t imagine not wearing a costume to Dragon Con and I had fun wearing the ones that I did. Unfortunately, there will be those snobby people who look down at other cosplayers because their costumes might not be as great as theirs.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dragon Con 2013 - Saturday

This is the 2nd installment of my Dragon Con Trip Report. Click the link for Friday's post!

I got Todd up bright and early on Saturday morning so we could head back down to the con. I have marched in the parade the last few years and I had signed up to march with the WhedonVerse folks again. Because of a trolley being put in downtown, the parade route and the staging area had to be moved. So I was a little neurotic about trying to find the new staging area.

Without too much difficulty, we found it. I gave Todd my bag and told him I’d call him when I was done. It was about an hour wait before the parade started. It’s always fun to watch all the other people in their great costumes. I think my favorite this year was the Steampunk Tigger that walked by.

The parade was awesome to be in as usual. I twirled my parasol and waved as I walked with the other Firefly folks. The crowds watching seemed massive, even more than last year. But everyone seemed to enjoy the parade.

Once the parade was over, I went to meet Todd. I was supposed to meet him in the area outside the Walk of Fame. I walked all the way around there twice and didn't see him. So I started calling and texting. I have anxiety issues normally so when I couldn't find him and he wasn't answering his phone, I felt a panic attack creeping up.

Finally he texted me that he was in the food court and had no signal. I told him where I was at and waited, trying to push back the panic. He showed up, with food and we ate. From there, we decided to go back to the dealer’s room o’ doom. Emily had pleaded for an Artemis stuffy to go with the Luna one we bought her. I stopped by the BPAL booth to sniff a little and talk to Beth. I got my picture with Beth too.

Then we went deeper into the 2nd floor of the dealer’s room. We started out by a food vendor and I got some yummy lemonade. I went over to the Steve Jackson Games booth to look for a dice game for Emily. One of the vendors took a long time to help me out and recommended Dino Hunt Dice. I got that for Emily. She loves it because it’s easy to play and she gets to roll dice. From there, we circled around looking for the vendor we got Luna from. We got turned around quickly but finally found another vendor who had an Artemis kitty. I got it and we got the heck out of the dealer’s room o’ doom.

There was a panel I wanted to go to in the Sheraton about a ghost investigation in NC. Todd grumbled about having to walk all the way to the Sheraton, but since he didn't have anything else to do, he came with me. We were about an hour early for the panel. We sat on the floor across from the room, by a power outlet. We changed our phones up a little and I read on my Kindle since there was no signal at all. Once the room was open, we got great seats right up front.

The panel was really interesting. Both Todd and I like watching ghost shows on TV and we live in a haunted house. The hour flew by and we left the Sheraton to hustle over to the Hyatt so I could meet the Fraggles.

Fraggle Rock was one of my favorite shows as a kid, so I wanted to get my picture with Red and Mokey. We made it just in time and were able to get into the room. We waited about 45 minutes so I could get my picture. And we each got a free autographed mini poster which Todd was geeked about.

I had planned on going back to the Marriott to see the Phineas and Ferb panel, but the crowds were making me feel a little claustrophobic. So we opted to go back to my aunt and uncle’s house. It was a long day of battling the crowds, but I had a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Day of Pre-K!

Emily started school again today. Because the cut-off here is August 31st, she still in preschool. She's in the Pre-K class this year.

Emily was very excited to get back to school. Most of her friends from last year are in her class this year. Todd is also excited since he'll use the time she's in school to work on his school work.

I'm very happy that my little girl loves school so much. I hope that continues as she gets older!

Dragon Con 2013 - Friday

Me and Kathy Najimy
In year’s past, we would drive down early on Thursday so we’d be able to get our badges. But since I have been working from home, I don’t have any vacation time. So I worked on Thursday until 3:30 pm and we left after that.

Last year we did the same thing and made it through the pre-reg line in about ten minutes. We hoped for the same this year, especially since I was on a panel at 10 am.  We got in line about 8:30 am and it was wrapped all the way around the Sheraton. I was worried that we wouldn't make it through in time to get to my panel.

Thankfully the line moved pretty fast and we made it inside after about 45 minutes. The line for pre-reg was really short and we just had to go through the queues. We made it out in plenty of time and hustled over to the Marriott for my panel.

I made it in time for the Princess, Fairies, and Pirates panel which was through the Kaleidoscope track. It was basically an all things Disney panel. I was one of the panelists and we all had a great time taking Disney with a packed room.

From there, Todd came with me to the Sheraton. I was supposed to take part in a Disney photo shoot since I was cosplaying as Snow White that day. I got my parade wristband while we were there, and then I started feeling really lightheaded. I hadn't eaten all day and I knew that I needed to get food.

We headed back to the food court and got lunch. It’s always fun to just sit and rest in the food court while people watching. By the time we were done, it was about an hour before the dealer’s room and Walk of Fame would be open. So I opted to give blood.

I have very small veins, so some years are more difficult than others to give blood. This year was one of the smoothest. The person got it in without any issues and it didn't take long for my bag o’ blood to fill up. I got my snack afterwards and my t-shirt (which I lost somewhere), and met up with Todd.

We headed to the Walk of Fame which is where all the celebrities do autographs and pictures. We did a walk through and figured out who was there and which autographs we wanted. My first autograph was Sylvester McCoy who was one of the Doctors in Doctor Who as well as being Radagast the Brown. He was very nice.

Todd got some autographs and we headed over to the dealer’s room. This was in a whole different building this year, now in the America’s Mart. I had hopes it would be less crowded, and in some ways it was, but the layout was really confusing. I found what I needed for my Kaylee costume right away and got to sniff some BPAL. I also got a few other things like a stuffed Luna for Emily. But we had some issues finding the exit when we were ready to leave.

We went back to the Walk of Fame and got the rest of our autographs. I got my picture with Kathy Najimy and the actor who plays Hershel on The Walking Dead. I got the rest of the Hobbit guests autograph my Hobbit poster. Todd got a couple of the Walking Dead guests and Adrian Paul. Everyone was very nice.

It was really crowded on Friday, more so than usual. So I opted not to do anymore panels. We got some supper in the food court and then headed back to my aunt and uncle’s house. I was pretty beat from all the running around and I had been woken up early by my small child. Plus we were going to have an early day with the parade on Saturday.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Bad of Dragon Con

This year was my 7th Dragon Con. Always there are good and bad things about the con. I’m sure if the bad outweighs the good, we’d stop going. But so far that hasn't happened. I’ll be covering the good things in my day by day con reports.

The biggest bad of Dragon Con this year were the crowds. Usually Friday and Sunday are less crowded, but there was a huge amount of people on Friday. And it got more crowded on Sunday when everyone went inside when the thunderstorms started. Of course, Saturday was insanely crowed as usual. Sometimes it was hard to move.

Since I had to work until 3:30 pm on Thursday, we had to get our badges on Friday. Last year, it took maybe ten minutes to get through the reg line and we had hoped for a similar experience this year. Alas, last year was a fluke. We got in the line that was wrapped around the Sheraton around 8:30 am. The line did move pretty fast and once we got inside, it only took about five minutes. The problem was that pre reg and at con reg people were put in the same line outside. It would have taken a lot less time if they had a way to separate everyone from the beginning. But we made it through in about 45 minutes so I was able to make my panel.

The last big bad of the con was the move of the dealer’s room to the America’s Mart. It seemed like a good idea because supposedly it would give more room for the dealers. But it was still really crowded and the layout was super confusing. We got lost and turned around a lot especially when we were trying to find the exit. It wasn't a great move in my opinion.

That was it for the bad. There was a lot of good of Dragon Con this year. I’ll be posting about each day starting tomorrow once I get a little more rest.