Monday, April 13, 2015

We've moved!

This is the last update I'll be making over here on the blogger site!

ParentingGeekly 2.0 now lives at: 
(the url was just redirected here up until now).

You can follow me on twitter here:

And on facebook here:

This is the last update I'll be making over here on the Blogger site!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Convention Tips and Etiquette

Last week I had a chance to participate in a Seattle AntiFreeze Event at the Museum of History and Industry.  This fun monthly event features people from different Seattle communities sharing some of the things that makes Seattle special. I am on the Board of GeekGirlCon and I presented with Board President, Kristine Hassell.  We talked about what makes GGC special and how Seattle, with it's plethora of conventions, is a great place to be a geek!

Emerald City Comicon, is coming up soon and it kicks off the start of Seattle's Con Season.   Between now and November there is at least one con a month including SakuraCon, PAX. Norwescon, Jet City Comic Show as well as some smaller more specialized offerings (Supernatural Con, anyone?)

I am a seasoned con-goer at this point and one the most frequently asked questions ParentingGeeky gets is "What can I expect at my first con?"  So, whether you are new to cons or a seasoned pro, these tips will help you make the most of your con experience!

What to Wear

Deodorant - It may be a cliche that cons can get stinky, but with a lot of people crammed into relatively small spaces it’s bound to happen. Do your part by wearing deodorant! Conversely, many people are sensitive to strong smells, skip the body sprays and perfumes.
Comfortable shoes - This is not the time to try out your sweet new stilettos. You will be on your feet for hours, take care of them! Even if your cosplay requires fancy feet, bring something comfy to change into.
LayersGoing from a stuffy a exhibition hall to an overly air conditioned auditorium can make staying comfortable tricky. Dress in layers so you are prepared for any situation.
Sun Protection - At bigger cons like San Diego ComicCon and PAX, you will be traveling between multiple buildings and may even have to stand in line outside. Even at ECCC, which is mostly in one building, you may wish to venture out to a nearby restaurant or sit in the attached park. Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses can be a lifesaver.

What to Bring:

Hand sanitizer/Disinfectant Wipes - Cons are germy places. Hand sanitizer can be used before and after shaking hands, though it isn't a substitute for frequent hand washing. Wipes can be used on communal game controllers, pens, etc.
Snacks and Water - Con food is expensive and sometimes hard to come by. Tidy snacks like jerky, granola bars, and trail mix can stave off low blood sugar. You can refill water bottles in sinks and water fountains for free.
Sharpies - Always good to have your own supply for signings.
Folder, backing board, poster tube - For keeping new purchases from getting rumpled.
Patience - Lines are long, sometimes even moving through the crowd in the expo halls can take a long time. Be patient and kind, even when everyone else isn’t.
Line Entertainment - Especially important if you have kids. Books, tablets, a Gameboy all help lines go faster.
WiFi Hotspot - If you have one, bring it. Con wifi is notoriously slow, if it’s even available. Even 4G data can get pretty clogged with so many users in one place, so keep expectations low and download entertainment before hand rather than counting on streaming while there.
Money (and a budget) - Cons are expensive! Make a loop around the whole vendor area before you spend. Otherwise you might blow your whole budget before you've even seen everything.
A backpack, but not a BACKPACK - I appreciate the convenience of toting my stuff around in a backpack, but can’t tell you how many times I've been hit in face by a tall person who swings around suddenly with a huge, fully extended pack on them. Try to take up as small a footprint as you can, and be mindful of the people around you.

How to approach guests, speakers, creators, etc.

Those you know and admire
If they are sitting at their table or another public area of the con where they are clearly working: say hi! Keep interactions short, especially if there is a line. Don’t get too personal. Respect personal space and any rules posted about autographs and photos; at many cons pictures are not allowed at tables because there is a professional photographer to buy photos from. If no rules or prices are posted, ask before taking photos. It is a surprise to many first time con-goers that media guests and celebrities frequently charge for an autograph.  These fees can range from $15 to hundreds of dollars (Sylvester Stallone notoriously charged $395 at NYCC in 2013)  - though prices usually cap off around $100 for event the biggest celebrities.

If you bump into them in a con area restaurant, shop or a bathroom, or roaming the con as an attendee: A simple smile and nod is appropriate. Notables need some downtime to recharge, be polite and let them have it.

People you are unfamiliar with: Ask them what they are working on! Most people are there to share their passion or a current project and will be happy to tell you all about it. No need to be shy! A simple “I’m unfamiliar with your work, what is your current project” will get the ball rolling!

As a parent who frequently has my geeklings in tow, I also wrote a guide to bringing them to conventions:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Is it Worth Your Allowance?: Grow Home

Is it Worth Your Allowance? Is a weekly column written by 14 year old Nate. Nate reviews inexpensive games and lets your geeklings know if it's worth spending their hard earned allowance on. Have a game to suggest? You can email Nate here.

Game: Grow Home 
Genre: sandbox, climbing, adventure, casual
Cost: $7.99

Grow Home is a game where you play as B.U.D. (botanical utility droid) who is a small red wobbly robot made to grow and climb star plants. Your objective is to grow a star plant into space. Along the way the star plant will create a tangled web of branches that you bring all the way up to your mothership. 

The artstyle is very colorful and charming. Its low poly count creates a blocky look, but makes for a smooth game play experience, because there is less strain on the hardware. The game is easy to play but still challenging. At any second you could fall off of a mile high floating island and either have climb back up or use one of the teleporters scattered around the map. But if you do fall you can die, though the only punishment is that you’ll have to climb up again, this can be prevented by using things like your jet pack or glide leaf or fall flower (giant daisy that acts like a parachute). I like that you can go out of your way to collect energy crystals and have a different experience than if you didn't, because when you collect enough crystals you get upgrades. I have a lot of fun using the glide leaf and the jet pack together to fly around the web of branches that I have made. I recomend this game for ages 8 and up.
Overall, my final rating for this game is 8/10 and I definitely think it’s worth your allowance.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Parent Guide to Cinderella: Can I bring my 5 year old to Cinderella?

I have had four family members ask me this weekend if Cinderella is okay for their kids.  Here is a my quick review and parent guide.

This new live-action version of Cinderella from Disney doesn't stray too far from the source material, which in this case is the animated Disney version from 1950.  It stars a wide-eyed Lily James (familiar as Cousin Rose to Downton Abbey fans) as Ella, the beloved daughter of a beautiful mother and a merchant father.  Ella's mother teaches her that above all else, it is important to have courage and be kind (apparently very important, as this mantra is repeated about 20 times in the film).  After the death of her mother, her father marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), who along with her bratty daughters make life miserable for Ella right from the get-go.  After Ella's father dies, the abuse at the hands of her stepfamily gets worse, and after dirtying herself in the fireplace, she is bestowed the new name "Cinder-Ella".  

One of the aspects that I enjoyed in this film was that with it's longer running length than it's animated source, they delve into the backstories of the characters a bit more. Lady Tremaine is still an awful person, but at least we are given a reason for her cold heartedness.  Even the prince has a backstory, which certainly makes him more sympathetic than the cartoon version, but there is still the pesky "love at first sight" plot which I don't love.

Should you bring your kids to Cinderella?  There isn't much that's objectionable here.  There is no bad language, no sex, no explosions or violence, no drug references.  The characters of Lady Tremaine and the Stepsisters are overtly mean - even cruel - to Cinderella, which may be a good talking point. Other talking points:  Why does Cinderella stay?  How are her mother's words "Have courage brave and be kind" important?

I think kids under five may be bored.  There is not as much comedic relief from talking mice (Cinderella's live action mouse friends are bit less adorable), and it's a dialogue driven film.  On that same note, 14 year old Nate was also pretty bored.  His review of the movie was that it was nothing new. Granted, teenaged boys are probably not the target audience, but if you are picking a movie for the whole family it's definitely something to keep in mind. 

Cinderella is playing in theaters now.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Is it Worth Your Allowance? - Beseige

Is it Worth Your Allowance? is a new column where my 15 year old geekling reviews video games that cost about 10 dollars. He will give a run down on all the relevant information, a short review, and will let *your* geekling know if it's a game that's worth their allowance.

Reviewed by Nate

Genre: building, physics
Cost: $6.99
Developer: Spiderling Studios
If you’re interested in buying this game go to this link

Besiege is a game where you build medieval siege machines to complete a given objective. I recomend this game for people ages 10 and up because it has cartoon violence and minor gore (you can burn or run over people, though it’s not realistic). 

The games allows you to make almost anything from the wide variety of given parts. It has 15 levels for you to go through with challenges ranging from destroying buildings to moving boulders. The developers are still adding content like levels and building materials. 

I dislike that the camera is always manually controlled, but that isn't really a problem - more of a preference. This is an early access game which means that it isn't 100 percent finished, but the game is completely playable and the devs are still adding and changing things. 

The most impressive machine I built was an airship that had 7 flamethrowers on the bottom, which  I used in a challenge to kill sheep. My airship is nothing compared to the things the community has built, like transformers and giant walkers.

Overall, my final rating for this game is 8/10 and I definitely think it’s worth your allowance.

Have an idea for an inexpensive, teen friendly game Nate should review?  Email him here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bellevue Staycation Part 2: John Howie Steak.

This is the second part of my Bellevue Staycation wrap up!  Read the first part here.

I  have been ruined. After the amazing anniversary dinner we had at John Howie Steak, I don't know if I'll  ever want to eat "normal" food again.  I dream of the delicious food we served that night, and I am a little hesitant to even share it with you, lest you suffer my fate.  But, it's kind of my job to share with you, so I will.

When we first started thinking about where to celebrate our 15th Anniversary, many friends suggested iconic Seattle restaurant Canlis.  We loved the idea of eating at a premier high-end restaurant, but Canlis is a pretty dressy-uppy place (they actually won't seat you near a window if you aren't wearing a jacket) and while I love to get dolled up, it's not Super-Dad's thing.  One of our favorite parts of dining at John Howie was its "come as you are" attitude.  I was wearing a causal dress, and SD had on dark jeans and a sweater.  We were totally comfortable and didn't feel at all out of place.  Looking around we saw many other couples dressed like us, a party really dressed to the nines and one couple who was very casual with the lady in a tank top.  Everyone was treated with the same fantastic service.  It is hard to enjoy yourself if you feel like everyone is judging you, so John Howie Steak's welcoming atmosphere was definitely a highlight

We were comfortable at John Howie, and it just added to the magnificent experience, but don't get me wrong, John Howie is FANCY.  White table cloths, the waiters wear white coats and bow ties.  In between courses they cleared the table with a crumb scraper; I didn't even think those were real things any more.  When we arrived our awesome waiter brought us a great selection of bread and crackers and an amuse bouche of soup.  I had a taste of the creamy crab and smoked salmon chowder, Super-Dad is gluten free, and they accommodated him with a taste of tomato soup.  We were each a little jealous, salmon chowder is one of his favorites, and I love tomato soup.  I was able to taste his, but thanks to his Celiac Disease, I couldn't share the chowder  (Darn, more for me!).

We started our meal with a spinach salad prepared tableside.  It was so fun to watch one of the waitstaff  "captains" prepare salad. We watched him sautee the bacon and shallots, made the vinaigrette and tossed the whole thing together with some Marcona Almonds, the whole thing was topped off with perfectly fried quail eggs, which made a unctuous sauce with its yolk.  The salad was
delicious, with just the perfect amount of wilt on the spinach.  He cooked over a single piece of charcoal, which was much cooler than the sterno or hot plate we've seen at other restaurants.

Then it was time for my favorite thing to eat: meat. Look, we know beef.  Super-Dad's parents own a cattle ranch in Washington's Skagit Valley.  We're not talking a giant, commercial farm here.  Hemlock Highlands is a boutique ranch that raises a small herd of Scottish Highland Cattle for beef.  Their beef is aged for 21 days, an artisanal process that most big farms that supply restaurants don't have time to devote to. This is why seeing that John Howie offers steaks aged for 28, 35 or an astonishing 42 days  blew our minds.  Most restaurants are more concerned about getting their product to the customer as quickly as possible, John Howie cares about quality, and it shows.

For our entree we had a terrible time deciding which cuts of meat to order, everything sounded so good.  We decided that since it was an anniversary dinner we would go with a Tableside for Two choice.  We chose the 36 oz. Prime Bone-in Rib Eye Steak. In case your math is bad, that's two and quarter pounds of steak! It came out looking like something from the Flintstones, just a huge, beautiful cut of meat with a big bone sticking out of it. It's served with roasted vegetables and a Bordelaise sauce that the chef specially prepared to be gluten free.  The tableside service means that this perfectly  medium rare beauty was sliced and plated right in front of us.  It was so, so good.  SD ate all of his steak, the vegetables and the side of wild mushrooms we ordered.  I ate as much of mine as I could and (probably a bit more), and I still had enough leftovers to make an amazing meal the next day.

We almost passed up dessert, but we just can't say no to creme brulee, and this was the best creme brulee we had ever had.  It was perfectly smooth, without a hint of graininess, and just a touch of sweet vanilla.  It was served with a cute heart shaped candle in honor of anniversary.  SD accompanied his with what he called an "awesome" Irish Coffee, and I had an expertly crafted latte.

We left with a few truffles, very full bellies, a wonderful Anniversary memory  and plans to return (they have a Sunday Family Dinner that I bet my geeklings would love)!  The service was impeccable, we especially appreciated the care with which they accommodated Super-Dad's dietary restriction.  The atmosphere was elegant but comfortable, and the food was some of the best we've enjoyed.  Thanks, John Howie Steak for hosting our Anniversary dinner!

For more information and reservations:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Join ParentingGeekly at SAM Remix on March 13

Hey Seattle Area geeks! I am jazzed to be one of Seattle Art Museum's guest tweeters for their SAM Remix party on March 13th, in celebration of their Indigenous Beauty exhibit. I will be taking over the @iheartsam twitter handle for an hour (Exact time TBA) and will be live tweeting the rest of the event from my twitter handle - @ParentingGeekly.

From SAM:
Choose your own adventure from this fabulous late night of performances, activities, dancing, and more with Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection and SAM’s fantastic collection. No two #SAMRemix events are the same!
Tickets and more info can be found here:

This is a fun way to experience the museum in a non-museum like setting (DJs! Irreverent tours! Rube Goldberg machine making!) and I would love to see some blog readers there. ParentingGeekly readers can get $5 off the ticket price by using the code twitterremix0313 during checkout.

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