Monday, August 29, 2011

First look at The Hunger Games film!

During last night's MTV Video Music Awards Jennifer Lawrence, who is starring in The Hunger Games as Katniss, introduced the first teaser trailer. It's very, very short, but gives a nice taste of what we are in store for.

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

I'm SUPER excited for this film! What do you think?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

PAX Party!

Sorry for the drive by post, I've been super busy at PAX and working on a secret guest post project, but I wanted to remind you that on Sunday morning The Geeky Hostess and I will be hosting a mini-party at PAX! Join us in the main lobby of the convention center for treats, coffee and juice for the kids! This part of the Convention Center is public, so even if you aren't joining the festivities at PAX, you could come say hi!

More info here:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Check out this Portal Fan Film

This is pretty awesome.  Someone needs to sign this guy to a deal to develop a full length Portal movie.

How would make a Portal movie? Would it be dark and gritty like this, would it be funny?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Parenting Magazine and Sesame Workshop team up to bring us "Sesame Corner"

This post has everything I love: Sesame Street, free stuff, and homeschooling / education materials.  ,  The folks over at Parenting Magazine have a bunch of printable coloring pages and worksheets available on their website. While I just found out this about this via a tweet from @Parenting, they have been offering a new themed pack about once a month since March of 2008!  Your child can learn about Thanksgiving, Recycling, Back to School, Colors, Animals and more with these printable sets.  My only complaint is that the process of clicking and and downloading each page simultaneously is a bit tedious, but again, it's a great free resource!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Seattle Area Geeks: Can't make it PAX? There's other video game fun to be had

Didn't get tickets to PAX?  Decided to stay home with the littler kids? No fear, there is still gaming fun to be had in the greater Seattle area PAX weekend, and BONUS! It's free (even food, I've been told!).

DigiPen Institute of Technology -the super cool video game college - in Redmond is hosting it's second "DigiPen Day" on Saturday, August 27.

From their website:

You are invited to celebrate DigiPen Day with us on Saturday, August 27, from noon to 3:00 p.m. at DigiPen's Redmond campus! This event marks the one-year anniversary of the ribbon-cutting ceremony of DigiPen's current facilities, where Mayor John Marchione officially declared it "DigiPen Day" in the city of Redmond. This year, we will open our doors to the public once again and invite everyone in the community to play, create, and explore the worlds of gaming and art with us!
The event will include:
  • Video games created by our students
  • Life drawing sessions taught by our instructors
  • Robotic race cars
  • Free food from our Bits & Bytes CafĂ©
  • Fun prizes
  • And much more!
DigiPen's campus is located at 9931 Willows Road NE in Redmond, WA. We hope you and your family can join us for this wonderful event! Please RSVP and direct any questions to Steph Caron, DigiPen's Admissions outreach manager, at scaron[at]digipen[dot]edu.

You don't have to miss out on sampling what the brightest up and coming game designers have created even if you are headed to PAX.  DigiPen students will be demo-ing their creations there as well. Make sure to check the hard-working students out and offer your constructive criticism.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Parent's Guide to Surviving PAX Prime with Kids

PAX Prime is a mere two weeks away and if you are thinking of bringing your little ones, I wanted to give you some time to prepare.  

First of all, let me be clear:  PAX Isn’t for kids.   That’s not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t bring your kids, but it’s best to start out knowing that this isn’t necessarily a kid friendly environment.  There is a lot of swearing, a lot of adult video content and a fair amount of people who will not be happy to see your precious little snowflake.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, my kids love PAX.  It’s every gamer kids dream come true, with demos, swag and gaming everywhere.  There is a ton of stuff to see and do, and if you go prepared, your whole family will have a great time.
I’ve compiled the following tips based on our experiences bringing our children (currently aged 4 and 11) to PAX prime for the past 4 years.

Leave the kids over 2 and under 6 at home.  I know this isn’t ideal, but I really think it’s the best advice I can give.  Nate is 11 and will be just fine, but we’ve arranged for Grandma to take Kitty for PAX weekend this year. We brought Kit when she was a baby and again when she was a year and a half and it was fine. I carried her in an Ergo carrier and she slept when she needed to.  I brought her when she was two and a half and it was not fine.  She was simultaneously bored and over stimulated.  They don’t allow strollers on the main floor and she was too big to stick in a baby carrier for longer than 30 minutes at a time.We were all miserable  Kit and I stayed home last year because I couldn't fathom chasing a three year old around the convention. 
Stay Healthy. Two years ago our entire family got very, very ill right after PAX.  It was 2009, the year of the Great PAX Plague, and we had all contracted the Swine Flu.  Cons are germy places. Bring Hand sanitizer and use it often.  I’m not the biggest fan of hand sanitizer (and would recommend you use an alcohol based one as opposed to Triclosan), but cons are one place where they are appropriate.  I have recommended Bath and Body Works hand sanitizers before, and my friend The Geeky Hostess just reminded me that they make little rubber sanitizer holsters that you can loop onto your belt loop, purse, swag bag or baby carrier.  Let your kid pick their own scent, give them a little bottle of their own and make sure they use it often.  Remind them that it hasn’t worked until it has dried.   Bring disinfectant wipes.  Wipe the controllers, the keyboards, the mice, the tables, etc.  Most importantly: wash your hands as often as possible.  You need to wash them with warm water and keep the soap on your hands for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”.  Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door, there was a recent study that found that one third of men – and only slightly  less women – don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom.  Then they use their dirty hands to open the door, ewww!

Stay fed and hydrated.  Food is available in the convention center, and at restaurants around it, but the choices aren’t great and the waits are long, not good when you have a cranky, hypoglycemic kid.  We brought Fruit roll-ups, trail mix, pre-packaged apple slices and cheese sticks in a little insulated bag. Be conscientious, eat in designated areas and bring foods that aren’t messy. Give each person in your party their own water bottle.  You’ll be on your feet all day and it’s easy to get dehydrated.  Refill your bottles often and drink up!

Bring a baby carrier.  If you have a kid little enough to tote around in a sling, Moby, Ergo or backpack carrier bring it.  Strollers are not allowed on the  floor of the main exhibition hall and toting a little one around in a carrier frees up your hands.  

Bring a Camera.  There are tons of photo ops to be had, and tons of costumes from both the game companies and cosplayers, and there are tons of cool promotional displays to pose in front of.

Find the kids’ games.  The kid specific games may not be as plentiful as the adult-oriented stuff, but they are out there.  Two years ago the kids played a baby care simulator  and learned a Marvel-themed card game, Kitty rolled a giant D20 and won a prize, and both kids loved previewing a TMNT Wii game.  A lot of these games haven’t been released yet and the game creators are usually thrilled to get input from real children.

Take a lot of breaks.  The kids will tire faster than you do.  Sometimes being a good parent means that we have to pull ourselves away from all the fun and just go sit.  If you are staying at a hotel nearby, go back to your room for a nap.  Leave the convention center and go sit in the surrounding park.  If you have a three day pass, go home early.  You don’t have to stay every hour all three days with a cranky kid.  Most years the kids only go for one day because it’s just too much, and one day is PLENTY for them.

Skip the panels.  While they’re interesting to you, your kid will probably be bored and cranky.  I’m a big proponent of NOT putting kids in situations that are bound to lead to what will appear to the average non-breeder as “misbehavior”.  Making your kid wait in a long line just so they can sit still and be quiet is a formula for disaster.  

Tag-team.  If you are planning on bringing your kids the best thing I can tell you to bring is another able-bodied adult.  If you can switch off on child care duties you will have a better chance of getting to see a panel you really want to check out something more mature in nature.

Make it easy to be found. Stick a business card in your kid’s pocket, or consider getting some Safety Tats.  Either option makes it easy for your kid to contact you if you get separated.  Staff members will be wearing distinctive T-shirts, make sure your kids know what they look like in case they need to find help. One of my readers (thanks, Gina C.) suggested via the Parenting Geekly Facebookpage that parents wear a distinctive color to make it easier to find you in a sea of black T-shirts.

Be prepared to spend.  There is plenty to buy including games, prereleases, shirts and toys and most kids will ask for at least something.  I suggest setting a spending limit before you leave home.

Bring a Backpack (or a tote if you have a backpack carrier) and have the kids carry one too.  There is a lot of swag to be had, and if you don’t give the kids a way to carry their own, you’ll be carrying two times the amount of junk around.

Most importantly, have fun!  This is a great opportunity for your kids to see what the gaming community is all about.  Like I said before, even during our more “challenging” years we have had a ton of fun, and the kids look forward to it.   Now to break the news that she’s not going to Kitty…
If you have any tips to add please share in the comments!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Interactive 3D model of Solar System Planets and Night Sky

Yesterday I talked a little bit about how my kids avoid summer learning loss.  Kitty has been reading and working on these awesome Star Wars Printables.

 Those are too young for Nate, though he has be helping his sister with them. He earns his video game time by working through the Brain Quest Grade 4 Workbook. For every three pages he finishes he is allowed an hour of video games.  This works our well and is helped by the fact that the Brain Quest workbooks are colorful, engaging and cover subjects ranging from Social Studies to Reading Comprehension.  It's the best workbook that I've found, and the only one Nate didn't just immediately scoff at.

Today he was working on some pages about the phases of the moon.  He was having trouble figuring out exactly how the moon rotated around the earth, and SD Googled "3d solar system" and the first link that popped up was so cool and helpful that I had to share it with you.

The Interactive Solar System Scope is a movable 3D model of the solar system.From their website:


SSS is Flash based 3D model of Planets of Solar System and the Night Sky.

The Model consists of 3 main Views (Heliocentric, Geocentric and Panaromatic), including:
• Precise Positions of all Celestial Objects according to NASA Calculations
• Schematic Distances and Sizes for better understanding of Planet Surfaces and Motions
• a unique feature to Drag Planets through their Orbits
• a lot of interesting Settings which allow you to Observe particular Motions and Events
• Distance Calculator to measure distances between Planets even while in motion
• Earth Observatory set-up with which you can watch Celestial Happenings on your Night Sky
SSS mean Astronomy for Everybody
Kids play with Planets while Discovering Universe. Our youngest regular visitors are only 7-8 years old. Many Teachers use our model as a practical Source of Education and with SSS they are able to show and simply explain happenings in our Solar System. But anyone can benefit from SSS: it brings Knowledge, Fun and Visual Experience.

The model was developed by a Slovakian company called Sunaeon.  They created the model so that they could combine their skills in Flash development with their passion for astronomy.  They even allow you to embed it on your site, so you can check it out below without leaving!

Please install latest Flash Player to run Solar System Scope

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Star Wars preschool printables.

During the summer I like to give my kids the opportunity (read: make them) to forgo Summer Learning Loss bv having them do light academic activites a few times a week.  Nothing hard core, just a a little bit of education mixed into the seemingly endless stream of video games and swimming.

Kit is four and half, and as such is still a little too young  for Kindergarten.  She'll be going to pre-K program in a few weeks, but I like to keep up with her literacy and fine motor skills by reading her lots of books and having her do simple worksheets. 

I was delighted  to find this pack of Star Wars Printables made especially for pre-school aged children.  They were created by Jolanthe at and feature artwork created by JD Digi Designs.  The coolest part?  She's offering them to download for free! 

So Far we've done some letter tracing and some of the math worksheets.  There is just the perfect amount of activites here to hold us over until school starts in a couple weeks.  We'll probably even repeat these on the days that she doesn't have school, she loves them that much.   

What do you do to encourage summer learning? Let me know in the comments.

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