A Beginners Guide to Comicon

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Sir Smiley gave me a fantastic present for Mother’s Day…tickets to our city’s Comicon! I will confess, I have never actually been to a Comicon before. The main reason being I didn’t have a significant number of geek friends who actually want to go. But this year my hubby decided to bite the bullet and take me! To recap my experience I’ve decided to follow a similar style to my blogs about our family trip to Disneyland. So for those of us new to Comicon, here are some tips I’ve learned.

Spring for a full event pass: We originally only planned to go for a day or two. But the price for the entire weekend wasn’t much more so we just bought passes and got passes for our kids too. We ended up going an extra day and bringing the kids so it was nice to have that flexibility.

Go to the preview day: Being new to the whole Comicon thing, I don’t know if all Cons do this, but ours had a preview night on Thursday night. We went with our kids and had a blast. It wasn’t very busy so we could easily see all the displays and booths, talk to people, etc. and our kids were easier to keep track of.

Dress up: A term everyone should know going into a Con is cosplay. Dressing up and acting like your favorite characters is called cosplay. I didn’t dress up (cosplay) for the preview night and that was one of my few regrets. I did cosplay on Saturday and Sunday and I had a blast! You really stand out if you dress normally…at the very least dig out some geek shirt or comic hero hat so you won’t stand out too much. But aside from that, cosplay significantly increases the enjoyment of a Con. I went as Codex and the first day had about twenty people ask for my picture. Every few minutes I had people cheering at me, complimenting me, or striking up some conversation with me. It was awesome…a chance to feel like a celebrity without all the other junk (or the money). Side note, next year I’m dressing the kids up too. As always, if you make your kids super cute people are more apt to forgive their behavior when they try to pull down a display, wail when you won’t let them eat that unknown object off the floor, or have a melt down when you won’t buy them the $200 light saber.

Ask questions: I went to a panel with Dean Cain (AKA Superman) and enjoyed it thoroughly. I wasn’t planning on going up to ask a question as I didn’t want to be “that girl” who was ogling some famous guy. Why? Pffft…who knows. But I came to my senses just in time to go up and ask the final question. So I had a chance to stand feet away from my favorite superman actor and have a (albeit brief) conversation with him. Don’t miss out on a chance like that!

Embrace the geek: I even managed to drag Sir Smiley into a LARPing session (live action role playing). I’ll be honest, probably not something I’ll do again, as it’s a little intense for my taste but it was an experience we both were glad we had. It’s something you want to at least try once just to say you tried it. We met some fun (and strange) people and had a good time.

Roll with it: Not everything will go according to plan so you need to just roll with the punches. Two examples of this for us. First one happened on Saturday night. Once the Con was winding down, we walked a few blocks north to a movie theater to watch the new Star Trek movie. When we got there (about a mile and a half from where we parked, mind you) they wouldn’t let us in. Why? Because we were armed. I had a fake plastic staff and Sir Smiley (who had dressed up…cosplayed as Indiana Jones) had a whip made of duct tape. I was excessively annoyed as we slowly walked back to our car and was ranting at Sir Smiley how ridiculous it was. Mid rant I froze…and just stared. Standing on the corner waiting to cross the street was Wil Wheaton! I was able to go up, introduce myself and shake his hand. He even complimented me on my cosplay and everything. So even though I couldn’t get into the movie, I got something better (and to top it all off, we were able to make it to a different theater and still see Star Trek so it was a completely happy ending for all….and Star Trek rocks by the way). Second example happened the next day, when the fire alarms went off and thousands of us had to go streaming into the street. Still had fun and it added a bit of excitement to finish off the event.

Pay for events that are important: Because we’re cheap, I skipped the Wil Wheaton panel that cost money in lieu of the free panel. Well apparently I’m not the only one, as I couldn’t get into the free one. In hindsight (which is 20/20) I should have just sprung for the babysitter and tickets to see his panel considering he was the person I was most excited to see. Next time, I will. Of course this is all moot since I did actually get to meet him!

Plan your purchases carefully: We paid 10 dollars for parking the first night, but for the rest of the Con we managed to find street parking. We had to walk further but we saved at least 60 dollars in parking. Also, we didn’t buy food at the convention center and packed our own lunch…and for dinner opted to drive down the road a mile or so to a great Mexican restaurant that we know and love. For 15 bucks we both ate until we were stuffed and took away about half a dozen Mexican pastries to eat throughout the rest of the night. At the con we would have gotten a couple of ice cream cones for that price. All this saves money to spend on that shirt, photo, autograph, or event that is more important to you.

Overall, I’m hooked. We will definitely be going every year. Oh, and a special thanks to my parents for taking our kids overnight so we could actually spend time at the Con just the two of us without three little munchkins to look after. (there’s a tabletop pun for those of you who get it…)

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A Guide to Why Babies Cry

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My son has reached that wonderful stage of life…almost 18 months. Now, to the outside world, this is one of the BEST phases ever. They’re just so darn cute! They imitate what people do, but in a way that just makes you melt. They blow kisses, wave hi and bye, and hug each other, and make it all seem worthy of a hallmark card. Their babbles are starting to take on a new tone…or many. They can babble with inflection now so it sounds as though they are actually having a conversation with you…except you have no idea what they’re saying (maybe that’s not really different from most conversations). Basically, they are big balls of cuteness, oozing charm out of every pore. But don’t be deceived. We veteran parents know the truth. Terrible twos? They start now! It’s that perfect combination of self awareness (i.e. I want to do what mommy/daddy/sister/brother/random passerby is doing, or I now see objects in high places and want to get them, or I wonder what happens if I do this?) a desire for independence (I want to walk the mile across the parking lot by myself at a .5 mph pace and no I don’t want to hold your hand) and a need for some dependence (I can’t get the macaroni on my fork, can’t get the fork to my mouth, still poop and pee my pants, etc). It’s the combination for the perfect storm that lasts well into their threes. And so brings meltdown after meltdown. King Toot is this and then some. He is drama, drama, drama. He favors the classic tantrum where he will lay down face first and kick his hands and feet. He seems to scream and cry constantly and it’s very hard to figure out why. You think it’s because he’s not getting his way and then he sprouts a fever…or a few teeth…or poop. Then you realize maybe he isn’t a complete brat. So I’m making my own list of why kids cry. To aid in interpreting.

Are they drooling profusely? They might be teething…or hungry…or thirsty. Try a smattering of things to fix this and then give up and let them cry while you cry (or scream) into a pillow.

Is their face red? They might be working on a nice present for you in their diaper and their little sphincters are struggling…or maybe they are developing a fever and getting sick…or maybe they were out in the sun too long and were sunburned…or maybe it’s because they’ve been screaming for ten minutes without pausing to breathe…Try a smattering of things to fix this and then give up and let them cry while you cry (or scream) into a pillow, while your other kids keep poking you.

Are they sweating? Maybe they are too hot…or they have a fever…or they really got their little hearts pumping with those acrobatic kicks and flailings as they were fighting off the nail clippers. Try a smattering of things to fix this and then give up and let them cry while you cry (or scream) into a pillow, while your other kids keep poking you repeating, “Mom!” over and over again.

Are their clothes wet? Maybe those four cups of water they had finally hit them all at once and the diaper couldn’t handle the load…or maybe they found the dog bowl again…or their sister’s cup of water…or the toilet. Either way, they’re uncomfortable now and indignant that you haven’t changed them.

Do they have bruises or lumps on them? Probably from last week, but if you recently heard a loud crash they might have been trying to scale the bookcase again while you were trying to pee. Try a smattering of things to fix this and then give up and let them cry while you cry (or scream) into a pillow, while your other kids keep poking you repeating, “Mom!” over and over again until you finally yell at them to please leave you alone.

No noticeable symptoms? Their back might itch where they can’t scratch it, or they haven’t been able to figure out how to achieve world peace, their sisters won’t share the toy they’re playing with, the sun is too bright, their clothes are too blue, the water is too wet, the floor is too hard, someone looked at them at 1:53 which is clearly unacceptable, or they still haven’t gotten the new scooter they wanted. Either way, just baton down the hatches…it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. Try a smattering of things to fix this and then give up and let them cry while you cry (or scream) into a pillow, while your other kids keep poking you repeating, “Mom!” over and over again until you finally yell at them to please leave you alone and throw them all into bed. My motto no matter what time it is…it’s bedtime somewhere.

Getting fit, my own version of dazed and confused…

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To start off (my autocorrect just change what I typed as start to Stqc…no joke. It may be on crack) I should warn you I have no clear plan about what I’m going to write about. If you think my other posts are rambly, this one will probably be worse. But I’ve had quite a few things bouncing around in my head and want to get them out, and thought to myself, “Self, you created this blog to get rambly thoughts out of your head, so how about you write about them?” So I took my advice and here we are. (Yes, I listen to the voices in my head, what of it?). Here goes nothing…
Self image is always a delicate issue with everyone. That thin attractive woman walking down the street, that makes you want to barf in jealousy? Yeah, she has issues with self image. Everyone does. It sucks too. Middle school hardly helps and that’s where a lot of mine stem from. My parents were loving and supportive so they didn’t cause them. Being an introvert and feeling incredibly awkward in social situations didn’t help matters. I digress. But I have never felt thin. Which is ludicrous because I look back at old pictures of me and I was, and I want to yell at myself to enjoy it more, but I never did. My hubby is one of the few people I never feel self conscious around. So go him! He’s doing a pretty darn good job in the hubby department. But after the birth of our second child, I really started to gain weight. It just wasn’t in my head either…even my neck and chin were fattening up. It was horrible. One day I looked in the mirror and realized I was beyond dissatisfied, I was now ashamed. Maybe it was due to my fantastic hubby or the positive environment my parents created for me growing up…but while I may not have been content with how I looked, I wasn’t ashamed. I was merely dissatisfied with certain qualities. But now it had gone past that and I decided then and there to do something about it. Seeing as I couldn’t swim laps (my preference since I was on the swim team in high school) because we didn’t have a gym membership or a pool, I decided to start running. To call it running is generous, more like walking quickly. But I knew I needed to motivate myself so I also registered for a half marathon. I’d seen people walking it so I figured worse comes to worse I’ll just walk it too. Then I started jogging. I would make it half a block and have to walk. But eventually I sped up, made it longer, went further. I could jog almost ten miles straight. I did my half marathon and dropped a good thirty or forty pounds. I wasn’t at my target weight but was doing well. I also started counting my calories which is eye opening to say the least. (one of those teeny tiny lemon cakes from Costco is 300 calories…spread the word cause those tasty little bites are evil…they suck you in and leave you wanting more.) Then I found out I was preggers again with number three. I was determined not to gain the weight back. I exercised about one hour every day and watched what I ate…and gained fifty pounds. It was disheartening. But apparently my body gets preggers and thinks, “I might need this, I’ll store it away just in case”. So basically my body turns into a hoarder when extra hormones are added…a hoarder of fat. So then I began the journey again. I counted calories, I exercised and registered for another half marathon. But this time I struggled to lose the weight. I dropped twenty pounds right away…and then stopped. I still had thirty or forty more pounds to go but for over a year I didn’t lose weight. I tried counting my calories, I tried only eating when I was hungry, I tried practically everything. I also registered for a triathlon. It went so well that I have since done three more….including one this morning on Mother’s Day. But where I met success after success in my races I still didn’t feel like an athlete. The clothes you wear for a triathlon are…form fitting. And that’s putting it mildly. I hated how I looked in the photos, even though I had a blast during the event and won medals in three out of four of my races. I was training about six to eight hours a week at that point (now I’m up to about 10 hours or more) and still wasn’t dropping weight. So I did som “research” to figure out what to do. (basically I googled it, and compared it to the mountains of unsolicited advice on whatever surefire way was now popular to lose weight). I was overwhelmed with information about how to eat. Eat clean…eat organic… carbs are evil…no fat is evil…no fat is good if it comes from butter…eggs are good…eggs are bad…eat a spoonful of grass topped with coconut oil, during a full moon, while singing Simon and Garfunkel and you will add ten years to your life, stop vomiting and create world peace. I have also heard lectures about how you should eat the food pyramid and lectures about how the food pyramid was the spawn of Satan sent to make all of us fat. (maybe not that drastic, but you get the idea). I finally decided that while there were a lot of things people argued about with regards to food…there were plenty of things everyone seemed to agree on. So I decided to go a week without any unhealthy snacks at all, the snacks that everyone agreed had no real nutritional value, the foods I loved…no chips, no Mac and cheese, no ice cream (even if it is pre-portioned) etc. But I could have yogurt with flax seed, fruits, veggies, etc. The result, I have now dropped eight pounds in the last few weeks. I have an occasional snack now. But I understand the importance of what I eat. This may or may not work for everyone…every body is built differently with different needs…I just needed to keep experimenting.
This long rambling is just my journey with regards to weight loss and food. Eating seems to be a lot like parenting…the more you think you know…the less you actually know. While some people may devour veggies like they are Cold Stone Ice cream…other’s have to work really hard to get the motivation to eat even a few bites. Trust me, I have had many people who love veggies tell me it’s all mental and I have to disagree to a point. I want to love veggies. I could eat my weight in veggies and only have used up one tenth the calories of a snicker bar (no, that is not even remotely exact, I made it up completely…but it’s probably pretty close). I just don’t like them and never have. I will probably never like them, but I am learning to no longer find them disgusting and when that is combined with the health benefits and low calories I actually end up eating them now, and that’s huge. So just like parenting we need to encourage each other to do better, celebrate our successes and the successes of others no matter how small, and we should never tear each other down for daring to make choices different from yours. I am the poster child of the idea…if I can do it…so can you. This is a girl who would eat a box of Mac and cheese for dinner then head down to get a pint of Ben and Jerry’s to polish off while watching a movie. If I can do it, anyone can!

I’m addicted to love…and other stuff Part 3

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So, like 10 years ago, (or something like that) I started a series…more like a trilogy…of sorts on things I’m addicted to…food, the Internet, etc. (See the first post here and second post here) Well I figured I should wrap it up with my final addiction…speeding. I am definitely addicted to speed…not the drug…the actual movement. I like to drive fast. Like actually doesn’t begin to describe it. I think it starts off innocently enough. There are a few situations that occur that start you down the spiraling path of speeding.
Situation 1: Your driving along, and you come up on someone going just a smidgen slower than you. You know the situation…you’re slowly passing them but it seems to be taking up the best years of your life just to get around the person. So you speed up…and then don’t slow down.
Situation 2: You go to pass someone who is going significantly slower than you, but as you pass them they seem to take personal offense to this and speed up…drastically. From previous experience you just know if you maintain your speed and go behind them, they will slow back down. And usually in a place where you won’t be able to pass them. So you speed up to get around them, and then maintain that higher speed so that they won’t pass you and get in front of you again.
Situation 3: You’re running late. Simple as that. So you speed up hoping to magically create five minutes that weren’t there when you left the house (or in my case…20 minutes).

No matter the cause, once you start speeding it’s hard to stop. It’s an addiction. Like previous posts…I’m going to list some symptoms of addiction that show just how true this is.

Tolerance: the need to engage in the addictive behavior more and more to get the desired effect. After one of the above situations occurs, you begin to start driving at that speed routinely, you acclimate to it. Then when one of those situations happens again…you end up going even faster…and so on and so forth.

Withdrawal:happens when the person does not take the substance or engage in the activity, and they experience unpleasant symptoms, which are often the opposite of the effects of the addictive behavior. I become irrationally angry when something prevents me from going fast. Some idiot is cruising around, taking a casual Sunday drive in the left lane, maintaining the exact same speed as the person next to them. I seriously envision either telling him off (which is mild) or gently easing onto his bumper and “helping” him pass the other person. Because heaven forbid I actually drive the speed limit for a few minutes (or hours, as it may feel like).

Difficulty cutting down or controlling the addictive behavior. Yeah, I’ve tried daring myself to make it a day driving the speed limit and have yet to win that one. Even if I’m not running late, even if I want the kids to nap in the car and they actually fall asleep…I still speed.

Extreme mood changes – happy, sad, excited, anxious, etc. I could be having a great day, the sun is shining, the kids are happy, good tunes playing on the radio. But one guy pulls out in front of me and then drives slow and that all is shot. I suddenly am raging, irate that they would dare do that to me! Then I’ll calm down and the world is fine.

Case closed, speeding is addictive. It is an area of my life I think needs the most work, and the most humbleness. I like to call vehicles ego-boosters. Because so much of what makes me upset or angry while driving is because of what that person did to ME. I become a very selfish person behind the wheel. Something I need to work on.

Volunwork

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A while ago my hubby and some friends and I were coming up with our own words to describe things. (Yeah, I figured I’d just dive straight into my post instead of trying to explain why I haven’t blogged in months. I tried to come up with some either witty, remarkable, clever, or deep explanation. Really all I could think of was that i was tired and sleep seemed preferable. So sue me. Well, not really as that would be unpleasant and would also probably interfere with my sleep.) One of those words we all invented was volunwork. This is not to be confused with voluntold. Voluntold is where your wife asks you nicely to do something that you know is not actually a request, and that to ignore this request would bring unpleasant feelings that only God could save you from. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about volunwork.
Volunwork is where you are retired, a stay at home mom, or even a student, but you still act like you work full time. You aren’t technically employed but you are out of the house doing things as much, if not more so, than someone who is employed full time. (notice I said “is employed” and not “works”…I figured I would avoid the whole land mine of implying those who aren’t employed don’t “work”…a pet peeve of mine I’ll admit).
Here are the dangers of volunwork to a SAHM. I chose to stay at home because I felt it was in the best interests to my family. (for those of you who work, I’m NOT judging you, commenting on your situation, saying your a bad parent, etc. Just to clear that up). I figured no one was better to raise and love on my kids than me. Granted there are days I sincerely doubt that was true…like when I’m screeching like a Banshee because Sasquatch made a rainbow on my counter with crayon that took fifteen minutes of scrubbing to get off, followed by King Toot dumping his milk onto the carpet so I had to shampoo it, followed by Urpling deciding to try and drink a bowl of raisin bran unsuccessfully just hours after having had a bath. But for the most part I feel I’m not causing them too much psychological damage…a few years of therapy should clear them right up.
But it’s hard to feel significant at home alone all day with three kids. Mine are actually pretty good at thanking me for things I do for them, probably because I make long and boring speeches when they don’t. But I struggle for adult interaction, to have jokes that make sense, to poop alone, and to eat a meal with people who manage to get more in their mouths than in their laps. Or who at least have the good graces to pretend to like the food I cook instead of looking at it like I served up dried poop. With this struggle it is very easy to start finding other ways to make yourself significant. To lose sight of the importance of training, educating, and guiding an actual human soul and give them the foundation in life to help them be successful. So we start to volunteer. Whether it’s at church, the PTA, the local shelter or other non profit groups, we get involved. Now I’m not saying this is bad. There is a lot of good to be done in this world and it sets and awesome example for your kids. But I struggle because I’m a yes person. I love to be needed, to be helpful. I see a need and want to help fill it. But if I’m not careful, that can start to take over and steal time away from my kids. Once you cross this line you are no longer volunteering, you are volunworking. This line may be different for each person but the results are the same. Exhausted mommy and children desperate for attention. I definitely don’t want that.
I’m not really sure how to wrap this up except to say, what you do with your kids is important. Whether you work or stay at home with them, don’t let the world or your own doubts ever tell you differently.