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Nerd Is The Word

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I wasn’t always a nerd. I mean, I suppose I was and just didn’t realize it. I didn’t attend conventions or read comics as a child, but I “geeked out” over so many things… Duran Duran, The Monkees, Wham, everything 60s, certain book series, and certain TV shows. Back when I was a kid, there wasn’t a great acceptance of being a geek or a nerd, so I guess I was less aware. But also, I’ve completely embraced it in the last 10 years. And now that there’s the internet, I can completely deep dive into things I love.

Things I’m a nerd/geek/fan of: Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, knitting, Superheroes, vampires, and more.

The first time we went to Comic Con was 2010. This was right before my first book was released, and my biggest motivation was that my publisher was going to be there, and they’d have some marketing materials for it.



We went in 2011 and then missed a few years, because we weren’t able to get tickets. In fact, we didn’t find ourselves with tickets again until last year.


Comic-Con 2016

It’s extremely hard to get tickets, and I know we’re lucky to get any at all, but one my goal is to get tickets for Saturday, where all the big panels I’m interested in take place. Nevertheless, Sundays are great for shopping and people watching.


What was under my Trek boots. 🙂


My youngest as Eleven.                                       The Trek couple.

My daughter and son’s homemade costumes – Batgirl and Clark Kent.


I visited the Outlander booth.


We bought some fun Star Wars art to hang in the house.


As cool as this coffee table was, I had to put my foot down.


We ran into Darth Trump


Heading for the train.

There seems to be more people attending every year, but I’m still going to try to come back next year. Maybe I need to find a way to volunteer, or work there, so that I can spend more than just a half-day there.



Out of My Comfort Zone

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My family and I just got back from vacation, where my husband booked a few things that made some of us nervous…

First off, we went on a cave tour. Now, we’ve been in lots of caves before


Last year we visited Wind Cave and Jewel Cave


In 2013 we visited Carlsbad Caverns

We’ve been in lava tubes and other caves in different National Parks, so that’s not new. What was new this time was that my husband booked a candlelight tour for us. This sounded cool (albeit possibly spooky depending on whether there would be bats) to me, but my daughters were not too happy about it.

They had many questions. Were they really candles? Were they electric? What if they burned out? What if we were stuck in the dark?

Their fears didn’t disappear when it was time for the tour, and the sky got dark and started to rain and hail.


the lanterns, before being lit


heading into the dark cave


The group heading up stairs with lanterns

Even though it was a little spooky at first, but everyone really enjoyed the experience of seeing the cave in a different light – literally.

The second thing that my husband scheduled that a few of us were worried about was whitewater rafting. I didn’t bring my phone, because I was worried about ruining the phone. It’s too bad, because the scenery was gorgeous. I do, however, have photos that were taken of us at one of the most exciting parts of the trip.


This smile is me, trying to be excited about something I’m scared of.


Waiting to get on the river

For the first part of the day, my husband and son kayaked while the girls and I went on the raft with Danny, our guide. We stopped halfway for lunch, then we all got back onto the raft and headed down. We had several grade I and II rapids, and then one big III (felt like 3.5 to me). Here’s us below, heading down the III called “Nugget.”


All of us, rowing


Danny told us to hang on




After rapids high-five

There was one more big one called “Powerhouse” (named partly for the old closed down Power mill nearby and partly because it’s a big one). Our youngest daughter was very nervous (as was I, honestly), so our guide took us on the side of Powerhouse to Mugger’s Alley – which honestly I think was more exciting than just going straight down, as we had to row most of the time to keep in the narrow run, and we ended up turning in circles as we went through it.

All in all, we had a great time. Some of us faced our fears and made it through the other side. My husband felt vindicated that we all enjoyed the activities he planned, despite our worries. I’m not ready to go bungee jumping or anything, but I’d probably go rafting again…

When you plan vacations, do you plan exciting activities, or just relax?



Astrocamp – The Final Chapter?

Astrocamp – The Final Chapter?

Yesterday we got back from 3 days at Astrocamp with my youngest child. You may remember me writing about my first two trips with my older children HERE and HERE.

My daughter was so excited, she packed herself and woke up early the day we left.


The buses are getting ready to leave as the parents look on.


We had 131 kids, which necessitates 3 buses instead of 2.


I snuck a pic of my girl just before they left.

This trip brought with it several firsts: first time for 3 buses, first time we went from Wed-Fri (instead of a weekend or Mon-Wed), and first time so early in the year to name a few. It was also the first time I was involved while working full-time, which was different. It was also my last time here as a parent. I’ve helped coordinate 3 trips for 3 kids as a parent at our school. This year is my last year as a parent here, as my youngest will be moving on to middle school next year. It’s hard to believe! I am trying to coordinate a trip for my own students later this year, but it will be a different experience as a teacher than as a parent.

As usual, Astrocamp was beautiful and inviting.

We always start by eating lunch in the beautiful meadow.

We always start by eating lunch in the beautiful meadow.

After lunch, it was time to move into the dorms and get our first informational meeting, where we meet our instructor and head out to our first class.

One of the things I’ve talked about in terms of camp is the zipline. My son didn’t do it, and regretted it. I redeemed myself last time, and my youngest couldn’t WAIT to try it. Sadly, it wasn’t operating this time.

The usual padding was missing from the poles at the end of the zipline. :(

The usual padding was missing from the poles at the end of the zipline. 😦

So, instead of zip lining, they gave us another activity to do…

You climb on the ladder, climb to the top, then jump off.

You climb on the ladder, climb to the top, then jump off.

I was feeling pretty awful (and scared), so I declined. I’m still not sure if it was the altitude or the stress of the week leading up to this, but I was feeling shaky and my head was killing me, so I took photos. My partner, however, did it and was awesome. All the girls did it, too. I was so proud of them!!

My partner

My partner, being awesome.

The classes this time were mostly the same as the last time we went…

Mars studies and rock climbing


This time, I harnessed up and climbed a Mars rock wall (I didn’t last time).

Rocket Building (and launching)


My girlie, building her rocket.

My favorite – Atmosphere & Gases. This time the chaperones got to have some fun, too!


Lights & Lasers was a class I missed last time, so that was cool.IMG_5194 IMG_5198

The funnest part of that class was the noodle fight wearing upside-down glasses. My partner and I got to try and we laughed so hard – it was like therapy!

Finally, we did the Skycoaster again. Last time, I was far too chicken to try it. This time, I got harnessed just in case. I was still terrified, but I didn’t want to let the group (or myself) down. So the lowdown is this, for those of you who didn’t read about it last time.

First, you get up on a ladder and get hooked up to the line. Then you dangle.


Then, the kids pull the rope to lift you as high as you want to go. Some people went all the way to the top.



Then you pull the ripcord…IMG_9841

And fly.IMG_9881

I went last. I was terrified. I walked up the ladder, and as I was up on the ladder, I seriously considered saying, “No. Never mind. I’m outta here.” But I didn’t. (partly because I didn’t want the girls to think less of me and partly because I didn’t think I could, knowing that one of our teachers was right there, with my camera.

So I went up.

IMG_9911 IMG_9912 IMG_9914

I only went about 3 feet in the air. Which was what I was comfortable with. I kind of wish I went higher, but I’m still proud I didn’t get back off the ladder. If I ever get the chance to do it again, I will try for a few more feet. 🙂

I’m going to try to book a trip for my own 5th grade class this year, and maybe make it a tradition at our school. We’ll see how it goes. If this is the end for me, I’ve really enjoyed my 3 trips to camp. It’s been a lot of work coordinating, and sometimes hard and extremely tiring as a chaperone, but also so much fun and so rewarding.

3 trips

322 kids

36 chaperones

1 possible broken wrist

a little bit of puke

a few tears

but mostly lots of smiles.


A Different Kind of Summer Camp

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Today I dropped my kids off at summer camp.

They don't need any luggage for camp.

They don’t need any luggage for camp.

Sort of.

They will not be rowing boats (unless they do). They will not ride horses (unless they do). They will not sleep in bunk beds (unless they do).

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 11.38.44 AM

They’re going to an improv camp. So, I suppose there’s a chance that they might do some activities or scenes where they pretend to row boats, ride horses, and sleep in bunk beds. But probably not. I have no idea what they’ll end up doing.

What I do know is that they will:

learn new skills



be there for each other

step out of their comfort zone

and hopefully… they’ll have a great time.

As you may know already, I used to perform improv, and it’s how I met my husband. So the fact that my kids love it and want to do it as often as possible makes me happy.

I hope this class gives them good memories and a good experience. I hope it gives them tools to help them through the next school year, when all of them are at different schools. I hope that at least they have a little fun and some good stories to bring home.

Fall Tradition #2 – Fall Festival

One thing my kids really look forward to each year is our school’s Fall Festival. It’s been happening since 2008, I believe, but we have only been going for the last 3 years.

In the past, I’ve made cupcakes for the festival, but when I showed up to the cupcake walk and saw all the other, far more creative and pretty cupcakes, I decided to throw in the towel. This year I served as the photographer, trying to capture most of the booths, and kids having fun. This was perfect for hanging out with my girls while they tried all the fun games, including the photo booth, which yours truly couldn’t figure out.

As you can see, not only did I not know where to look, but I got up in the middle thinking we were done.

As you can see, not only did I not know where to look, but I got up in the middle thinking we were done.

The girls tossed bean bags, went fishing, played golf, did a (cup)cake walk, got their hair painted, tossed ping-pong balls into cups, ring tossed, and a few other fun things. Mom was tired by the end, and all I did was walk around, talk to other moms, and take photos. Hats off to the ladies who organized the whole shebang – well done!!

Here are just a few photos from the afternoon.


Kids leave their backpacks to go play.


First stop, making a bag to hold all your prizes.


Crazy Hair booth – getting some green and blue!


The finished product!


Ping pong ball toss.


Kids could pay a certain amount of tickets to put their friends in “jail.”


My youngest with one of our favorite teachers… she’s the “pocket lady” at the festival.

Here’s to another fun festival – this is the last year Gracie’s allowed to go, so it’ll be interesting to see if Maddie wants to go solo next year.

Is there a festival at your school/church/community?

Cool Holiday Gifts – a Guide, of Sorts

I’ve been looking at some crazy catalogs that have shown up in my mailbox and have found some really crazy, fun gifts that are good for almost anyone!

WHO doesn’t need a rowboat salad bowl? The spoons are oars – genius!

This rowboat salad bowl can be found at Uncommon Goods.

Another fun one from Uncommon Goods –

It LOOKS like a plastic ziplock bag, but it’s NOT.

Do you have a friend who loves the 80s? Or longs for the days when he or she was a breakdancer on a piece of cardboard on the sidewalk? THIS is the gift!

Ghetto Blaster bag. Sweet!

That awesome bag can be found at Plasticland.

Also at Plasticland, something that can be really helpful in the future…

I know LOTS of people who would love this.

For kids AND grown-ups at mealtime, this might help keep everyone from being “bored” at the table.

      Play with your food!!

For both her and him. 🙂

Those fun plates can be found at Exploratorium.

All of those websites above have LOTS of gift ideas for ALL ages – I’m not being paid for this, I just love these websites!

Of course, if you have a knitter on your list, these two books are fabulous ideas! 😀

Hey, I think I know the author!

Vampire Knits can be found on Amazon and most big bookstores.

And for the nerds in the world…

Lots of fun projects in here – including a few from yours truly.

Also, found on Amazon and most big bookstores.


Have a favorite place to shop for gifts? Please leave a comment and a link!!





Local Color, Space Edition

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Once again, I’m going to post about one of the cool things about living in the Los Angeles area. This time it’s NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Open House.

Once a year, JPL opens it’s doors to the public for a peek at what they’ve got going on in their labs. As we learned today in a movie narrated by Harrison Ford,

there are 10 NASA centers in the USA, each with a different specialty. JPL specializes in robotics that are sent into space to collect data about planets and our solar system. (I know it’s more complicated than that, but this is how the kids and I can understand it. 🙂 )

They sent the first satellite into space in 1958, called Explorer. Since then, they’ve had several missions into space, including the famous Mars Rover programs.

We got to see the prototypes today. I have to say, I was a little hesitant to go to the open house today. I wanted to stay home and do laundry (there’s a huge pile, trust me), but I have to say, I’m very glad I went. It was very cool!

My "artsy" photo of the Mars Rover driving right over giant rocks.

I was pleasantly surprised to see not only a lot of people there at the open house, but ALL walks of life. Truly. It’s encouraging to me to see the public showing such interest in “geeky” things such as rocket science and the space program, waiting in long lines to see movies about what we’ve found in space, rather than staying home and watching reality tv on a beautiful Sunday morning.

We got to go into the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, and were told that the reason the lab was so empty was because one of the crafts was just sent to Florida in preparation for it’s mission! Very exciting!

And, we got to see some of the robotics.

This guy’s name is Athlete.

The big one’s Fido. The little blue guy jumps.

My husband, usually not one for buying trinkets for trinket’s sake, happily bought JPL bears for the girls and Space Chess for the boy.

They even had food – several choices – for lunch. (Burgers, brats & dogs, Mexican food…)  My only issue with the day, aside from parking so far away, was the bathroom situation.

(Although, I suppose it could have been much, much worse than a honeywagon.)

If you’re in the L.A. area and into space and cool, smart rocket scientisty things, I highly recommend putting the JPL Open House on your calendar for next year! It’s usually in May, so keep checking back with the JPL site to find out when it’s going to be!