Archive | July, 2012

Taking on Tankland

30 Jul

This weekend, we finally had a chance to hit the American Military Museum in El Monte, California – a.k.a. “Tankland.” We’ve passed this spot a number of times en route to Pasadena, and it always seemed to scream “The boys will love me!” It was right.

The place was packed with about 180 different military vehicles, including tanks, boats, trucks, and even a helicopter straight out of M*A*S*H days. (Most of the items were from the WWII era, including a boat similar to those used in the opening minutes of Saving Private Ryan. (I got chills as soon as I saw it.)

Blake had never seen a tank before, and I think he may now have a new obsession. We spent the afternoon checking out videos of tanks crushing cars on YouTube … and then re-enacting the videos with B’s own car collection.

Newsflash: Boys like tanks.

All in all, a super fun morning. Total cost: $10 for the whole fam. Love. Button.



G is for Good Guy

24 Jul

At Comic Con last week, one of my most favorite memories was seeing B go up to uber Bad Guys like The Joker, Loki, and Red Skull, and tell them – with all the confidence that a 3-year-old could muster – that he was going to take them down. He pulled out his shield … batted some crazy ninja moves … and in every case, the Bad Guy let him win. The shootings in Aurora were a jarring reminder that doesn’t always happen.

At one point while walking around the Comic Con show, Blake asked me why someone would want to be a Bad Guy. In that instant, I admit I felt pretty proud of the job I’d been doing as a parent. One of the first (and ongoing) things we do as mamas is try to teach our children the difference between good and bad – wrong and right. How they should treat people, and how people should treat them. In a house with two sons, super heroes have offered a simple way to incorporate good/bad discussion into our daily lives.

What would Spiderman do in this situation?
Would Captain America be disappointed if he saw you acting this way?
What would a Good Guy do if his little brother needed him?

When Blake asked why someone would even want to be a Bad Guy, it reassured me that I had done a good job stating the case for being good. Yet being good is only part of the story. One also needs to be able to recognize evil when he sees it. These days (at least outside of comic book conventions) that is becoming increasingly difficult to do.

Each night before bed, my son and I go over the letters of the alphabet. A is for Apple. D is for Daddy. G is for Good Guy. The shootings in Aurora have forced me to realize that outside of the letter G – or a red cape – or a patriotic shield – I have absolutely no idea how to teach my son how to spot the *real* Good Guys – or Bad Guys – among us. As a parent, that’s one of the most frightening things I’ll ever have to accept. I don’t want to teach him to be afraid of everyone he meets – but I struggle with how to teach him that a healthy bit of fear/skepticism/distance is a often good thing. Bad Guys don’t always wear black, or have scary skeleton faces. The truth is that most of us are “good” until we reach the point where we no longer can be. Until the burden becomes too much – the weight too heavy to carry. In truth, the Bad Guys are all around us.

Prayers to the victims and families of the Aurora, Colorado, shooting. Prayers that it really is true that good is stronger than evil – that good will always win out in the end.


Our Comic-Con bag gets SACKED

22 Jul

The thing about the bags given away at Comic-Con is that they’re super cool – but they’re so freaking gigantic that they’re barely useful outside of the convention center walls. Being that this was Blake’s first official convention, I didn’t want to throw the bag away, but I wasn’t sure how to fit it into our everyday lifestyle – until I found a rad article about the cool stuff people do with their bags outside of actual … bagging. Purposefully inspired, I decided to turn their show bag into an array of lightweight, re-useable sack lunch bags. Perfect for the summer-camp-going monster, and even better for a mama on a budget.

There are tons of simple lunch sack patterns available online. After finding what might be the most simple pattern EVER, I got started. About 30 minutes later, I had a few super-cute lunch sacks to my name. And I’m pretty sure they’re destined to be my son’s favorite lunch bags in the universe.


Comic Con 2012!!!

16 Jul

So – we’ve been waiting long and hard for Comic Con 2012 (a.k.a. the “BIG Super Hero Party,” as we call it in the Fantin household), and this weekend we finally had the chance to head down to San Diego for the full SDCC experience.

Though we did visit Comic Con in 2011, we didn’t actually have tickets, so we got to experience lots of people-watching and other cool stuff outside — but none of the craziness that happens inside the conference center walls. We did attend WonderCon and Long Beach Comic Con this year, but we weren’t quite sure how SDCC would hold up … or more precisely, how we’d hold up against it as a mama/monster team. (If you have a 3-year-old son, you know the anxiety that comes along with trying to “plan” pretty much anything … let alone something as massive as this event.)

Once we arrived, the goodness was overwhelming. B had the chance to meet lots of (hot) super heroes, fight some bad guys, and see his favorite toys come to life. He even got lots of cool giveaways (like – LOTS), which I’ll be shelling out slowly over the next few months.

Take that, Red Skull!

Still, my favorite part of the show (as with the others we’ve been to) is simply seeing the smile on people’s faces when they see B in his Captain America uniform, and when he does his “super hero pose” for those who ask to take his picture. Life truly is about the simple things. Bringing just one spark of happiness to someone’s face can warm my heart into eternity.

With Cat Woman. And he didn’t even need a pick-up line :)

Some of my fave memories from this weekend:

  • Seeing Blake fight Red Skull and his evil Hydra army
  • Seeing my usually shy monster go up to his favorite heroes and ask them – all by himself – if he would get a picture with them. (Imagine a young Captain America gently tugging Batman’s cape to get his attention. *heartmelt*)
  • Hitting the Speed Racer booth … and getting a free comic when I told them that Speed was my boyfriend when I was about 5 years old.
  • Making the list of Best Cosplay of Comic Con” for
  • Having folks ask where they can get Captain America outfits like ours (“Um … ask your mommy to make it for you?”)
  • Having someone ask if I made the family’s costumes … and telling me that I’m doing an awesome job as a parent when I told them ‘yes.’

As a mama, I cherished every minute of this Comic Con experience. I know my son is at a special age. That he won’t be willing (or wanting) to dress up like a super hero forever – let alone in a costume that I make for him (with my incredibly mediocre sewing skills!). I know there will come a day (sooner than I like) when dressing up like Captain America with mommy isn’t cool. When hanging out with mommy, in general, isn’t cool. When spending time with the family feels like torture instead of a special treat to count down to months and months in advance. (“Mommy, is it time yet? Is it time?!?!?!?”)

A young Cap’ reaches for the sky as his proud mama looks on.

Meanwhile … outside the convention center, tons of other cool stuff was happening, from the WB’s Extra event to film and TV set experiences from Frankenweenie and Grimm, the latter of which allowed you to walk inside an Airstream featuring relics from the show, as well as walk through a replicated forest. Another huge outdoor presence was The Walking Dead Escape, which allowed people to participate in a real-live zombie attack. A little too scary for my little guy, but intriguing none the less.

Caution: Scary!

My most favorite of the outdoor experiences was the Batmobile display, which brought in all six Batmobiles from movies past and allowed fans to get up close and personal with each and every one.

Some planning notes for mamas considering the trip next year …
Though it’s a kid-focused industry, Comic-Con itself (and the “business” of pop culture) is not necessarily 100% kid-friendly. The floor is *super*crowded … and overwhelmingly gigantic. If you’ve never attended the event before, the following are a few tips to keep in mind when hitting Comic Con with your own monsters.

  • Be prepared to skip the panels … and lots of other cool stuff. Most panels and giveaways have incredibly long lines (as in HOURS long) … and most young children have incredibly short attention spans. There were tons of panels and workshops I would have loved to catch, but it just wasn’t going to happen with my 3-year-old in tow.
  • Make a plan … and be prepared for it to fall apart. Select three to five top spots you know you want to hit, and leave plenty of time to meander in between.
  • Split up your day. If your child has a regular nap time, try to make time to fit one in. We left around noon after just a few hours on the floor … but it meant we could return in the afternoon for another few strong hours (rather than 1 or two more cranky ones).
  • Remember: kids will be kids. And not everyone is a fan of them. Most attendees at Comic Con are adults, and a few intense attendees didn’t seem too keen on sharing the floor with children. If your child can deal with a little pushing and shoving, he or she should be OK.
  • Go off the beaten path. Our hotel (The Holiday Inn on the Bay) was located about a mile from the Convention Center. Luckily, thanks to Showtime, there were numerous free shuttle routes running 24-hours a day (every 15 mins!) from our locale (and tons of others throughout the city) to the event. Super easy and convenient, and it was nice to have a quiet retreat to return to at the end of the day. (Oh, and we totally got to be in a video about how to use the shuttle, which will be used as a promo for next year. :)

So – to recap:

Thank god for my boys.
Thank god for make-believe.
Thank god for super heroes.
Thank god for Comic Con.


Hootenanny 2012: Hit or Miss?

8 Jul

Hootenanny 2012: Rockin’ the rockabilly hills of Orange County, CA

So – I’m not really a “fest” girl. In fact, of all the shows I’ve been to, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually been to a music festival. I’ve always figured it’s lame to pay $$$$ to see one or two fave bands play for 30 minutes at a pop. Still, I was drawn to Hootenanny because I thought it’d be a great way to introduce the kids to live music. Outdoor canyon … Orange County … my fave Lucero (to whom the boys have been listening since they were in the womb), and Rancid (whose music was the backdrop to Blake’s 3-year-old birthday party). The Hootenanny site lists “kids” prices, so I assumed it must be a family-friendly event. …

Testing out the “panorama” feature on my phone.

As time wore on, the husband and I thought better of our plans to take the monsters along, and we were glad we’d gotten a sitter as soon as we arrived. Though technically there were a few toddlers and kiddos at the show, it was definitely not a family oriented atmosphere. No blankets, chairs, or lying around at this show. Even the Hootenanny website prohibited “stuffed animals.” Just lots of standing … lots of crowded rockabilly/pin-up vendors … lots of drunk people … and lots of loud music. (Note: This isn’t a criticism, just a reality – in case there are any other music-loving mamas considering taking their kids to the show next year.)

Hot cars seemed a promising draw for my monsters … but they’ll have to do with photos this year

Outside of the show not being kid-friendly, the other thing we noticed as soon as we hit the parking lot is that we were dreadfully under-dressed. This is an event where folks come decked out in their “cool costume” – I’ve never seen so many mohawks and pin-up hairdos in my life. And I’ve never felt so “alternative” just wearing jeans and flip-flops. (Again – not that I’m complaining. This one was my fave.)

FYI: Leopard print is *always* in

We arrived just in time to see Bouncing Souls (awesome), and after a terribly awkward Miss Hootenanny beauty contest in which the girls were literally booed off-stage, Lucero finally took over. (Note to concert planning team: randomly waltzing a line of girls onto a stage when a huge crowd of fans is waiting for their fave band to start playing – baaaad idea! There was nothing these girls could have done to improve their reception.)

“Boooooo!” = AWKWARD … although the boys from Lucero didn’t seem to mind much :)

It was super hot and sunny, and it’s the first show where the boys didn’t seem like their heart was 100 percent in it. (I don’t blame them – the girl introducing them actually said they were Rancid, which shows she had no idea what was going on anyway.) Regardless, this was also the first time I’ve seen the guys in full light, so it was nice to get some nice photos of them without battling low-light issues on my camera.

Ben Nichols, Lucero

After Lucero came Reverend Horton Heat, and then Rancid, who rocked despite the fact that this was their 20th anniversary celebration (to think I first saw them in 1994!).

1994 … Tim Armstrong = dreamy

So much energy – so much love for those boys – and in the end, glad we made it to this year’s Hootenanny, although I’m not sure I’ll feel a need to visit next year.

2012: Tim Armstrong = still dreamy …

music mama


1 Jul

So – I’ve been thinking about joining a CSA for like – two years. And every time, I decided it was simply too much pressure … trying to make use of an entire box of veggies in a two-week time period.

Well – last week I changed my mind and decided to give the CSA program at Tanaka Farms a try. We ordered the small box to get started … but due to a mixup, we got gifted the large box instead.

Veggies? Let me at ’em!

The kids were uber-psyched to open the box of goodies, which included a huge range of fruits and veggies both: romaine, kale, cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, onions, radishes, oranges, grapefruit. There were a few items the kids had never seen before, I’m not gonna lie. (I am not the most adventurous veggie-cooker.)

“Mommy – what’s that?”       “It’s called kale! It’s very hip in L.A. right now!”

Just five days into our CSA experience, I’m proud to report that all of the fruit is already gone, and about half of the veggies are out the door, as well. Outside of the delicious salads and fresh-squeezed juice, it’s just been nice to dress up a regular sandwich with some gorgeous veggies. (Don’t tell the kids, but I even shredded some zucchini into their mac and cheese without them knowing.)

Still – I couldn’t kill my inner carb-addict all at once. I also had a few minutes to whip up some zucchini bread – total throwback to my childhood. The kids gobbled it up!

Official mama assessment: CSA’s ROCK! 

veggie mama