The Mommy Gamers

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We Bought It

    Unboxing My First Birchbox

    You can probably hear the lack of enthusiasm in my voice. I wasn’t very impressed with my first Birchbox. However, after opening my box I went back to redo the survey and noticed I had “Send me all the samples” checked off. I’ve since uncheck that option and I’m curious to see how that will impact my next box. We’ll see how my May/June shipments go.

    If after watching my video you’d still like to try Birchbox, you can sign up here for $10 a month. Be sure to come back and let me know what you got in your first box.

    [box type=”info”]This post contains an affiliate link. You can read more about our official disclosure policy here.[/box]

    Pokémon GO Plus: The Good and The Bad

    Pokémon GO Plus

    As soon as I heard about the Pokémon GO Plus, I grabbed every game I could part with and went to GameStop to preorder. Niantic hadn’t released a whole lot of details on how the peripheral device would work, but I knew it was supposed to make playing easier, so I was on board. Like many who was excited to get their hands on the accessory, I was disappointed when I heard they were pushing back their original release date from late July until September. However, I waited patiently, have been using it for a few days now, and have come to my opinions on the currently in low supply device.

    The Good

    • Wearing it: Pokémon GO Plus comes with two options for a person to wear it. You can either clip it on your person, or wear it on a bracelet. I love the options, but I have chosen to wear it as a bracelet. It’s lightweight and more comfortable than most watches I’ve worn in my time. I also think it looks pretty cool, as it looks like a cross between a Pokéball, and a map marker on Google Maps.


    • Ease of use: Once paired with the Pokémon GO app, the Pokémon GO Plus makes playing so much easier. The device will vibrate and flash with a green light when a Pokémon is near. Then, all you have to do is push the button on the device for a chance to catch the Pokémon. If the device flashes with different colors, it means you caught the Pokémon. If it flashes red, it means the Pokémon ran away.


    • Pokémon GO Plus will vibrate and flash blue if you pass within range of a Pokéstop. Again, pressing the button on the device will count as “spinning” the Pokéstop in game, rewarding you with items. However, if the device flashes red after trying to “spin” the Pokéstop, then it means you have already traveled too far away from the Pokéstop in order for the spin to count.


    • Niantic’s peripheral also makes hatching eggs easier. While the device is connected via Bluetooth to the app, it acts as a pedometer. No longer do you have to worry about whether or not the app is “counting” how far you’re traveling due to it’s not always so reliable GPS. The Pokémon GO Plus counts your steps that are then read in the app as distance traveled. If someone were so inclined, they could lie on their couch, shake the device, and hatch all the eggs their heart desires.


    • Using other apps: While Pokémon GO is connected to the Pokémon GO Plus via Bluetooth, you can back out of the app and it will run in the background. This means you can use other apps on your phone and still catch all the Pokémon that come into range.

    The Bad

    • Battery Life: Since the app has to be connected via Bluetooth in order for the Pokémon GO Plus to work, it does cause a little more strain on the battery. It’s very easy to keep the app going all day to maximize on the Pokémon extravaganza, however, be prepared to charge your phone more than once a day if you do this.


    • Disconnects after a time: I’m sure they put this in as a way to help save on phone battery life, but it can become annoying to keep going back into the app to reconnect the Pokémon GO Plus.


    • Running out of Pokeballs: Since it’s so much easier to catch Pokemon with Pokémon GO Plus, be prepared to run out of balls more quickly. I accidentally went through 100 balls in just a little over a day. However, if you’re someone who lives close to a ton of Pokéstops, then Pokémon GO Plus will make it much easier for you to keep up your supply of Pokéballs without having to throw money at microtransactions.

    The Verdict

    8/10 Would buy again.

    Pokémon GO Plus is a freaking godsend and I can’t sing its praises enough. Get your hands on one as soon as you can. It has made Pokémon GO fun for me again. If you’re someone who stopped playing because it became a grind, or because you just didn’t have time for it, Pokémon GO Plus might just be what you need to get back into the game.

    Pokémon GO Plus is available at most retailers that sell games for $34.99.

    Overwatch: First Impressions

    The Mommy Gamers Play- Overwatch

    On May 24th Blizzard released Overwatch, a multiplayer first person shooter.  If you’ve known me for more than a minute you’ll know that first person shooter games aren’t my thing.  I’ve never logged much time with them, and when I have tried I’ve gotten so frustrated that I flat out gave up.  So far I’ve logged more than fourty hours of Overwatch and have no plan to stop playing anytime soon.  With 21 different characters, there is one for pretty much every type of player…even self-proclaimed FPS haters such as myself.  Check out the video footage of my first Twitch stream with this game that I cannot seem to stop playing:

    So the big question many of my friends have had is what exactly is it about Overwatch that got me to check out the game.  For those who don’t know, I am a HUGE fan of Blizzard games.  I’ve logged more hours than I will ever admit on World of Warcraft, played through Diablo III once or twice, dabbled a bit with Heroes of the Storm, and attempted to get through the tutorial of Hearthstone.  Basically if it’s something Blizzard put out, I’m going to try it because they consistently put out games that I enjoy.  The release date also happened to align with summer break, and my fourteen year old son is a major FPS lover.  At the very least, I hoped Overwatch would be a game we could play together and have some fun with over the summer.

    What has kept me playing every single day is a little more difficult to explain.  I’m not GREAT at the game, but every time I play I feel like I’m getting a better grasp on the maps, my favorite characters abilites, and in all honesty…it’s just a fun game to play with friends.  I’ve logged the bulk of my playtime with Mei, a hero who uses ice walls, blizzards and frosty blasts to defeat the opposing team.  You can read her full story on the Blizzard site here.  While I’m sure that I could probably get better with some other characters after playing them for nearly forty hours, I like being able to hop in a game and feel confident and comfortable with one character for now.  Each of the characters have their own special abilites and stories and it’s fun even just listening to their interactions that hint at what seems to be a fairly vague and ever expanding story line.

    I’d love to talk more about Overwatch, but right now I’d really like to get back to playing.  The obsession is strong. Have you played Overwatch? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.  If you’d like to hop in and play sometime on XboxOne make sure to follow TheMommyGamers Twitch channel at www.Twitch.Tv/TheMommyGamers for when the stream goes live.

    You can also check out our other game content on our YouTube channel here: 

    Echoes of The First Dreamer by Highwire Games

    The musical prequel to “Golem” from Marty O’Donnell, the award-winning composer of the music from Halo, Myth and Destiny.


    In The Mommy Gamers podcast episode 124, Marcia and I got the chance to chat with special guest, composer/audio director and founder of Highwire Games, Marty O’Donnell. He spoke to us about Golem, the Playstation VR game the studio is currently working on, in addition to the Echoes of The First Dreamer project currently on kickstarter.

    Echoes of The First Dreamer is a stand alone listening experience and a musical prequel to Golem. “It is a musical prequel; composed, arranged and recorded as an independent work. It will be released before the game and introduce you to the world and themes of Golem. (

    Some of the rewards available include a digital download, signed CDs, a t-shirt, personalized messages, and THE FULL MARTY which is described as “a once in a lifetime chance to ATTEND THE LIVE RECORDING SESSION of the album in Seattle!
    (includes Signed Vinyl Album, Backer-Edition Shirt, and Your Name in the liner notes, but not travel or accommodations)”

    The project will only be funded if at least $45,000 is pledged by Tue, Apr 12 2016 11:00 PM EDT, so if you haven’t already, hop on over to kickstarter to back the album while you still can. I enlisted myself as part of The Marty Army which includes Echoes of The First Dreamer on CD and an exclusive backer t-shirt. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go listen to the Halo soundtrack for the millionth time.

    Unboxing Loot Crate’s February 2016: Dead

    Desirai Labrada and husband John Henry unbox “Dead” the February 2016 Loot Crate. Loot Crate is a monthly subscription for fans of pop culture, and gamers alike. Included in each box are t-shirts, gadgets, collectibles and more. The February theme is “Dead” and includes exclusive items from AMC’s The Walking Dead, and Deadpool.

    Equilibrium Urban Survival Gear Review

    Cool bags for the geek in us all


    Equilibrium USG – What Is It?

    I love bags. I have a nice collection of geek-themed stuff holders that I don’t use all that often because I’m afraid of staining them, or losing them, or wearing them out. At C2E2 in April of this year, though, I discovered Equilibrium USG. This company, based close to me in Skokie, Ill., creates functional, modular bags. They’re extremely durable, flexible, secure, padded, and customizable. So, naturally, I had to test one out. It took until late July for me to get my bag, as they’re made at a factory in the Philippines and then put together here, but this month I was finally able to take it on a trip with me and test the thing out.

    The company likes to call its gear “the LEGOs of bags.” For the P.A.C. system (Portable All-Purpose Containment), there are two available types of base, or harness – a basic one, and one with more storage called the Vertex harness. There are four types of “payload” – your basic storage component, including the Recon Prime, shown above. “Ordnance” refers to smaller accessory-style bags that can be attached to the payload or harness or SKYN. Then you have the SKYNs themselves. These come in many different designs, or you can design your own, as long as there’s no copyright infringement.

    The durability and water-resistance of the bags comes  from high-grade material – 840 and 1680 denier Ballistic and Cordura nylon (the same sort of thing used for making bulletproof vests) and YKK zippers with reverse tape. The insides are lined with polyethalene sheets for rigidity and protection. Each Recon features more than 250 assembled parts, sewn together.

    By the time I received mine, I had pretty much forgotten how to operate it, so this past weekend I stopped by Equilibrium’s booth at Wizard World Comic-Con in Chicago. (I also picked up an ORDN-50 Heat while I was there.) But I’m so glad I stopped by. Company representatives showed me how to attach my new Heat to the front and sides of my base, to my harness, even to my SKYN. I can attach all kinds of things to my harness. I can turn my SKYN inside out and put things on the front of my bag, too. I am clearly deficient in imagination, because none of things had occurred to me on my own.

    Do Equilibrium Bags Perform As Advertised?

    2015-08-24 08.48.21

    My Assault Panzer with two SKYNs.

    I’ll be honest. I have an awesome Lo & Sons bag that I usually prefer to travel with, because it’s got this handy pocket that allows me to slip it over the handle of my carry-on luggage, and it’s so roomy. I took a look at my new slash-proof Assault Panzer, and thought it looked small and too rigid. I wanted something that would be able to handle a bit of a bulge, in case I brought back lots of souvenirs. I switched all my belongings to my Lo & Sons O.M.G., and then I changed my mind. What the heck. I was traveling light, and I really wanted to test my Equilibrium bag out. So I switched everything back and stuck my sunglasses into one of the outside mounting straps. My USG felt really balanced on my back, once the harness/base (basically, a vest that attaches to the “payload”) was on. Then I had a brilliant idea. I realized that because the harness is separate from the actual bag, it also does fit over the carry-on handle. This made me very happy, as it was the main reason I’d been thinking of leaving my USG behind.

    The verdict: I’m sold. This is actually the first backpack I’ve owned that I actually prefer to wear on my back. It’s comfortable, not too bulky, and doesn’t look huge on me (I’m a rather small person). I could have put it on my luggage handle so that it was supported by my suitcase, but mostly I didn’t.

    I don’t have that many accessories yet, and I feel like my Panzer doesn’t have enough pockets, but it does have a “secret” pocket behind the SKYN where I store my ID and cash. There’s also one on top perfect for all my chargers. I admit I have not tested the slashproof capabilities of my USG, and I hope not to ever have to do that. Also, I haven’t yet tested out the bag’s messenger-like and cross-body capabilities, but it’s designed with a very slight curve, so it fits snugly into your body as a messenger or cross-body bag.

    Is There Anything Else I Need to Know?

    When I returned from my trip, my kid and I stopped at Culver’s for dinner on the way home from the airport. Almost instantly an employee behind the counter asked about my bag and where I got it and wrote down the company information so she could get one, too. And this isn’t a one-time occurrence. The cool factor of Equilibrium USG bags cannot be denied.

    The main downside is that these bags can be pricey. The Recon Prime that I covet runs between $100-$140 based upon size (S, M, L). But it has so many pockets! And a separate laptop compartment that will fit items larger than my 11.5″ MacBook Air! And lots of mounting straps! A custom SKYN runs $50, and the tricked-out Vertex harness can cost $105. The problem with the prices is that I keep wanting to buy more. Just like LEGOs. I think I see what they mean now.

    Also, my kid keeps begging me to let him take my USG to school because it’s so cool. He doesn’t even want to use it with a SKYN, because the black and orange look of my USG is apparently cooler than my Totoro SKYN. I’ve promised him that when I upgrade to the Recon Prime, he can have my Assault Panzer.

    Final Thoughts

    Aside from the fact that I can’t ever remember the names of any of the parts I’m purchasing – “Assault Riot” and “Recon Prime” evoke nothing descriptive to me at all – I do like this system. And until, well, today, I was still mixing up harnesses and bases (I felt like the “base” should be your main bag, not the thing with the straps on it). Also, there are just so many straps and attachers sometimes I’m not sure what to do with them all. But Equilibrium makes a durable, well-designed bag, and I’m looking forward to adding to it, figuring out configurations, and getting more geeky SKYNs. I’m grown up, but I still like toys, and this is one I can both play with and utilize in an adult manner.

    For more information on Equilibrium USG, visit

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    Lays Flavored Chips: Southern Biscuits and Gravy + West Coast Truffle Fries

    Do us a flavor and vote for your favorite

    Lays Flavored Chips

    If you haven’t heard yet, Lays potato chips does this crazy thing called “Do Us a Flavor” where they ask people to come up with outrageous flavors which are later voted on by the community. In podcast Episode 98: One Armed Ninja we briefly discuss some of these peculiar flavors. In an effort to take things one step further (and gross Marcia out at the same time), John and I decided to make a tasting video of the two flavors we purchased. Said video is featured below. The review itself is about 4 minutes long and the rest is… well, you’ll see. Enjoy!

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