Monday, September 30, 2013

Lame Post is Lame

I could not think of something interesting to post about today. I try to make Monday's posts about me, so something personal.

Except, I'm not doing anything super exciting at the moment.

But then, why are my Wednesday WIP posts so...bleh--in other words, there hasn't been much new there.

Where is all that time going? I mean, there isn't anything super exciting, we're on break from school, and I'm caught up on commissions, and I'm almost caught up on blankets. Where is the time going?

The answer: right now, it's just tons and tons of little things. There are lots of random one-time events and activities, stuff I've volunteered to do, and so on. They are all things that by themselves aren't big time-sinks, but when you add them together in large quantities, then, yeah, they can make time disappear pretty quickly.

September was like that. My calendar was basically blacked out with stuff going on. October is quickly disappearing. We were even supposed to have a week-long break in the middle of October, but even that's disappeared--it's down to 3 days from 9.

None of the things I'm doing are bad in and of themselves. I could use a break though. So, you know, my November had better be a lot less full, or else... I don't know... I doubt a personal emotional/mental breakdown would be all that cataclysmic or world-shaking. XD

Anyways. Here's to having something more interesting to post about next week. =P

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Getting Older

Yesterday, my oldest, Ty, turned 13. Aside from being one of my favorite numbers, it also means that my "baby" is a teenager now (officially). I know it's probably cliche to still want to say he's my "baby" but it really does not feel like he should be that old. It left me reflecting, where has all that time gone? Realistically, I know we've done a lot of amazing things during that time.

Ty has been a cosplayer for pretty much all of his life. He wore his first cosplay, and not one of my best attempts at sewing, for Halloween in 2000. He was only 1 month old; we dressed him as an Oddish--my favorite Pokemon. His first convention was in March 2001 (~5 months old)--we dressed him as a Chocobo (also not one of my best sewing attempts). Since then, he has cosplayed as Red Mage (FF I), Artemis (Sailor Moon), Jygen (Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro), Vash the Stampede (Trigun), Obi Wan Kenobi (Star Wars), Harry Potter (Harry Potter), Goku (Dragonball), Alphonse Elric (Full Metal Alchemist), Jet (Avatar: the Last Airbender), and Sanji (One Piece)--and I might have forgotten a few. He even appeared in a 2002 issue of Animerica magazine--a photograph snagged the year he cosplayed Red Mage at Otakon--yes, I still have a copy of that issue. His current project: he wants to cosplay Tron.

He's definitely a geek (not a bad thing--in fact, I applaud it). He loves books, movies (not just anime, but he likes that too), and video games. Right now he's teaching himself html so he can put together his own website. He's also teaching himself how to use Flash so he can make his own movies and/or games. He has a prototype boardgame for older elementary age kids featuring dragons and knights and all kinds of fun fantasy-themed stuff, and if we can ever get enough of it pulled together in a professional "kit" we'll probably help him put together a Kickstarter (we'll be there as the adults, but he'll get all the credit--as it should be--for the game's creation). He wants to be a baker, a chemist, and a mad scientist (his own words). Oh yeah, and he's also writing a book called Sand World. He's somewhere around the 3rd chapter, and I'm trying to convince him that an outline would be a good thing. He knows how to make chain mail, and for a short period, he was actually responsible for the chain mail bracelets I used to have at my art table. This is just some of what he does and who he is. Happy 13th to my sweet boy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WIP Volume 46

Do you see anything yet? Nope I don't either. XD My goal is to finish it by Oct. 5. Wish me luck.
Finished. =)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Family Camp

We spent this weekend camping at the McDowel Nature Preserve near Lake Wiley in Charlotte, NC. We had a lot of fun. This was going to be a test run for our trip to Disney in December since we're planning on staying at their campgrounds. We took Sophie's play pen because I don't trust her to stay in the tent, which was a totally reasonable concern given that she figured out how to squirm her way out of the tent within 15 minutes of setting up. =P
Saturday morning, just waking up.
We got in late Friday, so it was mostly set-up and crash that night. Saturday morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we went hiking. The nature preserve had 9 trails that we could explore. Many of them were interconnected. We sampled three of them.
Nifty tree we saw that was growing horizontally.
Saturday afternoon, the boys participated in a fort building activity run by the Nature Center attached to the preserve for our scout pack. That was a lot of fun. There were about 25 kids at the event. They broke into 6 groups and each group was supposed to attempt to build a structure that would hold everyone in their group and would be moderately rainproof.

Ty's Group:
Luke's Group:
Logan's Group:

Logan's group actually won the competition. Luke ended up breaking off from his group because of creative disagreements with his leader, and he made his own fort. Sadly the picture I got of him in his finished fort did not save properly to my phone--this is not the first time my phone has done this, and it is a problem. >_< Sophie fell asleep on the hike up to where the fort building activity took place. One of the other guys there let her borrow his umbrella because it was sprinkling rain off and on. She was pretty startled when she woke up. Throughout the whole weekend, she had a ton of fun playing in the dirt and taste-testing all kinds of sticks, rocks, leaves, etc. After the fort building, we went back to the Nature Center, and everyone got to hold/pet a corn snake if they wanted to. Logan and Sophie both held the snake. I really wish I had gotten pictures of this.

Saturday night it poured the rain.This was a bad thing because it turns out our tent had some pretty bad leaks (along with a few other problems we identified Friday when we put the tent up). This was a good thing because I'm glad we found this out now, since we were fairly close to family, rather than December during our trip to Florida. We ended up packing up a lot of our stuff and spent the night at Shaun's parents' house, since they lived nearby. We came back Sunday morning to about 2 inches of standing water in the bottom of our tent. Although I was sad we weren't able to spend that last night there, I was glad we had an alternative to not being so thoroughly soaked. Now we also know we need to do some repairs to our tent (or maybe even replacing it since there are some other hardware issues with it as well) before December.

Friday, September 20, 2013


A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I got together with a friend of mine, and over two Friday evenings we watched Sword Art Online in its entirety.

Initially I expected SAO to be another anime along the lines of .Hack//Sign, and the first episode did start out that way. SAO is a virtual reality, fantasy setting mmo game that uses entirely sword combat techniques--no magic. I also initially thought: "How dull. I always hate it when they take magic out of worlds."

I was wrong on both accounts. By the end of the first episode, SAO distinguishes itself from .Hack//Sign. The central conflict is created when the game's creator teleports everyone to the starting town to inform them that he rigged the game so no one can log out. If they are forcibly disconnected from the game, the virtual reality equipment will emit a microwave frequency that will fry the brain; they die. If they die in game, the microwave thing happens; they die. There is a way out of the game: they have to fight their way through all 100 floors or levels of the game and defeat the final boss. Then everyone will be released. By the end of the first episode, I was thinking: "This is going to be just like Inu-Yasha or some other series where each episode will be the same basic thing--get through the current level, fight and defeat the boss (or on the rare occasion there might be a 2 episode sequence to break things up), and it will last a hundred episodes."

Thankfully, I was wrong there too. The narrative focuses more on character development and the game actually becomes more of a background. The story jumps levels, days, and months at a time. I appreciated this. SAO became more about observing how people changed and interacted with each other especially as time passed and real world memories lessened and game experiences became a way of life. The lack of magic, for me, was just fine. They had a wide range of "techniques" and "powers" that kept combat interesting, as well as tactics, skills and other game elements to keep things exciting. I really enjoyed this part of SAO. The first half was very well done, and I would highly recommend it.

The second half of SAO was incredibly disappointing. It became a totally different anime where the only connection was a virtual reality mmo game and the same characters. It moved from moderately-child friendly to only a few steps shy of outright hentai (including a scene that stops just short of tentacle rape). There are still some good story elements from this second half, but overall, I felt it did not hold up to the standard the first half set up. The narrative was weaker. We'd spend long periods just looking at the main male character's sister sitting in her underwear. Why? I have no idea. It served very little purpose to the story. I honestly felt the additional mature elements did not add anything to the series. I think it also bothered me because I had not expected the series to go this route. I do not like watching hentai. I avoid it whenever possible. We had previewed the first several episodes of the series and it seemed "safe". We preview anime before sitting down to consume an entire series primarily because anime can contain such adult material, and we usually try to get a feel for what a series will be like so we can say whether our kids can watch it or not. Initially SAO was okay. It was a little awkward when a little over half way through we had to stop the show and ask the kids to take themselves upstairs and find something else to do. We'd tell them how the story ended, but they did not need to be watching it. That was very disappointing to them.

My conclusion. The first half of SAO is great. The second half, not so much. I still really enjoyed the first part enough that my husband and I are planning on cosplaying Kirito and Asuna (the two main characters for most of SAO). I really liked a lot of the costume and character design. I liked how they handled the action and combat. I think the only thing I didn't like was the adult elements that appeared in the second half--it always stopped just short of really showing anything, but I think they still took things a little too far.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

WIP Volume 45

There hasn't been a lot of visible progress this week (there has been a little though). A lot of that is because of the training workshop I spent a chunk of last week and the weekend at. This next week is likely to be slim as well--today's a zoo day, tomorrow my grandmother is coming in town for a visit, and Friday-Sunday we're camping with the scouts (yep, even the 1 year old--that might be an adventure worth posting about Monday =P). So yeah... XD Here's this week's progress:
So close to being finished. Stupid Photoshop, stupid tablet drivers, stupid Windows 7. >_<

Monday, September 16, 2013

New Business in a New Direction

I spent last weekend at a training workshop so I can start a new business. This will be my first business enterprise that does not have something to do with geekdom. *gasp* Okay maybe not the first. My husband and I did run a website design business for our first year or two together that was only indirectly related to geekiness. We have also attempted to open a brick & mortar anime store (we couldn't get a loan for that one because the bank said no one liked anime), and for a couple of years, I ran an online cosplay commission business before becoming jaded with the general public. Now I have my art studio, which, btw, is not closing its doors.

So, what's this new business thing? After much thought and personal reflection and some discussion with my husband, I decided that I would pursue training to be a doula (definitely a different direction from the kinds of things I am normally attracted to doing). For those of you not familiar with doulas (I imagine a bunch of you, since doulas are not widely known of in the US), we are people who assist non-medically in pregnancy, labor, and postpartum support--I'll be doing another training workshop next month to expand the help I can offer during the postpartum period. This is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. What really bothers me about it is the amount of misinformation and general lack of information there is out there for the general public.

My goal is to help educate people (not just women) on the various options available to women and the pros and cons for each option. It really bugs me that a lot of women go in for various interventions and procedures without being aware of the risks attached to those procedures or an understanding of the actual necessity of the intervention (yeah, informed consent is often a joke here). For example, epidurals come with a ton of potential side effects and risks that most people aren't aware of including, but not limited to, significantly reduced blood pressure (meaning less oxygen for mom and baby), slowing or stopping of labor, frequently leading to a longer labor, increased risk of other interventions (vacuum extractor, forceps, or emergency cesarean section because of complications caused by the epidural), and severe headache that can last for days afterwards. I think epidurals have their place. Sometimes they can actually be a positive, and for some women they are something they will still want. My thing is that I'd like them to be able to make an educated decision. How can you do that if you don't know the pros and cons of something?

There is also a lot of statistical evidence that shows that doulas improve the overall birth experience for women along with helping to prevent unnecessary and unwanted interventions. As a doula, I will be able to help women process fears, address concerns, and prepare for their birth experience--I can't guarantee everything will go perfectly as planned because this, like everything in life, can be quite unpredictable. I can help educate women (and their families) so that when unexpected situations arrive they can make an informed decision. After birth I can help them process what happened to them and make it so they can get off to the best start possible. With the additional training I will get in October, I will be able to continue support during this period, which I think is especially important given the rise in postpartum depression and other mood disorders. I kind of see the postpartum period as the "happily ever after" of pregnancy and childbirth. So much planning and preparation goes into the birth part, and then you get your baby, but what happens then?

So yeah, that's what I'm doing in the smallest nutshell I could put it in (given how much I can talk on this subject this is pretty short). If you're interested in any of this at all, you can visit my new blog: It's still a work in progress, but I'd like it to become a place where people can come to read and learn and ask questions and what not. =) If you're interested in learning more about doulas, you can visit CAPPA's website; I will be getting  my certifications as a labor and postpartum doula through CAPPA.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WIP Volume 44

Progress the last week or so on the mermaid commission and 2 baby blankets.
Getting there slowly. This week, I'll be working on the tail.
Blanket started a little while back. You can see progress... The pattern's been a little more complicated to work on than I expected. Not a bad thing though; I like challenges.
Usually I won't start a new blanket when I still have one unfinished, but I'm trying to get this one done before the mama's baby shower October 5, so... The pattern's a basic granny square design--I wanted to keep it simple because this blanket is going to have 256 squares in it. @_@ It should be pretty awesome though once finished.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tinkerbell, Finished

Remember this post: And the progress post here:

Well I finished it, and she looked adorable in it. =D
WIP pic from earlier last week.
Up close of one of the leaf petals--can kind of see the quilting and sparkles.

Fuzzy picture is fuzzy. It was a little bit, but I wanted her to have room to grow. I did not make the shoes or wings.