Friday, September 15, 2017

Michigan Trip - The Trek Across Michigan

This is the 3rd post in my Michigan trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

We got up early and finished packing up. We got on the road after getting some breakfast and made a trek that I made dozens of times when I lived in Holland.

Our route took us right through Mount Pleasant, the home of my alma mater, Central Michigan University. We stopped and went into the bookstore so I could get an alumni sticker. We also wen to the big seal that is in front of Warriner Hall to take pictures.

We stopped in Bay City to see my great aunt Jackie for a little bit. Going to her house is like stepping through a time warp. It hasn't changed much since I was a child. Aunt Jackie herself is the same as she always is and was quite happy to see us.

We got back on the road and after several more hours of driving we got to Todd's parent's house. All told it was a five hour drive, so we were a bit tired. But once we got unpacked, we got changed because we were going to do family pictures.

Todd's brother, his wife and their kids, Amber and Austin, came over. Emily hit it off with her
cousins, who she hasn't seen since they were all toddlers. Austin had brought Pokemon cards so he and Emily played Pokemon.

The photographer came to the house and we did family pictures both inside and out. The outside pictures were the best, but they all were really good. After we finished with that, we had some dinner and then got changed to head to Scott and Lisa's house.

We gathered out in the front yard, sitting in chairs while we waited for it to get dark. The kids ran around the yard playing with a toy that launched in the air then the kids would try and catch it. They also did sparklers and we had smores!

Once it was dark Scott set off a bunch of fireworks. It was a very good show and the kids oohed and aahed and cheered for the fireworks. It was quite late by the time we were done, so we headed back to my inlaw's house to go to sleep.

Up Next - Independence Day!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My Ghost Adventures - Whispers

To start at the beginning of this series, click here!

It's been a while since we had any ghostly activity in our house, but the ghost scared the crap out of me the other day. 

It was a very windy and rainy day, we were getting the remnants of Hurricane Irma. It was after I had put Emily to bed and I was sitting on the toilet doing my business. All of a sudden I hear a voice! 

I couldn't make out what she said, but it was definitely a female's voice. She said several words, and then I booked it out of the bathroom and turned on the hall light.

It freaked me out so badly that I didn't go back into the bathroom until Todd got home from work. Both Todd and I think that the storms gave the ghost enough energy to speak. I hope she wasn't saying "Die, Mandy, Die," though I doubt that.

This does confirm what Todd and I have thought for years. The ghost in the bathroom is a woman. Sometimes, I wonder what her story is, being stuck in our crappy bathroom. But I'm not going to research our house until we don't live here anymore - which may be a very long time!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Michigan Trip - Beach Day!

This is the 2nd post in my Michigan trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

After sleeping for a good long time, we got up and headed to the beach. Emily was so small last time we were in Michigan, she didn't remember going to the beach. She was especially excited to play in the sand.

We headed to Tunnel Park in Holland, and I swear it was like stepping back in time to my childhood. Since it was before noon, the beach wasn't too crowded. Todd went into the water first but declared it was way too cold to swim in. Emily waded in with him a bit but then played in the sand.

I finally went into the water, and Emily came with me. It was cold at first but it warmed up for me. We swam for quite a bit, with Emily bouncing in the waves. After we played in the sand for a while longer, we went to the other side of park to have a cookout.

My dad and Todd cooked us hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. While they were grilling, I took
Emily to the playground. She played and then rolled down the big sand hill a couple of times just like I did as a child. She was covered in sand from head to toe.

We ate our food, packed up and headed back to my dad's house. Right away, Emily was tossed into the shower. She shed so much sand in the bathroom, I had to sweep it up. After the rest of us got showers too, we just relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

Our plan had been to go to dinner and then go to Captain Sundae for ice cream. We went to Bob Evans for supper and while we were eating, the skies opened up and it started to pour. We were trying to decide how we would fit in Captain Sundae the next day, but the rain stopped as we were finishing up.

We decided to go anyway, and it was pretty dry while we had our ice cream. Emily was thrilled, with the ice cream and the play area that was a ship! After we finished, we headed back to my dad's house. We watched some tv and I got as packed up as I could.

Up Next - The Trek Across Michigan

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summer Adventures - The Drive-In

One of my favorite memories as a kid was going to the drive-in. My mom would always buy us new pj's since we would nearly always fall in asleep in the car. I honestly don't remember any movies I saw, but the experience of sitting in the car to watch a movie was awesome.

There is a drive-in that shows new movies about an hour away from my house. We've passed it a few times over the years on the way to Charlotte, but we'd never gotten there. Finally I decided that Emily and I were going to go this summer.

A few weekends ago, the Sunset Drive-In Theater was showing Despicable Me 3 and Spider-Man: Homecoming. This kind of killed two birds for me because I had promised to take Emily to see Spider-Man once she got home from Michigan.

The gates opened at 7 pm and I got there about then. Since this was our first time, I wasn't sure how fast it would fill up. It was pretty empty when we got there so we got a great spot right by the bathrooms and concession stand.

We had a few hours to kill so we checked everything out. They had a Despicable Me 3 coloring contest so Emily sat down and colored a picture. They also had a Despicable Me 3 photo booth and one for Spider-Man too.

As the sun was setting, we got some popcorn. We got some other snacks as it got closer to movie
time. Before the movie, they gave out some prizes. Emily didn't get anything big but she got a little Despicable Me 3 poster and some Minions stickers.

To hear the movie, we had to tune into their radio station which was a bit different. But it worked well. The drive-in filled up quite a bit before the movie started. After Despicable Me 3 finished, quite a few people left. We stayed to the end.

Emily was clad in pj's but she did stay up until the end of Spider-Man. I do think she passed out as we drove away.

It was a lot of fun! Next time, I may bring my own drinks and just get popcorn there. Hopefully we'll get to go again this summer!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Overwhelmed at Large

I'm very liberal and I make no secret of that. I'm horrified by the current administration as they try to wipe out all the good that the previous administration tried to do. I try to be an ally as best I can to LGBT+ people. I think everyone should have the same rights and freedoms. And the whole healthcare mess, well, that one scares me the most because of my poor health.

But, I see posts on social media often about how everyone needs to be calling their representatives everyday about a variety of bills. How cisgendered white people aren't doing enough to build up LGBT+ people and POC. How we must resist with every fiber of our being every moment of the day.

Ok, maybe not so much that last one, but it's overwhelming. I use resistbot when I can, but that only really formats and gets your words to the right place. You still need to write several cohesive paragraphs about what you want your representative to be doing which can be hard sometimes.

So I have guilt that I'm not a good enough liberal. That I'm not doing enough for the causes. That I'm not a good enough person because I don't have the ram in my head to resist every day.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like this so I thought I'd put it out there. I know a lot of my issues stems from the fact that I have a boatload of anxiety on a normal day. Lately, I keep having panic attacks for no good reason. Maybe the reason is just the world we live in right now.

I'm also introverted, living with chronic pain and still need to have enough energy to work and to parent.

Yes, it may sound like excuses but it's the truth. I don't think that people should stop posting about things people can do. Just maybe ease up on the idea that everyone must be doing said things. We all need a break sometimes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dragon Con 2007 - Part Two

This is my trip report from my very first Dragon Con, originally posted on my livejournal. For Part One, Click Here!

Saturday we got up rather early again, since one of my friends was had to be out and about early because he was in the parade. I got into my costume, which was my Summoner Yuna costume, and I needed some help as well. 

Another friend and I headed down to get a good spot and watch the parade.After the parade we got food and headed back to the Hyatt for the panel with Ellen Muth (who starred as George in Dead Like Me). Lunch was yummy and the panel was very interesting. 

Unfortunately, by this time, I was starting to feel badly, as the pain in my head started to grow. I didn't really want to put a cold pack on, mostly because that would detract from my costume. Eventually I did have to put one on because the pain was pretty bad.

We did some wandering, went to the Walk of Fame (it was crazy in there!), and then made our way to Peter S. Beagle's reading. He read the prologue and a few chapters of his new book, "I'm Afraid
You've Got Dragons" which was very interesting, the book doesn't come out until next year, but I really want to get it when it does come out. 

I separted from my friends and ended up in the room with a migraine that was about a 7 or 8 on the scale of 1 to 10. I spent a good portion of the afternoon/early evening in the room laying down.

I did drag myself out of bed because the showing of "The Last Unicorn" with Peter S. Beagle doing commentary was that night. We there about an hour early and it was a good thing because the room they were showing the movie in was tiny! We did get in, and we got seats. They turned lots of people away, which was sad. 

The movie was great, and it was very interesting to hear the commentary from Peter.

After that, we headed back to the room - I was still feeling pretty crappy. We did get some food and then watched the Dawn costume contest that was on Dragon*ConTV, as we ate, and then crashed not long after that.

Sunday we actually got to sleep in a little. And I had thankfully slept off my migrain! 

I went to the Stars of Harry Potter panel, and I just managed to snag a seat. Unfortunately, I was too far away to get any good pictures. It had the actors that played the Weasley twins and the actor that played Neville. It was very interesting.

After that, I ran into my friends and we all watched Tom Smith, who does Filk, play a short show in the lobby of the Hyatt. I knew what Filk was, but this was my first time really listening to it. It was very amusing. 

I went to the art show for a bit and then met up with another friend because we both wanted to go to the Star Trek: The Next Generation panel. We did food runs and as my friend had returned with her food, the line started moving. The panel was in the biggest panel room, and it still got filled to the brim. The panel had the actors who played Data, Dr. Crusher and Riker. Brent Spiner, who played Data, seemed very bitter, and none of them really wanted to talk about Star Trek that much. It was an okay panel, but I had been to better ones.

The actor who played Riker did come out into the audience before he came on stage. He was really close to us. 

After that, we went to another panel, I think it was one in the writing track - I don't really remember it that much and then we came back to get in line for the Ron Glass panel. 

This line was the worst of all weekend. We ended up standing in line in the outside area where all the smokers came to smoke. I'm really allergic to smoke, so this was not fun. Plus, the line didn't move, and didn't move, even though most lines started moving about 15-20 minutes before the panel started. My friend went to ask at one point why the line wasn't moving, and she was angrily told that they were trying to clear the room and get the people in wheelchairs in. The line didn't move until 15 minutes after the panel started.

The panel itself was good - Ron Glass didn't sit down once!! 

Afterwards, I went to the Walk of Fame which was much emptier than it had been. There was only one person in front of me when I was getting Ron Glass's autograph. He was very nice, and I got a couple of pictures.

I then saw that James Marsters, who played Spike on Buffy, was there, so I got in line - there was only one person in front of me there too. I got my picture signed and we talked for a minute. He was really nice too. Alas, no pictures of that.

I went back up to the room to put my newly autographed things away, and headed to the dealer's room. I mostly wandered for a while, and the only thing I really bought was a Harley Quinn print for Todd. We had gone to the dealer's room on Saturday I think, and I had gotten the "Done the Impossible" DVD, which is about Browncoats, and something I had wanted to see for a while. And I got a Browncoat lanyard as well. I honestly did not spend hardly any money on stuff at Dragon*Con.

After that, I went back to the room and found my friends vegging out before their big dinner with Peter S. Beagle. I had been wishy-washy on if I wanted to tag along or not, because I knew it would be expensive, but I also knew it would be a cool experience. So, I ended up deciding to go.

It was a very cool experience, and the food was expensive, but really, really good. I didn't have that much to add, but still had a good time. 

We got done with dinner just in time to head to the Hyatt for Tom Smith's concert. The room was packed but it was a very good show!

After that, we tried to peek into the Pirate Party, but it was full, so we just went back to the room, and watched some of the costume contest before going to sleep.

Monday was most just packing up and driving home. That was the first and last time I was at Dragon Con until Monday. That first Dragon Con has sparked a decade of memories and fun times!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dragon Con 2007 - Part One

I realized that this year was going to be my 10th Dragon Con. So I'm a little nostalgic on how it all started. We moved to North Carolina in 2005, but after Dragon Con had already happened. In 2006, I didn't go because of going to Michigan for my wedding. But finally 2007 I got to go for the first time.

I stayed with friends and Todd didn't go because he didn't have the time off because that was the year we took our honeymoon. I wrote about the experience in my LJ. Here are some of the highlights!

The drive was fairly uneventful, and we arrived about 5-ish to the Marriott. We tried to check in, but had to wait for my friend Kathleen to arrive. We filled up the time by hanging out with another friend, Nicole and her husband - they were fun to hang out with. We also grabbed dinner, and got our badges. Oddly enough, the line didn't seem that bad to me.

After we got our badges, Kathleen had arrived, and we were able to get into the room. It was a fairly standard hotel room with two double beds (which I think we were lucky to get, because we had been told earlier that only king rooms were left), and it had enough room for me to set up my blow up bed (I brought this because I'm an odd sleeper and that way Kathleen and I could each have our own bed.)

We were on the 41st floor which was very cool, though the elevator rides did make me dizzy almost every time.

Friday dawned very, very early - mostly because the alarm went off at 7:30. I was awake quickly, mostly because I'm used to getting up this early, and I quickly got into my costume, which was my Hogwarts costume.

It was a very hot costume, and I didn't wear it all day. Everyone else got ready and we went downstairs to find out where open gaming was since friends I was staying with were running a one-shot sword and socery Hero game set in Via, which is a world we play in every other Sunday.

Apparently open gaming was not available at that time, so we just took over a table in one of the gaming rooms, expecting to be kicked out. We must have been truly early birds because we weren't bothered at all.

After the game, we headed over to see the stars of Buffy (which included James Marsters, Juliet Landau, Elisabeth Rohm and some random guy who played a demon on the show).

Before the panel though, my friend Alic walked with me to the Hilton to try and find Trader Vic's, where the Bpal meet & sniff was going to be later that night. I thought I had a fairly good grip on how to find it, but alas I was wrong. More on that later

I parted ways with everyone, and went to the Andromeda panel that had Kevin Sorbo and Gordon Michael Woolvett. Gordon Michael Woolvett had a prop from the show and he passed it around. It was neat and I got a fairly good picture of that.

Next up was the Firefly panel - I got in line, waited and managed to get a very good seat because I was alone. Though as the room filled up, I noticed my friend Carmen looking for a seat, and I happened to have one next to me, so we got to sit next to each other.

Unfortunately, Ron Glass was late, so the panel was just Mark Sheppard. It was still a very good panel, and the closest I was for any panel all weekend.

After that, Carmen and I went on the search for Trader Vic's. We got some conflicting directions, and the fact that it was just confusing to find didn't help. We did manage to find it.

We also stopped at both our hotel rooms. I was dying because my costume was so warm, and I had planned on changing before the meet & sniff anyway. So I was very glad to get out of that costume.

Directly before the meet & sniff, Carmen and I went to a Harry Potter panel called "Mourning Potter". It was about the characters who had died and the end of the series in general. It was a very interesting panel.

We then went to the meet & sniff, which was fun - though I have no clue who any of the people were except a couple.

Now, I had had a donut in the room before we left for the game, and we had stopped in the con suite right after the Buffy panel, but I hadn't eaten anything else all day, and everything I had eaten was not good food. I had planned on getting something from Trader Vic's but nothing on their menu looked good, and it was expensive. Carmen got a chicken caeser salad that was very small for what they charged. And she had to get it to go, since the service was slow, and we had wanted to go to the Buffy Horror Picture Show at 10 pm. I had planned on stopping at the con suite after the Buffy show.

We left the Hilton at a little before 10, but managed to make it to the Hyatt just after 10 when we came across a huge line. We asked what it was for, and we were told it was for the 11:30 pm show of Buffy. The line was already really long, so we joined.

This was the longest time I stood in line all weekend - since we had an hour and a half before the show started. It was okay, we talked to some of the people in line. The strangest thing was two cups, at different times, came soaring out of the sky. Luckily they didn't hit anything but the ground.

Finally the line started moving, and we did get in. Though tons of people were turned away from what I heard.

The show itself was great - the audience, including me, sang along with the songs, and a good time was had by nearly all. The only annoying thing was the guys behind us kept talking, and one of the guys behind us was very drunk and got up at one point to find a bathroom to get sick in.

After the Buffy show, Carmen and I parted ways (and I didn't see her the rest of the weekend, which was sad), and I found my way back to the Mariott. I pretty much went to bed because I was exhausted. I didn't ever even eat anything else.

Up Next - Part Two!