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!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Doctor Who Thoughts

Image: reddit.com
I've been a Doctor Who fan for many years. I haven't seen any of the Classic Who episodes, partly because I'm a completeist and I know some of the early episodes have been lost. Also because that's huge undertaking. The amount of Classic Doctor Who actually stopped me from watching it because of that undertaking, but friends convinced me to start with the new seasons starting with the 9th Doctor.

It took me a few episodes to get into it, but soon I loved it and it's one of my big fandom now. The 10th Doctor is my absolute favorite. 9th is my 2nd favorite and while 11 gets on my nerves sometimes I adore his companions, Rory most of all. I honestly haven't seen a lot of 12. I only watched his first season and a lot of that got lost in my memory because of the seizures I had. I'm doing a rewatch right and hope to have caught up by the time the Christmas special comes out.

For those who don't watch Doctor Who, the Doctor is a Timelord, an alien time traveler. When he or she dies, they regenerate into a new form, letting a new actor take over the part. All the Doctors have numbers that the fans use to refer to them, except for one which is the War Doctor who didn't have his own season, just an episode. 

Since I've been in the fandom for many years, I've seen how fan react to the news of a new version of the Doctor. The chart I've shared above sums it up pretty well, but that seems to be intensified with today's announcement. 

For the first time, The Doctor is going to regenerate into a woman.

And this news has gotten all the reactions from people. Most of my friends have been thrilled, some have been happy and others are in a 'wait and see' mode. Most of the 'wait and see' people are because they don't really like the actress, Jodie Whittaker, which is a valid complaint. I'm personally thrilled - she looks doctor-y and I honestly try to give new Doctors a chance.

But I'm a glutton for punishment, and I read the comments on several pages, included the BBC's Facebook post about it, and boy, people were angry. Even without seeing her speak a single line, people have declared that Doctor Who is doomed and dead and that this move is beyond awful. All because she is a woman. Some people said this was a dumb pc move, some complained that now their young boys wouldn't have a good fictional role model (perhaps the most eye-rolling of all the comments) along with the many, many rage quit posts of "I'm never watching Doctor Who again!"

A lot of the comments were from men but some women too. The anger and venom people were posting was not unsurprising but to me, a little sad. The Doctor is an alien, and other Timelords have changed from male to female in the past. Crying that this will ruin the series seems a bit premature to me. 

In the end, it's just a TV show. I'm looking forward to it and I know a lot of other people are as well. In addition to a new Doctor, there are new show runners as well which I think will make this very interesting indeed.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Michigan Trip 2017 - Travel and Horror Con

It's been a long, long time since we've been up to Michigan to visit family so over 4th of July this year we make the very long trek to the state of our birth (at least for Todd and I).

My dear husband is always coming up with interesting ideas and he got one related to the drive up to Michigan. The drive sucks, it's long and mostly boring. But Todd found a horror convention, Days of the Dead, that was happening in Indianapolis the day we were driving up. It only added on like a half hour to our trip and there was some interesting guests there so we decided to get ticket.

I tried to sleep before we left and so did Todd, even though he got home from work at 11 pm and we left at 2 am. Neither of us got any sleep. I managed to sleep a little in the car but Todd was just high on caffeine.

Once the sun came up, Emily woke up and so did I. We stopped at a rest area and I changed into my Alice costume. I'm unable to go to a convention without a costume. Emily also was wearing her Chewbacca costume which is just pj's anyway.

Sadly the main person we wanted to see had canceled. That was George Romero and he canceled for health reasons. Once we got in and got our wrist bands, we found Matthew Lillard who was in Scream and Hackers, as well as being Shaggy in Scooby-Doo (both the live action movies and in recent cartoons).

His line wasn't too long so we got in line. Emily was a bit shy but she was very geeked that he pulled her aside and talked her in the Shaggy voice. The lady who had my phone to take a picture with us and him actually got a video of it put a couple of really cute pictures. We all got hugs from him (even Todd!) and got our picture taken.

We wandered around the halls. It was a mixture of dealers tables and celebrities doing autographs.
Being a horror convention, there was a lot of somewhat scary stuff but Emily was doing fine. We found the other person we wanted to meet, Lita, who is one of my all time favorite wrestlers. She was really nice and we got a picture taken with her too.

Todd had told Emily she could have $20 to spend at the convention. My kid found the table that was selling Pokemon stuffed animals in the middle of all that horror stuff and had to get one. I got some stickers for our car.

We were only at the convention maybe an hour but it was fun. It was nice to get out of the car and walk around for a while. I did nearly scar my child for life. They had a haunted house set up and I had Emily take a picture with it. Next to it was a giant pumpkin with Michael Myers standing there. I didn't realize that it was a cosplayer and not a statue. Freaked Emily right out! I felt so bad!!

After we got to the car, we went to White Castle for lunch which was yummy and then got back on the road. I was going to drive but Todd decided he was fine and actually drove the rest of the way to my dad's house.

It was supper time once we got there and my dad took us to this pizza buffet called Pizza Ranch. They had fried chicken and a great salad bar in addition to the pizza. It was really good!

Once we got back to my dad's house, I was exhausted and so was Todd. Emily, who had gotten the most sleep, was not so we let her stay up with my dad and they watched the first Harry Potter movie. Both Todd and I passed out as soon as our heads hit our pillows. It was a really long day.

Up Next - Beach Day!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Adventures - Carowinds

One of my goals this summer is to experience some things Emily hasn't ever done before. Our first summer adventure ended up being Carowinds, an amusement park a couple of hours from where we live.

I work from home at a company that is based out of Texas, but there are only a few states were they hire at home people. They usually do a company picnic in the summer and a Christmas party, but I've never been to either mostly because of timing. But when it was announced that the company picnic for the Carolinas and GA was going to be at Carowinds, I jumped at the chance.

I got a ticket for me and a guest (which was Emily) for free, plus they provided lunch! I had been wanting to check out Carowinds anyway, and to do so for free made it extra awesome!

Emily and I got up bright and early that morning and drove there. We got there just before 10 am when the park opened. We easily found the tent with the person from my job who had the tickets, and we entered the park.

When we got inside, there were several Peanuts characters waiting. Emily met them all and we got pictures. It was a good thing because we never saw the characters out and about for the rest of the day. Sadly, Snoopy wasn't there so we didn't get to meet him.

Most of the people who were there at opening headed to one of the many roller coasters, but we headed all the way to the back of the park to ride on the Plants vs. Zombies ride. We had no wait and it was an ok ride. You got on these bike things after you picked either to be a plant or a zombie and then you shot at your enemies. The bike thing would jerk and move sometimes. It was fun to do once but neither of us wanted to do it again.

From there we went and rode on Boo Blasters which was another shooting game. The ride vehicle took you through a haunted house and you shot at things. I liked this ride a bit better, in fact we rode on it twice before moving on.

We then rode the bumper cars and did a ride in the Planet Snoopy section which was all Peanuts themed rides for kids. The park was starting to fill up a bit and we had some time before lunch so we decided to ride the white water raft ride. The line was long, and much longer than I had thought when we got in line. But finally we rode, and it was fun!

From there, we went to the picnic area. We had to show our tickets which had a lunch voucher and we found the pavilion my work was at. I didn't know anyone there because no-one from my team had come, but there was yummy food. There was hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, potato salad, cookies and a variety of drinks. We ate up and then headed back to the car to drive to the water park section of the park.

I was a little unsure about how much Emily was going to like to the water park because she doesn't know how to swim and still isn't thrilled with water on her face. She's much better than she was when she was younger but she still doesn't want to go underwater.

We started small. There was a little kids area that had a small water slide that we went down several times and then we went to one of the wave pools. Emily loved this so much! She loved jumping in the waves and letting them push her back.

As we walked around we found another kids section but this was for bigger kids. There was about eight different water slides and we went on most of them. And on one of these, Emily's head actually went under the water. I always had her go down the slide first and then I went after her. She didn't freak out and she was really excited to tell me that once I went down the slide.

After another stop by the wave pool, we got changed out of our swim suits and drove back to where we were before. We spent about 3 hours in the water park.

Once we were back in the regular park side, we stopped and got some Italian ice as a snack. We did more rides, mostly at Planet Snoopy. Some of the rides were kid only, so I just watched from the side and took pictures.

I did make Emily ride the Carolina Skytower which is a ride that takes you up really high and you slowly go around in a circle to see the park and the Charlotte skyline in the distance. I really enjoyed it - it was very relaxing.

We had supper at Chick-Fil-A and then Emily rode more Planet Snoopy rides. We even rode on a kiddie roller coaster that was very exciting. I was out of spoons at the end and just let her ride to her heart's content while I watched. We ended up leaving at 9 pm, an hour before the park closed, because I was beyond exhausted. Of course, 11 hours in an amusement park will make one exhausted even without chronic pain.

All in all, it was a fun day! I'd like to go back and maybe even get season passes next year.

Up Next - The Drive-In

Friday, June 23, 2017

Women Are Capable

Image: www.lisajohnsonfitness.com
This is a bit of a rant, brought in part by an interaction I had at work as well as the current climate of our country and world.

Women Are Capable! We can work, we can lead, we can do more than be mothers. We can be mothers and work or stay at home. Every woman is different and NONE of us are lesser than men. No matter how many men think we are lesser.

I work in IT, which has been a man dominated field. But I'm good with computers and I'm good at my job. I never thought of myself as extremely techy until I started working in IT, but from the people I've had to help over the years, I am very good with most things techy.

Doesn't stop people from telling me I don't know what I'm doing. Usually older men who sometimes call me 'honey' and 'sweetie'. Usually these fellows don't know what they are doing, as in the case I had today.

This dude totally was mansplaining me the entire call as well as talking down to me. I had to tell him to do something about five times before he would listen to me and do what I told him to do. In the end, I couldn't help him because of his lack of computer knowledge. Didn't stop him from thinking that he knew it all.

It's 2017 for goodness sakes! Women are strong and capable. Please, treat us like we deserve to be treated, as human beings at least.

Monday, June 12, 2017

ConCarolinas 2017

ConCarolinas is one of my favorite cons. It's small but has a lot of activities. And a lot of my friends attend which makes it a lot of fun. ConCarolinas was actually Emily's very first con when she was only 8 months old! But this year we did a few new things, including staying overnight at the hotel for the first time.

Emily and I got up early on that Saturday morning and make the trek to Charlotte. We made good time but when we pulled into the hotel, I noticed that there were no parking spots anywhere nearby. I pulled the car up to unload it and made the decision to pay for valet parking. That was a great decision because we left the hotel several times to get food.

The bellhop loaded our stuff onto a cart and took it to our room. It only took a minute for us to get our badges and we got down to the dealer's room just before it opened. We went around the room and Emily exercised great control until she saw Pokemon cards. She had to get some! The only thing I bought was some decals for my new car.

After that, we went back to the room so I could change into my Tightrope Girl costume then hurried down for the costume contest pre-judging. Thankfully I was first to be judged, because both Emily and I were pretty hungry at that time.

I changed again (this became a theme for the day) and we went to get lunch at McDonald's. We had a bit of time, so we went down to the pool for a bit. It was really relaxing and nice to cool down because it was hot out!

After that, I changed in my Princess Leia costume and we went to the gaming area to play D&D. We had a lot of fun, and Emily's character helped us a lot in the combat with her sleep spell! Next year, hopefully we can go down on Friday and play in more D&D games.

Once the game was done, it was time to change back into my Tightrope Girl costume and go down to my friend Mikey's concert. It was great, though I did have to run back up to the room because I had
forgotten my gloves. I had to leave early to get lined up for the contest. Thankfully it was in the same room so I just got Emily settled in a seat in the 3rd row and left my purse and glasses with her.

This was my first costume contest I've ever been in so I was in the novice category. There were some other great costumes there too. I had no idea what I was going to do on stage and I started to feel really nervous.

In the end, I pretended like I was walking a tightrope and then posed in my pose for a moment. It was really fast. Then it was time to go back to the waiting room to wait for everyone else to have their turn on the stage.

Once everyone was done, they had us all come out on stage. We stood there while they read off the winners of the film festival as the judges decided who won. The novice awards were read off first and to my great surprise, I won 3rd place!

The best part of the whole weekend was when they read my name off, a tiny blur in the 3rd row jumped to her feet, her hands thrust in the air as she cheered for her mommy. It was awesome!

The other winners had great costumes too. A Newt Scamander cosplayer won best in show and he deserved it - his costume was really great!
It was about 6:30 pm once we got done with the costume contest so I got changed again. We went and got Cookout for supper. We watched Disney Jr. on TV as we ate and then we headed back to the pool for some night swimming. I was pretty beat by that time so we didn't swim for too long. I let Emily watch some tv while I got things packed up to make things easier in the morning.

The next day we got up and went swimming again for a bit. Then we got everything packed up. I went to the valet / bell hop station to get some help. I figure if I'm paying for valet parking they can come up and get our stuff. 

I knew it may take a while, and so did the guy at the valet station. He told me he would send someone up as soon as possible. Sadly, I had to call down several times before someone came up. It took over an hour. By that time, Emily was convinced that we had to live there now.

We got our car which they did pack up for us, and went to get some lunch. After lunch, we went back inside to do one more spin around the dealer's room. There was a booth that had geek-inspired sweets so I got Emily a Pokemon sucker and a BB-8 cookie.

As we were leaving the dealer's room, I rounded a corner and realized that Emily was gone! I freaked out as I paced the hallway not wanting to go too far away. My friend Mikey happened upon me mid-freak out and he went to the dealer's room to look there. All of a sudden, Emily reappeared! She had gone into the bathroom and had thought I was following her. I had lost her but she didn't know she was lost.

We went and told Mikey that we had found her and then headed out. After stopping at 7-11 for slurpies, we headed on home. It was a very fun weekend (except for the losing Emily part) and I look forward to next year's ConCarolinas!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wonder Woman

No spoilers for those who haven't seen it - though if you haven't seen it, go and see it! It's awesome!

I loved the movie, it was excellent, but I also am loving the fact that I was able to take my daughter to see a movie that I wish was made when I was a kid. I loved the Wonder Woman tv show when I was small.

I do admit that I did tear up during different parts of the movie, in part because Emily was sitting beside me watching Diana kick all kinds of butt. I felt similar things when we went to see Ghostbusters last year, which both Emily and I liked quite a bit.

I'm very happy that my daughter is growing up in a time where she can see women being able to shine as the stars of their own universe. Wonder Woman does fall in love, but she still had her own drive and her own goals.

Basically, Wonder Woman made me so happy as a geek, as a woman and as a mom. My husband did see it as well, and he really enjoyed it too. So go see Wonder Woman!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

2nd Grade Field Trip!

I don't volunteer at Emily's school a lot because I never know how I'm going to be feeling from day to day. But Emily really wanted me to volunteer for the 2nd grade field trip to the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, so I did.

I took Emily to school. The other parents and I helped out in the classroom until it was time to go. I actually carpooled with some friends of mine which made the trip a lot more enjoyable.

Once we got there and everyone was unloaded, we hiked up to a small amphitheater. We were led in acting out one of Carl Sandburg's poems, which was cheesy but fun, by one of the park rangers. Then the classes split up and went to different activities. I had four kids I was in charge of, including my own and one of Emily's friends.

Our first stop was the goats. They divided the class in half and some went to pet the goats. We stayed and the kids got to try milking a fake goat and then they did a milk bottle craft. They learned about the different kinds of goats Mrs. Sandburg raised.

Finally it was our turn to pet the goats. All the adult goats in the section we went to were female. And there was also a bunch of baby goats, two that were only a week old! They were super cute and Emily loved petting them. She was very gentle with them too, which made me happy.

Once our time was up, we went to our next activity which was hiking around the lake. It wasn't a hard hike and the kids kept looking for snakes. They were sad they didn't see any, but they did get to see a cool waterfall.

The last stop was to learn about butterflies. They watched a short video and then did a few activities about the life cycle of butterflies. There was a craft there too, but we were running out of time so they only got to color their butterflies. Emily's teacher said they would finish it at school.

The kids went on the bus and the grown-ups piled into their cars and we went to a nearby park for lunch. After everyone ate, the kids got the chance to play on this really cool playground. I was starting to feel wiped so I just watched to make sure no-one got hurt.

After getting back to school, I took Emily because there was only a half hour left of school. It was fun, though we did quite a bit of walking that made me sore. But Emily was very glad I could come which makes me glad I did it!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Girl Scout Day at Chimney Rock

I try to do just about every Girl Scout activity that is offered through our troop because I know that Emily would enjoy it. So when Girl Scout Day at Chimney Rock was announced, I signed us up for the day activities and the camp out in the evening.

It was tent camping and I haven't tent camped since I was a teenager. I wasn't looking very forward to it but I loaded up our car and headed off.

We got there about 9 am and some of our troop was already there. Even though it was morning, it was already starting to get really hot. I had a small cooler in my car for our lunches and the chocolate for smores. I left it in there because we were going to do activities first.

There were a bunch of other troops. The event had been limited to 200 girls, I think, plus parents and siblings. We had a decent amount of people with our troop so Emily had a lot of friends to play with.

The first part of the day was doing different stations. We started at the "craft" which all the parents agreed was the lamest craft ever. Apparently ever year, Chimney Rock has a special animal they showcase. This year, the animal was the spider. So the craft was to make a spider web necklace.

But all it was, was that all the girls were given a piece of metal (about as thick as a small paperclip) and they were suppose to bend it to make it look like a spider web. Needless to say, nobodies looked like a spider web. Sadly the person leading the craft didn't give a whole lot of instructions.

Once we were done there, we went to the next station which was all about things animals leave behind. Tracks, poop, etc. This one was more interesting, though I missed some of it by going to the
restroom. But there was a fun activity at the end where they girls had to try and guess what an animal was by looking at its fake poop, tracks and then the skull. We had some form of plant eater.

Our next station was the snake station. The guy leading it was very into snakes, and told the girls about different venomous and non-venomous snakes. He had several of the non-venomous to show the girls, one of which that bit him! But at the end, he let the girls pet one of his snakes. Emily didn't though, she wasn't very into that.

Lastly was another station about animals. I honestly was starting to lose spoons as this point in the day so I didn't pay a ton of attention. But the ranger in charge had a tame possum that everyone could pet. Emily decided that she now wants a possum as a pet!

By this time, it was super hot out and it was lunch time. My car was like a hot box, but our lunches were still cool. Our troop had set up our chairs under some shade and we all ate. I didn't really want to get up after sitting in my comfy chair but next was the Jr. Ranger program.

All the girls who came to the event got a patch, but those who wanted to become Jr. Rangers got a 2nd patch and a certificate. Emily wanted to do that so we headed back to the main pavilion. They split the troops in two groups. Ours learned about trees first and how important they are for their oxygen but also for all the things we use that are made of wood.

Each troop then got to plant two seedling trees into cups that we were able to bring home with us. I'm not sure where our troop decided to plant our trees but it was a pretty neat thing that we were given those.

After that, we switched and the girls were given a talk about what it means to be a ranger. They were given their patches and certificates and got a picture with the ranger. Our troop leader took the patches so they can be awarded at our next awards ceremony.

Emily had wanted to try the climbing wall so we headed there next, along with one of her friends.
While the girls waited in the long time, I chatted with the troop leader who is a friend of mine. We stood in the shade because it was still so very hot.

Some of our troop hadn't done the Jr. Ranger program or the climbing wall and had gone up to the peak of Chimney Rock which apparently involves walking up 500 stairs. I'm glad that I hadn't done that for a variety of reasons.

After the climbing wall, we went back to where we were going to set up camp to relax. As we were sitting there, the sound of sirens filled the air. We never got the whole story beyond someone had gotten hurt on one of the waterfall trails. Our folks had to hike all the way down, because the shuttles weren't running but they made it back to camp.

Everyone who wasn't camping headed out and the rest of us set up our tents. Once the tents were set up, the girls moved from tent to tent as they played. While unpacking I realized that the marshmallows I had brought for smores had melted into one huge marshmallow. I hadn't even thought about them melting so they had just been in my car.

We lamented the marshmallow melting but also the fact that we didn't have a campfire. The parks had set up rings around the meadow where we were camping but there wasn't enough for each troop to have one. One wasn't near us so we went ahead and had dinner while trying to think of what we could do get a fire.

In the end, one of our moms went and asked the park ranger in charge if we could make our own fire ring. The ranger said 'sure', gave her big rocks to make the ring plus some fire wood. The girls got twigs and fallen branches to start the fire and soon we had our own roaring camp fire!

Thankfully another parent had brought marshmallows that weren't melted so we got to make smores. The girls were thrilled. As it got to be dusk, another troop invited ours over for a dance party. They
were playing music from their car and had glow necklaces they gave out. Emily had a great time getting her groove on!

It got darker and finally it was time to head to bed. Emily fell asleep right away but I got maybe two hours because I was extremely uncomfortable. In the middle of the night it started pouring, but thankfully we had borrowed a very good tent so we stayed dry.

In the morning, it was still raining on and off. I was exhausted and had a monster migraine. We packed up the car quickly, mostly because I had put everything we weren't sleeping with in the car the night before. We got home around 7 am and I took a shower and passed out.

While I didn't have a ton of fun, Emily did! She loved playing with her friends and petting a possum. Next year, we may do it again but we may not camp. We'll see!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Rough Holiday

Yesterday was Mother's Day, which is always bittersweet. But usually it's not too hard. My mom has been gone for 15 years and I am the mom of a sweet little girl. But yesterday was rough. I think it was partly due to that time of the month compounded with perimenopause.

Todd and Emily were very sweet to me. I got presents and ice cream. We had also gone out for Japanese food on Saturday, to avoid the Mother's Day rush. But as the day waned on, the sadder I got.

But I know I wasn't the only one having a rough time yesterday. Lots of friends have lost their moms due to death or toxic relationships. As people age, holidays morph and change. Mother's Day was fun when I was a kid, but I didn't experience a lot of loss until I was grown up.

If you had a rough day yesterday, be gentle with yourself today!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Concert Memories - Red Hot Chili Peppers

This is the 5th post in my Concert Memories series! To start at the beginning, click here!

This one is really out of order but since it's recent I wanted to post about it! A week and a half ago, Todd and I dropped Emily off at a friend's house for a sleepover and then we headed off to Charlotte.

We got into Charlotte early so we could go eat at Cabo Fish Taco. We've eaten there before and really liked it. We originally heard about it because it was on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

After tooling around the city for a bit, we got to the Spectrum Center early and were one of the first in line to get into the building. We found our seats, which were pretty decent for what we paid and we just waited for the show to start.

A drummer started things off, and it was good but I'm not a huge fan of just drums. Mostly because it leads to migraines. Of course, I knew going into the show that I was going to be hurting something awful once it was over. The price one pays when one has chronic pain.

The opening act, BabyMetal, came on. BabyMetal is a Japanese group of girls who wear school uniforms and play hard rock. I actually have one of their albums and it's pretty fun music. I usually listen to them when I'm working out.

Their set was ok, but they were singing in Japanese so it made no sense at all. Plus everyone was sitting down in our section except these two guys in the front who were in the handicapped section. They completely blocked a couple of peoples' view and didn't care at all.

Finally it was time for the Chili Peppers to come out and their show was so worth the migraine I had later! They played a ton of favorites and quite a few songs from there new album. Flea is my favorite of all the band members, even more so than the lead singer, Anthony Kiedis. Both of them were jumping around the stage the whole show and took off their shirts at different points as well.

There was a screen behind the stage that showed a variety of things. Sometimes it was video of the band, and other times it was weird images that made me feel like I was on a bad acid trip. Several of those images flashed, and I would have to hide my head in Todd's shoulder because it was making me super dizzy.

They finished up and the crowd cheered and cheered for an encore. Todd wanted to leave, he didn't think they were going to come back on but I wanted to wait. I was right and they came out and played a couple more song, finishing up with Give It Away. We got out of there after that, and managed not to get stuck in traffic which was pretty awesome!

I spent the car ride home feeling pretty miserable, but it was worth it. One of the best concerts I've ever been to. The only one that beats it is the Korn / Evanescence (and a bunch of other bands) show we saw in 2007.

Up Next - 3rd Eye Blind!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Concert Memories - Huey Lewis and The News

Image: www.zimbio.com
This is the 4th post in my Concert Memories series! To start at the beginning, click here!

I don't remember exactly when we saw this concert, but I think I was in high school or perhaps the first few years of college. It was a summer concert at one of the county fairs, that much I remember.

My parents were big Huey Lewis fans and so am I, so we were all excited to go. Sadly, we were seated waaaaaay in the back so we could hardly see the band. The speaker system wasn't that great either, if I remember correctly, and there were rude people around us.

Sadly, this was probably the worst concert experience I ever had. It wasn't that bad, but it wasn't that good either. Which is sad, because I love their music!

Up Next - Red Hot Chili Peppers!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Concert Memories - Barry Manilow

Image: www.tennessean.com
This is the 3rd post in my Concert Memories series! To start at the beginning, click here!

The next few entries of this series may be out of order. My memory for dates hasn't ever been very good but it's gotten worse since my seizures happened a few years ago. Plus with Barry Manilow being in the news, I wanted to write about him first.

I'm pretty sure I was in college when I got to see Barry Manilow live in concert. If I remember correctly, I went with my mom and my sister. I can't remember if my dad was there or not. The concert took place in Grand Rapids.

Barry Manilow was one of the musicians that I listened to a lot as a child. His songs were fun and sometimes really beautiful, in the case of I Write The Songs. His stuff is very 70's and of course my favorite of all his songs is Mandy

Seeing him in concert was awesome. He played all of his hits and put on a great show. I believe he had a bunch of dancers and lights for Copacabana. I sang, danced in my seat and was highly entertained. If I had the chance to see him again, I would!

Friday, April 7, 2017

My Tubal Ligation Story

It's been a while since I've blogged mostly thanks to ongoing illness. Also I had some surgery that took a bit to recover from.

A few months ago, I had my normal bi-yearly appointment with my regular doctor. While there, I mentioned that I wanted to get a tubal because I'm beyond done with having kids. My doctor thought it was a good idea and got me a referral to get the surgery done.

It wasn't too long before I had my consult, and the surgery was scheduled for the day after my 40th birthday (which was a Monday). At first, I didn't want to do it so quickly, but my dear husband pointed out that having it done sooner than later meant I would be recovered before April 17, which is the day we are going to see Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I, thankfully, didn't read up on personal tales of tubals before my surgery. I knew the risks, and that it's not 100%. But it's pretty close and permanent, which was important to me. While I was laid up after the surgery, I did read some articles and personal accounts, which leads me to want to post my experience. Be warned, there may be some TMI past this point!

A lot of the personal accounts were of the "DON'T DO IT" variety. But I think that is because people regretted it because they ended up wanting more kids. This seemed to be a theme especially with people who had their tubals done after having a c-section. I could have had it done then, and I remember them asking me. But because it was an emergency c-section and I was overwhelmed at the time, I said no.

Anyway, my surgery was scheduled for 4 pm on that Monday. I wasn't allowed to eat after midnight so I literally stayed up until nearly midnight stuffing my face because I knew that I was going to have a very empty tummy all day.

I had started feeling nervous that evening so I slept poorly. I got up with Todd and Emily so I could guzzle down some Sprite and some broth before 8 am, which is when I had to stop drinking anything. Plus I wanted to see Emily because she was going home from school with a friend.

I got hungrier and hungrier and more and more nervous as the afternoon went on. Finally, we were off to the surgery center to get the party started, as it were. I had to be there an hour and a half early because they to do bloodwork and I had to take a pregnancy test (which was a little funny since I had started my period the day before).

They had to hurry up and do all this before the people from the lab went home. Thankfully everything came back fine. Also the anesthesiologist wanted to see me right away too. I had been plagued with a really bad cold / virus and had gone to the doctor earlier in the week.

I had let the nurse who called me with pre-op questions know and she said I was good with the medicine I was given as long as I didn't have a cough. So I spent most of the week leading up to my birthday trying every known cough/phlegm remedy known to mankind. It worked and the anesthesiologist was impressed on how clear I sounded.

Sadly all the hurry up lead to a lot of waiting. I was gowned, and had my stuffed Iron Man bear, but I had given my phone to Todd, so I just mostly sat there. Todd and I talked some, but the anxiety didn't make me a good conversationalist.

The worst part was that my surgery got delayed by like an hour because my doctors were in another surgery. And because it was later in the day, I was the only one in the rooms down that particular hallway so I felt like I had been abandoned a bit. But the nurses did check on me and brought me blankets from the warmer.

Finally, after it felt like ages had past, the main doctor came in and told me it was only going to be a few more minutes. They got everything going, put the lovely hairnet on my head and soon I was whisked to the operating room. I had to be positioned on the table a specific way, which took a few minutes. And then I don't remember anything until I woke up in the recovery room.

I was in quite a bit of pain in the recovery room and of course, very groggy. Todd came in a bit after I woke up. I, being the mom I am even all drugged out, wanted to make sure he let the person that was watching Emily know that we would be along for her shortly.

They had already given me some pain medicine before (or while?) I was waking up but it wasn't cutting it. So the anesthesiologist had them give me Dilaudid, which is my absolute favorite pain medicine. Side note - I suffer from chronic pain, and am not a druggie.

The Dilaudid eased my pain enough that I was able to go home. I was sent home with some prescriptions, though the OB/GYN office had already given me a Vicodin prescription at my pre-op and had already filled that.

Todd got me home and in bed, and went to get Emily. I passed out right away, but  the rest of the night I woke up every hour or so to pee. Thankfully my husband is a night owl because I needed help getting to the bathroom the first few times.

The first day post-op, I took my good drugs and slept most of the day, having peed myself out. I was awake by the time Emily got home from school because Todd had gone back to work. I talked to him over the phone and told him that I could handle the parenting but I was still really tired and very sore. He opted to take a half day off of work and I passed back out.

One of the things I had read about beforehand was the gas causing pain. They pump gas into you to expand the area to be able to see better. Most of the accounts said that the gas pain happened in people's shoulders. This is not what I experienced.

On day two, the gas attacked. My stomach was harder, kind of like when I was pregnant. I kept feeling like I needed to poop. And I kept passing gas, like a ton of gas. I spent most of the day in and out of the bathroom. Finally, finally I was able to poop (and boy, did I poop a ton!) and my stomach felt a bit better.

Now, I was told that it should only take me a couple of days to bounce back from this surgery. That was unrealistic, for me at least. I was still having considerable pain by day three but it was starting to be less. Sadly for me, on day three my cold of doom that I had shooed away with home remedies came back with a vengeance.

So I had a sick migraine, was all stuffed up with a sore throat and coughing while my middle was still really sore. It was unpleasant to say the least. But a few days after that, the pain from the surgery was very low. If it hadn't been for the doom cold, I would have felt pretty good.

All in all, I didn't have a bad experience. I wish my surgery had been scheduled earlier in the day. After my surgery, the rest of my period was pretty non-existent. I bled a little one more day and that was it.

I am one of those people who can feel myself ovulating, so I could feel my tubes aching for probably a week post-surgery. This week, I have been ovulating and my tubes are aching a little more than usual. I haven't had a period since so I'm not sure how that will be.

In the end, it was the right choice for me. No regrets and the recovery wasn't too horrible. This was my experience so it may not be yours. But I wanted to get something out there that isn't all doom and gloom!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Concert Memories - The Beach Boys

Image: www.musicstack.com
This is the 2nd post in my Concert Memories series! To start at the beginning, click here!

My parents were born in the early 1950's so they were teenagers in the 1960's. A lot of the music they listened to as teenagers was the soundtrack of my childhood.

One of my parent's favorites was The Beach Boys. Their music was a staple in my house when I was young. Though my mom, whose name was Barbara Ann, wasn't always fond of the song that had her name. It came out when she was in middle school and she got teased about it.

But one summer in my childhood, we got tickets to see the Beach Boys in concert. I honestly don't remember a ton about this concert. I do remember that one of the original members was missing - probably Brian Wilson.

It was an outdoor, daytime concert. They played all their hits, and it was fun! Though of all the concerts I've been to, it would have probably been near the bottom. Not that it was bad, but I've seen a lot of better concerts since then.

Up next - Barry Manilow!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Concert Memories - The Monkees and Weird Al

Image: http://www.monkeeslivealmanac.com
My 40th birthday is next month and I had asked my husband to plan something special. He really outdid himself because he got us tickets to see Red Hot Chili Peppers in April!

I've seen quite a few concerts over the years and I thought I'd blog about them. I may not remember all the places and dates - my memory is still a bit screwy after the seizures I had a few years ago. But hopefully the internet will help some with that.

In the 80's, Nickelodeon started showing The Monkees TV show from the 60's. My sister, cousin and I loved it. We all had our favorite Monkee - mine was Micky! Because we all loved them so much, my parents got us tickets to see them on August 4th, 1987 at the Ionia Free Fair.

It was a big outdoor concert and we were pretty far back. The opening act was Weird Al, who I didn't know at all. Oddly enough, as an adult, I really like Weird Al.

I do remember him playing "Like a Surgeon" and "Fat" - he even was on stage, in August, with the fat suit on! A lot of the crowd was there just for Weird Al. He had started to become hugely popular around then.

But finally it got dark and The Monkees came on stage! They were missing Mike, because he didn't want to be part of The Monkees at that time. But it was still an awesome concert. I'd never done anything like that before - I was 10 years old at the time.

We danced and sang along with all our favorite songs. It was awesome! The glow of the stage, staying out way past my bedtime and knowing that my favorite singers were right there in person!!

Up Next - The Beach Boys

Friday, February 10, 2017

CMU vs. Nazis

Image: hoganisms.com
The university I went to doesn't get in the national news much. Sometimes in sports news when the football team goes to a bowl game. But yesterday a story from my alma mater started popping up on Facebook - from quite a few people who didn't live anywhere near mid-Michigan. And it wasn't a good story.

Apparently the College Republicans group was handing out Valentine's and one happened to have a picture of Hitler with anti-semantic speech on it. You can google what it said, but I'm not posting a picture of it. I prefer my picture of Captain America punching Hitler instead.

The political climate in this country has gotten really bad. But I would have hoped that even college kids would realized that this is so not okay! The group posted a weak apology on their Facebook page, but CMU is investigating it. I truly hope that whoever thought it was funny gets their butt expelled.

I'm several generations from the one who fought in World War II. But I've always been interested in history and the time period of that war is one of my favorites to read about. But I didn't really get a true sense of the horrors of the Holocaust until Schindler's List.

I was 16 when the movie came out and I remember my mom taking me to see it. The movie is horrific, but because of what really happened to those people in the Holocaust. My mom and I had a long talk about it afterwards. I only watched it once again in college because I was a film major and I'm pretty sure I had to watch it for a class. But honestly those images were seared into my brain.

I'll watch Schindler's List again with Emily when she's old enough. Especially in the times we are living, it's so important to know our history as to attempt to not repeat it. It's sickening that those kids at Central Michigan University didn't have the knowledge to realize what they were doing was absolutely wrong.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Tales From Cuppedia - The Beginning

Image: http://butterheartssugar.blogspot.com/
Last year, I got the Dungeons and Dragons starter pack and started to run a campaign with Emily and Todd. I followed the story that came with the starter pack and it was fun. But there are a lot of stats that come with playing D&D that I was just fudging because I was having issues keeping everything all straight.

So I've been thinking for a bit about designing a really scaled down table top game. Just minimal stats, mostly borrowed from D&D and Hero Games. Something so we can still roll dice and have a combat system, but have it be more story driven.

I was talking to Emily yesterday as we were driving about what kind of story she wanted to do. She came up with something elaborate right away. She wanted it to be a Candyland and she wanted her character to be a catgirl.

So I wrote up the start of our campaign:

Trouble in Cuppedia

King Reyhan and Queen Mora has ruled Cuppedia for many years. Mora is a gingerbread woman and Reyhan is a chocolate man. But several months ago, the King has disappeared and a new King, Medwin, has taken his place. He looks like a Tigerman, but there is something off about him

The Queen has taken her leave from Medwin to summer at the castle in Sorley. King Medwin has stayed at the capital of Zo and is actively ruling the country. He is only making little changes right now, mostly trying to keep candy people and animal people separated. But the Queen fears for Reyhan and her people.

Emily is going to be a Wizard catgirl and Todd is going to be a Warrior Gingerbread Man. Sadly Todd has been working a lot of weekends so we probably won't get to play for several weeks.

I'm going to post recaps of our games because I think it will be interesting! I'm going to be writing the first adventure in the next few days and then plotting where I want the whole campaign to go!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cross Stitch Goals For 2017

My main hobby these days is cross stitching. It's fun, it's relaxing and it's kind of like coloring, but with thread. I honestly didn't get a ton of projects done last year and I want to up my cross stitch game in 2017.

I'm currently working on a birth chart sampler for Emily. I'm to the back stitch stage so it's nearly done. I'm not a huge fan of back stitching but it makes the piece look finished. I'm also still working on my Beauty and the Beast Thomas Kinkade kit. It's huge and the stitches are small so that's going to take me years to finish.

My next project, once the birth chart is done, is a Haunted Mansion pattern I bought on esty. I'm really excited to start this one but it's going to be massive and will probably take me a while.

I also treated myself to a subscription to The World of Cross Stitching. It's my favorite cross stitching magazine and it comes with an extra project every month. So I'm sure I'll be doing smaller projects from there.

My main goal, though, is to start making small Christmas pieces to use for Christmas cards. There are a ton out there and they are all really cute. I'd love to be able to send out some homemade cards for Christmas!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Image: mvlteenvoice.com
I've read most of the books in A Series of Unfortunate Events as well as seen the movie version starring Jim Carrey. The movie had its issues so I was really looking forward to seeing how the Netflix series stacked up.

The first season was available yesterday, and since it was only eight episodes long, I watched the entire thing. What follows are some of my thoughts, including some spoilers so if you haven't seen it yet, don't read any further!

I honestly loved this series. Neil Patrick Harris was brilliant as Count Olaf. He had the perfect air of ridiculous and menacing that is in the books. The children were also perfectly cast and the supporting characters were all great as well.

I've read some reviews that says it's too dark, too morbid and too unfortunate. I read one review that was unhappy that the story is actually a series of unfortunate events the Baudelaire children go through which seems odd to me since it's right in the title.

It's gothic and dark, but so were the books. I didn't watch it with my daughter, but I wouldn't have a problem with her watching it. Yes, there is death and murder, but none of it is gory. Usually the dead person is either not shown, or is taken away rather quickly. 

There is bits of humor, here and there. Patrick Warburton's deadpan portrayal of Lemony Snicket adds a lot and of course, the outrageous behavior of Count Olaf's acting troupe / henchmen lighten the darkness.

The biggest surprise I found was the short bits showing a mother and a father. We aren't told who they are until near the end of the season. They bring hope but it is dashed away, sadly. But as we are told often in each episode, this is not a happy story.

All in all, this show is all I had wanted the movie to be. Each book is presented in two episodes which gives plenty of time to explore the story fully. The movie tried to cram three books in and it felt rushed.

I'd highly recommend A Series of Unfortunate Events to fans of the books and fans of gothic misery!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Snow And The South

Image: www.al.com
I've lived in WNC for nearly 12 years after living in the Land of Snow and Ice (aka Michigan) for my whole life. And it still boggles my mind how people act when there is just snow in the forecast!

I do admit that when it start snowing, I stay off the roads. Last year, we got snowed in for several days because there are simply not enough plows / salt trucks to clear all the roads in a quick fashion. A little bit of snow can shut things down.

But it's not suppose to start snowing until this afternoon at the earliest. Last forecast I saw had it starting at 8 pm tonight. Right now, it's cloudy and grey, but nothing falling from the sky.

Yesterday, I went to Walmart. My main goal was to pick up a prescription, but the line for the pharmacy was super long and I knew that I wouldn't make it to the front in time because I had to be home before Emily got home from school.

So I ended up just buying bread and milk. It was stuff I needed but it was funny because when there is snow a-coming, people in the South stock up on bread and milk.

The parking lot at Walmart was crazy. People seemed to have forgotten normal parking lot behavior. I ended up pulling forward into a spot and I thought a lady was going to shank me because she had wanted that spot.

Trying to get out was just as tricky. People were going way too fast and not paying attention to where they were going. It was just crazy and that was yesterday - at least 24 hours before it was even maybe suppose to snow.

For everyone in the South who might get hit by frozen water coming out of the sky, remember be calm. Snow can't hurt you but slamming your car into someone in a parking lot might!