Thursday, May 5, 2016

Yo-Kai Watch Schmoopie Plush

My son is a huge Nintendo fan, and the newer game Yo-Kai Watch is no exception. To be fair, Yo-Kai Watch is only new in the U.S. - it has been out in several incarnations in Japan for years now. It's been so successful, though, that apparently now it's gone to other markets, worldwide.

He got REALLY into the game while he was playing it, and collected as much of the plush as he could. Remember, he is a collector. His plush collection is mighty impressive.

Of the Yo-Kai characters, he has Jibanyan, Goldenyan, Robonyan, and another Jibanyan (pictured), and not pictured are Pandanoko, Mini Robonyan and Whisper. Like Pokemon, there are many many Yo-Kai characters, and one that he really wanted and we never found a plush for was one called Shmoopie.

Enter Mama the Plush Maker. A new project to hone my plush-making skills. His original request was that I make two - one for him, and the other for his BFF. But for practice (and maybe to sell), I went ahead and made a few more. This is what Shmoopie looks like in the game: 

And here is my best approximation:

The hardest thing was his hat. I learned all about different kinds of Samurai hats in order to make these right. 

The side views. 

"Shmoopie" is a portmanteau of the words smooch and pie. Smooch is the sound heard when kissing someone and pie is sometimes used as a way to make something cute.

    Shmoopie is so adorable. Cute little fluffy tail!

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016

    Too Many Tabs! A "Life With Chronic Illness Walkthough"

    Hi! I'm the Purple Goddess, and I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Dysautonomia/POTS, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue, and well, you get the picture. EDS is from my genes, but the rest of it all hit me hard after I suffered a concussion in January of 2012. Trauma can really kick illnesses and their comorbidities into high gear, and that's exactly what happened to me.

    Part of my picture in living with these diseases is that several of my symptoms can rear their heads, and even take over, on any given day: brain fog, severe bodily pain, anxiety (and I mean Take Me Down and Render Me Helpless level anxiety, not just 'I worry a little'), to name a few. Also just for fun: the possibility of anaphylaxis from any number of sources at any given time. Thus my being homebound. It's not safe out there for me!

    When I'm down, all those tasks that seem to take no effort at all (for able-bodied folks), like making phone calls or ordering glasses or reading articles or any number of seemingly small jobs - those tasks start piling up in a huge neverending to-do list, which on my computer looks like having a billionty and three tabs open at all times.

    Why so many tabs? Having a chronic brain injury or even chronic brain inflammation caused by other things can really wreak havoc on a person's memory. So if the tabs are open in front of me, I will not forget to address them (eventually). Mostly. 

    When I have 'Lucid Days', as I have taken to calling them - that is, days where I can actually think clearly and I don't feel anxious (at least within the comfort of my own home) and my pain is at a level I can still function within, and I even have a few spoons, I am all of a sudden struck with the urge to doallthethings! Because it's now or....who knows when I could have this lucidity again. Take advantage!

    After a really long flare that lasted what I think was weeks, I am having a 'Lucid Day'. 

    Today after I:

    • unloaded the dishwasher
    • got all the morning smoothies and supplements together for everyone (I always do this, even on my worst days, because I put a system in place to make it part of routine no matter what, so I can)
    • finished mending a quilt and re-quilted some of it

    I sat down at my computer to do actual work and not just stare mindlessly at random comedies I find. 'Work' for me starts with investigating all of these random tabs I've got open awaiting my attention. And then somehow, (see: adult onset ADD caused by chronic illness), I ended up writing a blog post (or three) for the first time in.....two months. So here we are on the topic of Too Many Tabs (A Life With Chronic Illness Walkthrough). 
    Dare I list what some of these tabs are?

    Well, I'm going to. This is helpful for ME to process my process, so I'm making the list:

    • my email, always open
    • three Amazon tabs open as I investigate the possibilities of replacing my husband's Vascuzyme with the individual supplements as a cheaper option (and notes in my notebook with ingredients and costs as an adjunct to this one)
    • a Google calendar tab next to a blogger tab with the blog of lots of cool things to do with kids in Portland this month (which for the record, I will often put several of these events on the calendar and for a myriad of reasons we rarely ever attend any of them - but I like to hold out hope anyway)
    • my zennioptical page with my order half finished, that has been open for days, because I cannot get past the types of coatings to order (too many choices, I'm not entirely sure which ones to order, is this REALLY the frame I want to commit to? brain fog)
    • a page for an RVers social platform that I keep meaning to catch up on
    • the cancellation page on wherein I meant to cancel, but then they offered me three months for the price of one, and I froze up because I didn't know what to do - the offer is still featured prominently on the page, just awaiting my response. (I was canceling because 1) I realized that genealogy research was going to take a LOT longer than I originally anticipated and 2) I've really slowed down on my incessant interest in doing said research as of late, and I'm not sure the interest will reignite soon, especially as the weather is improving and we might be moving into the RV forthwith.)
    • a psychologist I am paying the longest game of phone tag with ever  (I'm 'it') to see if she can treat me without my having to leave my house (it's literally been months since I first called and left a message)
    • a wikipedia page where I was looking up ancestors
    • a couple of recipes for making one's own shampoo and body wash because I seem to be allergic to some ingredients in mine, the very natural one I use that we buy at Natural Grocers
    • a couple of medical marijuana resources and programs I mean to enroll in that could get me discounts on and help with paying for meds (I am allergic to opiates and this is the safest pain relief option I can find, plus dozens of other reasons that could easily have their own blog post someday)
    • The Dan and Phil Tour because my son is a HUGE fan, the shows anywhere nearby are sold out, and I'm hoping they will add another close by that I can take him to
    • These articles:
    • these articles: 11 ways to make body wash, and this body wash recipe, and also this one. (you may be thinking, "Sheesh, how many body wash recipes do you need?" But I do a thing with recipes where I combine one or three and make them my own. 
    • This delicious looking recipe for shoestring sweet potato fries that we are going to make this week. And by 'we' I mean my tireless (i.e. exhausted) husband who cooks for us now, in addition to literally everything else
    • my RV Repair and Maintenance Pinterest Board because we have some things that need doing on the RV so I was looking up some stuff for my husband
    • four Craigslist tabs with motorized wheelchairs for sale
    • my swagbucks page open to an image search for sloths (I get points for searching there, which I can redeem for Amazon gift cards)
    • two tabs explaining the differences between eyeglasses lens tints and what they're good for
    • this, the tab I'm blogging from
    This is what happens though. The onset ADD that develops with an onset of the full impact of chronic illness, because there are so many things you WANT to get done, WANT to accomplish, and they end up taking sooooooo much longer because they can only happen when you have a "Lucid Day" and the spoons to do it. (If you haven't heard of or acquainted yourself with "The Spoon Theory",  please hit up that link and do it now. It gave an easy relatable term to a whole community of "spoonies", or those of us with chronic illness.) And then your brain does NOT know where to focus, because there are SO many things that need doing RIGHT now! Because everything becomes a priority when you have to make it wait for you to be able.

    The goal is to get those tabs back down to a much more reasonable level. Check them off the list. Disappear some of them. That was my goal today. I DID manage one of them before veering off onto my Blogger tab, which by the way, I opened  a NEW tab for, so really, at the start of the day this one wasn't even here. I ADDED one. Ha.

    But I DID manage to get past what has been holding me back from ordering my glasses for longer than I want to even admit. Weeks. Months even, really.

    I picked out the frames I wanted. I had my prescription entered into my account. I got the page on the order that offered different coatings, and there is where I got stuck. There were just so many options, and I could NOT figure out the differences between the coatings. I kept reading them and rereading them and they just were not making enough distinctions for me to really GET the distinctions, or differences between them.

    The difference is, today, I was lucid enough to see that there was an option to chat with a representative online, and I was actually able to articulate to them the questions that I had about the coatings. And I got through it! You may not know it, but that was a BIG accomplishment. A feat of wonderment. I'm serious, too. It was a Big Deal. 

     So I did that. One tab down. Hopefully I will be lucid enough for long enough to knock out a few more. Each one is a feat like that, for its own reasons. But each one is conquerable, in its own time, if I can just get to it, which is a mountain in and of itself. 

    But today I conquered a few of those tasks that have been piling up. And I know enough now to take the time to enjoy and celebrate each one, no matter how seemingly small. Because in the world of chronic illness, nothing is small anymore. Everything is a Big Accomplishment. And today, Achievement Unlocked! 

    Wednesday, March 2, 2016

    FNAF Cosplay - The Making of Freddy Fazbear

    My son is a serious gamer - he plays games across all platforms: Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS XL, PC, online. One game he and his friends seem to be crazy for is called Five Nights at Freddy's. His favorite character is Freddy Fazbear, who as I understand it, is an animatronic bear who is filled with the bodies dead children. Lovely, no?

    It's not my cup of tea, obviously. The whole game is pretty creepy, but the characters have somewhat of an almost cult following - among its fans: many many children. Don't ask me to explain that, as I cannot. Despite the game's growing popularity, companies have yet to mass market any costumes of the characters. So when he said he wanted to be Freddy for Halloween, that meant, "Mom, you are making me a Freddy costume."

    His friend, who we are trick-or-treating with, is going as Bonnie (the blue rabbit). In my mind that meant her Mom and I were going to collaborate and make (simple) coordinating costumes. But my son had other ideas. He said, "I don't want a mask that just goes on my face. I want to be Freddy. I want a head." And that turned into my making not just a head and hands, but the entire costume. Because my son likes detail and realism

    Let me tell you, this costume took me a full month to make. I mean really, a full month plus a couple of days. I didn't work on it every day. Being a Mama with chronic illness means sometimes I just can't, and when I can't, I take those days off and just rest - because it's all my body will allow.

    I had to learn new skills - I had never before made a foam anything, other than using craft foam in occasional 2D craft projects. I'd never sculpted foam, or built armor-type body pieces, or made giant foam feet. So I went to The School of YouTube and DeviantArt, and found several tutorials, which I watched (and read) over and over and over again until I felt sure of my understanding of the techniques.

    But I did it! I actually managed to make a full body Freddy Fazbear costume, with ALL of the pieces, as realistic to the photo as I was able. The head even had a movable jaw.

    It wasn't the easiest costume to wear - the head made seeing a bit difficult, as it stole away my son's peripheral vision. And it was hard to walk in because of the big feet - he wasn't able to run house to house as he's been able to do in past years. My son learned a little bit about how important freedom of movement is to him in a costume, and how sweaty foam makes a person, even when it's cold outside (that's why we use it in houses and furniture for insulation!). But he LOVED how it looked, even if it wasn't practical. And yes, I DID try and let him know in advance what it was going to be like to wear, but sometimes you just have to experience a thing for yourself to get the full effect of it. 

    But I sure did home my skills and I learned that hey, I can sculpt from foam, and I  CAN make things like this, and it isn't really as daunting as it seems....well, it IS, but then as I went, I realized I could DO it, which was the important thing. I feel really really proud that I MADE THIS BY MYSELF, and that I did such a great job at it, too - especially considering I've never ever made anything even remotely like this before.

    That's him in the full costume, although we did change the gloves after this photo was taken, and they looked so much better. I can't get him to wear the suit again so I can make videos or take more photos, so this one photo is going to have to represent my month of work.

    *** No! I made a slideshow of my month of work on YouTube! You can view it below:

    If you happen to be reading this because you're also interested in creating something like this, I made a playlist of the tutorials I used on my other YouTube channel, here:

    Fursuit Tutorials

    Monday, December 28, 2015

    I won! I won!

    I've been entering sweepstakes and giveaways all over the place lately, but of course only for things I'd actually want to win, or win for someone I know. And my efforts have paid off - I won my first giveaway! It's a really cool one, too - one that will help my family be safe in our car! 

    It's the ResQMe Deluxe Essentials Lifesaving Kit! From "It's Free At Last": 

    "It can fit in most glove boxes, or even under your seat so you can grab it in a hurry. And of course it’s not just for your car or truck, but they are great to keep under the sink at home or in your gear when you’re camping or hiking.
    It includes essentials such as bandages, tape, gauze, safety pins, gloves, tweezers and even an instant ice pack! Plus, it also includes other supplies/life saving tools such as a LED flashlight, emergency whistle, hand warmer, and a resqme® tool. This tool fits on your keychain and can be used to cut seat belts and bust out car windows in case of an emergency."

    I won it over here, at It's Free At Last. And I am so excited! I won a really cool thing! Me! What a great pick-me-up to find in my email this Monday morning! 

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015

    that moment when you see the light at the end of the tunnel...and the tunnel collapses

    So the RV is ready. And we had begun to move in, with the help of that amazing friend I mentioned in the previous post. We were getting settled in. Each day we'd go get a few more things out of the house. By this past weekend we'd have been fully moved in. As you already know,  we moved back into the house instead. 

    As I've also mentioned before, I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Mast Cell Activation Disorder (I have several other diagnoses, but those are the ones relevant to this particular story). This means we have to be EXTREMELY careful with chemicals, and it also means that every single thing we put into our bodies or in our environment costs a hell of a lot more money than the "conventional" version. Because I react to soooo many things. And reactions can look like migraines, or severe brain fog, or physical pain, or outright anaphylaxis.

    So when we painted the entire RV interior, we used really safe paints. Annie Sloan Chalk paint for the walls of the living area and bedroom. Yolo Colorhouse for the bathroom and sofa. And for the cabinets, which are about 65% - 70% of the RV, some kind of zero VOC primer and paint from Sherwin Williams. wasn't. 

    The first night we spent in the RV, I could smell the paint fumes, and I let my husband know. We brainstormed, and came up with running the ozone machine during the day to see if that might help. It seemed to - as long as we ran it twice a day and let it air out, the fumes weren't so strong. But the thing about running an ozone machine, even a small one, is that you must let a building thoroughly air out before you go inside, because even residual ozone can dry our lungs and sinuses and cause havoc in a person's system. It's not an ideal solution if one is actually living in a space.

    So once we actually moved into the RV full on and weren't just sleeping in it, that's when I realized the ozone machine wasn't as effective as I thought - because the fumes came back in full force. And let me just tell you - despite what those chemical companies want you to think, if you can smell it, it's hurting your health. Not just My health, delicate fragile flower that I am. Anyone's health.

    Those chemicals you smell in paints? Many of them are solvents, and OSHA's own website her this to say about solvents:

    Millions of workers are exposed to solvents on a daily basis. Health hazards associated with solvent exposure include toxicity to the nervous system, reproductive damage, liver and kidney damage, respiratory impairment, cancer, and dermatitis. Solvents share many chemical, physical, and biological properties that warrant national attention be directed to them as a group."

    Here's another article about Low VOC paints I wish my husband had read before choosing the cabinet paint:

    Low VOC Paint. Everything They Never Wanted you to Know.

    Or this one:

    IAQ and Your Health: A Deeper Look at VOCs and Formaldehyde Emissions

    I'm not blaming my husband. He is terribly overworked, overstressed, and exhausted. *I* am the one in our family who researches everything exhaustively. That's why we got the Annie sloan for the walls, and the Yolo Colorhouse. They were safe. But the latter at least wasn't really meant for cabinets. And the former, you also have to wax after to protect the paint. Then every 6 months after that. So it's understandable that one might want to look for something with a little less maintenance, especially since our life really can't afford to have *more* things to maintain. 

    I am human. I have memory loss and brain fog as part of my symptoms. Sometimes I think I know a thing and I forget the thing. Or things accidentally slip through like letting my husband choose the paint for the cabinets, because using Annie Sloan seemed like a lot of steps (and expense). And even though it was my gut instinct to use that one, I sort of forgot.

    I know my husband told the people at the paint store about my chemical sensitivities. I know he believed he was choosing something that would work for me. I know we both believed that the fumes and the chemicals would dissipate once the paint was dry.

    But it's been months since he painted now, and they are as strong as they ever were. And on really hot days, when we needed to close the windows and run the A/C, I would end up with migraines. Every time. And every time we close the windows for any reason, I am immediately ill and my head begins to hurt. So the third time I got a migraine we decided that I couldn't stay in there anymore, and now we're back in the house.

    We saw the light at the end of the tunnel. we finally thought we were on the way to getting out house sold. And then the tunnel collapsed, and we were trapped inside. With no one to dig us out. And no goddamn spoons left.

    So WTF do we do now?

    We honestly don't know.

    We looked into some possible solutions - the husband remembered reading about AFM Safecoat, and thought maybe we can use that to seal in the fumes?

    I turned to the internet, and found this thread. I read the whole thread. It took me hours, so I don't expect anyone else to. But the gist was, this was NOT our fault. Not even a little. We enacted what we believed, and were told, would be an effective solution for our needs. Just like the hundreds of people on this thread did. In fact, this has  been happening for a LONG time. And the paint manufacturers know all about it. They will refund people's money, pay to have things repainted...but the thing is, the only thing that has worked for ANY of these people is to pull our ALL of the drywall and start over from scratch. An incredibly expensive, disruptive and time-consuming solution to a problem none of them created.

    But we don't have drywall to pull out, because we used this on cabinets. Every cabinet in our RV. which are made from cherry wood. So what is OUR solution? I assume the wood is also porous, which was the problem with painting drywall - the paint and chemicals seeped into the pores of the drywall, rendering it stinky forever.

    So what is our solution?

    Right now, other than trying to recoup our costs, we have none.