Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cosplay Fun

Over the past weekend, I visited my friend who is temporarily in Florida. The three hour car trip was the longest car trip I've taken to date with Silas and he did pretty good. The purpose of the trip? To hang out and to go to another one day convention! I'm going to say in advance, these past two mini-cons have given me a longing to go to a bigger convention one of these days.

So the evening I got down there, we set to work on finishing my cosplay costume. Later I intend to post pictures of the costume as a sort of "how-to" guide. I redid a Millia Rage (from the video game Guilty Gear XX) cosplay but with the goal of being able to feed Silas in costume if needed. A quick search of the internet informed me that I might be the only person in the world who ever had to deal with this situation.

Anyhow, I had only been able to do some preliminary work on the costume during the week. Watching a baby is a full time job as anyone who has ever done so can attest; I can't just set him down and go pin fabric. And I definitely can't pin fabric in the middle of his play space - babies are immensely attracted to things that they can swallow and/or stab themselves with. So I had cut out the fabric for the dress part of the costume, sewed that together, and cut out and partially sewed the sleeves.

We worked on the details, taking turns entertaining Silas and keeping him away from the sewing frenzy. Ultimately, though, a lot of the costume details were held together with duct tape and safety pins. (Breastfeeding or not, I think every cosplayer has gone through this phase). But, the costume turned out great:

Not pictured: the baby spit up that adorned the costume minutes later.

So yeah. If you're comparing this to a picture of the character, you'll see a few things are missing. I have belt buckles to add to the top and bottom of the dress. I need to pick up some long black gloves and, ideally, grow my hair out about six more feet. Some of these are long term goals.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tablet time!

Babies are tough to draw.

It doesn't help that I'm not an artist.

But I struggle to draw them proportionally. My babies always look like really confused toddlers. With adult legs and arms.

I can get the head going and it feels baby-like to me. Maybe even the eyes and nose. But then I start drawing the body and things go downhill. I add arms and the wrists start where the fingers should have ended. And the legs.

Oh, the legs.

In real life, baby legs are cute and adorable. In my drawings, baby legs are terrifying. They don't look like they would support a baby, or any form of life. They turn at odd angles and fold in where they should fold out. And let's not get started on hands and feet.

In any case, I finally got photoshop re-installed on my computer and hooked up my tablet. This is the terrifying "work in progress" of that combination:

I don't plan to share everything I draw, of course. But consider this your warning that I'm going to try.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Looking anywhere for art

I tell myself that if I had an excess of free time, I would go through and add art to my blog posts. I've heard time and time again that pictures are important. I thought that the wonderful tablet I got would help me add pictures. The problem is, it's all I can do to jot down my thoughts before I need to attend to Silas, Smiley, schoolwork or housework. I'm not ready to make my blog a higher priority on that list, I guess.

In the meantime, enjoy an old picture of Silas looking like a fisherman pirate. This was taken last year, at around three months, I believe.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Anime Convention - With Baby?

It should come as no surprise that I have attended anime conventions before. I had to convince my mom that it would be ok to go to one when I was a freshman in high school. Of course she wanted to drive us there and make sure everything was safe; the first person we saw in costume was, of course, Sailor Bubba. (If you know what the series Sailor Moon is, Sailor Bubba is exactly what you picture when you read that name.) He was the unofficial mascot of Acen for several years, if I recall correctly. I'll be honest - I try to block my remembrance of that costume!

Recently, a small one-day convention happened and we decided to check it out. It was TINY but the price was good and it was ultimately fun to go to. But I did find myself missing the conventions of years past. When responsibility went as far as making sure that I ate and drank something during the long hours my friends and I would spend looking at booths, going to panels and watching anime we had never seen before.

This time, I sat in my room amidst a pile of all of my cosplay outfits, frustrated because none of them would work with breastfeeding. And if we wanted to be there for more than a few hours, I would have to feed Silas at some point. And I didn't want to have to go into a bathroom stall to undress and feed him. So I chose to wear street clothes. (If only I had known there was going to be a body painting stall! I could have stripped down there and fed Silas on one side while getting painted on the other. That's how that works, right?)

Ultimately, once we got there, I felt silly for worrying so much. The convention was literally a five minute drive from home. I could easily go home for a bit to feed Silas in the comfort and - most importantly - non-bathroom room of my house and come back in costume, which I did.

Silas loved looking at all the different items and people in costume, and I enjoyed being in costume. I know this is silly, but I love when kids come up to me and say, "Hi Sailor Mercury!" or whatever I'm wearing, because I remember when I was their age and I saw the Pink Ranger at a town festival. It was kind of like magic to "see" someone from the TV right there in the same place as me!

And, just in time for me to ride off the high of attempting one short convention with Silas, my friend who has recently moved to Florida found out that in half a month there is another one day convention down by where she lives. So I'm thinking, road trip!

Monday, April 1, 2013

I am a DIY "goddess"

For the past few months, our bathroom faucet has been leaking. Drip, drip, drop. One little tiny bit at a time. Barely worth looking into. I tried to get Smiley to fix it, but he deemed it too insignificant to spend a potential half afternoon fixing and said one of these weekends he would just buy a new faucet since the current one is kind of cheap anyhow. I was agreeable to that, but the drip was not. It got worse, probably as a form of protest ("how dare you suggest I'm not a leak to be contended with?!").

But there came the moment I could no longer ignore this drip. After all, every drop was probably costing us about a fraction of a fraction of a penny. And eventually it would end up costing us a penny. And from there, the sky was the limit!

Now as you all know, we keep stuff. So it didn't take me long to dig up the box that the faucet came in. I was hoping to see, I don't know, maybe a troubleshooting guide or something? The box was empty, but I noticed the installation guide on the bottom and it worried me. The installation process was shown to be three steps: open box, put top part of faucet above sink, secure bottom part under sink.

Why did this worry me? I had looked up on The Internet how to fix a faucet, and it had been intimidating. Pictures showed the various screws, washers and valves that could comprise a faucet. So this overly simplistic box picture made me wonder if the faucet was so cheap that it really couldn't be taken down into its component parts. And that made me wonder if I was going to have to go to the store and really buy a faucet. And installing a faucet seemed ten times more scary than trying to fix a mysterious leak.

So I went into the bathroom and stared down the faucet. Gave it the once-over. And there I noticed two little plastic spots on the inside of the handles. I gently pried them out and saw there was a space for an allen wrench! I could take the handles apart after all!

Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to check and see if only one side was leaking before taking everything apart. First I turned off both hot and cold water to the faucet and (of course) the leak stopped. Then I turned on the cold water. No leak. Then I turned off the cold water and turned on the hot water. Then we had a leak!

Yes, that is one of those moments that I felt proud about. (Did I mention that Silas thought I was hilarious? He was quite content to play in the hallway during this little ordeal of mine. Amazing what a change of scenery can do for a baby.) Even though I knew that anyone could have done that in no time at all, it still felt like a step in the right direction for me. I turned the water supply off again, just in case, and got all up under the sink.

It was not easy to get all up under the sink. Though that bathroom has a spacious cabinet, a spacious cabinet is still a somewhat cramped space for a human being. I looked up under the sink, shining a light, and found nothing that seemed to be useful. There was a black washer and I half heartedly gave it a twist to see if it was loose or something. (This was my method of "trial and error at work, people!) It was not loose. It felt like it probably should feel, I decided. My back cramping had nothing to do with that decision at all, I swear.

I knew I would have to remove the handle. I loaded a picture of potential handle insides onto my phone and searched around the house for the proper size allen wrench. I was surprised to find one in our bedroom window sill that was a match. Then I promptly managed to use it incorrectly. (I used the short side of the wrench which meant I had to keep pulling it out and reinserting it because the long side would hit the bathroom counter. Whoops.)

As I was unscrewing this tiny screw, I had one thought - "I need to make sure I don't drop this into the sink."

Of course the moment I gently took the screw from the handle, I dropped it into the sink. Crap. '

Then I tried to grab it before it could roll down into the drain. Of course it rolled down into the drain. I knew vaguely that the "p-trap" could catch this item and that somehow I could retrieve it, but I put that thought aside for now. I looked at the handle mechanism.

Of course it was different than the diagram I found online.

I noticed there was a screw, a larger screw, holding an orange piece together. So, logically, it made sense that I should take out this screw also. Imagine how great I felt when I found a screwdriver (also in our bedroom) that was the perfect fit. I took out that screw. I did not drop it in the sink, because it was large enough that it wouldn't have fallen down the drain.

Then I looked at the orange piece and decided to pry it up as well. At first, I wasn't really sure what I was looking at. The piece was about a half inch in diameter and fit on a metal piece that I couldn't figure out how to pry up. In fact, it was at this point that I realized that I had taken apart as much as I was able to. I didn't have the wrench needed to remove the metal bolt that held this metal piece/orange thing combination. I had reached the end of my attempt to fix this. I decided to take heart in the fact that at least Silas was still thrilled about exploring a different section of carpeting.

So I pressed the orange thing back onto the metal thing (I'm using all the highly technical terms here) and realized that this was the mechanism that decided how much water came through the faucet. So before I put the decorative handle part back on, I decided to play with it and see how it worked. I turned the hot water back on and amused myself by rotating the orange plastic piece to turn on and off the water.

And that's when I realized that when I turned the faucet off, it wasn't leaking anymore.

I looked down at the orange piece. It looked the exact same as it had before I took it off. I hadn't made any adjustments, consciously. Clearly my subconscious mind had done something amazing. I tentatively put the long screw back into the orange/metal combination. Still no leak.

I put the handle part back over everything and turned on the water. I turned it off. No leak.

I resisted squealing in joy, because the tiny screw was still stuck in the p-trap. But somehow, I had fixed the leak. And, even better, my husband got home just as this was happening, so I could share my triumphant fix (and less triumphant screw-loss). Luckily, as he is able to do this sort of thing much better than me, he removed the p-trap, retrieved the screw, and we replaced that together.

Silas started to fuss at this point, presumably because he realized that just like the carpet in the living room and the bedroom, he is unable to eat this "different" hallway carpeting too. It was quite perfect in timing.

As of this writing, the leak is still fixed.