Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Of Tigers And Baboon Butts: A General Life Update

We're leaving for Dragon Con in 18 hours and I haven't packed a thing.


::Merrily continues procrastinating::

So hey, before my life becomes wall-to-wall Dragon Con madness for the next 6 days, I thought I'd update you guys on some good stuff.

First and foremost, JOHN HAS A CPAP MACHINE!

The machine is just a loan, as the drama of getting the right one continues (a story for another time), but the wonderful news is that John's been adapting pretty well. His sister sent us a few different masks to try: one gave him a big blister on his nose, another made him feel like he can't breath, but I think the 3rd was just right? 

There's a lot more to this story, and at some point I may sit down and write it all out, but for now let me just say that Bill over at Florida Lung is a saint, loading John up with free equipment (again, as a loan) to ensure John could start as soon as possible, and taking so much extra time to show genuine care for us. In fact, that entire staff there has been phenomenal: they moved heaven, earth, and bureaucratic red tape to get all of John's testing & approvals done in under 2 weeks, which usually takes at least 6. I still get a little weepy just thinking about it.


We did have another little scare when John took the mask off in his sleep, so he's been wearing the pool noodle bumpers again, plus he added extra Velcro to the mask to make it harder to remove. Fingers crossed this is all just part of the adjustment period!


Now as your reward for reading through all the Serious Life Stuff, here's Eva with a shaved baboon butt:


OK, that's just her blanket folded funny, but this thumbnail on my phone made me cackle.

And here's Suki being introduced to Terrence:


In other good news, we've started making something we've never attempted before:

If this works, it's gonna be HUGE. Literally.

One more hint:

Saturday, August 24, 2019

We've Got A D23 '19!! (My Favorites From D23 Expo!)

First things first, how has no one made a D23 '19 joke yet?? Or maybe they have and I've missed it?

You could have the tagline: "It'll knock your socks off." Eh? EH?

Really I don't see why Disney isn't paying me for stuff like this. :p

If you're lost, I'm referring to this weekend's Disney convention extravaganza known as D23 Expo. This Dizgeek Nerdvana only happens once every two years, and while I'm not there right now [sob], I've been spending the past two days virtually stalking everyone who IS. This convention has THE best Disney cosplay, merch, exhibits... I mean, they have a literal Disney parade INSIDE the convention hall, k? This thing is nuts.

So, since I need an excuse for all this obsessive pixie-dust consumption over here, I'm going to share my most spectacular finds (so far) with you! Obviously the convention is still going strong, but I've found enough from Friday and Saturday alone to fill SEVERAL blog posts, so let's jump right in.

Starting off with a transforming group cosplay that will spin you RIGHT ROUND:

All EIGHT transforming dresses were made by one woman: Katy Regnier. AHHH-mazing. The group won the Mousquerade costume contest on Friday - and deservedly so!

Here's another pic from one of the princesses:

(Pls note that none of these are my photos, btw; I'll be crediting everyone as we go!)

Here comes another fun twist on the princesses:


Yep, that's starting us off with a bang. I love all these big group cosplays!

Hang on, I've got one more: these folks are collectively The Jungle Cruise ride. Yep, the whole ride!

(Photo by CosplayMom99, who's in this group, but I'm not sure which one! Other cosplayers include Perdita's Wardrobe.)

The Jungle Cruise group did a whole performance during the Mousequerade - and the lady in blue turned around to be the Back Side of Water! Bahaha! As a former JC skipper, let me just say, I APPROVE.

Ok, on to some single cosplays now:

Marina Tinker is the most incredible Bo Peep, and she has her own rolling sheep!


Here's Marina again (in Bo's dress this time) on Saturday at a cool Frozen 2 photo opp:

Did you also do a double-take? I couldn't tell which was the real person at first!

Here's another gorgeous Frozen photo opp at the con - this time with Anna & Elsa... times 2.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thrift Store Karaoke Is My New Jam

On Tuesday John and I went thrift shopping for a big frame for our friend Scott - which we totally found, and here 'tis:

Only $20! AW YEAH.

Along the way, though, MANY ADVENTURES WERE HAD, culminating in my new favorite thing. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning:

 A lot of these were videos in my Story, so you'll just have to imagine Headphone Guy boogeying down while Minnie farts celebratory music notes.

 Move over, Kitschy-Cute.

I like to include you guys with these decisions, so:

 Initially "LAWD NO" was in the lead, but eventually you guys came around. 

Then a few hours later, someone sent me this!

Several of you think he's even creepier WITH the original paint job. I'm guessing it's the eyebrows?


 This is all at The Sharing Center, which I highly recommend if you're around Orlando!


You guys are NOT helpful in leaving things behind: I've since had suggestions to turn him into a Buzz Lightyear Mickey, Rocketeer Mickey, and Retro Tin Toy Mickey.


Oh hey, remember when John was modeling this "Pooey Puiton" in the Walmart toy aisle last month?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Our $5 DIY Sleep Apnea Solution To Keep John From Dying

[Trigger Warning: Everything's fine, but there is a death scare below. Skip if you're feeling panicky.]

[Also if you just want the DIY without the back story, skip ahead to the "Read More" jump.]

I've been hinting about it long enough, so here's the deal:

Just over a month ago I started noticing that John stops breathing in his sleep. He tends to snore, so the sudden silences would wake me up. I'd count down a few seconds, start to panic, and nudge him into a sudden gasp for air. We agreed he should sleep on his side, and started looking into ordering a sleep study for him.

Shortly after that - just a few weeks ago - I woke up to silence again. John had been getting annoyed by my constant nudges to get him to roll over, so I did my best to wait, to count down a few seconds. Surely he'd breathe soon, right? Nothing. His chest wasn't moving. I forcefully shoved down the rising panic and tried to say something softly, but it came out as a squeak. Still nothing. No movement. No sound. I reached out to touch John's arm... and it was ice cold.


I grabbed John and let out a wail that was half his name, half sheer terror... and a millisecond later he gasped and sat up, panicking himself over why *I* was making that sound.

We were up for hours after that. After my tears dried, John swore to me he'd do whatever it took to ensure this never happened again. His doctor's appointment was still weeks away, though - and a sleep study would be weeks or months after that - so we started searching for ways to at least keep John on his side while he slept.

Side-sleeping is critical for anyone with apnea who doesn't have a CPAP machine to help them breath. When you're on your side your tongue can't fall back and choke you, and sometimes you won't even need a machine if you sleep on your side, as in my case. (I have mild apnea, but only if I'm on my back. Since I've trained myself to stay on my side, I don't need the machine.)

The problem is, John LOVES sleeping on his back, and despite his best intentions, would inevitably roll over in his sleep and start to choke again.

The common solution for this - as any cursory Google search will prove - is to sew a Tennis ball into the back of your shirt. The theory is the ball will poke you if you roll over, and wake you up just enough to get you to go back on your side.

            If you're not feeling crafty, you can even buy a shirt like this on Amazon for just over $20.

I'm sure the Tennis Ball method works for some people, but here were our issues with it:

1) We have a soft memory foam mattress, and John's built like a linebacker - so it's conceivable he could still roll over on the ball without waking up.

2) Even if the ball did wake John up, that means he's waking up a lot - which isn't very restful. Wouldn't it be better, we thought, to have something that physically won't LET him roll over?

3) John wears a fresh sleep shirt each night, so we'd have to make LOTS of shirts with balls in them. Ug, SEWING.

So we kept looking, and discovered the only other side-sleeping aids were a variety of "bumpers" and backpack-like apparatuses:

 This "Bumper Belt' looked promising, but the widest strap goes right over the pectorals (ouch) and it costs over $100. Double ouch.

The Slumber Bump has less straps, at least:

... but this could twist around your waist unless it's snug, and John didn't want a tight band around his middle while he tried to sleep. (Also this glorified fanny pack costs $75. Dang.)

We were in crisis mode, so our first solution was to work with what we had - and it was surprisingly effective:

 (Suki will help demonstrate...)

We stuffed two throw pillows in a backpack, and John wore that to sleep. This supported John completely on his side, so no matter how he tried, he couldn't possibly get onto his back.

Within two nights, John reported he was already feeling more rested. Between no choking and no Jen-nudges, he was finally getting some uninterrupted rest!

The stuffed backpack wasn't a permanent solution, though: after a week the straps were leaving marks on John's shoulders and upper arms, where they cut into his skin as he shifted around and put his arms over his head. (He likes to sleep on his stomach with his arms up sometimes.)  Not to mention the backpack was obviously VERY bulky in bed, ha. Nothing like getting whapped by a giant nylon bag when your hubby rolls over in the middle of the night, lol.

We had a few ideas for a new backpack we could sew, and decided we wanted to use pool noodles, since they're firm but extra light.

When John went to the Dollar Tree to buy the noodles, though, he instead found something we'd never seen before, and which turned out to be the perfect solution:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Heaving Breaths, Thrifted Colors, & A Tale Of Two Sinks

The last few weeks have had John spending way too much time in doctor's offices, calling doctor's offices, fighting with insurance, making appointments, filling prescriptions, going back to the doctor because they wrote the WRONG prescription, and so on.

The good news is John's lungs are perfectly fine. The bad news is when we went to a new general practitioner to get John a physical, she claimed his lungs were akin to a "80-year-old emphysemic." Then she put him on a $300 inhaler that made him feel terrible and sound like a pack-a-day smoker.

After two weeks of misery we decided to get a second opinion from an actual lung specialist. Many exams and x-rays later, (see above), we were told John's lungs are the picture of health, and that the first doctor is an idiot. Ha! Our American medical system at work, everybody. ::headdesk::

I think the moral here is: don't go in for a physical?

 Suki questions my conclusions. 

John's also been dealing with new medication stuff for me (no worries, I'm also fine) and I'm grateful every day that I have the world's most charming Brute Squad going to bat for me. I tell ya, getting good health care is a full time job even when you're NOT sick.

Oh! There IS some really good stuff that came from the expensive lung debacle, but I'll tell you about that next time. Right now I have more important things to show you:

 Like my latest thrift store haul!

I convinced John to hem my new shorts (the middle ones are Men's sizes, so they're pretty long) and I was ridiculously pleased to find we already had matching thread for all of them. Look at those color matches! SO SATISFYING.

I wore two of those this week:

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Jen's Gems: The Romanov Costume Ball, Snake Scarves, & Smashing The Wellness Industry

I come bearing fun stuff for your Thursday!

If you're into history, fashion, and/or cosplay, then you'll appreciate this:

The women are all wearing the most incredible beaded headdresses, and everyone is covered in layers of lavish fabrics and jewels that are the very definition of "extra." (Which of course has a dark side if you know the history.) Insensitive royals aside, though, these photos are incredible eye candy and costume inspiration.

In happier costume news, did you see that Target is releasing two Halloween costumes this year made specifically for wheelchair users?

YAAASSS! How fun are these? I hope this inspires lots more designs, and they get some good licensing onboard. (How amazing would some Star Wars designs be? Or an Ecto-1?

Target also has two new costumes for kids with sensory issues - a shark and a unicorn - which both include hidden front flaps for "easy abdominal access." You can see those and get more details here on The Mighty.


Since most DIY blogs are long gone by now, I'm thrilled to see TrueBlueMeAndYou - my favorite aggregator of all things crafty - still chugging along. Here's a recent post from her Halloween-specific blog:

Knitted snake scarves! These would be perfect for any of you Slytherins out there. The pattern is by Barbara Tomlinson of Beachton, links to both free patterns here.


While perusing another abandoned blog I found a very old - but new-to-me! - craft I want to try:

Washi tape feathers!

This is a super simple technique with gorgeous results, and then you could use the feathers to make everything from hair bands to gift wrap to a cute Leviosa mobile for your Harry Potter party... you know, if you're into that kind of thing. [innocent whistling] Check out the step-by-step tutorial here.


When I found these miniature pop-up books on Instagram last month my jaw about hit the keyboard:


There are even tinier ones, too, plus ones with working lights inside.

How? HOW???

The creator sells both the finished products AND paper DIY kits in their Etsy shop here. Anyone have a pair of tweezers and feeling brave? Ha! If not, at least go follow them on Instagram to marvel at all the insanely gorgeous designs and details.


Back to costuming fun with quite possibly the most brilliant Star Trek cosplay ever:

Monday, August 12, 2019

Think We Can Take This Off-Line?

This headline caught my eye last week:

(click to read the whole article)

That's just under a quarter of 23-38 year olds who say they have zero friends.


The article goes on to say that a whopping 30 percent of millennials say they're lonely; the highest percentage of any generation polled.

I hear these same things every day from perfectly delightful people online, people I'd think would be swamped with friends - though honestly, I struggle with making friends off-line, too.

Online friendships are wonderful - life-saving, even - and I see them blossoming on FOE all the time. Still, you and l know that text on a screen is ultimately not enough. We need eye contact and shared belly laughs and supportive hugs from time to time. We need someone to listen and give us more feedback than a heart emoji on Facebook. We need people who KNOW us, who see us drop spaghetti in our laps and lose our tempers and make mistakes, but who love us all the same. What's more, we need to be that for other someones, too, so we can soak up the joy of loving our fellow humans.

We're in a world that encourages isolation. We stay home because we're tired. We binge Netflix because it's easy. And we avoid people who disagree with us - or who might disagree with us - because we're sick of all the yelling. We tell ourselves we're too socially awkward, too introverted, too "weird" to find new friends. But at what cost? What will it take to get us out of our comfort zones, take a chance, and risk hanging out with people we maybe won't like?

I don't know; I'm out here struggling the same as many of you. What I DO know is there are too many awesome, lonely people out there, and finding them is going to take some work. We have to go places where there are too many people, embrace the awkward, maybe drop some spaghetti in our laps, and overall just TRY.

So hey, tell me this: if there was an Epbot meetup in your area... would you try? Would you go? I don't have any plans in motion or anything, and I'm not sure how the logistics would even work, but I'm curious. 

Better yet, tell me about your ideal geeky friend mixer: the setting, the activities, the one thing that would get you to show up. (Assuming Nathan Fillion is busy that night, of course.)

Also I just spent most of the afternoon writing this instead of working, so if anyone could provide a doctor's note for me to post on Cake Wrecks tomorrow, that'd be awesome. 😝😂

Friday, August 9, 2019

New Cosplay Video! Tampa Bay Comic-Con 2019

Ready to see what 6 hours of cosplay filming looks like in less than 5 minutes?


(Sound on for fun!)

This time John left in a lot more audio from the con floor: more people laughing, more candid moments before and after I asked them to pose, and more of me fangirling out of frame, ha. It's less polished, sure, but I really like it this way! I think it captures more of the personality of the con, and hopefully feels more like you're right there with us. 

We filmed all day Saturday, then planned to have the flash rig out all day Sunday - but it turns out very VERY few people dress up on Sunday. I was kinda bummed, but then again, I was so tired after Saturday I suppose it's better we cut out early. Plus I still found a few great cosplays, like this mother-daughter Aurora duo:

So sweet!

Then this gender-swapped Yondu had the coolest arrow prop:

It's flying out of her thigh holster! Such a neat effect.

This Kingpin looks like he stepped right out of the comics:

Bonus points for his Chibi badge version of himself, ha.

I like how the colors on these X-Men ladies seem to glow:

Next some Disney princesses:

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tampa Bay Comic-Con 2019: Stranger Things, Huffle Punk, & Tad Cooper Gets His Wings!

Tampa Bay Comic-Con was a mixed bag for me this year. It's a huge convention primarily aimed at families (kids get in free), so the crowd was older and less inclined to cosplay and silliness. I mean, I didn't see a single conga line! What's that about?

John and I decided to shoot video on Saturday (coming soon!) and flash on Sunday, but there was so little cosplay on Sunday I barely took 30 photos, and we left after just 3 hours. Like I said, this is more of a low-key shopping crowd.

The good thing about lots of families? Lots of cute kids in costume!! This little Jawa had just met James Arnold Taylor - the voice of Obi-Wan - and she was still over the moon and beaming. I love that she has a baby Jawa doll!

John hard at work filming on Saturday.

Saturday was the Big Day, with massive crowds and plenty of film fodder. It was also physically exhausting, since Tampa Comic-Con is the only con we've been to that doesn't provide a food court or seating. We circled the hall twice in disbelief, searching for a place to sit down, but nope. Only a hand full of stand-up tables. (There IS seating downstairs in the center, but it's limited and far away). So while I still had a great time, this con definitely beat me up!

Where my Gravity Falls peeps at?

Still two of my favorites! I've never seen an Yzma cosplayer replicate her epic eye bags - PLUS the potion bottle label flipped down to form the skull! GENIUS.

These two are always so in character, btw, and I can't wait for you to see what they did for our video on Saturday - as two different characters! Stay tuned, it's hilarious.


 Yep, the latest season of Stranger Things was in FULL EFFECT.

I can't get over the Demogorgon in Hop's shirt. Bahaha!

 Then when "Suzy" handed me her card: