Thursday, May 30, 2019

MIAA Unified Track State Finals

     Yesterday we went to the Unified Track State Finals. Travis did an excellent job in his 400m race. He got 2nd! He very proudly showed off his medal. He could have easily gotten first, he was so fast! But he decided to walk a bit, it was a close second. And he had so much fun. 
     He did an excellent job in his long jump. 6th place. He had a great time and jumped HUGE! He took off about 3 feet back from the line, so his distance was shorter than his jump. But again, he was having an excellent time and he put in an excellent effort!
     It was a long day. We hung out in the very chilly weather, with the constant threat of rain. He talked about how last year's weather was SO different (97, sunny and humid). 

     Travis had a great day. 
     He also competed in the 4x400m relay with his team. We don't have the results of that yet. So I will leave with with Travis's silly picture. It was a long, chilly, super fun day! Other than the banquet, track is done for next season. But I am sure Travis and I will keep running over the summer. We need to stay fit for next season!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

So this happened

      Today I got to see Travis in his graduation gown. This is the only chance I will have to see this. 
     This was my chance to get my picture taken with him in his gown. He came to LHS for senior farewell and the senior walkthrough. I bought the cap and gown just for this. He's not walking in graduation because he would absolutely hate that. It makes me a little sad but it doesn't mean the same thing to him that it did to Elecktra when she graduated. Right after the walkthrough Travis went to the senior picnic. At least he got to be part of some of the more fun senior activities. 

     Tomorrow are the unified track state finals. They are long and sort of far away. So I wanted to make some extra snacks and treats to bring. So I made these chocolate chip muffins. I was looking through my stack of Keto cookbooks on Sunday and I realized I have not used them all that much. So I made these muffins out of my Keto Cravings cookbook that Ethan got me for my birthday. They look tasty and they contain no nuts of any kind so I can bring them on the bus and not cause any issues. I hope they taste as good as they look.

    So this picture didn't happen today, it was last Monday. Savannah, one of my track girls (who is graduating!) got some pictures of me running. I am usually the one taking pictures so there have not been any of me in action. But I really do run! And tomorrow there will be even more running. Hopefully there is no rain and Travis will feel like going FAST for the meet!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Knights are hard

     I decided that today was the day that I was going to finish Anna Blackburn's knight doll. He has been in my book a bit too long and was a bit too unusual for me to not finish him. I have some dolls in the book with no time limit (well, they need to be done by next year, lol!) on them, but they are not a type of doll I have never made before. This guy needed to get finished. Mostly so I could see if I could actually do it. So first thing I did today was to put on the rest of the armor that was already made and painted. 

     After that I cut out and shaped all the rest of the pieces I needed to make to finish him up. 
     He got dressed in layers, just as a real night would have done. 
     I tried to make the piece look realistic while also making it so the doll could still move. At least some. I know knights did not have a super range of motion when in full armor, but the doll needed to at least be able to stand and ride. Or maybe just ride, I didn't ask. I needed him to be able to move at least enough to do those two things. 
      Anna wanted the bit of tunic showing, like one of the reference pics she sent me. And she wanted a plume. I was sure I could do the plume but the armor I was not totally sure of. 
     Turns out I CAN make a knight in full armor. It just takes a while. There are a lot of pieces that go into the full suit and each of them needs to be shaped, base coated in black and then needs 3 coats of silver. But in the end you get a pretty convincing knight. 
     Some of his details I wish I had a better idea on how to do them. Like knees and elbows. But he is covered and has as few weeks points as possible. And real suits of armor have these odd week points as well. 
        In the end I managed to make a knight, in full armor, who can stand or ride and has at least some range of motion. 
    He looks good from most angles and Ethan told me he looks great. Ethan is always very honest so he would not say I did a good job if I had not. 
     I kind of want to have my own knight now. But this took a lot of work and I don't think I am up to making another one. At least not now. Maybe in the future I might feel I "need" to own a knight doll.
    For now though, Anna can own the only knight in full armor I have ever made. I hope she has a ton of fun showing him!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Armor, low carb syrup and wigging

      I am still working on armor. And it's going fairly well I think. I have the feet and part of the legs done so far. I realized I messed up on one of the quad pieces and had to remake it. Both of them were identical when they should have been mirrored. 
     So more armor is happening. I have the other quad piece, the knee pieces (might be enough to be done with the legs) and the bicep and tricep pieces. I will need to work out elbows and shoulder covers, the chest and back pieces and helmet still need to happen. But I am making progress. One more coat on these pieces and they will be ready to go on the doll. 
     I also did try the 90 second bread as French toast again. I remembered the cinnamon and the powdered "sugar" this time. It's similar to the first time around and similar to "real French toast. 
    This time I used the Lakanto Maple flavored syrup. It's sweetened with monkfruit and surprisingly does taste like maple syrup. The texture is different though, it's very thin. But still tasty. 
    I have also been working again on some head hairing. I needed to make wigs for some slightly-larger-than-Gracie head sculpts that were made out of resin. 
     I worked out that by making a crown piece and a part piece that attached to it to go down the center of the head. 
     It worked out pretty well I think. Rooted hair is still my favorite but this is not bad if you have a resin head and the option to root the hair isn't there. 
     I have had a very busy weekend. Travis and I did some errands yesterday and then today we did some more on our own and then more with Ethan. So much driving around! But we got a lot done. I also heard from Jenn, the unified track coach again, and she got another email from the officials. Travis has also qualified for his 400m race! So now he is qualified for that and long jump. Hopefully it doesn't rain on Wednesday. And maybe tomorrow I can talk myself into bringing us to the track to get some practice in. That would be a good idea. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Medieval Madness Vintage performance

    There were definitely some interesting classes at Medieval Madness. I thoroughly enjoyed thinking outside the box on several things, trying new things and in the case of the vintage division, showing a horse I had not shown in awhile. Lady Liberty officially retired in 2015 after earning enough cards in showmanship for a Superior Event Horse Award and one last showing in TRXC where she also earned a top 5 in that division. She was a good horse for a very long time and a really excellent showmanship horse. The vintage classes were for any type of set-ups but with vintage horses. And the horse could be brand new with a modern paint job, the mold had to be vintage. And Lady Phase counts. So since I have very few OF models at all these days, Lady Liberty came out of retirement to play. And it was a good time. I had already put her in 4 square in the Other Performance division, but I had plans for her for most of the classes in the vintage division. Turns out though that 24 classes, most of which I was showing 2 horses in, is just too much for me. Well, 24 classes is what I ended up showing in, I had plans for more out of the 36 class classlist. Anyway, I reworked my plan for the vintage division so I could show in several things but not have to do a ton of tack changes and not have to hold up the end of the show. It turned out to be an excellent plan. 
    The first class for Lady Liberty was Arena Trail and Games. She was already in English tack from her therapeutic riding entry in 4 square so I decided to leave her in it and do the trail entry. I have not done a gate in awhile so it was fun to get back to it. And Lady performed extremely well. 

     Next was English other and I decided to go with a versatility entry. I had to put down a card to tweak what my documentation says (it says they start in western and switch to English) and I decided to run up the stirrups and have the doll on the ground working to unsaddle her horse. It was a fun little difference that amused me. The judge liked it too. 

     Next was other western and as part of my plan to be super speedy in finishing my entries I put Lady in Showmanship. She is also really great at showmanship. I realized after the fact that I did in fact mess up my entry. See? Even if you really know a set-up always pay close attention to what you are doing. Especially if you are tired. 

     The last class in the vintage division was scene. I went with my picnic scene for a second time. I made sure all the dolls were sitting up straight and all my details were as they should be. 

     The donut box got opened, I put the iPod and an iPad on the table and whatever else I could think of to add. Because miniatures are fun. Also fun fact, this scene was originally made for Lady Liberty. And it was made for a class list where scene followed showmanship. It was a very easy transition to bring the horse and doll over from showmanship to a picnic scene that was already set up. Often in the Other Performance division (where these classes often are) a horse will only show in one class. I wanted to show in more than one but didn't want to take up a lot of time and make people wait too long. So the picnic scene was born. And it has grown over the years. 
     I really do love setting up this entry and I love the new snack table I put together. I need to think of something else to add. Because miniatures are awesome and why not? So as usual, I am open to suggestions. 
    In the end the judge loved the scene and was pleased to see the dolls all sitting up properly.
     Lady Liberty didn't sweep the division but she came close. And in the end that earned her vintage performance champion. It was fun to bring her out to show again. She may or may not get to go back to her retirement. You never know. 
     I was so exhausted by the end of the show and it ran so late, that I didn't bother to get a pic of me with the horses and awards they won. Just a pile of ribbons before I turned them back in to the show. 
     I went to get Travis from the rec room and he and I and Brenda went out to dinner. Elecktra and Peter decided they were too tired and they went home. Travis and Brenda and I had a great time with just the 3 of us.

     I really enjoyed my day showing at Medieval Madness and thinking about show hosting. I won't be hosting anything again any time soon, but I am working on plans for a show for the future. For the moment I will just keep trying to think of new and fun things to show at other people's shows. 
     I also just got some really excellent news! Several of our athletes qualified for States! Travis was one of them. So he is qualified in long jump. Maybe this weekend we will go to the track and get some extra practice in.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Medieval Madness Western

      I currently have 83 blog posts for 2019. This will be #84. This more than doubles my most prolific blogging year ever. And we're not even halfway through the year. Some days it is hard to think of anything to talk about. I don't want people to be bored. Sometimes I am not sure I want to share the madness that is my life. This time of year is especially hard. As I mentioned yesterday, the end of the school year is challenging. Everyone is tired, there are way too many things going on and did I mention everyone is tired? Words are hard (which usually means we are all so exhausted we can't think of the words we want to say) and we could all use a break. Soon... we can recharge in the summer. Working with kids really is mentally exhausting. 
     Before I continue with the saga of Anna's knight doll I will continue with my show reports from Medieval Madness. There are two divisions to go. Today's focus is the western division. My first entry was Other Stockwork and Bring the Mayhem went in wearing tack made by Pam Perkins and my updated Elecktra doll (she got new hair in Elecktra's current style). He did a working cow horse entry which is always fun to set up. 

     Next up for me was games and Bring the Mayhem got 4th with this jumping figure 8's entry. 

     And Sweet but Psycho got 3rd with her rescue race. 

      After games was arena trail and Sweet but Psycho did a somewhat different poles pattern. This entry earned 5th
       And Bring the Mayhem got 3rd with his somewhat different poles pattern. Different to me anyway, I had a bunch of new documentation.
     The show was held on the same Saturday as the Preakness Stakes. This was during the race. Nothing much else was happening in the hall for those few minutes. 
     Next was western pleasure and Bring the Mayhem, who I have been told more than once by this judge is not a great western pleasure horse (I always say I know and that I am still going to put him in it, lol) got 4th. 
     Sweet but Psycho got 1st though. I had to fiddle with the doll a lot as she was misbehaving and trying to ride badly. It was worth the effort. 
    The last class in the division was Other Western and I had plans for Sweet but Psycho but decided not to bother and I ended up just putting Bring the Mayhem in with this extreme cowboy entry. Which was good enough for second place. 
    In the end Bring the Mayhem had earned 2 seconds, 2 thirds and a 4th in the western division. Which was not as amazing as some showing days but was good enough for reserve champion in the western division 
     At this point in the show I was getting extremely tired (the story of my life) and I thought about skipping the last section, which was vintage. But instead I tweaked my showing plan and then tweaked it again. But more about that tomorrow. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Playing With Fire

     I am so tired. The end of the school year is very hard. The schedule is messed up because of MCAS, senior activities, early release days and anything and everything that can cause a disruption really. The kids feel like they are done, most of the teachers feel like they are done, but also rushed because there is so much to do at the end of the year. We have 15 days of school left in total. But who's counting?
     So my super crazy busy time of year is coming to an end soon. Next Wednesday is the unified track state finals. Sadly, no one from Ludlow qualified for individual events this year. So we are going just to do the relays. It will be a long ride and a long day for a couple of races. But it's another chance to run, another chance to see our friends from other teams and also another chance to cheer each other on. After Wednesday I go back to regular school hours (so out at 1:55) and I should have more time to work on dolls. Good, Breyerfest is coming. I am not attending as usual, but my dolls will be there!
    Anyway, I am super tired so I decided it was a good day to play with fire. Anna Blackburn ordered a knight, in full armor. I have made armor before, but never full armor. Also, Anna doesn't order boring dolls! At least not often. So while I have done a bit of armor and I know the process, full armor takes some thinking about. Anna sent a couple of photos and gave me the OK for "inspired by" which does make things easier. I found a photo mashup of all of the different piece of armor as they are being put on. So I made a reference collage to help me as I worked.

     For anyone who has been reading my blog for a bit knows, I learned on Youtube that you can make doll-scale armor out of craft foam. I shared a bit more about that when I made Jackie's Link doll. The first thing I needed to do was start cutting out some piece. I have no patterns for armor so I used a doll and cut and trimmed each piece until it fit on the doll. Then I traced it out so I had a duplicate for the other leg/arm. I also marked all of them on the inside with what part they are. Not the proper name of the piece of armor, but the name of the body part they go on. No confusion that way.

     Next it was time to play with fire. The "big secret" of making craft foam into doll armor is fire. You need to heat up the foam. Then you can shape it a bit and when it cools it will (should) hold it's shape. The more you heat it the thinner and harder it will get. At least according to the video. I have found it only gets just so thin and then it doesn't matter how much you heat it, it won't get thinner but you might burn a hole in it. 
   After you heat the foam you need to shape it. If you try this, be careful, it can be super hot! It is not a fun time touching bare skin with molten craft foam. It doesn't often get melty hot, but it sometimes does and it can and will burn you. Anyway, heat the foam and very carefully shape it around the body part you want it to go on. I start by laying the foam on the table and rolling it a bit with my carbide scraper, once it has been worked and cooled for a few seconds it's usually safe to touch. 
     If it's not thinned enough, firm enough, or the edges have not been flattened enough, heat it up again and work it some more. 
      Making armor out of craft foam can take awhile.
     Just keep heating and shaping until you have the pieces the way you want them to be. The patience and time put in is worth it. 
     Once you have your pieces shaped and ready it's time for paint. Obviously this is not every piece I will need to make a full suit of armor. This was all I could mentally handle working on today. 
     The next step is to paint the foam pieces with a dark color paint. This will add a good base for the metallic paint and also acts as a primer on the foam. I get very messy when I paint armor.
    The next step is to start with layers of metallic paint. Technically you can use any color but I like silver. And silver over black is very nice in my opinion. This is two coats in and the pieces of foam are already starting to look like metal. I want to put another coat or two of paint on all the pieces to make them a bit more silver. But I think this is a good start. 

     With what I managed to get done today I have up to the thighs covered, other than the knees. I will need to make some long underwear (sort of) for under the armor because there are parts on a knight where there is no armor. And having plastic skin showing is not a great idea. So I will make some black breeches and a shirt tomorrow and then I can start getting him dressed. I have sort of an idea for the knees but I might need to do a bit of rethinking once I actually get into things. I have never done a doll like this before so there will be some trial and error. But it will certainly be interesting.