Monday, September 30, 2019

Silly and Imaginative Play

     Yesterday I said I was going to try out some imaginative play with Travis. I think it was a good plan, but it did not work out as well as I would have hoped. We started out by choosing a whole bunch of toys to bring outside. Travis had, the Joker (who is also a Lego and a clock), The Rock, Batman, Spiderman, Vulture, a Stormtrooper, Bear, Travis (from The Walking Dead) and Dave, the minion. I brought out Bring the Mayhem and Lady Liberty, since if an OF performance horse gets a bit dinged it's not a big deal. I also brought out my last two bikini dolls (the other is still in Colorado, having gone to be part of the lending library for TJS) since they were the easiest dolls to get to, seeing as they were in the tack room and the others are in my performance stuff buried in the closet. So we had our toys out, that is a good start. 
     Travis took everything out of the bag and we named the dolls. The red-head is Jenny and the blond is Mary. That was the extent of what Travis felt like doing with me. 
    He quickly left me alone with the toys at the picnic table and took The Rock up to his perch on what is left of the old swing set. 
     It is sort of like the Travis stage. Though unless you enjoy watching him move legs back and forth on action figures and make noise, there is not much to see. 
      Still, I was determined to at least try to get some imaginative play going, even if I had to force Travis into it a bit from afar. I would ask him questions, like what is Jenny doing ("riding a horse") and what does a bear say ("rawr") and from there we (mostly me...) came up with a story of what was going on. So here we go. 
      Jenny and Mary were out riding their horses when they met a bear. Auggh, Mary was startled because she didn't know if the bear was nice or mean. 
    Bring the Mayhem was also a bit nervous. Being a horse, he was not predisposed to hanging out with bears. 
 Ignoring her initial fear, Mary decided to go and see if the bear was friendly. 
     "rawr!" the bear growled! "Auugghhh" screamed Mary! It appeared the bear was NOT friendly!
So Mary ran away from the bear.
     Jenny was not afraid and Mary jumped up on Lady Liberty, behind Jenny, because there is comfort in being with friends. 
The bear followed Mary to where she had jumped up on Jenny's horse.
Jenny was not afraid of the bear. She looked right at him and told him that he couldn't scare her. 
     The bear was impressed with Jenny's courage and let her ride him. Mary was shocked at Jenny's daring. 
     While out for a ride, Jenny and the bear met Dave. Dave wanted to ride the bear, but he was a bit big for that. 
     Mary was still a bit nervous, and may have been in a bit of shock from her meeting with the bear. Along came Travis who told her that he would not let the bear hurt her. He and the bear were friends and they hung out often. Travis wished he could ride a horse, but he was not articulated enough to handle that. 
     But he went to make friends with Bring the Mayhem who had been neglected ever since the bear showed up. Mayhem was not sure how he felt about Travis, but as long as no one tried to eat him, he was willing to take a chance on a new friend. 

     Bits of pieces of that little story I got from things Travis (actual Travis, not action figure Travis) said to me. My experiment in getting more interaction through play didn't work out as planned. But it was chilly outside and we have never done this before. Maybe it will work out a bit better next time. Travis did tell me the dolls were riding horses, that Jenny was riding the bear, Dave was standing up and a few other things. I hope you all were at least amused by my silly story.
     It's a weird thing to be 40 years old and playing with toys in your backyard. I did have to wonder a few times if my neighbors were watching. Most likely not and I mostly don't care. If it helps Travis interact with us more it is worth people thinking I'm a bit odd. Maybe soon he can add more to our stories. Then we can be a bit odd together. 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Distracted and out of ideas

      More often than not I write posts ahead of time and schedule them. That way they go live at 6:00 am EST and I don't have to think about what to write when I am not fully awake (or am still fully asleep). Today is Sunday and it is 8:30 am. I had no post planned. No idea of what I could possibly write about. Yesterday I was stuck in a meh mood again and did almost nothing all day. I did manage some cleaning and errands, but besides that I was mostly stuck in a book. I blame the book.
      I looked in my photos and Alex, Travis's para, sent me a bunch she took at Open House. This whole thing was pretty cool because we had been hearing about all of the imaginative play Travis does with a collection of toys and we had never seen it. Anyone who has studied autism in depth knows that Travis really should not even be able to engage in this imaginative play. Maybe he does it because no one told him he's not supposed to be able to. My kid is awesome. It was weird, and funny, because at first Travis would not even tell us the name of the toys. Then he took the box and went over to a table to sit with the parents of another student! He wanted to get THEM involved, lol. I was not going to let that happen so I "snuck" over and didn't look at him and just stood near him. After a bit Travis decided he really did want us involved. He would hand me the toys and asked me what they say. More specifically, he would ask what they say frustrated (such as "what does Mario frustrated say?") I never gave them a simple thing to say, which would be "I'm frustrated". I would say something like "I'm Mario and I'm frustrated because Travis's Mom is mean and won't let me eat a pile of candy." and Travis thought that was hilarious! The super fun part of all of this is it is Travis trying to interact and connect with people. So far he mostly only has a sort of scripted back and forth (asking what something says or saying something and having you repeat it). He has the desire to connect and communicate. We just need to keep at it and see if we can build on it. I didn't see any of the imaginative play, apparently Travis has the characters going in a bounce-house or going to the store (that is amazing!) but he is still trying. Also, that frog I am holding is named Turtle Bench. We have no idea where he got that name. Hmm, I wonder if Travis would get out of his guys and I could get out some of my toys (I have dolls and horses at the very least) and maybe we could play together. I don't know why I never thought of this before!
     Remember how I said it was a book that caused me to get almost nothing done yesterday? This is the book. I am already reading several other books so adding this one to the group was sort of silly. But at the beginning of Brit Lit every day, we read for 15 minutes. I didn't want to read a book on my phone (where I have been reading my nook books) and I didn't want to read the anatomy books I have been reading, even though they are really good reads. So when the class went to the library I got this on the recommendation of the librarian. It took a couple of chapters to really get started and I almost gave up. But now it has me so hooked I don't want to do anything else. It's over 600 pages with fairly small print and I am only in the 400's. After weeks. I feel like a book slacker. So I spent a lot of hours reading yesterday. I do have a bit of guilt about not doing other things, but not much, the book is that good. And self-care is important I hear. 
    Even though today is Sunday, and I try not to work on weekends, I think that I need to do some work today. I have these two big packages of dolls that need to be opened and sorted. At this point I really and truly should have enough Gracie dolls to last me the rest of the year. I just can't help getting more when they are such a bargain. I need to decide before the end of the day if I want any more. After today KC's Galloping Gals won't be shipping anything else until November. And once they start up again, and have the website up, they will not be on sale anymore. And the bargain price is hard to resist. But I do have A LOT of dolls on hand already. So maybe that's enough for now.
     Today I am thinking I will see if I can get some imaginative play from Travis. That is something I have not tried too much of over the years. We have gone out in the world to many places and worked on staying together, not pushing, so on and so on. We have worked on all sorts of life skills. I have never tried to have a pretend conversation with him. At least, not that I remember. Maybe he would be into it. Maybe I can build on what he is already doing. This is exciting!
     I still have 5 dolls to go before my contest is over. My being a slacker gives you all plenty of time to enter. Just comment on any blog post, new or old, one comment is one entry. After I hit 1300 I will close the contest and pick the winner. The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate which can be used towards a doll or on other things that I make. 
     Since I have been a super slacker with dolling lately (I did nothing at all this past week!) I am short of things to talk about. If anyone has any post ideas I would happily take suggestions. If anyone has dolls I made and has show photos they would like to share, I would happily take those as well. Even guest posts about shows, dolls, whatever. I will try to find something to talk about. At this point I feel like if I don't post every day I am letting you down! I can't have that.

Saturday, September 28, 2019


     I love coffee. I really love ice coffee. I also really love cold brewed ice coffee. When Ethan was looking for ideas for our anniversary I told him I wanted a cold brew coffee maker. One of the teachers I worked with last year has one and he was telling me how great it is. So that was what I asked for. And that was what I got. I can now make a gallon of cold brew coffee all at one time. It is fairly simple, the most time consuming part is waiting for the water to filter through the Brita pitcher. And then I can drink multiple cups of coffee, for several days. before I need to make more. It's pretty great. 
     Ethan also got me some super fancy coffee to go with it. Because of the way the coffee is produced and what the company does, it apparently has a negative footprint. Which is pretty great because I help teach environmental science again this year and we all took a quiz on what our personal footprint is. Apparently if everyone lived the way I do we would need 3.5 Earths to support us all. Which is very surprising because I live really small, reuse things, recycle everything and so on. But I live in the USA (which apparently adds to your number of Earths... somehow), I drive an SUV and I eat a lot of meat. It's a small consolation that the average number of Earth's for the class was more around 5, but it's rough when you are doing so many things to try to take care of the Earth and it's still not enough. Well, the test doesn't take into account every single potential aspect, so maybe I am doing better than it shows. At the very least the coffee is really delicious. The coffee maker says to use 2-4 cups of ground coffee. I tried 2 to start for the first batch and it was super see-through, looked like weak tea. Even with that it had an amazing amount of flavor. So this time around I am making a batch with 3 cups. We'll see how that works out. I also had to order more coffee because a pound does not last that long.
     I have done zero doll work this week. It's been really nice actually. I went to the laundromat and read instead of working. Monday I don't actually remember what I did, but it was not work. Wednesday Ethan and I spent pretty much all day together. Thursday was open house. Yesterday I went to get my oil changed and they were super efficient. I could have come home and done at least a bit, but I did not. I read some, took a tiny nap, washed the dishes and worked on some emails. It has been really great not working on dolls. But TRXC is coming. I have 5 weeks to get sales stuff done. I also still have 5 dolls to go to get to 1300. And since I have done zero doll work, there is still time to enter my contest. 
    So remember, I am giving away a $100 gift certificate to someone, who will be randomly chosen. To enter you just need to comment on the blog. Any post, old or new, counts. Comments on the FB posts where I put the blog links do not count. The $100 can be used towards a doll or can be used for other items I make. The tiny catch is the winner will have to wait at least until the week after TRXC to get anything made. So I'll keep thinking of things to talk about, you guys keep reading and commenting and we'll all have a good time! At the rate I am (not) working, you probably have at least another two weeks to read and comment on posts. 

Friday, September 27, 2019

10-20 years

     Yesterday was my anniversary. A lot of people have asked how long. And really, it's 10 and 20 years. Ethan and I have been together (actual dating) for over 20 years. We have been married for 10. Friends for about 25. We have a lot of history. In 25 years we still have fun. still do new things together and still have things to talk about. I think he's pretty awesome. The first thing we did together for our anniversary was I re-shaved the sizes of his head and I made his mohawk stand up. He got his hair cut in a mohawk back in February or March and we had not made it stand up yet. I watched a Youtube video on how to do it and we have been trying to find the time to make it happen. Yesterday was that day.  So that was definitely something new.
     The new new thing, for me anyway, was we went and rode ebikes. Ethan does ebike repair so we went to his shop and I met some of the guys he works with. He has been there for several months now (he was also working at another bike shop up until recently), but I have not had a chance to go out there and see the shop and meet the people he works with. They are pretty cool. It seems like a really good group of people to work with. At least from what I saw. 
      Anyway, if you have never ridden an ebike, I totally recommend trying it. They don't do the work for you, they are not scooters. They are electric assist. Meaning when you come to the big hills they are easier and, if you are like me, you don't poop out before the top. So while you do work and have to pedal, the assist makes it a bit easier, and more enjoyable, to ride a bike if you are not a hardcore bicycle rider. We did 11 miles and it was really fun and not painful. I told Ethan it was an excellent date idea and we should totally do that again. 
     So you may have noticed that the photos in this blog are even worse than my photos usually are. That is because I lost my phone while we were riding ebikes and these are pictures Ethan took with his phone. The ebikes don't glow, but the flash from his phone makes it look like they do. Anyway, I realized somewhere during my ride that I lost my phone. So we backtracked to see if we could find it. We didn't spot it and no one Ethan asked had seen it either. So we went out for the planned ride and then went to lunch. 
     Ethan and I have almost never been on a date alone. We have had very few over our 20 years. It was great to go out riding and then go out to eat. We went to Bernie's and ate in the train car. We had giant prime rib and Ethan got compliments on his hair from old ladies. That was fun. 
     When we got home I used the find my iphone app to see if I could figure out where my phone was and we got the general area. Then Ethan said I should call it, so I did. And someone answered it. She said the phone had been turned in to the guard house at Look Park. I was amazed. 
     While yesterday was our anniversary, but we did our celebrating on Wednesday. Ethan already had the day off so it made more sense to switch our date day to Wednesday so only one of us had to take a day off. We had a good day celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and our 20 years together. I really liked the ebikes so we will need to do some more riding I think. I'm sure we have a lot more years together to make that happen. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

More Horseball

     I love when people love their dolls. I love when I can create exactly what someone was picturing in their head. That doesn't always work, but when it does, it's pretty fantastic. Recently Sara Bowman asked me to make her a horseball rider. She specifically wanted the same fabric on the breeches that I used on my casual youth doll. So I put in another order with Spoonflower and got some of that, and several other fun fabrics as well. There will be more cool breeches in the future!

      One of the things I like about horseball is that there are so many ways to position the doll. Since the riders get into some extreme poses during the games, there is also almost no wrong way to use them. 
Sara has told me a couple of times now she loves this doll. I love Sara's photos of this doll!
She wanted to have an extra set of hands in black so the doll could also be used for cross country. 
     What a great idea! So now a one-hit wonder is more versatile. I imagine she could also be used for endurance riding. Though technically, tall boots are incorrect for endurance. 
     Thank you Sara for sharing your really fun horseball doll photos. I really love getting photos of the dolls in use, even if it is just a trial run or a fun photo shoot like this one.
      Remember my blog contest is still going on. Every comment on every post, old or new, counts as an entry. When I hit 1300 finished dolls the contest will be done. I have no idea when that will be, not this week though. Once I finish the 1300th doll I will randomly choose a winner and that person will receive a $100 gift certificate. It can be used on dolls or anything else I make. Please make sure if your blog name doesn't go to a profile with your name on it that you sign your real name. I can't give a prize if I don't know who you are. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Animals at The Big E

      A big part of The Big E is animals. There has been some controversy for years about the live animal exhibits at the fair. For years they had an elephant, Beulah, but she died before the fair opened this year. Of natural causes I should add. And while some people feel there should not be any animals at The Big E, I think seeing and learning about animals is very important. 
      There were 2 bears that we went to go and see. They had the entire length of a tractor trailer to hang out in, but they chose to cuddle up together at one end and have a nap. 
     There was thick plexiglass between the bears and the people coming to see them, and a railing as well. There was a ton of information on different types of bears on all the inside walls. 
Plus a collection of bear skulls that I photographed because Ethan loves skulls. 
There was this big sign saying that 2880 eggs are hatched during the 17 days of the fair. 
      So many little chicks! They had big monitors up over the incubators as well so the hatching chicks were easier to see. 
There were grown chickens of many varieties
       And kids. Elecktra watched the kids playing for awhile. They were doing silly kid things and frolicking and falling off the hay and getting back up again. It must be fun being a goat!

I really loved the piglets! This photo doesn't even come close to showing just how huge mama pig is!
And we saw some ducks too. There were signs with tons of information all over the farm buildings. 

      We did, of course, also see horses. They had a whole team of Clydesdales. Elecktra pointed out that they all had military names. 

     They were a variety of ages and were born all over the world. 

Most of them were dozing...

or trying to visit with their neighbor...
or eating...
       eating was a popular choice. There was a rope fence that kept everyone back so no one could get too close and bug the horses. Or potentially feed them something they shouldn't have. 
       We saw their harnesses as well. I am sure the horses are used in the parades, but we didn't get to see it. There is just so much to see and do at The Big E and we didn't see or do half the things. 
      We did see a bit of pleasure driving in the colosseum. 
     It was Saddlebred day but I didn't have a program so I have no idea what the class list was. We just happened to be in the arena when they called this class, so I know what it was. 
There were only two entries but they were really nice to watch. 
I also got to explain to Peter and Ian what (roughly) they were judging in the class. 
It really is hard to tell from just watching after all. 

      I don't actually know who won, and I was not watching with an eye on who was doing what correctly, I was just enjoying the horses. 
Because horses. 

     I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked, and we didn't see everything we wanted to. But it was a really great time. I really enjoyed our trip to The Big E and it was a cool and different way to spend a Sunday. I will most likely have to do it again sometime. 
      I still have 5 dolls to go to hit 1300. Make sure if you are commenting it is on the blog posts and not on the Facebook posts (those posts don't count). Also, please sign your name if you post anonymously. Or if clicking on your blog name doesn't bring me to a page with a name, please sign your name. I can't give a prize to you if I don't know who you are!