Thursday, December 6, 2012

Week 27

Symptoms:  Tiredness, back pain, nausea.

Cravings:  Ginger bread, dark chocolate

Diet:  I've also been including molasses and red raspberry leaf tea in the diet (to tone the uterus).  I'm not a huge fan of molasses, but it's high in calcium and iron. 

Midwives Apt:  Here are some stats- weight 138.8, up 15 pounds in total.  Heartbeat 145-150, baby is head down.

Community Prenatal Class: (2 hours)  There was only 1 other pregnant person there aside from me!  They hope that next time we will have a group of 4-5 women.  There were also 3 midwives, 2 nursing students, 1 midwifery student, and 1 notetaker.  We talked a lot about nutrition/diet and completed a quiz.  I learned that the midwives think that most herbal teas are fine to consume during pregnancy, because we drink them in low doses.  So I can start drinking chamomile and echinacea again!  Our next meetup is in 4 weeks, and a physiotherapist is attending.  We are going to discuss discomforts in the body. 

Friday Prenatal:  We had 3 hours of discussion on vit k, proph. eye drops, circumcision and vaccines.  So much to think about, especially when it comes to vaccines.  There was also a lot of reinforcement to 'own your baby' if you deliver at a hospital.  Don't let doctors or nurses talk you in or out of things you want.  ie:  If you want skin to skin immediately after delivery, then they should let you! 

Week 26

Symptoms:  Baby is jabbing me sharply in the cervix!  Back pain, charlie horses every morning, acne on thighs, and clumsiness has set in.

Cravings:  Dried bananes, kale chips.  Trying to eat/drink healthier items like coconut water (ugh-why does it taste so bad), and sunflower pate sandwhiches.

Work:  Feeling really tired.  3rd week of standing for 40 hours a week.  Submitted paperwork to my family doctor for accommodation.  One nice girl at work asked if I needed help when I was bending down to pick something up. 

Highlights:  Still kicking hard!  Thought I maybe felt the baby's head with my hand.

Prenatal Class:  We learned all about interventions, like epidurals, morphine, gas and the use of the Tens machine.  Basically the better pain relief you receive, the higher risk of further interventions.  For example, if you get an epidural you could end up having a cathetar, IV, spinal fluid could leak out resulting in months of headaches, your labour slows down which puts you at risk for a c-section. 

Weekly Buys:  Raw coco butter for my tummy. 

Links:  Birth Markings  Watch this video on how birth changes your body and what it means to different women.  Very empowering! 

Week 25

Symptoms:  Healthy hair.  Fast growing nails.  Sore back.  Aches and pains in torso.  Vertebra cracking when I move.

Cravings:  Sugar!  Sweet things galore.

Work:  HR is refusing my medical testamony from my midwife.  Now asking me to get the documentation from a physician-just so I don't have to lift really heavy boxes or stand for 40 hours a week.  Please!

Highlights:  So much movement!  Can see kicking from outside the belly.

Prenatal Class:  Reviewed 3 stages of labour, and went into depth about comfort measure techniques.  Seating and standing poses for labour with your partner, and various massage techniques.  There are definitely some items I would like to buy for my labour.  Like essential oils (peppermint and lavender which I already have), tennis balls for massage, and a wooden back massager.

Week 24

Midwives Appointment-

Stats:  heartbeat 135, measuring 23 inches pelvis to belly button, 133 pounds (gained 10 pounds), baby laying sideways.  The midwife felt the baby for the first time, trying to locate its position.  Not the most comfortable feeling. 

Midwife asked if I would like to participate in an experimental prenatal group based off the model 'centering pregnancy.'  Basically, the idea behind it is to faciliate learning and discussion at every checkup with other pregnant women who are due around the same time you are.  This model is used in the states, and has been successful in Vancouver.  I think it will be interesting, because it allows you to learn from other women.  They might bring up questions or concerns that you might not have thought about. 

Gestational Diabetes Testing:  I decided to turn down the optional testing.  I am not in a high risk category for it, and don't show any signs.  So happy not to be doing the test!!

Prenatal Class: 

On friday from 7-9:30 we went to our first prenatal class that is taught by a doula.  There were 6 couples there, 3 thinking about home births, 2 delivering at the hospital that I chose as my backup hospital, and only 1 had an OBGYN (the rest have midwives).  One woman was on the same waiting list as me at a different midwifery centre for weeks, so there is definitely a high demand for midwives.  I feel very lucky to have found one!

As I mentioned, the teacher is a doula and has 6 kids of her own!  She appears very well versed in birthing matters.  What I took out of the first class is that you want to assist your baby into an anterior birthing position (baby's back to your stomach).  Things that can help with this are squatting, being on all fours, sleeping on your side.  Basically avoiding being on your back.

Prenatal class encouraged me to pump up my pilates birthing ball, and to do more yoga in order to be prepared for labour.  I also want to do more breathing exercises.  Nothing complicated, just deep, smooth conscious counted breaths. 

Highlights of the Week:  Baby movement!  I can now see movement from the outside of my stomach.

Week 23

Symptoms:  Leaking nipple, weird dreams, still eating really small meals because my stomach seems to be squished.

Concerns:  Stretch marks.  I've been using Sympathy for the Skin from Lush (it has a cocoa base).

Looking Forward To:  Midwives Apt. tomorrow.  Get to meet to 2nd midwife.  Prenatal classes also begin this Friday for 6 weeks.

We will be learning about:  Anatomy of the pregnant body and terminology
-labour overview
-getting your baby in the best position for birth
-labour signs
-stress and its effects on labour

Shopping:  Stocked up at Thyme Maternity my fav. maternity clothing store.  I bought 1 pair of cords, 1 pair of jeans, and a set of nursing pjs.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Week 22

Symptoms:  Nipples still leaking.  Definite expansion of the tummy!  Peeing a lot (like one night this past week I peed 4 times during the night-ugh!).

Cravings:  I don't know if I'd call them cravings, but I really like dark chocolate covered almonds and soy lattes right now.  Generally things with sugar in it.

Dr Apt:  On Thursday I had the holter heart monitor put on and wore it until Friday afternoon.  Results should come back in 2 weeks, and I'm expecting them to be perfect!  I'll be seeing my midwife next week.

Yesterday:  Had my hair cut and bought 2 new shirts from Fairweather to act as maternity shirts.  They were only 15 dollars each.

This week:  Finally have my health and safety meeting with HR, my boss, and the union to discuss work accomodations (because I am pregnant).  My accomodation letter was submitted 2 months ago!

Contemplating:  Gender Reveal/Shower party options.  Maybe we should have a shower in Jan, after Vytas's parents return and Christmas is over.  This way people might be able to find some good deals.  We could always have a small gender reveal with parents (and cake or cupcakes with gender coloured icing) before Christmas.

Highlight of the Week:  Lots of baby movement!  Vytas can feel the baby move from the outside now.  He talks to the baby at night to cox it to move. 

Week 21

Symptoms:  Right nipple leaked a tiny bit on my shirt.

Dr. Follow Up:  IPS (integrated prenatal screening) is fine!  Dr. said that the person who read my ultrasound is an excellent doctor.  Also, that cysts in the ultrasound have been plagueing obstectrics for the past 15 years, because before that time the technology wasn't good enough to pick up cysts.  Now, they see these cysts, which are only a concern 1% of the time and usually they go away. 

Unfortunately I have to wear the holter heart monitor again for 24 hours because my midwife wants to be reassured that I will not need special medical attention during labour.  Sigh.  Wish I never mentioned that I had to where one-like 4 years ago! 

Home Birth Session:  More on this later, but we attended a home birth session at the Midwife centre and decided to have a home birth!  There were about 3 other couples there, 2 which were on to their 2nd baby and were not happy with their hospital expereinces.  We got to meet my 2nd midwife (she did the talk), and felt very comfortable with our decision.  Now... how to calm the parents... 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Half Way There! 20 Weeks Pregnant

Symptoms:  I had three days of headaches in the past week.  Still cannot consume a lot of food due to limited space in stomach.  Feel constipated.  I have some sciatic pain at night in my right butt, which means I turn a lot from side to side trying to get the pain out.  Can feel the baby move often. 

Midwives Apt:  Weight was 129 (gained 6 pounds).  Starting to gain 1 pound per week now.  Baby's heartbeat was 152, could hear it move around a lot with the doppler. 

Got some results back from my doctor.  The IPS testing was o.k.  No downs syndrom, however the midwife had to tell me about the 'soft marker' that the ultrasound tech noted.  Apparently it is a sign of genetic issues, however, the cysts that they saw in the brain were so small that they didn't even make the required 3 mm measurement to be noted a concern.  Despite that, I was still angry and not happy about being told that there could have potentionally been a problem.  Seriously-there's enough to worry about!  I also had an anatomy scan the day before, and the tech at that point said there was nothing to worry about and she was forwarding those results to the midwife that week.  I think the IPS scan was done in week 12, and the midwife still had not got my 2nd set of bloodwork back yet, but she said not to worry about anything.  She's also waiting ot get a signed letter from my doctor stating that my heart condition (which isn't really a condition-it's a premature heartbeat) will not be a factor during labour.

Home Birth vs Hospital:  The debate is still going on.  We're attending an info session this week at the midwifery centre.  We also signed up for 6 weeks of prenatal classes at a doula centre.  It's designed for natural birth, attachment parenting, and all those hippie things I enjoy.  :)

Shopping:  I finally got some maternity pants at Thyme Maternity.  They were expensive-but totally worth it.  I think I might get a 2nd pair, and just wear them to death.  I also got a sweater, a baby item at H&M, and a Harry Potter throw blanket and pillow case for the nursery.

DIY:  I plan on making my own owl mobile, and to knit hats and booties (still looking for some good patterns).

Baby's Gender:  Okay, so we know the gender and we've been going over names, but nothing for sure yet! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Week 19 Of Pregnancy

Symptoms:  Feeling pretty good this week.  I've gone back to eating salads for lunch the past 2 weeks, which means my nausea is gone.  I do get uncomfortable after eating/drinking sometimes and still find that I cannot consume as much.  I also have a major sweet tooth.

Work:  Was able to sit down at work, which improved my day immensly!  Felt much less fatigued when I got home every day.

Life Planning:  Paid off part of my remaining student loan, and increased my monthly payments (to a stupidly high amount), so I will be debt free in 10 months.   Screw you Osap.

First Baby Dream:  In my dream I was vacationing with the baby (who was a girl in the dream), and I could not for the life of me put a diaper on her.  So I ended up holding her over the toilet to pee and kept getting peed on. 

Highlight of the Week:  I made it to a yoga class at the studio.  It was a flow 1 (1 hour and 15 minutes).  Still have sore hamstrings and arms, but felt good during it.  I had to modify a bit, mostly during sun saluations to make room for my belly (there's a 9 inch baby in there!).  Going to attempt to go to class once a week. 

Books:  Finished Reading Mayim Bialek's Beyond the Sling.  It's basically about how she took the principles of attachment parenting (ie.  breast feeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping) and made it work for herself.  I might do a review on this more in depth soon.  I'd recommend it to anyone that is completely new to attachment parenting. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cloth Diapers

One of the decisions that was a no-brainer as an expectant mom to be, was to cloth diaper.  I've been researching it for a while, and yes, it seems a little more involved than disposables, but poop and extra laundry don't scare me.  I've read lots of blogs and watched lots of vlogs with new cloth diapering moms, and they made it work.  They might have had some learning curves as to which diapers worked for them, but they didn't have any major complaints.  I have already started a cloth diaper stash, and have been taking their advice and have been purchasing small amounts of different brands to see what will work with our baby.  I wanted to share this one etsy seller that I came across.  She has the most amazing looking cloth diapers!  I definitely need a few fun ones for our little one.  Plus, one of my favourite youtubers has done a review on them and recommends the diapers as well. 

Take a look!

Visit the Etsy shop HERE!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Harry Potter Nursery

Okay, so as you may have picked up, I love Harry Potter.  I have been contemplating lately on what to do with our very small nursery.  I have two themes bouncing around in my head-Harry Potter or owls.  Or perhaps I will have both in the room.  I think I am going to keep the room white, and use accessories for accents and details.  Here's some inspiration from Pinterest.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

18 Weeks Pregnant


Shin splints started on tuesday and continued until yesterday (sat).  My shins feel better today, probably because I haven't been on my feet all day. 

Swollen belly and inability to eat a lot.  On friday at work my belly seemed to triple in size, and my skin felt really tight and uncomfortable.  I am not sure if my stomach was pushed up, thus leaving less space for food and beverage? 

Baby movements have begun slightly.  They feel like a fish darting around, like when you buy a fish at the pet store and they place it in a little baggie with water. 

Weight Gain:  Not too sure.  At my last midwifes appointment I had gained 2 pounds (125). 

Sleep:  Not too bad.  My hips get sore at night because I sleep on my sides now with the aid of my snoogle pillow.  I have to switch sides often. 

Work and Pregnancy:  The last two weeks I have spent 70 hours on my feet-that's standing all day long.  My feet get very sore and tired, and I don't have a lot of energy when I get home.  I still have not had any Health and Safety assessment of my job since I handed in my Work Modification letter 4-5 weeks ago to HR.  I'm pretty much doing the same work as every one else, minus lifting 80 pound boxes. 

Things Not To Say To A Pregnant Woman:  "Wow!  You're going to get big!"  "When are you going to get married?"

Thoughts:  I feel a little down on myself that I am not doing a lot outside of work.  I usually like to fill my schedule with yoga and exercise classes, music events, ukulele lessons, etc...  But working and being pregnant leave me pretty exhausted. 

Things I Am Looking Forward To:  Oct 1rst is my anatomy/gender scan! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Getting the Dirt on Infertility

So, back in December of 2010 I (or we rather) decided that it was finally time to start a family.  We were secure in our relationship, our finances, education, had done a bit of traveling... things seemed right.  I went off my birth control, and we embarked on our baby mission.  I've always felt pretty confident and knowing of my cycles, so I thought it wouldn't take that long to get pregnant.  However, month after month I experience the let down of old Aunt Flo coming to visit.  After a few months of being off birth control, I started to question my body.  My cycles, which have always been regular were starting to play tricks on me.  I started to spot before my period, around day 23, and bled until day 28, and then my period would really start.  Now, that just wasn't fun.  Also, I started to experience some irregularities.  My period would surprise me sometimes and come a week early!?  It also seemed really light, almost like a non-existant cycle.  This was weird for me, because I was so used to heavy bleeding and clotting.  When I was in high school, I used to bleed through both a tampon and a pad within 2 hours.  Something was not right.  However, according to everything I read on the internet, the standard wait time was a year.  So, I waited out the entire year, negative cycle after negative cycle until I called my doctor. 

My family doctor was really supportive of me, and she gave me a referral right away to a Fertility Clinic, and she also sent me off for some basic bloodwork.  I visited the Fertility Clinic for the first time in January 2012.  Yes, it did feel a little surreal.  But at the same time, it felt good to know that I was being proactive, and that it just wasn't all 'in my head' that I wasn't getting pregnant.  It was also comforting to see other younger women at the clinic, so it reasurred me that I wasn't a freak of nature being 33 and unable to conceive.  It's actually quite common for younger women to have issues as well. 

The initial appointment set me up for a slew of bloodwork that ended up being about 10 viles of blood (for hiv, thyroid, cbc... etc).  I also did a genetic test that needed to be sent off to Sick Kids hospital, and then a 3 day draw that would be the deciding factor on my fertility problem.  My RE also suspected Endometriosis, but we didn't look into that too much.  But she thought my early spotting was definitely related to that.  I also had a quick pap swab done on my first visit, which would be the beginning of many 'legs in the stirrups' visits.  Before we could go ahead with any fertility treatment, I was also required to do this test called an HSG.  This test was done at the clinic, and it involved a tube being fed through my cervix, and then a saline solution flowing through into my uterus and fallopian tubes.  Unfortunately, I was one of the woman who do not react nicely to this procedure.  During the HSG, my tube fell out once so it had to be reinserted, and I believe the fed 3 bottles of solution into the tube which made me very achey.  As they do this, an ultrasound tech watches the saline to see if it enters the tubes to make sure there is no blockage.  At this time, my right tube decided to hide.  They stopped the procedure, however, I ended up being at the clinic for another hour because my cramps were so intense that I had to go lay down.  I started to sweat profusely, and had hot and cold flashes, and then the vomit came.  During this time the nurse was attempting to get me to agree to do another HSG that following day at the hospital, but instead of using saline, they would use dye and do x-rays.  I refused-not able to see the end of the tunnel with my pain.  They eventually gave me a pain killer, and an hour later I was back on my feet.  Unfortuntely, I did have to go back a month later and do the test all over again.  But the 2nd time I did not throw up. 

So, my final diagnosis was that I have a high FSH, which also means I have a DOR-diminished overian reserve.  Whether or not I am going into premature menopause, they do not know.  But what they do know is that I am running out of time to produce eggs.  It was recommended that if I wanted a child, that I start an aggressive treatment that involved giving myself needles filled with fertility drugs, and getting daily transvaginal ultrasounds to keep an eye on how my ovaries and follicles were reacting to it.  We were to do a max of 3 medicated cycles with IUI (artificial insemination), and if that did not work we would move on to IVF.  So starting in May, on the 3rd day of my period I went in for a transvaginal ultrasound and got a tutorial on how to stick a needle in to my belly.  My first injection was a little scary, but I quickly got over it.  Throughout this cycle I felt like a total pin cushion.  In the evening I gave myself a needle, and on certain mornings I had blood taken to watch my estrogen and LH surge.  Secretly, I was hoping that I would react really well to the meds and conceive twins, but unfortunately my body did not react too strongly to the dose.  I ended up having only one dominant follicle-one egg, that would have the possibility to be fertilized.  I was a little disapointed, because I knew the chances of success were only around 15%, so I thought it was pretty much a bust.  However, we still went through with the IUI because my one follicle was a good size (aroun 22/23 mms).  The day before the IUI I had a round of bloodwork again, an HCG shot (to trigger ovulation), and gave myself 2 shots of Puregon (the fertility drug).  I went in the next day, a few hours after the sperm wash was done and completed the deal.  The IUI only took a few minutes and then I was released. 

After the IUI was the dreaded two week wait, where I tried to distract myself from thoughts of success or failure.  Was I pregnant or wasn't I?  I few days before I was to return back to the clinic for an HSG draw I bought some home pregnancy tests, 'just to see.'  Well, as you can see from my quick video, they were positive!  They also progressively got darker, which reassured me that something was happening and that I was not just getting a false positive from my HCG trigger shot. After that, I had 2 HCG blood tests, both showing that my levels were increasing, meaning I was pregnant! 

How did I feel?  I felt a little dumb founded.  Completely and utterly lucky!  I had such small odds-I thought for sure I would end up going through IVF.  It felt too easy-especially after witnessing other girls going through similar journeys, but who had multiple eggs waiting to be fertilized, and yet they did not become pregnant for some reason.  I nicknamed it the miracle baby in my head.

So, this is my story in a nutshell.  I am currently 17 weeks pregnant-with minimal problems so far in my pregnancy.  I am due in February 2013.  I wish every woman out there the best of luck with their infertility journey, because although I glossed over it, it is a taxing, tiring, and emotional journey to go through. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Times They Are A Changing'!

So, as you may have noticed, I have not been posting as much as I was.  The time has come when I will reveal why I have been a little distracted lately.

I am pregnant!

So, needless to say, my blog's content will most likely be changing to reflect my new life!  There is so much to talk about, because becoming pregnant definitely was not the easiest act in the world.  I went through a bout of fertility treatment, needles, testing, etc... which I will go in to more detail in a future post.  I did not reveal to most of my co-workers or friends that I was expecting until my 14th week or so, and people are still finding out.  But we are both really excited and happy to be expecting parents!

If you are interested, you could watch my channel on youtube, my username is VeganYogaMama.  I have been using Youtube as a venue for the past few months, to connect with both the TTC (trying to conceive) community, as well as the pregnant community.  On there I have been sharing my journey through infertility, to becoming pregnant.  I have been sharing my pregnancy experiences from week to week. 

There are so many things that I cannot wait to blog and share, including; infertility treatments, attachment parenting, midwives and natural birth, cloth diapering, being a vegan and being pregnant, and dozens of other subjects that come up with being a first time expecting mom to be. 

So stay tuned!! 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

First Aid Kit

I wanted to share this band, actually a duet I suppose that I have been listening to for a while.  It's no secret that I love folk music, and these girls are fabulous!  They are so young and talented.  Their melodies and harmonies are heavenly, and I still can't fathom how they sound so American when they sing when it is not their first language.  They also have such an authentic, adorable vintage 60's style that I drool over whenever I see them. 

Source: via Melissa on Pinterest

The second video is a Devendra Banhart cover!  Oh my it is fabulous!! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oh Hai! You Thought I Disappeared?

So I know it's been a long time since I has posted-which seems so strange because I was really on the ball before and loved blogging.  However, there's been a few major changes that occurred over the past few months which took up my thoughts and concerns.  But I feel like I am at a place now where I can start relaxing and enjoying things that I was doing before these changes came about.  I thought I would start off by sharing the news that I got engaged this summer!

That's right, my sneaky partner decided to take me on a walk to one of the local waterfalls in our area.  We brought along the dogs, some cameras (in which we didn't end up taking any photos), and some snacks.  As we reached the bottom of the waterfall, he suggested that we have a seat and munch on our snacks.  As I chowed down on my vegan hermit cookie, he slyly pulled out a ring box from his pocket.  And voila-we are engaged!  We don't have any immediate plans for a wedding, as we are both weary of the entire process and would almost like to sneak away and elope.  However, I have been brainstorming and thought that if we do have an actual wedding-we might as well make it fun!

Source: via Melissa on Pinterest
That's right-this is Harry Potter wedding inspiration! Time to geek out folks!!  You can check out my pinterest for more Harry Potter ideas that I have been collecting. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cosplay: It's Not Too Early for Halloween!

Lately I've come across some really cool costume ideas for either conventions or Halloween.  I love dressing up, and I typically get dressed up for Halloween-even if I am working.  Here are some of my favourites!   To be honest, I am torn between the Twi'lek and the Ood costumes from Etsy.  The Twi'lek tentacles look soo adorable, and seems to be a practical costume that allows you to talk and move about normally.   And props to the last photo-what a wonderful ensemble!

                                                                                           Source: via Melissa on Pinterest

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was blown away with with this book. I have to admit, I read Divergent last year over one weekend. I just couldn't stop reading it-and just had the same experience with Insurgent. Insurgent explores the other factions and gives you a different view on their qualities and skills. You also get to build upon her world further by exploring the settings of each faction. Even though both stories are not that long, I was amazed at how many characters Veronica Roth has written, and their connections with Tris. It is also refreshing that this YA novel does not involve a love triangle like many do. She shows the hubris of both Tobias and Tris, and reveals them as very complex people. Some of the ideas concerning their post apocalyptic world reminded me of Scott Westerfeld's The Pretties/Uglies series, although we won't find out until the third installment where the story will take us. However, I do like the fact that Roth keeps the outside world quite concealed throughout the first two books. As a reader, you are so concerned about the Erudite's plans to destroy and conquer, and you are wondering what will become of the relationship between Tris and Tobias, that your focus remains there. There are so many subplots and things going on in the novel that you will not be able to stop reading it. It will probably be my favourite book of the year. And although I don't really want to compare it to Hunger Games, I have to be honest and say that although I did enjoy Hunger Games, I find that in Veronica Roth's series my desire to read intensifies, whereas with Hunger Games it began to diminish after the first book.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 4, 2012

May the 4th Be With You: Beta Testing and Gaming

I consider myself a novice when it comes to gaming, especially MMORG's (which stands for massively multiplayer online gaming), although I have been playing SWTOR (Star Wars The Old Republic) since a few days before its release date in December.  SWTOR intrigued me, because I've always been a fan of the original Star Wars movies, and the concept of choosing the light or dark side, being a bounty hunter or smuggler (I play both), while teaming up with other players online sounded so cool.  I'm currently on level 21 of my smuggler, and plan to level up as high as I can before I go back to work in June.  Last week when I was reading the boards on SWTOR, I heard people discussing some new MMORG's that were coming out soon and how people were speculating that they were going to be the next best thing.  The names that were dropped were Secret World and Guild Wars 2.  I visited both of there web sites out of curiousity.  They both looked really interesting, even though they have totally different playing styles, plots, races etc...  I liked Secret World because your character exists in a modern, yet alternate world fighting monsters.  You choose one of three professions and fight with that group.  Whereas Guild Wars 2 seems a little more old school when it comes to mmorg, but it has some interesting races and professions, and you can play solo or with a group.  You also level your character, and can engage in pvp (player versus player).  Both games appeal to me because I am looking for more cooperative games, however, I decide to pre-order Guild Wars 2 for a few reasons.  First, there are no monthly fees like SWTOR or WOW (which I don't play).  Second, the settings and character choices look diverse. The game is supposed to come out in July, so check it out if you're interested in online gaming.

I wanted to mention that the Beta weekend was a bit of a fuck up.  Guild Wars 2 advertised that if you pre-purchased the game through them, or another retailer, that you would receive a 3 days head start and access to Beta testing.  Of course, I didn't understand the difference between pre-order and pre-purchase, and I first pre-ordered a copy through Best Buy.  After a few hours I realized my mistake, and then went ahead and ordered it from EbGames who was advertising the bonuses of pre-purchasing.  I did not receive my Beta Code right away, but tried to be patient.  After about 7 hours I called up one of the local stores who said for sure I should be getting one, but that it might take a day or so.  So, I waited.  Nothing.  I then called the online store (waited on hold for 30 minutes), where a customer service representative told me that they were having a lot of problems with the codes.   He forwarded my issue to another dept. and said they will get back to me within 24 hours.  So a little after 24 hours, I received an email from EbGames saying that the Beta was closed and they were not giving out any more codes.  I miss a little po'd, because the EbGames website still advertised that you would get the bonuses.  Luckily at this time, I discovered that Guild Wars 2 had more in stock and I cancelled both my orders.  Of course, I had to call EbGames because it wouldn't allow me to cancel online, and I talked with another confused customer service rep who told me that they still had Beta codes and didn't know why I would receive an email stating otherwise.  Of course, she never offered to give me one, even though the entire reason why I was cancelling my order was because they weren't supplying it.    Ugh.  Everything went smooth after I ordered in from Guild Wars 2.  I downloaded the game and got access right away.

The Beta itself was okay.  At first I was a little disappointed with the graphics and the story line.  I felt like there was very little guidance compared to SWTOR on what you should be doing.  I also did not like the ridiculous mini skirt and bra my necromancer had to wear.  What I did like, was the different methods of combat and attack, and the fact that there were so many people around questing and helping each other out.  I find on SWTOR, the population on the servers is so low, you feel isolated while playing, and when someone does request to group with you, that they just use you for the quest and then take off without even a thanks.  I also think that they world is going to look pretty neat once you start traveling around more.  I can't wait to try out the Sylvari character in Guild Wars.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Geek and Sundry, Felicia Day and Gaming

I thought I would share where I have been spending a lot of my time lately. There's a new Youtube channel called Geek and Sundry, and it has a few different streams on it that are all totally amazing!  My favourite of course is the web series called the Guild, written by Felicia Day.  It's inspired by Felicia Day's experience in gaming.  The gist of it is that Felicia Day, aka Cyd or Codex (her gaming name) is obsessed with online gaming and belongs to a guild.  Her psychiatrist has been working with her to try to get her to reach out and make relationships with people in 'real' life.  In the first episode, Codex ends up meeting her guild, and the series builds on their relationships that come out of gaming. The show is hilarious and I highly recommend it.

There are other streams on Geek and Sundry that I like, like Table Top, where Wil Wheaton gets different stars together (who are usually involved in some sort of geekery) and teaches them how to play a board game.  So far they have played Small World, and Settlers of Catan, both games that I have been dieing to play.  Felecia Day also hosts her own stream called The Flog (like the Vlog), and in it she recommends things in her Fav Five, and films hilarious things like learning to blacksmith so she can bring that skill to her character in Skyrim.  And then there's Sword and Laser, a stream that one fan labelled 'the Reading Rainbow for grown ups.' 

Anyway, Felicia Day has pretty much become my new hero!  I want her as my bff.  I've joined her book club on Goodreads called The Vaginal Fantasy, where you can be involved in their monthly picks and then shoot some questions during a live chat. The genre, like the club name suggests, is hot and heavy fantasy, sci-fi, or urban fantasy. 

What I love about all of this, is that it is a female's take on being a 'geek.'  It's bringing female gaming to the masses.  Felicia Day has inspired me to play more games (hello SWTOR), to indulge in fun fantasy reads, and to embrace (even more!) all things deemed geek that I am interested in.  Lastly, despite geeks being viewed as introverts, all of the Geek and Sundry channel and Vaginal Fantasy group is based on a community!  So, if this is new to you-definitely check it out!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kim Phuc: 'The Girl in the Picture'

I have been intrigued by the story of Kim Phuc ever since I was a young teen and first saw this image.  When I was in high school, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with the 1960's and early 70's.  I attempted to glean everything that involved fashion, music, politics, war, and rebellion.  I watched a ton of movies, documentaries, and read books that concerned this era.  When I came across this photo, I was flipping through a photography book about the Vietnam war looking for images for my OAC art class.  It's one of those images that will never leave you.

If you have never seen this image before, I will give you a quick synopsis of the situation.  In 1972 Kim Phuc and her family lived in the village of Trang Bang in Vietnam.  The South Vietnamese suspected that the village was occupied by the North, and sent a flurry of Napalm bombs in killing and seriously injuring innocent people.  As Kim Phuc ran through the Napalm and smoke, which burnt her clothes off and sent her skin to peel off her body, Nic Ut from the Associated Press encapsulated this horrific scene.

I had later watched a documentary on the painful rehabilitation of Kim's burnt skin, and it was a miracle she had lived through the bombing.  Another unbelievable thing I found out, was that she now lives less than an hour from me!  In 1992 she arrived in Newfoundland with her husband, where they asked for political asylum.  Since then they have moved to Ontario and started a family.

This Saturday April 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm Kim Phuc will be at Redeemer College in Ancaster going a talk about her personal story, while sharing historical footage, and discussing strength and forgiveness.  The talk is free, with the opportunity to donate money that will go to an organization that will help children at need.

I highly suggest that if you live in the area you go see her talk!

Redeemer College Talk

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Betrayed By Beatrice Sparks

When I was a young teen, I spent a lot of time at the library.  One summer when I was 13, I signed up for the Teen Book Club at my local library and I read 43 books in less than 2 months.  One of them was Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks.  This book blew me away.  It felt like I came across an antique gem, something that should be placed in a museum.  I wondered why more people didn't know about this book, and while part of me wanted me to share it, I also wanted to keep it to myself.   It seemed groundbreaking to me, because other than The Diary of Anne Frank, I did not know of any other published teenage diaries, and this one spoke to me. 

If you haven't heard of Beatrice Sparks or her first novel Go Ask Alice,  the concept is simple, Beatrice Sparks is a youth counselor who share the stories of her clients by publishing their anonymous diaries.  Go Ask Alice was published in 1971, and is about a teenage girl who becomes addicted to drugs, and reveals how she  is used in all of her sexual relations.  Like the first three of Beatrice Sparks books, the diarists end up dead through the fault of others.  I think what made the diaries seem so real to me, was also the fact that they appeared dated.  Go Ask Alice was published in the 70's, so when the writer mentions using cans to curl her hair, moving to San Francisco to work at a jewelry boutique, and getting messed up with LSD and drugs, it fits the era of the 60's! 


Source: via Raegan on Pinterest

After Go Ask Alice, I came across a used copy of Jay's Journal.  Again, it is a diary of a troubled teenage boy who gets involved in drugs, and cults.  Beatrice Sparks is still only listed as the editor of the book, not the author.  At the time I read these books, the internet barely existent and I didn't own a computer until 10 years later, so googling the authenticity of the books was a no-go.  I doubt they would have had any articles about her in the library archives at the time, and if they did, I don't even know if they would reveal the fact that these books were not written by anonymous teens-that in fact, Beatrice Sparks was the author. 

If you take a few moments to google Sparks now, you can find numerous articles about how she owns the copyright to the diaries, and because of conflicting views on the authenticity of her works, the publishers list them as Fiction, despite the fact that the covers depict her as the editor only and that they are written by anonymous dead teens.  There has even been inquiries into Sparks Phd, and whether she even has one.  The only fact that remains true, is that she was a Mormon youth counselor.  Of course, as soon as I see 'Mormon,' I immediately think of religion, and right wing conservatism.  Sigh. 

I had only read three of Sparks so-called edited works as a young teen, all of them touched me in different ways.  But the main point I want to get across now, is that I am totally perturbed that Sparks and the publishers are allowed to get away with such deceit!  As a reader, it does make a difference in whether or not the work is fictional or not!  And to deceive such a young audience just to get a point across is appalling.  I am sure I am not the only one who felt like they had a connection with the diarists, and felt remorse at the loss of their lives.  Their now FICTIONAL lives.  It's not to say I would not have enjoyed the books knowing they were fictional, I am sure I still would have read them, but I would have felt differently about the works. 

Shame on you!  Stop the false advertising and be truthful to your young readers. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Toronto Comic Con-Wizard World (and other nerdliness)

It just so happened that I won a pair of weekend passes for Toronto Comic Con!  Thank you Sexy Nerd Girl and Guy.  This happened on Saturday morning, so our weekend plans quickly changed.  I've only been to a Comic Con once before, and I walked away from it feeling a little cynical.  However, a part of me really wanted to enjoy it!  There was one moment at my first Comic Con, where we were waiting in line for tickets, and someone who was also waiting was yelling, "These are MY people!  These are My people!"  Of course, I totally understood. 

The problem with Comic Con for a newby, is that you don't really know what to expect.  When I first went, I was blown away by the vendors!  I couldn't understand why I had to pay money to get in, to pay more money to buy things, and then even more money to pay people for their autographs.  There was so many people there that I felt suffocated and anxious, and I didn't know what to do.  I had seen Linda Hamilton (my hero), but was shocked to discover I had to pay her money to get an autograph (and also pay money to buy a head shot).  I'm a little bummed I did not get it.  So, after this Comic Con, I have yet to return to another.  But after winning tickets-I couldn't pass up the opportunity. 

How To Have A Successful Day At Comic Con

  1. Arrive early.  This way you can see the schedule and see if there are any panels you would like to attend.  I ended up missing the Vampire Diaries and Doctor Who panels this weekend-but I know for next time that I will in fact get there early in case there's something amazing I would like to see.
  2. Have a basic agenda.  I knew before I went that I wanted to visit Sexy Nerd Girl to thank her for the tickets.  I also wanted to see the model of the Cabin, from 'Cabin in the Woods,' try to catch a of glimpse of Paul Wesley, and find the Doctor Who Fanclub.  
  3.  Be prepared to spend money!  If you want that autograph-you gotta pay.  
  4. Try to socialize with strangers, as uncomfortable that may be for us introverts.  I made it my goal to talk to Sexy Nerd Girl, because I love her youtube videos and wanted to meet her.  Also, I happened to meet a lovely vendor who could talk for hours about fandoms, and specifically Supernatural.  We also located the Doctor Who Society, and I chatted them up about their club.  
  5. Represent your fandom!  I wore my Doctor Who t-shirt, and people recognized what the image was!  Whereas I have worn it countless times before, and people give me a funny look and ask me why I have a gas mask on my shirt.  But, if you're willing to dress up-go for it!  It is the place to do it.  I'm hoping to have my Doctor Who Scarf ready for August for Comic Con Fan Expo.  
It's pretty cool to go to a place where you are bound to run into someone who has the same interests as you and shares your enthusiasm. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vintage Bicycles

For the past 3 years, every spring and summertime I develop a bicycle fever.  I start drooling over pictures of vintage bikes, and romanticizing over riding to the library on my 70's schwinn, with its basket filled with flowers and pannier topped with books.  Seriously, I can look at these bikes forever!   About 3 years ago, I made two purchases fairly close to one another.  I bought an olive green 1950's English 3-speed off of Kijiji (an online selling site), and then not too long after that, I bought a vintage 1970's Red Schwinn.  Both are not perfect and need tune ups.  They came with minor rust, bad brakes, and leaky tires.  But, in the summer of 2009 I put in an attempt to ride my English 3 Speed.

However, let me outline the problems I encountered with biking. 

  1. Vintage bikes are not easy rides.  Their steel frames are heavy, and my bikes in particular were hard to get up to speed, scary to brake, and changed gears awkwardly.  If you're bringing your bike inside your house because you don't have a garage, you better develop some muscles.
  2. You know that phrase, 'It's just like riding a bike!'  Well, because I hadn't been on a bike in like 15 years, I lost my cool.  Gone were the days where I would ride off the sidewalk, and ride down the street without feeling totally anxious about cars.  I used to scoff at wearing a helmet, and now I want to be covered in bubble wrap!
So I admit, the summer of 2009 was short lived and the bikes remained in the basement ever since.  

  (this is not my bike, but a similar replica)

Let's fast forward to now.  Since then, I have moved out of the city and in to a quieter town.  I live much closer to work, to the library and my favourite shops.  There's even a noticeable bike culture in my town!  There's a coffee shop dedicated to bikes, where there are wheels and bike paraphernalia on the walls and people meet up there after they have gone for a ride.  These guys are serious cyclists.  So, here I am again.  Unemployed (oh, the things unemployment will inspire you to do), and it's springtime, and the fever overcame me.  I bought a third bike!

The Trek Navigator WSD 3!

Again, I bought this off Kijiji for I saved a couple hundred dollars because they retail for 650.  I was a bit apprehensive when I bought it though, because I am really fussy about my things being perfect, and I found a few nicks on the frame and such, but I tried to work it out in my head.  I thought perhaps it was better to have a less than perfect looking bike and save some money, rather than buying a new bike because who knows, maybe this bike will end up like my other two.  Basement bound.  However-I'm thinking positive and named this summer, 'The Summer of Biking.'  I am going to hit the trails and work my legs!  Also, if it turns out I really like biking, I can always sell this one down the road and upgrade to something else.

Why the Trek Navigator suits me?

I fell in love with the Trek Navigator for a few reasons.  The aluminum frame is number one!  The bike is lighter, easier to lift, easy to pick up speed.  It is designed for women, and I love the low step frame.  The wheels are thicker, so it kind of reminds me of my mountain bike.  It has front suspension, and the seat is mega cushioney and also has suspension.  It has 8 speeds, which is just enough for me.  It also brakes and changes gears like a charm.  The bike I bought is also set up with a pannier, water bottle holder, front panneier/basket thingey, and a bell.  It is a light steely blue colour.  I highly recommend this bike if you want to look stylish and retro, and have a smooth easy ride.  There are actually lots of modern bikes out there now that look vintage, but have wonderful specs that make riding fun and easy.  Both Opus and Trek have hybrids and recreational bikes that are vintage designs, and some are women specific.  Check them out!  (and maybe start saving because they cost a pretty penny!)

I hope I've inspired you to get your bike out! I'm always so in awe when I see how bikes are utilized in places like Finland or Amsterdam, or when I see people braving the way in downtown Toronto through the city streets. Wow.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kicking and Screaming

I can't believe I haven't watched this '90's movie until now.  Kicking and Screaming, has some classic 90's actors and actresses, like Eric Stoltz (love him!), Parker Posey (who plays the perfect bitch), Olivia D'Abo (remember Kevin's sister in the Wonder Years?), and Josh Hamilton.

If you're not familiar with the writer/director Noah Baumbach, well, he is the writer of some of these fine movies; The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, and Fantastic Mr. Fox.  I just discovered that he was married to Jennifer Jason Leigh (another one of my favs).  

Source: via Averi on Pinterest

In a nutshell, this movie is about a group of friends who have just graduated from university and have no idea what to do next.  It is highly nostalgic for me, and it is so real that it may be uncomfortable for people to watch.  I empathize with all the characters, because I had the same fears when I had graduated, and I know these anxieties never leave students.  To be real with you, I have never actually left the university campus.  I have been there for over a decade now, because I was one of the '"lucky" ones to get a job right away after I graduated.  I put lucky in quotation marks, because I am actually envious of those who left and started a career.  I am even jealous of those who left, jobless, and struggled with finding work, who lived at home, maybe traveled, and took their time getting to where they are now.  In many ways I feel like Eric Stoltz's character, I am destined to never leave the campus.  Academia is my career.  It is sometimes hard to relate, or communicate with students who are getting close to entering the 'real world.'  They're excited, hopeful of getting a top notch job with their prestigious education.  I mean, what else can you have when you leave university?  I suppose there are people who are grounded in reality, who recognize that a degree is a dime a dozen, and that they will be working a crappy retail or office job making just over minimum wage.  But if you're not a tiny bit positive when you're handed over that piece of paper, that is worth 40,000 in student loans, what will happen to you?

Of course this isn't always the case.  I have friends who have their PHD's, who are teachers, nurses, tradesmen, lawyers even.  But on the opposite side of the spectrum, I also have friends who work in grocery stores, or don't work at all.  This movie balances on those moments in life where responsibility and one's duty to maturity have not quite taken hold yet.  I adore the scenes with Olivia D'Abo, sitting in her small English seminars, dissecting works of literature.  I had those exact feelings when I was in my final year of school, wouldn't it be grand if I could spend the rest of my life analyzing literature and researching themes with like minded individuals.  Sadly, we know that it's a dream, and only a very small population of academics actually play this out. 

Kicking and Screaming, is what the title implies.  It's ones fight against accepting the progression of life.  If you are one of the smart ones, you will have realized already that change is inevitable.