Our New Game - Royal Revolt!

 I had the honor to work on this game with the most amazing team in the whole world over at Flaregames and Keen Games, here in Germany. I created the evil aunt and uncles characters in this game, I'm also responsible for all the tutorial sketches and in game sketches, also created all the sketches you see in the game intro and official trailer! You can download the game Royal Revolt! on AppStore, it's FREE! Feel free to check out the official Royal Revolt website

Royal Revolt Official Trailer - Game Intro

You can see some of my sketches here:


You can download the game here: Royal Revolt on AppStore 

All Coming Together

Well our bags are not packed but everything else needed for our upcoming Orlando trip is coming together. I'm actually running out of things to do and as everything ordered slowly trickles in I'm finding the anticipation is growing. 

I've possibly gone overboard in terms of organizing things but I'm also hoping to make this the best trip possible and anything I can do now that makes that more likely I'm doing.  Then again it's Disney World just being there will make it perfect.   

One of the things I’m anticipating the most is telling the kids.  When we began planning it was almost certain but both my husband and I are very much of the won’t believe it till we see it persuasion and wanted to be 100% sure nothing was going to foul up our plans before telling them. During that time the idea of surprising them became more and more appealing and so we decided to do it.
My oldest is a very big fan of Harry Potter and as we are also visiting Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter I decided a Hogwarts acceptance letter would be the best for her. For our youngest a letter from Cinderella asking her to visit her castle seemed perfect.
 I’ve spent quite a bit of time on each of their letters ensuring they are as just right. They are now done and sealed awaiting for the day before our trip.  We are telling them then as the dog being taken to the kennel is guaranteed to tip them off.
I’ve been surprised at what we’ve been able to do with them around and not set off their suspicions.  We’ve given them honestly valid reasons for all the things we are buying and doing so I suppose that is why. 
I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when asking our oldest to check the mail results in the surprise of their lives.

Bugging Out

Last week I took a look at an orchid I was given some time ago to see if I could save it from the black thumb of death it was being squashed under. Well I don't believe the plant has any hope of making a comeback I did however find something interesting. A bug and very specifically a bug I'd never seen before. 

After some research I discovered it is called an assassin bug from south/central america.  It obviously hitched a ride on the plant and was surviving on it.  So what to do with a non native and somewhat interesting looking bug.

My youngest has a fascination with insects and her favorite activity in the summer is to capture and examine whatever she can get her hands on and successfully into a container without killing it to examine it more closely.  So into a container to examine more closely it is.

So far I've learnt that it is a very aptly named insect, I wouldn't have wanted to be the little spider that found it's way into this bugs new home anyways.

The Icky School Years

Ahh elementary school, home to countless airborne illnesses and rampant contagions.  It never takes long once the school year has begun for something to pop up.  It seems as if there is always at least one kid with ooze leaking from them in one form or another and invariably your own child will at some point bring some of these home with them.
It’s just a part of parenting but why do some of those normal childhood contagions have to be so darn icky?
My least favorite thing to ever be brought home from school was by far lice.  Nothing makes my skin crawl more than opening a backpack to find a warning that lice has been found.  A few years back the girls school had a real problem with lice that I am really hoping never happens again.
I think that besides the creepy crawly feeling you get when the word lice is mentioned this is what bothers me the most about these pests;  that it is so easy for the problem to continue.  All it takes is one parent who doesn’t follow through on treatment to start the cycle of transmitting the little buggers around again.
Now lice are something of an extra annoyance because it is entirely preventable but most things passed around are not.  It does seem the vast majority of childhood illnesses are contagious before symptoms appear so there really is no preemptive defense against them.
I really do believe it is impossible to keep a hundred or more children in the same building for 8 hours a day from spreading every single cold and flu germ to each and every connected household. It is simply something that everyone with school age children, particularly the elementary aged ones have to deal with.  
I’m hoping that lice doesn’t crop up this year but without a doubt the first school related contagion has reached our home in the form of a rather reddened eye which of course can mean only one thing pink-eye.  
Like every other year I'll do the only thing I can; deal with the collateral damage that comes with each school year and stock up on the Kleenex and Advil.  

100 Word Musing

A long walk on a cool fall day clears cobwebs from my mind like nothing else.  Nature is truly my best retreat, a reminder of the peace which can be found in any moment if we simply pause to take it. The air smells of leaves and burning fields.  Everywhere you look a vast array of bright fall colour covers everything even the ground I walk upon. The sound of crunchy leaves underfoot and geese overhead follow each footstep.  The cool breeze feels like a caress against my skin. Fall days spent under a warm sun are days of comfort.    

Our Disney Trip: Character Meet & Greets Part II

Here's one more video clip of some character meet & greets from Disney.  Like I said before...meeting/hugging/talking to the characters is the girls' favorite part of visiting Disney! 

It certainly brings me enormous joy too - I love seeing the girls' faces light up!

A Maybe

I hate glasses.  Vehemently despise wearing them.  It’s seems as if they are always dirty, I’m not careful with them and so they are often bent and they never feel comfortable.  I don’t like the way they look and I’m also finding now that reading or doing anything up close is difficult.
It’s only been in the last couple of years that the reading issue has popped up.  I can no longer read wearing glasses and find myself tipping my head back and peeking under them or even worse pulling them down my nose and looking over the top.  Both of those methods feel like something only a grandmother should be doing.
For the most part I wear contacts day in and day out the only time I wear glasses is if I’m going to bed, just got up from bed, am feeling sick, or am feeling crappy. As contacts have always been comfortable for me I never really considered changing anything about how I correct my truly awful vision.
That was until about two years ago when I scratched my cornea with something caught under the lens. The result was that I had to wear glasses for a few weeks to allow it to heal.  I now find contacts do bother me from time to time and I need to give my eyes a regular break. I’m also always worrying that I’ll have the same problem and cause permanent damage.     
What I discovered through having to rely on glasses more often is that I still can’t stand wearing them. Seeing that I’ve been wearing glasses since the mid-80’s I also realize it’s likely I never will be comfortable in them.
I have, as most people with really bad eyesight have done, considered laser eye surgery.  Well the first time I considered it was years ago when it was still fairly new and its safety remained in question.  It also wasn’t cheap and the idea of a laser cutting into my eye just creped me the hell out.
My reliance and comfort with contacts also made it quite easy to dismiss.  The lack of comfort I’ve developed since scratching my cornea though has brought it back into my consideration.  Without checking to see it if the price had changed however I continued to dismiss it as too expensive.
Well two weeks ago when we had the unfortunate need of an ambulance I looked through our insurance book to see if we were fully covered for ambulance service (yes)and I found laser eye surgery on the list of partially covered services.  
So this morning I finally got around to checking what the price of Lasik is and found that the price has actually dropped dramatically.  Taking into account that our insurance plan covers a portion the price is now actually comparable to the cost of a two year supply of contacts.
Maybe, if I can get over the creepy factor, it’s time to lose the glasses permanently.

Our Disney Trip: Meet and Greets Part 1

After two trips to Disney, the hands-down winner of favorite things to do is meet the Disney characters.  Allie's, Anna's and Emily's faces light up with joy at the very sight of Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, Minnie, Goofy, etc.- name a Disney character and they have probably met him/her!

If there is one thing we have learned about the character meet and greets is to plan ahead and know their schedules!  Sarah (of course) has been the ultimate Disney planner for our trips and it has paid dividends in terms of maximizing our time. See her blog for much more detail on our trip(s).

The clip below are SOME highlights from encounters the girls had with various Disney princesses (and Tinkerbell).

I separated the other character meet & greets into another video which I will post next.  In the meantime...there is discussion of heading back to Disney before the end of the year...stay tuned.


Feeling a little lost today, not sure what to do not only in my post but in my day as well.  I’ve been hit with the end of summer blahs and I just can’t seem to shake them off.  It is a rather windy day with rain falling down and a bone deep chill in the air.
Fall is usually a time of anticipation for me there is always plenty to do in the last few months of the year but this year I just don’t seem to be looking forward to it all as much. 
Perhaps it is the changes that have taken place in the past few years and the lack of spare time in any given day.  Whatever it is it seems I want nothing more than to go into hibernation.  Maybe I’ll come back out again when the sun is shining once more.   

A Drabble - Days Of Chaos

I seem to have entered into a slip stream, in which my days are disappearing at an alarming rate and chaos reigns.  My desk is covered in crafts, schoolwork and plans interspersed with miscellaneous junk.  I step outside and that same chaos greets me; topsy-turvy weather, multi-coloured trees and even geese which fly south one day and north the next.  Nature itself is in a state of chaos. 
I can’t help but ask myself then, what does the chaos represent? Outside I know the chaos is a representation of a seasonal change, perhaps it is the same inside as well.

Our Disney Trip: Shows and Parades

Sarah  and I agree that the folks at Disney know how to put on a show.  BTW if you don't follow Sarah, but are interested in getting details about Disney, go to her blog.

Having been to Disney twice, and taken the girls to two different Disney On Ice shows, we have concluded that Disney shows are done right. They get everything right from timely starts to entertaining multiple age groups.

This trip we saw the Belle show (Hollywood Studios) and The Lion King show (Animal Kingdom) again - we had seen them during our first trip to Disney in 2010.  Very enjoyable shows.  We also saw the Nemo (Animal Kingdom) and Arielle (Holywood Studios) shows for the first time.  Equally impressive.

What I find impressive about the shows is that ALL the cast members perform the show as if it is their only performance. They give 110% and it shows!

So...if you go to Disney, don't miss the shows!!!!

There are, of course, parades throughout the day at Magic Kingdom and a parade at Animal Kingdom.  Both of which are great.  It just seems like the parades at Magic Kingdom run when I am trying to get from one part of the park to another and cannot because of the parade! 

I got some clips from the Belle, Lion King and Nemo shows and some of both parades.  My video clips do not do the shows justice, so don't judge the show by these clips (please):

Gamejam @ Flaregames!

So we had a task, first of to have fun and second of to create a cool game in 3 days over at flaregames studios in Germany! So this is the art I did for the game, so far it's going awesome! Looking forward to see the actual game and final result after the programmers finish working on it! Hope you like the art style!

Goodbye to Sleep-Debt

I like everyone else in the western world have heard the theory of sleep-debt.  That each time we miss an hour of sleep it gets added into some mystical sleep bank and that in order to clear that balance we must get that hour of sleep back.
Well what this has meant for me is that whenever I have a sleepless night for whatever reason I worry. Worrying about the first sleepless night means I can’t fall asleep the next and it becomes a cycle. I get less sleep each night forward until I reach a point of sheer exhaustion and crash.  It’s always how my insomnia has worked, one night triggers it and one night of proper sleep ends it.  
Now even though the night I crash usually marks the end of a cycle of insomnia the worry over how many hours I’ve added onto my sleep debt sticks with me.  I believe this worry has on occasion even prompted a new cycle of insomnia to begin.
So while dealing with a sleepless night a while back I began thinking about the idea of sleep debt.  I thought about how it I were to add up all the hours of sleep I’ve missed in my whole life from teenage all nighters to the days as new parents just how many hours it would be.  The closest I could estimate is somewhere in the realm of astronomically high.
So short of pulling a rip van winkle there is nothing I can do about all the past hours of sleep I’ve missed and further along that train of thought I began to question how if I carry this ever expanding sleep debt around do I ever feel rested.  While I’m often fairly tired it isn’t constant and if sleep debt truly is cumulative throughout your life I should be a walking zombie.
So I decided I was going to stop worrying about sleep-debt and start thinking about it as nothing more than an urban myth.  I decided to consciously remind myself that sleep-debt is only a theory and rather than worry about it let it just let it go.   
For the first time in my adult life I can mark the time since my last bout of insomnia in months not weeks.  I still don’t get enough sleep fairly regularly and I’m often tired but I’m no longer exhausted and one sleepless night no longer leads to a week of sleepless nights.  
Whether sleep-debt is a real thing or not I’ve decided to no longer hold stock in it.  Each night is its own, whether it’s spent watching the moon slowly move across the sky or in a deep sleep for a full 8 hours one has no bearing on the other.  Not carrying a sleep debt has made my nights free.  

Lost A Marble

Planning a vacation is something which I both love and hate doing and something I’ve started doing over the last week or so.  See I love the anticipation, the search for good deals the planning it out step by step.  While on the other hand I hate the anticipation, the search for good deals, the planning it out step by step….…….
At this point my mind is so full of numbers and ideas and plans that aren’t put together that I feel like I’ve a few screws loose.  You know mad as a hatter, an olive short of a pizza, four quarters short of a dollar, a few fries short of a happy meal, as mad as a monkey on a tricycle. I could go on……never mind you get the idea.
A much anticipated vacation feels like someone handed me a chocolate bar and told me I can’t eat it for a month.   Well that bar would last about 30 seconds before I’d eat it.  A vacation though isn’t really flexible, I can’t just “forget” when I’m supposed to have it and take it early. Patience, in the case of vacations or chocolate, is much more an illusion than a virtue.   
The search for good deals will often simply cause such hesitation and uncertainty that I will miss the best deal while suspecting an even better one just around the corner. What can I say I have commitment issues when it comes to finances, scratch that in all honesty I’m just cheap.  I like looking for great deals; I just don’t like committing to them.
As for the subject of planning, it is something I just do in my day to day life.  While there may be a bit more excitement with vacation planning at the end of it all it is still a chore.  Making the choices of what to do is fun but once the choices are made and it comes down to numbers and itineraries the luster tends to dull a bit.
Love it or hate it vacation planning can drive you a little batty but it’s one of those things in which the reward greatly outweighs the sacrifice.  As for now I’m heading back over to the travel sites, got to find that great deal I know is waiting to be found.

Our Disney Trip: Beach Club Resort

How nice was it for us to check-in at the Beach Club in Disney after that draining drive?  It was great!

We arrived on a Sunday afternoon @3:00 and I was impressed with the hotel the moment we pulled up to the entrance.  We stayed 7 nights and, outside of the hotel(s) Sarah & I stayed in on our honeymoon to Hawaii back in 2004, this was probably the best stay we have had at a hotel while vacationing.

I am sure Sarah will give a more detailed review of Disney's Beach Club Resort.  But here are the pros & cons I came up with.  Mostly pros, BTW.

  • Rooms were clean, comfortable, and fairly spacious.
  • a/c worked great in the rooms (we had 2 adjoining rooms for 3 adults and 3 children).
  • awesome, awesome view from our room.
  • proximity to Epcot and Hollywood Studios was great - it literally took 5 minutes to walk to the Epcot entrance.  The walk to Holly wood Studios was @20 minutes.
  • Pools!!  The pool, as advertised, was awesome.  We spent our time in the "kiddie" pool behind the huge water slide and it was perfect for our girls.  Old man daddy (me) went down the big slide a few times too!  It was a fairly intense ride!  The kiddie pool had a slide too - Emily loved it.
  • Beaches and Cream restaurant was fun and the ice cream was delish!
  • Staff was friendly, helpful and professional.
  • The bed was very comfortable - in no way did it feel like a hotel bed!
Cons (observances more than complaints)
  • It was a LONG walk from our room to the lobby, parking lot and the hotel store.
  • the bathroom and the sink/mirror area was kind of awkward.
  • Despite having reservations, we had to wait almost 20 minutes beyond our reservation time for breakfast with the characters.
I took a few video clips of the hotel, including the kiddie pool area, our room and the view from our room.  I think it gives a good feel for Disney's Beach Club Resort:

100 word count - The Best Laid Plans

We have a favorite weekend destination just south of the border that we used to go to several times a year.  Well our lives have gotten busier and we find ourselves heading that way less and less.  In the last year we only had one opportunity to plan a trip there and it was cancelled last minute thanks to a soccer injury.  Well same trip, same time of year and in great “it figures” fashion another soccer injury.  Sometimes your determination to make something happen is completely irrelevant to what will in the end occur.  The Best laid plans indeed…….

Animation Insider Interview

I got contacted by animationinsider.com, they asked if they could interview me and I gladly said yes. You can check the interview out here: Animation Insider Interview

Picture Day - Inside the Legislative

Motherhood in Reverse

I haven’t had the most active and busy weekend, although my annual dragon boat festival races did take place.  My team did pretty well in the races and our fundraising efforts paid off nicely and we were able to make a fairly good overall donation to children’s hospital/cancer care.
We ran three races the second of which was by far our best race.  It was 3 seconds faster than our first run which is a huge difference in this type of sport.  Both race days were fairly early in the morning and so all was said and done around noon for both Saturday and Sunday.  
It being the only thing to really do it did leave a lot of free time afterward and even though our families activity level was very low key it was still a rather tiring weekend.   I’m sure it was even less exciting for my husband and both girls as they only attended the final race on Sunday seeing as it has been so difficult to get our oldest daughter around.
On Friday I told how she injured herself at soccer and it’s why we’ve had to take it easy.  It’s completely understandable of course she can’t help but have a difficult time. Crutches aren’t the easiest thing to adjust to, even having used them several times before, and a broken hip is going to be painful and hard to tolerate no matter how good the drugs you’re taking are.
And yes it is a broken hip although not an odd type of fracture for her age and it should heal fully in about 6 weeks.
It has been an odd change for us as parents though as her ever growing independence as she’s gotten older has disappeared.  She has needed help with things in the past few days she hasn’t needed help with since she became an independent and stubborn toddler. 
She can’t put on her own socks, carry her own meals to the table, pick things up of the floor or even bathe without help.  It’s as if the stage of motherhood/childhood we were in has gone into reverse and we are now back to some point around her toddler years.  The only difference is she is much better at communicating her needs than she was at 2.   
Ok maybe it’s different in other ways too but it really does evoke memories of days gone by. I’ve just found it interesting how when she gets hurt it seems to take me back to the days when she was small.  She still needs us without the injury certainly and I don’t mother less regularly it’s just the needs aren’t quite as tangible as putting on socks.  Or at least not as easily expressed.  

A few video clips from our (VERY long) drive to Disney

I think my previous post set the tone for how our drive to/from Disney went, so I will not beat the point to death.  I will only say that it was a tough ride for both the adults and kids (Emily got car sick on the ride home).  And the girls actually fared better than the adults.  The drive sucked everything out of Sarah and me.

I pulled the FLIP video recorder out on the ride down and was able to capture some (but not all) of the flavor of the 1,300 mile drive down Interstate 95.

The traffic in the beginning of the video is near the Virginia/North Carolina border which was shut down due to flooding.  It took us about 3 hours to travel 17 miles.  Enough said.


Last year during soccer playoffs my daughter was injured on the field and I had lamented on how it is the worst moment for any sports parent.  Well that injury was a broken wrist and severe enough but I discovered last night that I was wrong.  There is a much worse sporting moment as a parent.
Last night about ten minutes into the second half she dropped to the ground.  I didn’t see what had happened but I was called onto the field moments later.  I got a few steps toward her before I heard how she was crying and then I RAN. It quickly became clear she would not be walking off the field and even more alarmingly that she wasn’t able to be carried off.
Since it seemed we couldn’t move her without causing her a great deal of pain or possibly injuring her further I called 911.  As soon as the 911 operator answered I discovered that I was not as calm as I was trying to appear to be and quickly handed off the phone to another parent so I could focus where every instinct was telling me to focus; on her.
The time between calling emergency services and the wait until they arrived were by far the worst moments I’ve ever experienced.  She was shivering uncontrollably, hyperventilating, in terrible pain and absolutely terrified.  All I could do was stroke her hair and try to get her to breathe calmly and tell her that I wasn’t going anywhere. She was looking to me for help and I was completely helpless to do so. 
When we were leaving with the ambulance I finally looked up from her and back at the field.  It wasn’t until then that I saw, even though the game had by then been called, that no one had left. Many of the girls on her team were crying and although I certainly felt bad for all the girls I also felt very grateful for their and their parents’ silent support in those awful moments.
I was grateful for those who had lent blankets and helped me to get our things together and get the car home so that I could go with her in the ambulance and have my husband still able to meet us at the hospital.  I honestly have no recollection of who I asked to do what. I only know that those I asked for help did so without hesitation.  
She did not as had been suspected dislocate her hip but did tear ligaments and is going to have a long recovery.  She is still in terrible pain today and will need a lot more care than usual as she hobbles her way around on crutches for an undetermined amount of time.  Only time will tell how long and difficult her recovery will be but hopefully she doesn’t suffer any long term effects.
Being helpless to help her was by far a worse experience to the broken wrist of last year.  I hope to never again face an experience like this one has been.

Drive to Disney: Never again.

Most of the folks that end up reading my posts follow Sarah's blog also.

So...if you are reading this post, you probably know we just returned from a seven day vacation at Disney World in Orlando.

We drove. 

We drove the ENTIRE 1,300 miles. 



This is the second time we have done this drive.  After the first time, my comment to Sarah was "never again".  And, because I'm not a good salesman at all, I was not able to convince Sarah to bite the bullet and pay to fly to Florida for this trip.

So we drove again.  And it took 31 hours to get there because of:
  • traffic at the GW bridge in New York
  • traffic at the Delaware Memorial Bridge
  • major traffic at the Virginia - North Carolina border.  They closed route 95 because of flooding.  That's right CLOSED.
The drive back was brutal too. We drove straight through because we so paranoid about getting stuck in traffic on Labor Day.

I'm not sure when things changed but the drivers along 95 in the New Jersey to Connecticut stretch drive as if they are on a racetrack.  Like passing on the right doing 85 m.p.h. crazy.  Trucks too.

Sarah's comment to me on the drive home was "never again".

First Day - 100 word count

Summer is out and school is back in
The first day has come and all were prepared
There were new teachers and friends to meet
And old ones from past years to greet
The first day is different than all of the rest
It’s exciting and special as each child will attest
Everything’s shiny and brand spanking new
Runners, notebooks, backpacks and pens
There are many questions to face and to answer
Some will be hard and some will be easy
But the first to be asked is always the same
How was your summer and what did you do?

School's Out!

With Labor Day behind us, everyone with children of school age are now focused on the upcoming school year.  I, on the other hand, am finally done with my graduate level program and for the first time in over three years! I do not have any classes to concern myself with!

It was a family effort and I would not have my MBA without the support of Sarah and the help of Sarah's mom, who watched the girls many days and nights while I attended class or studied.  Thank you!

When I was in grade school, Alice Cooper's hit "School's Out" was popular and each year on the last day of school you could find me playing the 45 inch single on my record player:

School's out for the summerSchool's out foreverSchool's been blown to pieces
No more pencilsNo more booksNo more teacher'sDirty looks
Well, we got no classAnd we got no principalsWe ain't got no intelligenceWe can't even think of a word that rhymes...

My grades for the two summer sessions.  Considering my grades for undergrad, I'll take these!

Intermediate Acct'G
Adv Corporate Financ
Oral Communc Mngrs
Strategic Management

And a couple of pictures from the graduation, which was held back in June:

Digging a Well

We each have our own unique strengths, weaknesses and personalities.  What determines those very elemental things about us is hard to pinpoint.  Genetics, parenting, environment, life-style choices we’ve made, accidents which happen in our lives and simple twists of fate amongst the many contributing factors.
I like to think that we are each capable of whatever anyone else does and that if so determined we really can do anything.  We may not of course be inclined to pursue the same goals as others but it doesn’t mean that we couldn’t do these things if we so wanted.
It is how I think of creativity.  I believe inside each and every one of us there is a well of creativity.  It is up to us whether we pursue it or not.  Some would rather bury that well and excel in other areas while others continually dig at that well making it ever wider and deeper.
Creativity can be hard, I’ve struggled recently with many aspects of my creativity but in my heart feel that I have simply hit a rocky patch. The digging may have become more difficult but if I choose to persevere sooner or later I’m bound to hit water.  
I simply need to find the chink in the rock that bars my way and perhaps switch the shovel for a pickaxe.