NaBloPoMo FAIL – And WIN!

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Just because, here is my dog. She says, What up?

Yesterday was the second day I was unable to post for NaBloPoMo.  I’ve picked up some late night shifts at work and don’t have time to sit down and whittle out a thought-provoking or even flippant post.  

HOWEVER…

I have gained SO many new readers and am having MY FIRST CONTEST!  How exciting!

I wrote an important post that was featured on BlogHer and helped spread the word about an invisible issue here in Canada.

I’ve got the blogging bug back and won’t be disappearing anytime soon.  

So really, this is a win, despite the not-every-day posting thing.  I’ve got some great posts planned for the future, please look forward to it!

My Greatest Race

I want to tell you the story of the greatest race I was ever a part of.

A race that solidified my devotion and respect for one of our land’s most amazing birds.

Sometime in my early teen years my parents took us on a trip to a park that was having a wild bird demonstration.  We got to see owls, hawks and even an eagle.  I’ve always enjoyed this rare glimpse at birds of prey and was all pumped when they brought out a bird I didn’t really like….at first.

The Turkey Vulture.

He was a big one, with beautiful gleaming black feathers.  When his wings expanded I imagined he could block out the sun while in flight.  His head was fleshy and pink and barren of feathers.  His large beak seemed curled into a smile as he considered the audience with ancient eyes.  I was struck immediately by how perfectly gorgeous he was.  

Not a normal reaction to Turkey Vultures, I know.  

But I loved him.  When the handler asked if we would like to see him in flight I responded most emphatically and was then chosen to race beside him.

They wanted to show just how fast he could fly – as they had with the other birds – but in comparison to a human running.  

I nervously waited beside the handler, the Vulture staring down at me.  I wasn’t afraid of him at all – although close up his size was a bit intimidating.

They counted to three and gave me a head start.  I was to run across the field as fast as my feet could carry me.  So I did.

Behind me I could hear cheers and shouting as wings thundered in the air.  Mr Vulture was in flight, gliding effortlessly and closing the gap between us.

Then he did something no one expected.

When he reached me he dropped down to the ground and ran alongside me, his wings outstretched for balance.  He’d make a squawk every now and again and look at me as we ran together.  I had dropped my pace a bit so we were side by side.

It was one of the most unique and wonderful experiences of my life.  I’ll never forget it, or forget the beautiful bird that refused to fly ahead or behind me – but preferred to be at my side.

To this day I’ve always looked in the skies for signs of Turkey Vultures.  Whenever I see roadkill I look around hoping to catch just a tiny glimpse.  I bought a necklace with a turkey vulture on it to wear.

They are unique and special birds – and face a myriad of dangers.  International Vulture Awareness Day hopes to show people ways they can help.

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Turkey vultures heating up in the early morning sun by Linda Tanner (Creative Commons Attribution licence)

So everyone else can keep their ravens and robins, their parrots and their doves.  For me, my heart will forever be captivated by the Turkey Vulture.

100 Likes Thank You Give Away!

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Thanks to NaBloPoMo I have many new readers of this humble blog.  Perhaps you came to hear about Bean and his toddler antics.  Maybe you clicked *follow* because you enjoy my geeky posts of nerdy awesome.  Or perhaps you are here to support me in my mental health challenges – or my goal to speak my mind about important issues.  Whatever the reason, I welcome you to my humble home on the web and THANK YOU for making this month worthwhile!

There are OVER 100 people following me (that’s a pretty big line) and to celebrate this achievement I’ve decided to host a give away here at Cupcakes and Hoodies.

I have one of these:

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and if you win this give away you will not only win this fun-to-read comic about ponies, you will get one with a unique cover drawn BY ME and coloured BY ME AND BEAN.  That’s right – a one of a kind opportunity for a collaboration by myself and my up-and-coming artist baby boy.

How awesome is that?  All you have to do is comment on this post – you can write whatever you’d like – and that’s it.  It’d be awesome if you left a note telling me something super about yourself, but even an “I’m IN C&H” will get you entered.  If you want to share this give away with your friends, please do!  And don’t forget to find me on Facebook for all the updates, fun postings and stories about Bean you don’t get on here.

The contest winner will be announced at the end of NaBloPoMo – so March 31.  I’ll post a picture of the finished book them mail it off to the winner!

Thanks again for all your support, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the future!

Red Boots Of Hope

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This has been a hard soul-sucking winter.  For people like myself who’s depression is worse when the nights are long it’s been especially grueling.  The face-freezing cold meant days when I couldn’t take Bean out of the house for fear he would return with a frosty upper lip.  Living in the city like I do means that the snow wasn’t particularly fun to play in anyways.  Icy and full of salt and sand.  Here kid, welcome to winter, no – really – snow is white.  I mean, it looks black there and there and there but that’s just pollution and car barf.  If we dig around a bit I bet we can find white.

Then mother nature had to tease us with a day of pure bliss.  Sunshine radiating down on us.  I saw people in shorts and t-shirts.  Car windows rolled down and thumping stereos turned up.  I took Bean outside and let him wade in the giant puddles of water forming around our apartment.

Then the next day we are hit with a gigantic blizzard that closed schools and stopped public transit in it’s tracks. Hubby stayed home and we spent the day cooped up inside while Bean destroyed the house (as an energetic toddler with nothing better to do will usually accomplish when stuck inside all day).  

So today while out at the mall I bought Bean some red rubber boots.  They are Lightning McQueen boots and every time he looks at them he says “Vroom Vroom” and pushes the toes in (because that’s what all the adults do to the shoes he’s in!).

This means Spring has to come and the snow HAS to thaw into giant puddles.

I have an adorable puddle jumper raring to go.  You don’t want to make him cry, do you Mother Nature?  

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Get Yourself Some Issues!

I see complaints bemoaning the lack of diversity in the mainstream comic medium quite frequently.  Blog posts and Facebook group updates pointing out the lack of racial, religious and gender diversity in comic books – written both by people who read mainstream comics, those who shun mainstream comics but read indie, and those who have only a passing knowledge of the medium at all.

While I agree that the mainstream comic industry has a long way to go with their representations of women and people of color there are comics on the shelf RIGHT NOW that break the barrier and start moving in the right direction.
It’s up to us to put our money where our mouth (or keyboard) is and show them we want more, by actually buying the issues that represent what we want to see.
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Let me be completely clear about comic issues vs graphic novels.  When a mainstream comic series is first released, it hits comic book store shelves in issue format – floppy comics that represent one chapter in a story arc.  Those story arcs, after several issues have been released, will be collected into a graphic novel format that, while still sold in comic shops, can also be easily sold in mainstream bookstores as well.
Think of it like TV shows.  There is an episode per week that is eventually collected in a boxset for sale.  The initial sales and ratings of the episodes help the companies decide whether to continue the show for another season.  It’s the same with comics.
With comic books, single issues are a companies bread and butter.  The single issue sales give an indication as to whether there is a market for a particular title and whether or not that title will continue in the future.  There have been many great series with amazing artwork and captivating stories that debuted to critical acclaim…that have stopped due to lack of sales.  It’s rare that the collected graphic novel can save a series – it’s the issues that matter.
So ladies and gents….get yourself some issues.
February saw the debut of a super heroine that is everything we’ve wanted.  Carol Danvers has stepped out of the Ms Marvel role and it’s about to be taken over by one of her greatest admirers.
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I love what Comic Book Resources has to say on Ms. Marvel #1:
G. Willow Wilson is writing a common teen’s tale. Kamala Khan is not understood by her family, her peers can be bullies, she finds trying to fit in awkward and frustrating. This is an experience we’ve seen or had ourselves, it just so happens to be told through the eyes of a Muslim Pakistani-American girl in New Jersey. Her ethnicity and religion aren’t used in broad brush strokes, like how ’80s-era Chris Claremont would throw in a “By the White Wolf!” or “Unglaubich!” and be done for the day. Comics don’t necessarily have the best track record for representing diversity in a way that doesn’t seem like a Captain Planet cartoon. Despite the media attention around this new series, Kamala is not defined by what makes her different. Who she is and what she wants to be is woven into the story, so while the details might be foreign to us, the weight of what’s happening is universal.”
She’s a kick ass teenage girl who lives in New Jersey, is growing up Pakistani and American and comes from a Muslim family background.  AND IT’S A FANTASTIC BOOK!  Judging by the reaction and the fact it sold out almost everywhere right away, I’d say Marvel is doing many, many things right.
Did you miss it?  Don’t worry, a second printing is just around the corner, and issue two is due on shelves soon.  Speaking as a fan, I can’t wait.  The first issue was great and has left me wanting to know more about Kamala and how she deals with these new powers of hers.  I haven’t looked forward to a single issue THIS MUCH in quite awhile.
But that’s not all – Marvel has several comics that I would not only recommend from a feminist standpoint, but also from a comic fan standpoint – solid titles that will capture your attention and have you anticipating the next issue.
Black Widow – If you enjoyed the character and wanted to know more about her, here is your chance.  Natasha flies solo as she searches for atonement for her blood-stained past.  Stunning artwork and full of mystery I hope the movie can live up to the high bar this comic has set for the story of Black Widow.
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She Hulk – I came for the artwork, I stayed for the brilliant story.  Jennifer Walters is She Hulk, but she’s also a struggling lawyer trying to find her place in that cut-throat world.  She’s strong, capable, and fun to read about.  This is a great introduction to the character, I especially enjoyed when she “hulk smashed” a boardroom table with her finger.
Captain Marvel – She’s become somewhat of a feminist icon this past while, just coming off a critically acclaimed run.  This new title will take her to new heights (outer space!) and present new challenges, from saving worlds to saving personal relationships.  Plus her costume is totally bad-ass.
Not feeling the Superhero love?  No problem!  Here are some other choices for you to hunt down:
Rat Queens – Who doesn’t love a fantasy world full of hilarious hi-jinks and bloody action?  Rat Queens delivers with all the beauty and violence one would expect in a D&D campaign, perpetuated by an all female crew.
Fiona Staples - of Saga fame

Fiona Staples – of Saga fame

Red Sonja – Speaking of fantasy, Conan’s female counterpart recently had an overhaul.  Gail Simone is penning this fabulous book (and please, do not judge the book by it’s…um…outfit).  Not to mention the book featured different covers by the best FEMALE artists in the industry.  Miss Xena?  Give this warrior woman a read, you won’t be disappointed.
A Voice In The Dark – This is a very off-kilter coming of age story.  Not for the feint of heart.  Taking cues from Dexter but coming at the type of story in a whole new way.  Definitely a must-read if it’s your cup of tea.
I’ve given you a good place to start, hopefully it will inspire you to seek out a local shop and see what they have to offer.  (Try Hater Free Wednesdays for reviews of comic shops and a list of “safe spaces” for women and LGBTQ customers)
Do you have a title you buy the single issues for that you feel deserves more readers?  Any up and coming comics you think my readers would be excited to know about?  Tell us about it below!

Short and Sweet

It’s 9 pm (previously 8pm stupid DST) and I’m exhausted.  So I’m going to finish this post, eat a couple peeps (only reason I acknowledge Easter is to chow down on peeps and cream eggs) and head to bed.

Prompt for today:  Do I see myself blogging in 10 years?  Perhaps.  But my blogging will have morphed into more of an art blog.

Also, my post http://www.blogher.com/invisible-women-canada-missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women?from=bhspinner got featured on BlogHer – the second post I’ve had do that!  🙂  Which makes me happy, because whatever gets more word out, the better.

And finally, I’ve reached a milestone : 100 readers!  THANK YOU SO MUCH!  I’m honoured you have chosen to travel this blogging journey with me, and that you enjoy what I have to say.  🙂  I have plans to do a fun treat for you all sometime soon in celebration.

Goodnight, sleep tight, and always keep a stuffed animal close for when nightmares strike.  

Bloggers Who Have Changed Me

“I will no longer let the fear of vicious comments or replies stop me from speaking what I believe to be right. I will also never give a message that everybody will agree with. I know that even my most faithful followers will never agree 100% with what I say. I also know that they know that and are fine with it.

I am done letting the bullies win. They won’t anymore. Not here.”
― Dan PearceSingle Dad Laughing

How has blogging changed my life?

Perhaps someday the writing of my blog will have a profound effect on me enough to warrant writing about it.  For now, though, the real change to my life has come from reading the writing of other bloggers.  I’ve been exposed to viewpoints and issues I never would have had I not begun following some very awesome bloggers.  I’ve joined this little community and had great discussions around motherhood, pregnancy, feminism and too many other things to list.

So to answer this question allow me to share the blogs of people who have made a significant impact on my life.

Make Me A Sammich – This no-nonsense feminist gal has educated me on everything from feminism to trigger warnings in her brilliant posts.  When she has something to say, I listen.

The Belle Jar – It’s no secret that I love this woman.  She is full of fire, whether it’s writing about rape culture, feminism, racism or her adorable family.

Indie Music Mom – Changing how I view music for my child one non-nursery rhyme at a time.

Amalah – The original mommy blogger I found on the net and the person who inspired me to start blogging my troubles and successes with my pregnancy.  The rest has grown from there.

Raising My Rainbow – One of the first blogs I began reading on WordPress – a woman raising her gender non-conforming son.  Sparked my current line of thinking on gender and the roles we force our children into.

The Waiting – She’s a fun and fearless blogger with a witty and humorous style of writing.  I came for the mommy blogs and stayed for the puns.

Black Dog Runner – A new blog on my roll, but one that deals with what it’s like to live with depression and anxiety.  I love the way he talks about depression and found so much in common when reading the posts.

So there you go.  The blogs that have or that continue to inspire me, all in different ways.  Sure, I read many other blogs and am discovering new voices everyday – but these ones, they stay with me.  I hope you find them to your liking as well.