Aria’s Battle with Eczema and How We Helped Her!

It’s been almost 15 months with Aria and it’s definitely been a journey of surprises and unexpectedly  great things. Like every good thing in life, there are also some bad things that sit shotgun with them. Most of the time, parents only ever talk about the good because that’s really all we want you to know. Very rarely will we talk about the bad – for many legitimate reasons too – perhaps to hide the fact that your baby isn’t perfect or that you could be doing something wrong. I get it, because if something is “wrong” with your kid, then the parent must be doing something “wrong” too, right? Babies are perfect and they can’t be anything but perfect. Unfortunately, that’s not the case all the time…

In Aria’s case, she’s been battling eczema for the last 8 months of her life. Not an uncommon thing to be fighting, but definitely not perfect. Ever since Aria’s been born, she’s had a case of mild eczema – I say mild because it’s been mainly red cheeks, and some redness on her ankles, wrists and inside of her arms and legs. It’s not terrible, but it’s unsightly and it causes us more grief than it does for her. But as a parent – you want your baby to be perfect, and look good and feel good – even if they don’t know it. You can’t blame us, right? You would want the same for your kid.

Anyway, the reason for this post is more for information and a look into the eczema battle from our point of view. I know from the moment we knew Aria had eczema, Diana and I were always looking for others online for guidance, for information, for treatment that “worked” and you always end up with the same thing: steroids, paid bloggers writing about some OTC product that “magically” worked, and in some cases – the eczema just also “magically” went away. Our case for the last 7 months has been steroids and other creams that I’ll talk about, and the latter two “magical” options never graced us… So we had to look at other options. Those of you that do have eczema/kids with eczema can breathe a sigh of relief – I’m not being paid. I’m writing this because there isn’t enough true and real-life information out there and maybe this will help ease your minds. So if you’re in the same boat as us – read on. I hope that this will provide a solution or another option. For those of you who are used to my car stuff – sorry. I felt that this was important enough to share publicly.

I wanted to share some pictures of Aria with her eczema when it flared up starting from when she was smaller. At the time, it didn’t look “that bad”. When we look back now, my heart breaks that it actually did look “that bad”. Like I said before, it probably caused us more discomfort than it did her. She never really scratched and it never seemed to bother her – but it was unsightly. We used creams and lotioned her well but it would come and go – never completely, though.

Another of it on her face. When she was younger, the eczema was mainly on her face and less on her body.

As she got older though, the eczema started to move from her face to her ankles and wrists. You can see here, this was almost at the most stressful and frustrating time for us. The eczema would flare up on her wrists and she would just scratch. She would scratch until it bled and opened up her skin and we couldn’t do a thing about it. Diana and I were at the point where we were on her like hawks – always waiting for the moment for her to scratch only to stop her as quick as we could. You know how you never want to be a helicopter parent? Eczema forced us to be – for all the wrong reasons.

There were times where we were unable to do this. In the car – you would see her just go at her wrists and you can’t do anything while driving besides try and reach back and grab her hand away while also trying to drive safely only to have her back to scratching the moment you got your hands on the wheel again. At night when she’s sleeping, and she scratches while asleep and you don’t even know that it’s happening. It’s times like this where you’re helpless and you’re at a loss because there’s literally nothing you can do. This is the frustrating part because we would spend every waking second making sure she wasn’t scratching her wrists open only to have her open them up again when we couldn’t do anything.

Of course, as a baby – she didn’t know any better. Aria was good that way because she would scratch to relieve an itch and she didn’t know it was bleeding. Hell, I don’t even think she knew it hurt. She never cried over it, she never showed pain… It’s just extremely sad to see because if my wrists were like that, I would be crying. One of the toughest parts about dealing with eczema in a baby is that they don’t know what’s wrong and what not to do to it… You have to know for them.

Our next step was to try and protect her wrists. They would go from healed to opened again every few days and that’s what was frustrating. We couldn’t blame Aria because all she knew was that she was itchy. There really was no one to blame and in times like this, you really wish there was. Maybe the doctor for not prescribing the perfect medicine? No, because medicine can only do so much.

We decided to get some polysporin and gauze to cover them up and heal up the opened wounds. It worked for the most part but Aria got smart and was able to start scratching underneath the gauze and we were back to square one again.

Anyway, we got to the point where we were desperate. We were willing to do literally anything to stop her from scratching her wrists. I came up with the idea of cutting up one of her onesies, and sewing socks onto the ends of it so that we could put it on her when we couldn’t do anything about it. So we did just that – I cut up her onesie and Diana sewed on some socks. The above is the result and I’ll tell you – this was one of the silliest, yet smartest things we wished we had done sooner. It stopped her from scratching up her wrists but it didn’t “fix” the problem. We were just trying to find band-aid methods until we found a solution. At this point, we were at a loss and pretty much out of hope to find any solution at all. It got to the point (after months of putting this contraption on her) that she was used to the routine. It’s kind of cute that she knows “alright, I have to put this jacket on now before we go out or before I go to sleep” and she just sorta expected it.

You might be saying to yourself now – “maybe they didn’t do this” or “maybe they didn’t do that”. Here’s what I’ll do, I’ll tell you EVERYTHING that we did do… Just so we’re all on the same page and so that we can align on how desperate Diana and I got on trying to make this go away. Sure, maybe there is something we missed, but I felt like we did what we could and knew.

I’ll go through the routine and the products we used will follow after. The routine stayed pretty much the same over the course of the last 8 months but the products we used changed.

  • We bathed her everyday and put lotion on her immediately after to keep moisture in.
  • We tried not bathing her everyday (as per recommendations) thinking bathing often was irritating her skin. Turns out, not bathing everyday made it worse.
  • We wash her face and hands after every meal – if food stayed on, it made her eczema worse.
  • We lotioned her up religiously… And I mean RELIGIOUSLY. Every chance we got, we were putting cream on her skin so it wouldn’t itch and get dry.
  • We watched what she was eating carefully – fruits like Kiwi would make her itch even though she loved them. We would test new foods over the course of a few days just to make sure it wouldn’t cause an flare up.
  • We put a humidifier in her room to moisten the air and keep her skin from drying. (didn’t help).

Here’s a list of the products we used, what worked, and what didn’t work. I’m not saying it won’t work for you/your kid, but it didn’t do anything for Aria.

What worked:

  • Aveeno Eczema Night Balm – this was a thick cream we used at night that kept her skin moisturized nicely. We ended up using this throughout the day.
  • Aveeno Eczema Wash – probably still the best wash we’ve tried. It keeps her skin moisturized and doesn’t strip it dry – even with soft water.
  • Aveeno Lightly Scented Moisturizer – another good moisturizer. We ended up putting this on first with the night balm layered on top of it with good results.
  • Burt’s Bee’s Baby Bee Ointment – we tried this out in the later stages of her eczema and it worked well. The smell was not great but it seemed to keep her flare ups at bay very well, provided that we use it often during the day and at night.
  • Aquaphor Ointment – this worked well for a short amount of time to keep the moisture in at night. It’s greasy like Vaseline so it wasn’t ideal all day.
  • Vaseline Petroleum Jelly – another basic product that worked well but still not ideal.
  • **Steroid – I put asterisks here because this will inevitably come up. I’ll talk more about it later, but it was a product we used for about 7 months. It never healed it or made it go away, but it kept flare ups down. Not the best thing we wanted to use for that long (despite what doctors tell us).
  • **Jian Pai. This is the magic cream. I’ll talk more about this below.

What didn’t work:

  • Cetaphil baby wash – this was terrible. It looked like it burned her skin. It turned it all red and she flared up.
  • Cetaphil baby lotion – same as above.
    • I’d note that we only tried this because a “paid blog” said this was amazing. For Aria, it was nothing short of terrible.
  • Live Clean Baby wash – dried out her skin, flare ups happened immediately after bath.
  • Live Clean Baby lotion – not moisturizing enough. Scented products don’t typically work well with Aria’s eczema.
  • Dove Baby Rich Moisture – despite the name – not very moisturizing. Didn’t do anything for Aria.
  • Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Wash – surprisingly this was not a good product either compared to Aveeno’s Eczema cream wash. Did nothing.
  • Skin Fix – a cream I was undecided on where to put. I’m putting it on the “did not work” section because while we used it for a long time, it never cleared anything up nor stop flare ups. It might have only helped the itch for a short amount of time.
  • **Elidel – if you’ve had eczema, at one point or another – your doctor will prescribe you Elidel. It’s a cream not meant to be used on kids under 2 and there is a risk that this cream causes cancer. Well, we used it as per the doctors recommendation and it did absolutely nothing. We used it for a period of 2 weeks but to no avail. We stopped use of this cream immediately after.
  • **Stronger steroid cream – we got prescribed stronger steroids for short-term use as well which did maybe a little better than the low strength one, but we stopped using that too pretty quickly as it didn’t appear to help much more.

Now, there’s tons more products out there and if we didn’t come across Jian Pai (as mentioned above), you can bet your asses we would’ve kept trying. We’ve probably spent nearly $200 on different products, methods, and items to try and help Aria out and each time, you hope that this next product was the magical answer only to find out it made the eczema worse or didn’t do anything at all…

Now, I want to show you what I mean by us being “desperate” is and just how bad it got. I’m not joking when we say it’s been the most frustrating and stressful thing we’ve had to deal with for Aria – and even looking at this picture today makes my stomach turn. This was when she was in the car and just scratched away. We took her to the hospital immediately after and all we got was more head-scratching doctors and we ended up leaving with a stronger prescription. My problem with this is that after all these months, the only thing doctors have thrown at us has been steroids, stronger steroids, creams that can cause cancer, and nothing helps. In their defense, they can only prescribe what they know and if the first thing doesn’t work, something stronger must be better right? Is it safe? I don’t know but as I keep mentioning – you get desperate and do anything to help your kid out.

Let’s just get to what you’ve been waiting for – if you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering what this magic cream is and maybe it’ll help you. The cream is called Jian Pai – it’s an Asian cream that’s free of steroids. (I’m going to start to sound like a paid blogger now, but believe me – I’m not. I’ll even pay this company more money for what it’s done to help Aria). Here’s a picture for reference.

I like to say that this is where the stars aligned for us and Aria because we only stumbled across this cream by chance. 4 months ago, when Aria’s hand was as bad as that picture above, our doctor referred us to a skin specialist. That appointment was just last week – that means we had to wait 4 MONTHS to see a doctor all the while her wrist was open. I get it, specialists are busy and we’re not the only people with problems in the world – so we bit our tongues and sucked it up until our appointment… Which I’ll talk about again at the end of all this. A few weeks before this specialist appointment, Diana was mentioning to her boss that she needed the day off for Aria. Her boss asked her what it was for, and she casually mentioned that Aria has been battling eczema for a while and we’re hoping to get some answers. She told Diana about Jian Pai and how it was amazing for her own skin and her battle with eczema. She listed off all the same medications doctors prescribed her that Aria had been prescribed. At this point – we’re willing to try anything – so we tried this. I went out to the nearest T&T market with the herbal store we always walk by and picked this small bottle up for $40.

Brace yourselves. We tried it that night – you put it on twice a day – once in the morning and once at night. In three days… THREE. DAYS. her eczema had cleared up. Literally all the redness and bumps and scratching that had been tormenting Aria just… Magically. Went. Away. It’s been a few weeks now since we’ve been using this cream and her skin is back to it’s beautiful, smooth, eczema-free baby skin we once knew. This is how a baby’s skin should look, we thought. How, after all this time, have we not known about this? Why don’t more people know about this? Why don’t doctor’s know about this? We haven’t put Jian Pai on her for a couple days and she hasn’t had a flare up since… If we start to see it coming back, one application and it’s gone again. It hasn’t been long enough to gauge how well this works but it has been long enough to tell you that no other product or medication or steroid has “fixed” Aria’s eczema like this has.

I’m no believer in magic, and I sure as hell don’t believe in Asian beliefs about drinking tea to make pimples go away or eating root to make you live longer but I think I can stand behind this cream and I’m confident that if you or your kid had anything like Aria did, this would be better than any product you’re using now. The best thing about this cream is that it’s all natural – no steroids, no nothing. I’m not worried every time I put it on Aria that it’s doing something else other than just working the way it should.

Anyway, I wanted to end this post with the skin appointment we waited 4 months for. Months leading up to the appointment, we were anxious because we held all our hope that this specialist was going to solve our problems and was going to tell us finally what was wrong with her skin. After Jian Pai, (2 weeks before her appointment) we weren’t sure what to tell the specialist because she was all good. No sign of eczema, no sign of flare-ups, nothing. But we went anyway…

I’m not going to name the doctor, but if you put the pieces together, you can figure it out yourself if you care enough. We were referred to the Market Mall Dermatology – apparently one of the only specialists in Calgary that look at eczema issues in children. Prior to the appointment, we were told to bring everything that we are currently using, so we did just that. Finally, the day had come – we didn’t go in with much expectations since Aria had already been healed, but we were hoping for maybe some sympathy, some knowledge, or maybe some insight to what it could have been.

We walked into the waiting room… Anxiously waiting to show what was left of Aria’s eczema, the products, the pictures of what it had looked like. The doctor came in, stated that he heard Aria had eczema from our family doctor and began prescribing the steroid and Elidel we had already been prescribed. He was talking so fast that Diana had to interupt to tell him we’re already using that. He said “Oh”, and listed off another one and mentioned that it should only be used by children over 2 but that it’s perfectly safe. He looked at Aria and said “don’t worry, we’ll get you all cleared up”, turned to his assistant and told her to write up the prescription and left.

Wait a second. He didn’t look at Aria, he didn’t care to see what her eczema looked like, he didn’t look at the products we used, he didn’t even care to think if what he was prescribing us was what we were already using. The thing that really puts me off about it all is that he didn’t even care to see that Aria was actually all healed up. The point of the appointment (for us, anyway) was truly unnecessary – we didn’t need to be there, but we were because we had waited so long and clung onto some hope that he might tell us we were fighting something wrong all along. Instead, he prescribed creams and medicines to a perfectly fine and healthy little girl – not knowing anything else about her. This was the worst doctor I’ve ever met. I don’t know him, but that 1 minute appointment was enough to know that I would never recommend or go to him again for anything.

It’s been a week since that appointment and Aria is still better than ever. We still follow our routine because we’re not sure if changing it will make her skin flare up again, but she hasn’t scratched once in about a month. No redness, no open wounds… She’s just back to normal. I guess I’m writing all of this because I feel like we went through hell and we exhausted almost everything until we came across Jian Pai and if we hadn’t, we would’ve kept going until we found a way to help her. I’m writing because of how mad I am that a specialist – who we waited 4 months to see – didn’t care to actually treat his patient, but instead threw more drugs at the problem that wasn’t even there. I’m writing to hopefully help anyone else who is going through the same hell we did. I truly hope this helps… Feel free to email me or leave me comments if you have any questions!

Project: Lexus RX330 Paint Restoration

One of the first things I do when I get a new car is detail it. For new cars, I can’t stand the factory swirls that either come from shipping, or from the dealership washing it up before delivery. To be honest, it was probably better for it to be dirty than for the dealership to wash it and make it worse. In this case, the RX is an 11 year old car – one that looks like it’s never seen a good detail in its lifetime. It’s a sad and exciting thing… Sad because it deserves more than that, and exciting because I love restoring paint on cars almost as much as I love modding them. It’s a good challenge and a ton of work, but when it’s all done – man, does it feel good.

I’ll walk through the steps of restoring the RX in this post – it’s not as in-depth but it does show the progression well. I tried to take pics when I remembered, but for the most part you’ll be able to see what I did and what I used. This is really just to show that you can bring any car back to life and make it look brand new if you put some elbow grease in paired up with proper products. The below will show you the RX330 coming back to life – AKA (as JC says) Hoanger Spec.

This was the night I got it home. I forgot to take pics of what the headlights looked like before I started wet sanding… But this pic was when I went over it with 1000 grit sandpaper mixed with soapy water. Literally just dish soap and warm water. The important thing is to keep the surface wet (that’s what she said). I like to sand in back and forth motions as opposed to circles, but I don’t think it really matters. I just find it’s easier to remove the swirls and see where you need to keep polishing.

After wiping it dry. You can see most of your sanding marks and where you may need to sand a little more. The headlights have been through a lot over the last 11 years and you could feel the grittiness when sanding. Although the headlights look 100x worse now, they feel 100x better. Smooth as a baby’s bumb.

This was after the second pass with a finer sand paper – 2500 grit. By going up each time, you’re effectively reducing the amount of polishing you have to do. You’re just minimizing the previous sandpapers marks by going over with a smoother grit. When you start, you’ll see some of the marring left by the 1000 grit sandpaper and as you keep smoothing it out, you see less and less of it. Eventually you’re left with a foggy but super smooth finish with very minimal (if any) sanding marks.

My go-to polish combo has been Menzerna PF2500 with an orange cutting pad for a while now. I’m using a Porter Cable 7424 (super old but super reliable) so it’s not strong enough to really burn the clear coat even if I tried. The combo has worked wonders for anything from minimal swirls to something as marred up like the RX. You’ll see what type of condition the paint is in later in the post…

The headlight looks bad now from all the wet sanding, but it’ll soon be better. Dab the polish around the headlight and start slow to spread it all over, then speed it up and finish until the polish has broken down and removed the hazing.

Here we go.

Voila! Good as new. All of the yellowing over the years has gone away… the hazing and foggy build up near the bottom is gone as well. It’s crystal clear now! Repeat for the other side. Also – once you polish, you’ll be able to carefully examine where you may have missed a spot when wet sanding. You can repeat the above process until you’re happy with the result.

I would caution though that I probably wouldn’t recommend doing this on newer headlights. Most headlamps come with a protective UV coating but they wear off as you can see here. If you wet sand a new headlight, there is a good chance you’re just sanding it away. Unless you 3M it afterwards, you’re probably worse off by wet sanding. There are other products out there to fix things like this but I’ve never personally tried them. Most of the cars I have restored headlights on have been older models so I’ll use the wet sand method.

Saturday morning – I was back at it again. I don’t typically clay bar – but this one was a must. The paint was gritty and it just felt nasty to touch.

Here’s a good pic of the condition of the paint. Lots of swirls and unattractive…

Here’s what one pass looked like on the front quarter. JUST the front quarter alone held that much debris and dirt – it is surprisingly satisfying when you clay bar and get this much gunk off.

More shots of the marring and swirls.

Last one. You can imagine how stoked I was to bring this paint back to life…

Here’s what the clay looked like after the first half of the car. Keep in mind to knead the clay every panel so that you get a fresh start on the next panel. The last thing you want to do is continue rubbing the grit and dirt from one panel onto the next one. You don’t want to make it more difficult for yourself when polishing.

One thing that I got a lot of questions and comments about on my Instagram story was about the clay bar method. Clay barring your car is used to remove contaminants and debris that is “lodged” in the clear coat that regular washing wouldn’t have removed. There are people that clay bar their new car and still find debris and contaminants in the paint. I’m not one of those people – but I do think that after 11 years, a car that has not received a good detail does require claying. Technically, I could have gone straight to polishing and it would’ve had a similar effect. However, you would just get a lot of the debris in your polishing pad and make it less effective as you go. Clay barring also does not remove swirls – polishing and sealing/waxing is vital to follow up with to protect the clear coat after clay barring since it removes everything – even existing wax. Please don’t think clay barring will fix your paint – it will make it look ‘cleaner’ for sure, but your swirls are there for good until you polish.

The final product after claying. The car does shine a bit more with a lot of the dirt out of the clear coat, but there is a bigger challenge ahead – swirls.

Here’s a shot of the polish after being worked into the clear. The biggest thing to remember is that polish needs heat and time to break down. You can’t run your polisher on the lowest setting and expect swirls to be gone. You need to spread the polish at a low speed, then gradually work your way up and begin generating heat on the pad to the surface of the clearcoat so that the polish starts to break down. I typically work on a panel for 5-10 minutes depending on how many swirls or how bad the condition is. It also helps to have a light over the panel you’re working on so you can see how much you’ve fixed.

Once you’re satisfied, wipe the polish off with a MF cloth and inspect the surface. This is how you’ll know whether you need to make another pass or if you’ve removed enough swirls to your liking.

Here’s a shot of the front fender after polishing with one pass. 99% of the swirls are gone and the surface is reflecting as expected.

Aria came to join and help out for a little bit…

A shot of the rear bumper – the rear bumper was probably the worst part of the car. Lots of scuffs from many things I imagine – luggage, swiping with jeans/jackets, bumps and bruises from parking lots… I was able to remove about 95% of the scuffs that did not go past the clear coat.

Also polished the tail light. Yes – you can polish your tail light to reveal a nice, clear finish.

A shot of the rear quarter and tail light.

One more of the tail light. Note – I did not wet sand the tail lights. Typically, tail lights receive much less abuse than headlights. The only time I’ve wet sanded tail lights was when the previous owner has taken the car wash brush to it one too many times. You’ll be able to tell based on the scratches and scuffs and haziness of it, but this wasn’t bad at all. A quick pass on this really just helped clear it up again.

Once you’ve done the hard – and most important – part of it all, the next step is to help reveal and protect the shine you’ve just brought out. I decided to try out a new type of sealant – a product from Japan – Soft99’s Fusso Coat. It’s the Japanese brother of Chemical Guys, if you will. It’s a fairly hard paste sealant made of a fluorine polymer. It’s marketed as a ’12 month wax’ but I suspect with our winters, I’ll probably last 4 months if I’m lucky.

This particular tin is made for dark cars. Small print if you would like to read the details…

Here’s what it looks like. I was totally expecting it to smell like squash but it just smells like strong chemicals. Bummer lol. I’m not going to bore you with wax application pics – it’s pretty bland. The best pics are after the wax is wiped off…

While I was inspecting the car, I also noticed the grill had taken quite the beating over the years. it looked like a cookies and cream grill now. I wanted to restore it back to black so I masked it off and painted that while I was waiting for the wax to cure.

Finally done! All in all, it took me about 5-6 hours to complete it all. I consider myself lucky because the car was already pretty clean to begin with – it was kept in good condition and all I needed to do was fix it up here and there. A little hard to tell in these pics since the sun was half and half…

A shot of the rear quarter – it truly looks like a brand new car.

One more…

A shot of the rear. The rear hatch was also quite beat up I imagine from opening and closing and other things. The 3″ pad that I picked up worked wonders on the tight spaces here.

A shot of the refreshed grill. Nothing fancy, but definitely better than before.

A shot of the now-cleared headlights.

Another shot of the headlights. No more swirls, or haziness!

Reflection shot. Much better than the swirly shot I took above…

Tail lights refreshed as well.

Head on…

And one last one before the garage closed for the day. It’s a total bummer too because I wanted to drive it while it was so damn shiny… But it’s snowing and shitty today and no one will ever be able to appreciate it like I did on Sunday… Oh well.

If anyone has questions, feel free to email me! I’m always willing to help and answer questions!

Welcome to the Family: Lexus RX330

Not much been going on lately but did want to update you on something car related… Over the past few weeks I’ve been searching for a winter beater to get me around this year. I was originally going to take the Civic back from my sister to use again but realized that lugging a car seat/stroller/child around in a 2-door is not practical, nor is it easy. I’ve been doing that during the weekdays with the FRS – which is about 8.4x more difficult than the Civic and I already hate it. I can’t imagine doing it all winter while it’s cold.

During my searches, I had specific criteria – nothing too narrow but nothing so wide that any old thing would do. The top contenders were the RX, 4Runner, MDX, RDX, and an X3. I came across a few RX’s, very rarely a nice 4Runner without a million KM’s on it would show, MDX’s and RDX’s were a rare sight – especially if you wanted a nice body and clean interior, and finally X3’s were surprisingly cheapest of the bunch but 150,000+km’s on a BMW scares me a little bit. I often complained over Instagram about how no one has a good car, and if they had a good car, they never replied to ads. It is a painful, painful process as I’m sure some of you might know.

Late last week, Howard Lum – a fellow social media friend messaged me saying he might have something and that he’d look around. At this moment – this is when stars align and everything happens perfectly – that’s when I knew my search could come to an end. He mentioned that the Service Manager at Royal Oak Lexus was selling his RX. 180,000km, 2006, practically mint, serviced perfectly, and black on black. What more could you ask for other than to come see it and just take it off the guys’ hands?!

Anyway, some back and forth and we finalized the deal earlier this week. I’ll tell you – in my searches, I saw a lot of shit and it’s literal shit. There are RX’s out there that are – according to the ads – “perfect condition” but always come with a clause. “Only one key”. “Windshield crack”. “Needs new brakes and rotors”… Otherwise, “Perfect condition!!”. That annoys me to no end. As most of you car goers are, I tend to be very particular about the condition of the car. You can’t ask much from an 11 year old car, but you CAN ask that the owner cared for it at least half as much as you would and treated it well. This RX was exactly that and more.

The RX itself is a gem. Mechanically – it’s a buyer’s dream car – maintained at the dealership as intended. Everything done to it that’s ever needed to be done. New brakes, rotors, struts, fluids, etc – all with proper documentation backing it up. The worst thing you can do is buy a car that’s never been maintained or maintained poorly by some hack shop.

The exterior though could use some TLC. That’s something that never really bothered me as long as it’s just wear and tear from use. Swirls, hazing, fogged up headlights, etc. I am actually really looking forward to bringing the paint and headlights back into pristine condition. Over the next few weeks, I plan on tackling parts of it here and there and I’ll take pics as I go of the condition it’s in now and to where I am able to get it.

A lot of the car just needs a thorough wash, claybar, polish and wax. The headlights in particular are kind of hazed up from the sun and 11 years of probably little to no polish or sealant. The top part of the headlight is yellow-ing a bit as you can see above.

The bottom part of the headlight is less yellow but pretty fogged up. You can even feel that thick layer of build up as you run your finger over it. I’m stoked on getting this thing wetsanded and polished back up to new.

The body as you can see is pretty much perfect. No dings or dents besides a few here and there on the side mouldings. There’s a bit of orange peel but I haven’t decided if I want go through wetsanding it as well…

The interior looks like it just stepped out of the showroom from 2006. Unlike some of the other cars I looked at, you can tell whenever this thing was driven, it was literally just to sit in it, drive, and get out.

The only real sign of wear is in the drivers seat which you can see here. No big deal either – it’s not something I look at (or can look at) while driving. OEM rubber mats, no nicks in the wood grain. It’s beautiful.

Same thing with the rear – the tail lights could use some polish but other than that – nothing.


You can see in this pic, the rear quarter needs a polish pretty badly. That’s pretty much what the whole car looks like – not terrible, but not like the FRS lol. Mind you, the FRS hasn’t been washed since Sunday School and it’s still shinier than the clean RX LOL!

It’s actually super exciting for me to have both the FRS and the RX beside each other in the garage right now. I’ve been wanting an RX for a really long time – but just never cared to look into one. This has also been my Dad’s dream car so maybe when I’m done with it, he can live his dream too…

Happy First Birthday to Round Face Kid

To Round Face Kid,

A year has come and gone and it seems like just yesterday that we were waiting anxiously for you to arrive in the hospital. Up until that day, we thought our lives were perfect and every puzzle had been put together. The truth of the matter is that you were actually the last piece of the puzzle we didn’t know that we were missing.

The beginning was hard. It was scary and challenging and exciting. Before you, we would never – in a million years – imagine how difficult being a parent would be. It’s something everyone tells you about but it’s also something you would never understand until you have lived it. Most new parents are truly naive – not through anyone’s fault – but through the lack of experience. Over time, your Mom and I learned how to hold you, rock you, burp you a certain way, and every little thing that no one else can do quite the same. Over time, you developed a personality – sassy and stubborn – tracing back to your Mom and I, respectively…

Sassy. My favourite definition of this is that you possess an ungodly amount of cool (or at least you think you do). You are so like your Mom that it makes my head spin. If I’m not receiving sass from you, it’s from Mom. If it’s not from Mom, it’s from you. And if I’m not receiving sass, the both of you are sleeping. Thank you for being a mini-Mom – it reminds me of the love I’ve had for her since I was 14; childish and playful. You make us feel like kids again, and I think that’s what we love most about you. You’ve revived our imaginations – a skill that often gets lost as you grow up. Please don’t ever stop imagining.

You’re stubborn. My God, you are stubborn. Now I know why Mom has a hard time dealing with me. You knew how to put your foot down before you could even sit. I like that. I like that you know what you want and will say no when you just don’t feel like it. That will help with dealing with boys when you’re older (please don’t get older). I like to think that your stubbornness helps you discover the pieces of who you are; it creates a solid foundation of personality in you that becomes hard to break. That’s what we want you to be – unbreakable – because you’ll find that the world and some people you meet will try to break you. Keep that foot down and you won’t crumble, kid.

Thank you for letting us be your parents. Thank you for running us through our paces and allowing us to make mistakes with you and at the same time, have the best success of our lives with you. Thank you for teaching us things that we never knew we cared to learn. Watching you take everything in and understanding little things we have learned to overlook is the best experience we could ask for. One of my favourite things to do is watch your gaze when you see something new and trying to imagine what you’re thinking and to make sure how silent I need to be because that moment might be one of the most exciting and amazing things in your life. Being present in the moment with you is far more important than trying to handle too many things at once because we would hate to miss all of your first experiences. Thank you for choosing our hands to reach out to and trusting in us to give you more. That feeling never dies.

Today, you’re one. ONE. 365 days old and this was the fastest year of our lives. I hope the next goes by slower – at least a little bit so that I can take some time to reflect some more at all you’ve done. If someone asked me – what I am sad about the most, it would be that there were nights where we wished you were able to put yourself to sleep without us carrying you all night. Now, there is no more carrying and rocking because you don’t need us as much anymore. I’m sad that I have to come to terms with not doing that ever again. That we might have carried and put you down to sleep for the last time and that there are going to be more moments like this. I’m happy you’re a big girl now but you’re always going to be our baby girl. Even if it’s just carrying you like a baby for fun, it will always be special for me.

With that, we wish you a happy first birthday. We wish that you stay curious and question everything you don’t understand. We wish that you remain eager and continue to smile at everything you enjoy and that happiness is what makes up most of all your days. We – selfishly – wish that you stay forever small and cuddle in our arms when you’re tired and that your chubby little fingers continue to grab on when you don’t want to go. You’re going to grow up to change the world one day – and even if it isn’t everyone’s world, you’ve at least changed ours. Happy Birthday, Aria!

Love,

Mom & Dad

illmotion Sunday School Show & Shine 2017 – Part 2/2

Part 2!

Just to reflect on my comments on the first post – I was talking with JC on Sunday about the lull in the community – and it for sure isn’t a bad thing. When I say lull, I mean that a majority of the cars in attendance have primarily stayed the same from the previous year, more or less… Including mine. I think we’ve hit the pinnacle of widebodies, GT wings, and stance. We’ve successfully phased out most of the Rotas and Varrsucks or however you spell it. People – for the most part – understand quality and how much better well-made parts outshine every other sub-standard part. Car trends come and go and we’re at the point right now where people have done almost everything to meet that trend and we’re just coasting now. Coasting is not a bad thing, in fact it’s a good thing. I’ll tell you why – because if you’re coasting with the trends, that means we’re not degrading the quality of builds. We’re just sitting there waiting until something else happens and everyone will jump on the next bandwagon.

We seem to have a roller coaster ride of trends – sometimes good, sometimes bad. Whatever it is kind of determines the next level of builds that come about. The OG’s kinda stick around and dip their feet in the waters to see what it’s all about, the new guys may embrace it and make it great or abuse it and make it bad. One example I keep coming back to is the GT wing hype. I remember way back, Jackie Law – the original GT wing hype man was the one that persuaded me to get a J’s wing for my Civic at the time. I can’t count how many times people made comments on pictures of both our cars to “get rid of the wing”, or “park benches belong in parks not on cars”. Today, though? Don’t get me started on today… But I’ll start anyway – let’s find the biggest carbon wing – doesn’t matter who it’s made by as long as it’s carbon fiber – let’s make the tallest aluminum stands, cut shapes out on the stands for weight savings and JDM scene points and then mount it somewhere on the chassis because that’s the only way it’ll hold my cargo box weight. I mean, I kind of exaggerate but I’m kind of not at the same time. The point is that it’s gone from “GT wing” to “BIGGEST, TALLEST, CARBON, CHASSIS-MOUNTED GT WING I CAN FIND AND USE”. There’s a mild difference. I’m not hating either, I’m just stating the extremes of one trend that tends not to stand the test of time.

Either way – simple or not, our car scene has grown an incredible amount and in a very positive way. The more it grows, the more it inspires others to build better quality cars. Some people do not-so-great shit so that other people know not to. Other people build good shit so that other people build upon it. Good vibes, everyone!

Last note – illmotion killed it again this year with another great show and smooth roll-in and roll-out. Thank you for always putting on a great event with a great cause. I always love roaming around the show taking pics, stopping to chat with people and finally putting faces to usernames from Instagram, like “dude, I like your pics” and you return with a “dude, I like your pics too”. It’s like a mini social media gathering for awkward car guys like us. Either way – whether you’re in the show or not, whether you win or not, it’s always great to get together and just shoot the shit. That’s pretty much what all of this comes down to – building something that you can share with other people and inspiring each other. I always tell Diana – I could be spending my money on other things like drugs and hanging out somewhere sketch with shady ass dudes. Instead, I’m either on my computer looking at car parts, or in the garage putting the car parts I ordered on my car. Win.

As I mentioned in my first post – this is why it’s hard to get photos of every car. It’s really no one’s fault – perhaps just a perfect combination of bad timing on my part for being there at the time and a herd of people standing there when I was ready for a shot. The show is busy, there’s only so much room to stand, so this happens.

Classic look on BBS’s

Andy – owner of Dreamworks Garage owns this ’76 Lancer with an Evo IV engine swap. I remember a few years ago it was sitting on the side of his shop with the interior all gutted and messed, the panels all stripped of paint. Let’s just say it had seen better days… Now look at it shine!

Rad MR2

AE86. Right in the feels. The only car that can rock the two tone and still look good.

One of my favourite styles of the Impreza is the GC8 chassis. Add some flares and meaty fitment and you have a mean looking Subie.

Benny’s F20 swapped AE86. Hasn’t changed much since I shot it years ago but still minty. Maybe he hasn’t driven it since I shot it years ago? lol

’81 Celica with overfenders and a 1JZ swap. I love how certain oldschool Jap cars have a certain “muscle car” look to it. Bad ass.

Ford Focus RS. This thing looks so cool in person – BBK, aggressive front bumper. I dig.

This brings me back. An R18 Civic fitted with SSR MS3’s and a Varis wing out back. Interesting that he chose Varis over Voltex/J’s model-specific fits. This was boosted too which was cool to see. There weren’t many options at the time my Civic was in show condition and the ones that were available either weren’t reliable or made by an off-company.

Sunnie’s boosted BRZ

Clean Supra. I still want one of these…

Romel’s Celica – still fresh as always. I will never get sick of this thing.

Bagged STI

Andrew’s IS-F on those Leon Hardiritt money wheeeeels. Still the best colour combo wheel I’ve seen. That champagne gold though. There needs to be more Leon Hardiritt around here and less any other VIP wheel everyone is rocking.

The frankenstein FRS – a mashup of Levi’s old RB V2 kit and Meisters mismatched with a white FRS. Panda theme perhaps? I think this was just kind of all put together recently so probably didn’t have enough time to get it all matched up.

Mugen RR inspired CSX. Not terrible execution but could do without the baby levers on the lip and simpler headlights. Otherwise not bad.

Jason’s Varis x Aimgain BRZ on TE37 SL’s. A different combination of parts here but it works surprisingly well in the Tiffany blue/black combo.

Alex’s type R. Also for sale – $15,000!

Nick’s GT3 fresh on TE37’s and a Voltex wing.

911 Turbo on TE37’s

Justin’s S2000. Funny story – Alex made me move this into another position. Took me about 4 tries before I realized reverse is not all the way left and down in a Honda. Also, sorry Justin – I forgot to adjust the seat back cause my short ass legs couldn’t reach the clutch.

Aldo’s S2000 in track mode. lol

Isaac’s 820 Amuse S2000

Eric’s S15 slammed down low with flared wells. Too bad the hood was up at the time, he had painted it the night before and it actually looked really good.

Errol’s Type R on bronze TE37’s. The dude comes in with bugs all over his front bumper and doesn’t wipe it off the entire show. He might as well have left his keys in the car with the ignition running, amirite?

Punit’s Integra – haven’t seen this in a minute. This guy. Sometimes he takes his van and leaves both the Integra and GS at home. Wat.

Brandon’s RSX on permanently dirty white TE37’s from the brake dust. LOL jk,

Brad’s S/C’d K20 EM1.

One of many of Alex’s cars – K20 swapped, mugen, volk, project mu…The list goes on.

Tommy’s new project (or just new to me cause I’m out of the damn car scene lately) – clean Civic hatch on bronze CE28’s.

Josh’s K20 EG. Should be no stranger to those of you now…

Jackie’s race car – the amount of stuff going on with his car is insane. It’s a beast – with a hood exit, fully stripped interior, canards that could cut your shins… Too bad ass.

Kyle’s new Type R. It was great to actually see this in person finally. I’m not sure how I feel about it – I think that was the general consensus I got from everyone I talked to about it. It’s nice but not nice enough for me to buy. But I guess I’d have to drive it first…

The interior up front is very nice – the dash is intuitive and clever. Then everything behind that was just “meh” by Honda. The seats are fairly flat and unsupportive, there isn’t much bolster to hold your passengers in. The trunk is roomy (enough for a stroller, Diana *cough*) and that’s about it. There are a few other details pointed out to me here and there that seem silly but perhaps there are reasons unbeknownst to me. Ie., Derrick pointed out the passenger side lower grill is cut out for the horn while the right side lower grill is left all covered up. Whaaaa?

Alex’s other car (oh yes there are more) – seems to be forgotten about lately. His turbo’d GSR – one of the only cars where I’ve seen attention to detail from literally every angle, inside and out with no corner left unturned. This is kind of what I alluded to in my first post about things being put together just to be “put together”.

Everyone will eventually reach the point where they say “there’s nothing left to do”. There’s always something to do – it’s just a matter of asking yourself how bad you want to put effort into something that people “might” not see. Almost every single one of Alex’s bolts are Mugen – even in crevices that you can’t see unless someone told you. That’s where you need to make the effort to say “yup, that bolt is worth changing to a $20 bolt”. And eventually when you make those changes, those changes that people don’t all know about – that’s when your car is truly “put together”. Not many of us have that type of mindset – hell, I don’t have that mindset –  but it’s the mindset we should start getting into. If you think about a lot of the iconic builds you know, they’re iconic because of how much detail they put in. Not because they have Volks and KW V3’s with some nice LED lights and it doesn’t happen overnight… Think about it for the next show 😉

Another type R in the line up. I think 2017 is the year of Type R…

Alex’s (yes the same god damn Alex) other other car he put in the show. This one is a different type of car though. This was an ITR shell that he purchased in relatively good condition. Alex and friends all basically stripped the car down to the shell to get it resprayed in the Phoenix Yellow to be perfect again. Right after that, everything went back in with new OEM parts. Everything from carpets, to rubber seals to everything you could possibly replace that was available – Alex replaced it all.

What do you end up with? A basically brand new Type R sans a brand new engine… Which is not all that bad considering you’ve just restored one of Honda’s masterpieces back to showroom condition.

Alex brought the new NSX from his dealership to showcase as well. Quiet a machine… Didn’t get a chance to take a close look at it even though it was right beside the tent but mannnn that red…

Not sure what was going on here. Brandon stimulating Arif in some way… Arif stimulating Brandon in some way…

A very clean and perfect example of a Type R/RSX representation. Everything from the Brembos, to the seats…

And a RHD Type R Civic. Also very clean and well-maintained. Those Craft Square mirrors are perfect… But I’m biased.

RB S15 – I believe this used to be purple before? Now it’s orange and still bad ass. I like this colour much more. *EDIT* I stand corrected – this is not Coopers’ S15 that I was thinking of. This is a completely different one but with a 2JZ swap. Very niceeee

Track-prepped Miata in a matte black finish. I believe this was red before as well if I’m not mistaken. I dig the black better too.

Noel’s S14 in a brand new colourway with new DriftSquad livery. This colour was perfect in person. I’m digging all these red and blue cars lately!

Some tight fitment on this S14 with classic Meisters and gold accents/hardware. More Craft Square!!!

This was a wild bug eye wagon from Legit Society. It had a chassis mounted GT wing out back which was kind of weird to me but it still looked dece.

Dare I say… How muscle cars should be sitting? Nice and low… I need one of these too.

Paul’s Accord wagon – not something you see everyday but I’m glad when I do see it, it makes me happy. So clean!

Root Beer S14

Jesse’s Supra

A fairly stock looking STi but that’s where you’re wrong. JC filled me in on this today – it’s got a lot of things going on that’s easy to overlook. Apparently some rumblings were happening about him winning but let’s just wash those rumblings away.

This is a pretty rare S204 STI that’s got a fully built Tomei engine. Carbon roof, air suspension and overall pretty simple at first glance. The term “sleeper” works well here – a term you don’t hear all too often with all the wild styles going on nowadays. Well done, sir.

This STI probably had the most unique but simple colour in the whole show. It was a very light grey but it worked SO well for this build. It’s hard to capture and appreciate in a photo but it was very well done.

Another Root Beer wrapped 350z on a gold/bronze Work wheel combo.

This reminds me of simpler times – 240SX with no aero on XD9’s in bronze and some meaty fitment. Flashback to the mid 2000’s

Jake’s Subie sans the GT wing. Kind of feels nekked now…

And one of the last shots I took of the day. A very clean static GS on Work Equips with Endless BBK behind them.

I’m actually not sure why I stopped – I must have gotten distracted or something and then put my camera away. I walked up and down aisles for what seemed like hours… Again, if I didn’t get a snap of your whip – sorry – maybe next year. But overall – great show… Another one for the books.