Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bumble Bee Skirt

Last semester, I took Intermediate Costuming.  Our final was to choose a pattern and make a piece for ourselves.

I chose to make this skirt:

(These are me, all dressed up for seeing 'The Importance of Being Earnest' at Troy University tonight.)

I used this pattern:

Though I am obviously much shorter that Ms. Ali-- so I removed the last 3 tiers from the skirt so it would fit me.

I adore my bumble bee skirt.  And I think I'll use the pattern again to make myself a couple of skirts in other colors (;


From the novel description of  Milkshake:

"When she tries to feed her baby in an art museum, new mother Lauren Bruce suffers a wardrobe malfunction -- and becomes a poster child for the breastfeeding wars. A sexy politician, running for Massachusetts governor, enlists Lauren to help her win the women's vote. Breastfeeding advocates, who call themselves the BOOBs, want to make her a true believer. And a group called the MOMs -- for "Mothers on Modesty" -- wants everyone to cover up. Now, Lauren has to decide where she stands, all while dealing with political rallies, breast pumps, talk show hosts, perfect-mommy friends, and post-baby sex. "

So you can imagine my surprise, while I was in the middle of reading this book, when a friend on facebook shared a link to Breastfeeding Arrest Near Gingrich Home.

It's a spoof site, but for a the briefest of moments, I thought Joanna Weiss had divined the future platform for the 2012 election! 

She hasn't of course, but it turns out that women across America really do run into the kind of situation that the main character Lauren does.  And there really are boycotts and sit-ins as a result.

Mostly while I was reading this book, I remembered my own experiences with nursing my boys.  It was almost decade ago-- and not nearly as commonly practiced as it is now.

The first night, I had to ask my nurse to please not give my newborn baby sugar water.  That I appreciated that she was trying to let me sleep, but I needed to nurse him so that 1. he and I could learn how to do it and 2. my milk would come in.  She looked at me like I was a little crazy, but she did it.

I also remember all the discouraging comments I got from people who had never breastfed.

"You know, a baby who drinks from a bottle sleeps 8 hours through the night."

"That must hurt."

"Formula has all the vitamins and nutrients a baby needs."

But the one I heard most often, the one that was -most- discouraging was, "I don't see how that baby can possibly be getting enough to eat."

Part of why I didn't want to use formula was that this was during a time that there were a LOT of recalls going on for bad formula.  Part of the reason was that formula was expensive and breast milk is free.  And part of it was that I remember my mother's horror stories of when I was a baby who had constant screaming colic, most likely from my formula and  I'd heard that breast milk is easier to digest and less likely to cause colic.

Yes, I was tired waking up every hour in the night.

Yes, it was a lot uncomfortable and a little painful at first, but I got used to it and it stopped hurting.

And all my research had suggested that breast milk had all the vitamins and nutrients a baby needed as well.

But that last one...that last one would make me cry.  I was seriously about to give up.

But two things happened:  1.  My boy was gaining weight.  and 2.  I was getting ready to go back to work and I started pumping.

That second was actually -very- discouraging and seemed to support what everyone was saying, as my pump let me know that I made a measly 2 ounces.  After I sat there having a good cry over what a terrible mother I was and how all the nay-sayers had to be right, reason returned and I did the math.

Yes, my boy was only getting 2 ounces at a time.  But he was getting it every hour.  So in that same 8 hour period with a single 8 ounces of formula-- my boy was getting -16- ounces of breast milk.  Of course he was gaining weight!  He was eating twice as much!

And when I started taking him to daycare, I had to educate them on what to expect-- because that diaper is pretty scary if you're used to formula fed babies.  "Don't be alarmed.  It's -supposed- to look like yellow cottage cheese with mustard seeds."

And how to thaw/warm the baggies of milk.  "Please don't microwave these.  Just put them in this cup and run it under hot water."

And I was so very thankful for how friendly they were to my requests-- especially when I was the only breastfeeding mother they had/ had ever had.  In later years, I was even thanked, as nursing mothers became more common and they already knew how to accommodate them.

All in all, I still believe that breast feeding was the right choice for my boys and me.  But I can also accept that formula is exactly the right choice for someone else.

I won a free copy of Joanna Weiss's Milkshake through first-reads contest.  All of my opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fever Dreaming

Starting yesterday afternoon, I wasn't particularly sick, but I wasn't exactly well either.  I was beyond tired and fevered.  Didn't manage to get below 101 all evening.  So I went to bed feeling no better nor worse than when it started.

But it -did- give me some seriously strange dreams.

Do you ever have dreams where you know that the you in your dream is not the you in reality?  Think along the lines of quantum leap, except that outside of that moments of realization, you accept that this new person is 'you'.

So the 'me' in the dream started out in a rural high school, in a world where supernatural creatures are real.  My/her best friend was a vampire.  These two girls were inseparable. At one point, they decided to kiss, but in the process the vampire bit 'my' lip.  I was dismayed and surprised and so was she.  And that was pretty much the end of their friendship.

So the dream fast forwards to 18 years later.  'I'm' married to an abusive man who embodies the very idea of backwoods redneck.  It's not flattering-- and the reality of it is a nightmare in itself.  We live out in the country in an old, decrepit trailer.  We have two children-- a girl and a boy.  I've been fussing about the electricity needing re-wired but it's gotten me a beating or two for the mentioning.  And I have chores to do.  So I load up the dryer and start it then head off to do other chores while my children play in the laundry room.

But even in dreams, gut reactions should be listened to-- my husband is in an angry, drunken stupor and doesn't care for the sound of our children laughing.  While I'm outside tending to the animals, he's locked them in the laundry room.  They haven't noticed.  They're still playing and having fun....but there's an electrical fire started in the dryer...

Both of the children die from smoke inhalation.  The fire is small and quickly contained.  And though I rush to my babies, my husband throws me away from them and decides this needs to be covered up.  He quickly disposes of them and threatens my life.  This cowed woman doesn't have the strength to even consider challenging him.

The dream flashes forward again, but a series of days.  Now there's a police investigation.  They're checking into it because my children haven't been showing up at school.  My husband is saying they ran off.  My she says nothing.  She's typically a very quiet woman, so this is really no surprise to anyone.  But part of what she isn't saying is that she's been hearing her children speak to her.  Asking her where their bodies are.  Asking her why she didn't save them.  Begging her to hug them.  She/I believe that we're slowly going insane.  As we should.

As the investigation continues, the lead investigator begins to fall for her.  It also turns out that he's a dentist-- which comes in handy when, in the middle of this fever dream, it becomes a tooth nightmare.  Suddenly, my left incisor feels unbearably loose--and I reach up to touch it and pull it fully out of my mouth.  The dentist/investigator does emergency dental surgery to put it back in place.

And the dream flashes forward in time again.  It appears that everything has been settled with no faults assigned.  She/I have gone completely insane believing we can see our dead children as well as hear them.  My husband has decided to throw a celebration party and invite all his vilest friends who will delight in how he duped the police.  Everyone has arrived, but I'm in the dread fated laundry room with the investigator where he asks me about the dryer.  I kneel down to look at it-- and I see the skeletons of my children within it.  They're talking to me.  I gasp, point and confess on the spot.

And the investigator tells me that he knew all along--as my children had told him what had happened.  They're ghouls.  And he's a vampire.  With the consent of the local police department, he walks out, sealing us all within the building for the ghouls to met out their own justice.

I/She expects to be rend limb from limb for not being able to save them or speaking up sooner-- but instead, my ghoul children hug me, thank me for finally speaking and setting them free...and head out of the laundry room into the house full of evil.

She/I sink slowly to the floor in shock, while screams of well earned horror and terror reverberate from the rest of the house.  I/She doesn't even consider going to see what is happening-- she knows:  Justice is being served and the wicked are being punished.  But she/I are also in a dazed fog-- it doesn't cross either of our minds to question that our children are at this very moment the chosen weapons of right.  It doesn't cross either of our minds to try to stop them.  A brief fleeting thought passes through hers about her husband-- but his scream is suddenly discernible in the chaos and the thought passes.  No, all we can think about is this: 1.  We're not crazy-- we DID hear our children.  2.  Why didn't they kill us?  3.  Why are they ghouls?

And again, time shifts around our fog and a full day has passed.  The sun is setting again.  And the investigator opens the door-- he's pleasantly surprised to see that she/I've survived the ordeal.  He thought we might be innocent-- but only the ghouls would be certain.  And suddenly, my children come bounding back into the laundry room, fully restored, healthy and, for all appearances, alive.  They embrace me and I return their hugs and the investigator leads out out the door while the rest of the police force sets the house of evil on fire behind us.

In this moment, she realizes the investigator loves her and that she returns the feelings and will have a home with him and her children.  And suddenly, she/I understand why the children didn't outright die-- why they turned into ghouls.  We flash back to that kiss from our best friend 18 years ago, when she bit our lip.  She had also bitten her own.  We were not vampire.  But we were also not fully human.  And death would not be the end.  Not for us nor any of our progeny.  It had been a gift from our best friend.

And then I woke up.

Thankfully, fever free...and even more than thankful that 'she' isn't ME.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Life Drawing

They're also -extremely- talented!

Today was an exercise in parts (:   My little smiley is an excellent place to begin, as we started by putting up our finished eyes and mouths.

What I was struck by, and one of the things that I really appreciate about them, is that you can clearly match lips and eye to the same artist (although being directly with each other makes it easier).  Everyone has their own style.  Even though the parts were created completely independently without having the mouth for reference when making the eye.

Mr. Everett agrees (:  He said they were all A/B worthy and we're progressing faster than he expected.

Here's mine.  It amused me to place the eye under the mouth, in part so it wouldn't look like a cyclops.
 Then today, we did hair.

I LOVED this!!

And this one's mine (:  Brought it home to keep working on it before class on Thursday, since I still need to work on the left side and he wants us to add the mouth as well.

I'm very much enjoying this class so far (:  And I'm learning a LOT!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Lunar New Year 2012!

Ever year since my oldest turned 3, we've celebrated Lunar New Year, complete with various meals and crafts.

This year, I made egg rolls and wantons for dinner, then the boys and I colored.  They also each made a dragon mask.   and

are where I got them all.  Simply save the image you want to your computer, then print out at full size on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.  Add lots of crayons and enjoy (:

My boys, getting all set up:

I love that they love doing crafts with me (:

My youngest working on his mask.

His mask all done (:

And his dragon.

My oldest, working on his dragon.

His finished mask.

And his finished dragon.

One of the things that I find most fascinating is that they both chose to make them in shades of blues--and I hadn't even told them it was a water dragon year (:  I also hadn't started coloring mine yet either.

I'd forgotten how much I love to color (:  It was one of my favorite activities, well up into my teens.

May we all have a prosperous and happy New Year!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kindergarten Family Project

Every now and then, my boy brings home a family project to be completed and brought back to school.

The instructions where to cut out the large snowflake shape and decorate it how ever we wanted to.

Since tomorrow is Chinese New Year, I have paper-cuts on my mind and asked my boy if he wanted to use cut outs as our decoration.  He said sure and we sat down and decided what we were going to draw and what was going to be cut out.

He decided he wanted a red diamond in the center and wanted to make one of the sections I drew for a cutout a darker blue instead.  I think it was a good call on his part (:

Now he's ready to turn it in for class tomorrow (:

Getting Inventive In The Kitchen

We went over to Mark's parents house for dinner tonight.  Mom pulled out a dozen pork chops and wanted to bake them.  I looked on-line for a recipe to make your own shake-n-bake...but they called for bread crumbs.  We didn't have bread crumbs.  Then I found another one...but that one called for corn flakes.  We didn't have any of those either.  But we -did- have saltines.  And a recipe Mom had for oven baked fried chicken said to use flour.

So we experimented.

3 tablespoons of flour
at least 1/2 a package of saltines, crushed pretty fine
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
and she had a spice called Pork Seasoning.  I have no idea what was in that, but I figure you can get it labeled just like that.

Mix it all up on a plate.

Then we coated the pork chops in ranch dressing on both sides and dipped in our experiment to coat them.  Then we placed them in a couple of glass baking dishes.  Mom drizzled a little vegetable oil to help cook the flour.  We probably should have done that first, as they ended up sticking to the pan on the bottom.

We baked them at 400 for a little over an hour.

Other than the sticking, they turned out beautifully and delicious (: