Thursday, November 1, 2012

Baby, Baby, Baby Ohh!

So if you haven't heard....

Hold my hand, Daddy!
Our boy Conrad was born on October 16th at 8:21 pm. He arrived via cesarean section after two days of labor-inducing drugs and fetal distress when my contractions got stronger.

Before I start talking about the events leading up to Conrad's birth, I feel like I should preface by saying that the induction was scheduled after a rather worrisome ultrasound where the baby did not respond to outside stimuli. Also, I kept needing non-stress tests because I wasn't always getting movement when I'd do kick counts. His heart was always healthy, but he was pretty lethargic in the last few weeks, and the doctor and I were both worried that something would happen to him and we wouldn't know until it was too late.

Mark and I checked into the hospital at 6:00 pm on Sunday, October 14th, where I was given Cervidil to begin dilation. If I had known that I wouldn't be allowed to eat after it was inserted, I would have had a huge meal ahead of time. But anyway. I had all the water I could want, so it wasn't like I starved ... not really, anyway....

My parents and my sister drove up from Arkansas to be with us during this time, which really meant a lot to me because I wasn't sure if there would be anyone besides Mark at the hospital. Unfortunately I was terribly boring company, because I pretty much just watched the National League Championships whenever they were on.

I was checked at 6:00 the next morning and was not terribly surprised to find out that the Cervidil did nothing to progress labor, that my cervix was still behind his head and I hadn't dilated at all. They began Oxytocin, and told me there was a good possibility that it would get things moving.

Unfortunately, by evening my cervix was still in the same place it had been when I checked into the hospital. This was when they took me off everything and I was allowed to have a real dinner. They brought me something from the cafeteria, which wasn't too bad, but Mark went out and got me one of those Chicken Parmesan sandwiches from Burger King. I already love those sandwiches, but it tasted even better after eating only ice chips and Jell-o for the last 24 hours. Yummmm.

Later that evening, Cytotec was administered to convince my stubborn cervix to dilate. I was put back on a water/ice chips/jello diet. This was the night that the nurse had to keep coming in to adjust the monitor that picks up the baby's heartbeat because I slept so fitfully that I was moving them around without meaning to. By this point I was trying really hard to think positively, but I was getting increasingly discouraged that this induction was going to fail.

Tuesday morning came and I was checked again. One centimeter dilated! And man, my back was really starting to hurt. Yes, those were contractions I was feeling. But why wasn't I feeling them in the front? Turns out the ladies in my family go through back labor, which my mom and my sister told me about when they arrived later that morning. Oxytocin was restarted.

The doctor tried to put in a Foley Bulb to force my cervix to dilate, but had a difficult time getting it in place. At one point I felt a gush, and thought my water had broken. The doctor immediately withdrew all efforts to put in the Foley Bulb. The gush I'd felt wasn't water, but blood. She was able to determine that it wasn't something serious, but it still scared all of us. By the way, if someone tells you that you had some blood loss and you need to change your gown and they need to change your sheets, do not turn around and look at the bed on your way to the bathroom. It will freak you out. Seriously.

They turned off the Oxytocin after this, and I was having good, strong, regular contractions on my own. My back was beginning to hurt enough that I was starting to wonder when I could get pain medication. Not now, the nurse said. I wasn't far enough along. They did have me go ahead and sign forms agreeing to an epidural and, should there be an emergency, a c-section.

At some point they turned the Oxytocin back on because my contractions had tapered off. My doctor broke my water sometime around 1:00 pm. Soon after, the contractions got really intense. Intense enough that I couldn't really talk through them. Can I please have something? "No," said the nurse. "If we give you something now, then your body will get used to it and it won't work for when the pain is really bad later." That's bull, I thought to myself. They put me on a ball to see if that helped the pain. No good. They put me on my hands and knees. No good. They had me stand up and lean over a rail on the bed. I was crying during contractions by this point. The nurse asked where my pain was on a scale of 1 to 10. I just cried, because I was contracting and couldn't seem to make my voice work enough to scream I'M AT TEN YOU FOOL GIVE ME SOMETHING. My mom and my sister both played my advocates, trying to get someone to give me anything for the pain, especially since I'd already signed off for it. My sister had to leave not long after this, though, because she needed to get back home and back to homeschooling her two boys. I was sad that she saw me at the worst part. If she could have stayed for another hour she would have seen me after they finally gave me an epidural, and she would have felt better.

Sometime before 4:00, my saving grace came in and talked me through the epidural procedure. She was funny, and a great distraction from what I was going through. Apparently I have a small spine, because she had some trouble inserting it without my right leg suddenly feeling like it caught fire, but eventually she got it and the relief was almost immediate. I finally felt like I could relax, and I wasn't dreading childbirth anymore. At 20 minutes til 5:00, the doctor came back in to check me. 3 centimeters dilated and 75% effaced! Wait ... just 3 centimeters? Whatever. I can sleep now.

About three hours later, the doctor came back to wake me up. She'd been watching my monitor out in the nurses' station, and Conrad's heart wasn't doing so good. Earlier that day, his heart rate had dropped during my stronger contractions, but it came back up when they started to taper off. Now it was down and staying down. She checked me again. 4 centimeters dilated. She said she didn't feel comfortable letting me labor to 10 centimeters with his heart behaving the way it was. If I had been at 8 or 9, that would have been another story, but I was progressing so slowly. I agreed that a c-section was best at this point - and hey, I just wanted to have this baby already. Mark was given clothes to wear into the operating room, and soon I was wheeled off.

The cesarean was a nerve-wracking experience for me. I was given a new medication through the tube in my back, and it started to make me sick very quickly. I was given anti-nausea medicine and oxygen to combat the sickness. I started to shake on the bed. I'd heard that this was a pretty common reaction to the anesthesia, but I was shaking so much harder than I anticipated. If I hadn't been strapped down, I'm sure I would have shaken myself right off the table. I started to get scared. I hadn't even been opened yet! But soon I was. I could tell because I felt like I'd gone down the wrong alley at night and was getting punched in the gut by five different muggers. It actually did hurt, but not in the same way that everything had been hurting that day, so I tried to grin and bear it ... except I couldn't really move my mouth. I had been trying not to chatter my teeth, and it made my jaw lock up out of tension. I closed my eyes, trying to relax enough so I could stop shaking, and to get my mind off the fact that my nausea suddenly came back. I mentioned this to the anesthesiologist, who upped my dosage of medicine.

Finally I heard the doctor say, "Alright! It's a boy!" and then "It's okay, not all c-section babies cry at first." I was so focused on not shaking that it didn't occur to me to freak out that he wasn't crying. But then I heard him whine a few times, and I felt relieved. Mark went over to take pictures with him while I was being stitched up. Soon he was brought over to me, but I had lost the feeling in my arms so I couldn't reach out and touch him. I just stared. Was he really mine? No way....

I stayed in the hospital for three more days after this, so there is a lot more to tell. But I'm tired, and I've got a little boy to take care of. Wow. I can finally say that.

Welcome to the world, Conrad.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Closet Costumes

Since the baby's due date is so close to Halloween, I won't be dressing up this year. But! That doesn't mean I can let my creative juices flow and help other people make their own original costumes, so every Tuesday in October be sure to check here for an innovative costume idea to get you ready for Halloween. While none of the costumes will take a whole month to make, the ones I demonstrate at the beginning of the month will take more time to put together than the ones at the end of the month, so keep that in mind if you are pressed for time.

This week, I'm going to show you how to make a costume from some pieces you probably already have in your closet. They're perfect for that party you got a last minute invitation to, or if you decided that you really did want to dress up for Halloween after all but there is no time to make something.

Pirates!


Pirate Closet Costume


First up is a pirate costume. For guys, I like a casual button-down shirt that has some of the top buttons undone to mimic the renaissance shirt look. Pair it with some skinny pants and black dress shoes, which you can cover with boot toppers like these. Too late to order covers? Check out this tutorial from Chic Steals for instructions on making your own from an old leather jacket. Alternatively, you could also tear up the bottom of your pants and go barefoot (or wear some thin sandals if you're going to be out on the town.) Complete the look with a fabric sash - check the ladies' department or buy a yard of fabric and cut it down to size - then check the costume department for a spiffy hat, eye patch, and toy sword. Alternatively, you could dress in all black, switch the fabric sash for a belt, change out the hat and eye patch for a black bandanna and mask, add some gloves, and go as the Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride.

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For the ladies, I like the look of a peasant blouse with a bohemian skirt, but you could certainly wear a button-down blouse and/or pants as well. If you have a longer skirt, you can pin in up with safety pins. Michelle over at Damsel in this Dress does this all the time to create visual interest in her long skirts. Wear boots if you have them, or you can go barefoot (remember the sandals if you're going to be walking around outside) like I suggested for the guys. Add a scarf on your head and pile on the hoops and bangles for accessories. If you skip the pirate-y accessories, you could tell everyone you went as a gypsy instead.

Olympic Podium Outfits



Team USA Podium Outfit for Halloween


Probably the most comfortable costume you could ever wear is one based on the uniform the American athletes wore when they took the podium at the Olympics this year. Have a gray track jacket and black sweats in your closet? Boom! You're halfway there. (Bonus points if they're Nike brand.) The athletes also wore bright green Nike sneakers, but you could wear whatever sneakers you already own. In order to look more like an Olympic athlete, you'll need to add patches to your jacket like they had. You'll need a regular American flag patch for the left shoulder, which you can find at most craft stores, and the Team USA patch to go over your heart. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this the Team USA shop was out of stock on the patches, but you can make your own by printing out the image on sticker paper. If there's time, you should add a medal to your ensemble. You can make your own using this great tutorial over at Paging Supermom. It's not time consuming, but you will need to allow time for the clay and the paint to dry.

Housewives and Mafia Men



Mad Men closet costume


The last costume isn't necessarily Mad Men specific, but I know the show is popular so I thought I'd play with it a little. (I just admitted that I've never watched Mad Men, for shame!) Gentlemen have it easy, as they should already own almost everything in the ensemble (Really! Every man needs to own at least one suit.) For hair, slick it back a la Draco Malfoy. The only thing you'll need to find - and it really isn't required to pull off the look - is the fedora, which can be tricky to locate, but a trilby will do in a pinch. (Yes, there is a difference.) For ladies, you'll need a dress that is either full on the bottom or a dress that is tight all over, sometimes called a wiggle dress. Either will work. (You can also wear a fitted top with either a tight or a full skirt if you don't own an appropriate dress.) Black pumps are standard, but ballet flats will work too. Finish off the look with pearls and nylons, and don't forget the red lipstick!

I also found this great link for Mad Men accessory tutorials for two of the leading ladies - check it out!

Not quite satisfied with my ideas? Check out my Costume Ideas board on Pinterest! I've got lots of ideas on there that will surely inspire you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tube Dress Costumes

Since the baby's due date is so close to Halloween, I won't be dressing up this year. But! That doesn't mean I can let my creative juices flow and help other people make their own original costumes, so every Tuesday in October be sure to check here for an innovative costume idea to get you ready for Halloween. While none of the costumes will take a whole month to make, the ones I demonstrate at the beginning of the month will take more time to put together than the ones at the end of the month, so keep that in mind if you are pressed for time.

While looking at my own Pinterest board of costume ideas, I noticed I had a lot of costumes that were basically just a tube dress. Tube dresses are really simple to make, regardless of your sewing level.

  • Tutorial on eHow for sewing a tube dress
  • Another eHow tutorial for a no-sew tube dress
  • If you fit into a pillowcase, you can rip open the top seam and attach elastic there for an easy tube dress - plus, pillowcases can be dyed to just about any color.
  • Or skip the fabric altogether and make it from duct tape!
Alternatively, you could use a solid colored shirt with matching colored shorts/skirt/pants for nearly all of these costume ideas. Decide what you would be more comfortable wearing, and take a look in your closet for more inspiration.

Crayons

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A crayon is becoming a popular costume because it's fairly easy to make and looks great in a group.  To make the hat, you can get a party hat or a small witch hat and cover it with the same fabric you used in your dress. I liked this photo because it shows a t-shirt version of the same costume idea.

Sauce Packets

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This was the first tube dress costume I found, and I love how ... "saucy" it is. Cut out letters and a text box from white fabric, and print out the Taco Bell logo on printable paper. Write a clever statement in the text box. Sew down or hot glue all fabric elements.

iPod

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Duct tape dresses in action! The plastic appearance of the tape really works for costumes like this. Be sure to click on the "via" link under the picture, which goes into a little more detail on making a dress like this, and also has more last-minute costumes ideas.

iPhone

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This clever iPhone costume was made out of a dress already in her closet and lots of felt (which can be purchased at most craft stores for 20-25 cents a sheet.)

Soda

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With so many soda flavors out there, soda pop dresses would be a great idea for a group costume. All it takes is some fabric, fabric paint, and patience to trace out those logos. Do you and your friends already have t-shirts proclaiming your favorite bubbly beverage? Check out this t-shirt and shorts costume of soda cans. They even included nutrition facts on the back!

There are other great costume ideas made from a simple tube dress, many of which I have pinned on my Costume Ideas board on Pinterest. Be sure and check it out!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Run or Shoot? UPDATE

Remember at the beginning of the month when I posted that I was going to be playing original Left 4 Dead maps on Expert to try to get the "What are you trying to prove?" achievement?

Well, yesterday afternoon while doing a single-player run, I finished the Death Toll map. So, basically, I did an expert campaign by myself because we all know those AIs are kind of clueless when it comes to helping you finish. Yeah. I'm awesome.

I am already doing some practice work on the finale of the last map, but I seriously doubt I'll be able to beat it before 6:00 Sunday night ... which is when I go to the hospital. Kind of freaking out here.

original here
edited by me

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SOON

aka: Appointment at 38 Weeks

Here's the very basic run-down of today's appointment:
  • There is still no change
  • I will be induced
However, the induction will happen much sooner than I originally anticipated.

See, I told the doctor that I had gone to the hospital late Friday night because I couldn't feel the baby moving. I also told her that sometimes I can get the kick counts just fine, and other times I have to try again. (The little bugger just does not want me to feel him move anymore.) So she sent me over for another non-stress test and ultrasound.

I really don't like getting non-stress tests done at the clinic, because the belts they use to strap on the monitors are super itchy. I end up giving in and scratching, which makes the heartbeat monitor mess up and then the machine beeps because it can't locate the baby's heartbeat. And I have to sit there for an hour! Just staring at the ceiling! So boring! #FirstWorldProblems

Even though his little heart is doing just fantastic, the ultrasound worried everyone. Nothing was really wrong, but he just wouldn't move. Even after she applied this buzzer thing to my stomach to get the baby to move, he just kept sleeping. Eventually he opened his eyes, but then he drifted right back to sleep.

So my doctor wants to take him out sooner, which is fine by me - more time to wear his My First Halloween onesie that my momma bought for him. The concern is that, since I can't feel him as well, a problem could arise and I wouldn't be aware of it until it was too late. She made a call to the hospital for an appointment to induce after I left, so I'm waiting for them to call me and let me know when the induction is, but I could be there as early as Sunday night.

Suddenly, I feel less prepared.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Game On!

Since the baby's due date is so close to Halloween, I won't be dressing up this year. But! That doesn't mean I can let my creative juices flow and help other people make their own original costumes, so every Tuesday in October be sure to check here for an innovative costume idea to get you ready for Halloween. While none of the costumes will take a whole month to make, the ones I demonstrate at the beginning of the month will take more time to put together than the ones at the end of the month, so keep that in mind if you are pressed for time.

It's fun to dress up as a character from your favorite video game for Halloween, especially because they are usually recognizable but not overdone - you know there won't be 15 people at the party wearing the same costume as you. I've gathered some ideas that I hope will help or at least inspire you to create your own.

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Mario

You might be thinking, "But ... Mario? He's kinda cliché for a costume list, don't you think?" And I'd agree with you. There are quite a lot of how-to blog posts dedicated to him, so I won't bore you by filling up space with another one, but I did want to share the site where I bought some caps for my nephews costumes. e4hats.com has some newsboy-styled caps in the perfect shades for Mario, Luigi, and Wario (sorry, you'll have to dye a cap purple if you have a Waluigi.) The link will take you directly to the particular hat that I used, but there is also a bigger size and a youth size if you need it. Just do a search on the site.




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Harvest Moon

This one might be a little harder for people to recognize, but the ones who do might be very excited to see it. The hardest part to find might be the baseball cap, but if you live close to a Hobby Lobby then you can dye one of the plain white caps that they sell. You'll get bonus points if you can either (1) carry around a cute farm animal with your costume or (2) get a girl to dress up as one of the ladies you can marry in the game. A lifetime supply of cookies will be awarded to the people who do both.


Team Fortress 2

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Not all TF2 costumes will be easy to recreate in time for Halloween (especially if you try to recreate some of their weapons) but there are some that are a little easier than others. Kali did a great photo tutorial of her Scout costume on her blog, Made By Kali. Also? There is a tumblr dedicated to TF2 cosplay help. Click it!

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Hunter (Left 4 Dead)

Speaking of Valve costumes, the Hunter is a pretty easy one to recreate. You can find a nice dark blue zip-up hoodie at Walmart right now, just fade it in the wash by adding some bleach to it. D. Vanderbleek has a great tutorial for a Hunter from Left 4 Dead 2, and a lot of the same principles can be applied to the Hunter costume for the original too. (The original Hunter is what I used for my picture on the right.)






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Lara Croft

There are many versions of Lara Croft's costumes, but the classic blue tank is my favorite. If you have trouble locating a tank top in the right color, most craft stores will sell white ones year-round along with dye so you can get it the right shade. Add to it brown shorts, some fake pistols, and a long braid (or a ponytail extension if your hair isn't long enough) and you've got one strong and sexy character costume.








There are tons of other great costumes inspired by video games. Need more inspiration? Check out my Pinterest boards!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

You Could Say It Was A Busy Night

Baby Cousin was born last night at 8:20pm!

Ryker Lee, born October 5th, 7lbs 5oz, 19.5 inches
I wish I could have been there to show support and to be there for his big day. This day is the most important day in his life, and one of the most important days in his parents' lives. My sister-in-law is so blessed to have so many family members who care about her and her baby.

Mark and I also ended up going to the hospital last night when, after two hours, I wasn't feeling the baby move. It was a pretty nerve-wracking experience, but the nurse I had was incredibly nice about the whole thing, as were the people at the desks (since it was almost 1:00am when I got there, I had to go through the emergency room.) It reaffirmed that I made an excellent choice about the hospital where I'm going to be giving birth.

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This is actually a picture of the birthing suite, but my room looked very similar. I was in one of their "holding rooms" where they put you when you first check in. They're mostly for non-stress tests (like what I needed) and for checking a patient before deciding whether or not she's progressed enough to admit her into Labor and Delivery. The only thing that wasn't in my room was the baby checking station ... thing.

I really do have a way with words, don't I?

Anyway, I hoping that by me going in last night and answering a bunch of medical and family history questions for them that they'll keep that in my file and I won't have to go through it all again when I'm there for the big event.

 
If you've never had a non-stress test done at a hospital, basically what happened was that I was wheeled up to Labor and Delivery in a wheel chair per the hospital's policy - which was a little embarrassing because I was obviously very pregnant and very NOT in labor - and checked in there. They took my weight, then showed me my room where I had to change into a gown and also leave a urine sample. The nurse came in and the first thing she did was put two monitors on my stomach, which displayed their results on a screen next to my bed. You can see it in the photo above. The top graph is the baby's heartbeat, which gets higher when he's moving and drops when he's resting. The bottom graph shows if I'm contracting (which I wasn't. I'm starting to think my body doesn't know what to do with a baby once one gets in there.) Once she heard the heartbeat she went about asking me the standard medical and family history questions and took my blood pressure. She had to leave soon after because another patient needed her attention, so Mark and I had the room to ourselves for an hour. Near the end of the hour, the nurse came back and finished asking her questions and took off the monitors. She said that everything looked great and that the doctor on duty would probably send me home after he looked at my results. Which he did. But of course, I didn't really feel much movement at all during the non-stress test, and I'm not feeling just a ton now, so I don't really feel any better about it. I mentioned to the nurse that I still hadn't been feeling many movements so she felt around my stomach to try to get an idea of his position. She said she couldn't feel his limbs so he must be facing my spine instead of lying on one side like he had been.

At this point I'm trying to take note of the occasional movements that I do feel, and trying to accept that I may just be unable to feel him for a while. I hope he comes soon. I can't help but think that I'll be a little more at ease when I can see his chest rising and falling, and feel the air going in and out through his nostrils. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Letter to the Baby, part 4

Dear Baby,

Sometimes you push so hard it feels like your trying to punch your way out through my belly. Sometimes I feel really achy, like I've got the flu, and all I want to do is snuggle under the covers until it goes away. And sometimes, when I hurt the worst or when I've gotten my heart rate up during exercise, you quit moving. And that scares the crap out of me.

Then I go looking on Google to see what's normal and what's not and Google pretty much says you'll either make your appearance within the hour, or you're dying. Either way it says I should have gone to the hospital, like, yesterday.

DANG, PREGNANCY, YOU SCARY.

So this week, let's both chill out for a little bit. Not so much that you don't move around, but I mean, you don't have to act like Uma Thurman in that scene from Kill Bill Vol. 2 where she punches her way out of that coffin. That's a little excessive.

Your baby cousin should be here soon. You don't have to race him anymore. He might win the speed competition, but you'll totally win endurance. That's what Jeff said, and that's how we're going to think about it.

Love,
Mommy

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Appointment at 37 Weeks

Another appointment this week! Still no change from last week, but since I went in feeling like there wouldn't be any change, I didn't get discouraged this time. It's funny how sometimes you can just tell if your body is different without actually doing anything to find out.

Mark's sister went to the hospital on Monday because of some strong and close contractions, but ended up getting sent home. I think she'll have our nephew soon, probably within a week. While I'm a little bummed that she'll get all the attention first, I like that there will probably be plenty of space between births. Then Mark's parents and family won't have to split their attention between us.

One thing the doctor told me at this appointment is that if I still haven't made any progress at next week's appointment (scheduled for the 10th) then we will talk about scheduling an induction. She kept pointing to the 25th and 26th on her desk calendar, so I've been telling our parents that is most likely when my induction will be if he isn't here before then.

I know there are lots of moms who are against inductions and believe that the baby will come when he is ready, but honestly, it's a huge comfort to me to know that there is a definite end in sight. This way Mark will be able to contact his professors in advance so he can get his work ahead of time. My parents and in-laws will be able to make any arrangements they need so that they can be there. And an added bonus? I won't be a freaking basket case if/when he doesn't arrive on his due date. "It's okay, Baby. You'll be here by the weekend."

"Gearing" Up For Halloween

Halloween is my second favorite holiday, right after Christmas. Why? Because I love seeing all the clever and creative ideas that people have this time of year! I really enjoy seeing the costumes that people make for parties and trick-or-treating because they can be absolutely ingenious.

Since the baby's due date is so close to Halloween, I won't be dressing up this year. But! That doesn't mean I can let my creative juices flow and help other people make their own original costumes, so every Tuesday in October be sure to check here for an innovative costume idea to get you ready for Halloween. While none of the costumes will take a whole month to make, the ones I demonstrate at the beginning of the month will take more time to put together than the ones at the end of the month, so keep that in mind if you are pressed for time.

I'm going to be adventurous and start off this series with a costume idea that's been around for a while but is steadily increasing in popularity: Steampunk!

Before you get intimidated at the idea of buying (or making) a corset, I want to tell you that I'm going to try to stick with things you should already have in your closet. The base costume consists of a white button-down blouse, some khaki pants, and boots. This will be more of a Steampunk adventurer or explorer and less of an aristocrat.

Steampunk Base Set

For this set I'm going to be sticking with a very neutral color palette, but keep in mind that Steampunk doesn't have to be just sepia tones. It can incorporate many colors, particularly fabulous gem tones that are always prominent during the fall.

First, you need a white or ivory button-down top (or any other color, really.) In my opinion, white looks pretty bright here, so I would probably tea dye the top just to tone the color down. You can leave the top as is if you want, or you can "victorianize" it by adding lace trim to the cuffs with fabric glue or by stitching it. Note: If you use glue, be sure to give it plenty of time to dry! You'll also need to glue it in segments so that the trim will stay in place. If you have the ability and the time, you could even replace your plain buttons with brassy ones - just be sure they are about the same size so that they'll fit through the buttonhole!

Want a button-down with some real interest that you won't have to modify? Look at the Ruffle-back Poplin Shirt at Victoria's Secret, currently $49.50.

When it comes to khaki pants, I like the kind that fit snugly. This way, they'll be easier to tuck in your boots. For boots, I like the brown ones I used in my set because of the buckle accents, but you could use plain ones instead if you already own a pair. Add some interest to them by epoxying on gears (available at Hobby Lobby in the clock-making section) or if you're really pressed for time, I once got dog collars in a similar shade to my boots and strapped those on at the ankles.

Now, the belt. You have two options here: You can either go with something that cinches at the waist and leave the shirt untucked (like I did in my set above) or you can tuck in your shirt and wear the belt on your pants. You can make a plain belt interesting by dangling a pocket watch from it, or adding pouches. Of course, your outfit will look more Steampunk if you are wearing some type of corset, but they can get expensive and might be difficult to find as it gets closer to Halloween. If you already own one, by all means, wear it.

As you know, what really makes a Steampunk costume is the accessories....

Shinies

There are tons of shops on Etsy and ArtFire that sell beautiful Steampunk jewelry, but you can make your own too. Wandering around Michael's and Hobby Lobby's beading and jewelry department always gives me lots of ideas, especially since Steampunk is becoming more mainstream so there are more charms and pendants that would make a great addition to your outfit. Also check out the clock making section, because there are some great pieces made from clock hands and faces!
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Weapons

What's the most popular gun that Steampunkers carry? The N-Strike Maverick REV-6, of course. Some paint can really transform this neon shooter into a neo-Victorian beauty, and this tutorial on Weekly Geek can show you how to take one apart to make painting easier. You can add some etchings to it to make it look prettier, or a even fake wood grain. You can make it look aged by adding a black layer of paint over a metallic color, then wiping off the black paint before it dries.

Cover Your Head!

During the Victorian Era, one was not seen bare-headed in public. That's just the way it was! Top hats are popular in Steampunk culture, and can be found in a variety of colors on buycostumes.com. In the dolls sections of craft stores, you can also find miniature top hats, which some people like to wear instead. Add some details like feathers, flowers, and a veil to dress it up. You can change the color of your hat by covering it with felt - just be sure to clean up your hot glue strings! And of course, you should try to find some welder's goggles to go with it as well.

Hopefully I've given you enough inspiration to start working on your Steampunk costume. I've also created a new Pinterest board dedicated to Steampunk lovelies to further motivate and inspire you, so go check it out! And if you go trick-or-treating, consider adding one of these amazing Steampunk pumpkin buckets to your outfit!
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Run or Shoot?

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Raise your hand if you have Left 4 Dead on Steam.

Not Left 4 Dead 2. The original one.

Yeah, I know they ported all the maps from the original to the second one. I DON'T CARE.

Before 2008 (or was it 2009...?) I didn't really play any first-person shooters. My husband kept trying to get me interested in them by having me play Golden Eye and Perfect Dark on the N64. Unfortunately, I never played console games growing up.

Side Note: I KNOW, RIGHT? My parents thought that console gaming was too violent, but PC games were okay. To this day I'm still pretty klutzy with classic controllers.

Anyway, so trying to play a shooter with someone who grew up playing this game was less than fun. But I digress.

At some point my husband bought Left 4 Dead on Steam because of it's clever AI, which controls the level pacing and item placement. The game practically punishes you if you spend too long in an area.

I downplayed any interest I had in the game for a few months, but eventually asked if I could play on his account.

And that's how I got hooked.

Eventually I got a copy for myself, but didn't play a lot since the Left 4 Dead 2 came out a few months later. So I'm missing a lot of achievements. One of them that I'm missing is completely all campaigns on Expert. I have No Mercy and Dead Air, but am still missing Death Toll and Blood Harvest. So for a few hours every day in October (until the baby arrives) I'm going to be trying to get those last two campaigns, starting with Death Toll. And I'll need help. How can you help? First off, you'll probably need to add me on Steam. At the bottom of the page I have a link to my Steam profile, so check that out. When you see me playing, join my game. TOGETHER, WE WILL VANQUISH THE ZOMBIE HORDE.

I call Zoey!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

It Is Finished

Friday afternoon, around 2:00, I went to the post office to drop off the thing I'd spent most of 2012 working on.

Well, the one knitted thing. I suppose you could say my body has spent most of 2012 working on this baby.

But in all seriousness, that scarf that I've been working on forever is finally done, and out of my apartment. Out of my life. FINALLY!

I wish I could show you pictures of the final product, but really, this was one of those things where I was so glad to be done with it that I just didn't care anymore. When my friend gets it, if he takes pictures, I'll share them here.

My original plan after I finished the scarf was to sew, sew, sew on Christmas presents to get ahead on them before the baby arrived, but guess what? My sewing machine is being a jerk. Of course. I might just fabric glue, fusible web, and hand stitch my way through some of them until I can get a new sewing machine ... maybe one of those fancy ones with lots of stitching options....

Whoops! I started day-dreaming and drooling over a new machine. Gross.

I do wonder if I can convince Mark that I need one as a push present though.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Appointment at 36 Weeks

After last week's very eventful, almost frightening appointment, I wanted a low-key visit with my doctor.

Be careful what you wish for.

Baby Boy's heart was chugging along at 150 beats, and the doctor estimates his weight to be about 6 pounds by now. My fundal height is on par with how many weeks I am, my blood pressure was good, and everything else was normal. My doctor did a swab for Group B Strep which I'll know the results of next week. Then it was time to check and see if I was dilated yet.

Honestly? I've been looking forward to this part. Yes, it was majorly uncomfortable, as I knew it would be, but I was really curious to hear how much I was dilated and effaced. My sister-in-law found out on Thursday (the 20th) that she was already dilated 1cm and 50% effaced ... a fact which my brother-in-law has been bragging about ... but anyway, if she had already started, surely I have too, right? Her due date is only three days before mine....

Nope. Closed tight. His head is low, but no progress has been made besides that. So all that pain I've had lately is just pain, and not my body getting ready for imminent delivery.

Body, you kinda suck right now.

I've had a few contractions since I left the doctor's office, and every time I've wanted to shout at them like you want to shout at a spoiled child who is throwing a tantrum. "STOP THAT! You're not doing any good and no one likes it when you act this way!" My mood has soured significantly, to say the least. And I know it doesn't mean anything, I've read other people's forum posts and seen that it is very possible that I could go from closed to 10cm in 48 hours when the time is right. I know 36 weeks is still too early to have a baby. I just wanted to be able to tell my brother-in-law to shut up.

I hate that my first pregnancy feels like a competition. Like, if I don't deliver first, then my baby isn't as good as theirs. And it's just going to get worse. "Oh, yours can't pull himself up yet? Well. I'm sure he'll get there eventually." And I'm going to be running home to my pediatrician, in tears, saying, "I saw my in-laws during the holiday and their baby can already do this list of things and ours isn't doing that yet and O-M-G COULD HE BE DEVELOPMENTALLY DELAYED?!"

I can already see the pediatrician trying not to roll her eyes at me now.

Blogging Therapy

Writing these posts has been strangely therapeutic for me, which is exactly what I hoped for, and why I decided to share them. Some of the things that bother me are really heavy topics (what if my son gets bullied by his cousin, and what do I do about my own insecurities with men?) but then again, if I say nothing and bottle it up, what good does that do?

I can see my own irrationality when it's all written out. Why should I be worried about something that may not ever be a problem? Why should I assume that because men I know think poorly of their mothers that my son will think poorly of me? Is it really fair of me to assume that my son will need protecting from a cousin that also hasn't been born yet?

I'm going to make a lot of mistakes in the coming years. Some mistakes will be very minor. Some mistakes will haunt me for the rest of my life. But this could be a learning opportunity. When I admit to my son that I messed up, he will learn that it is going to happen ... but that life will go on. I hope he will accept my faults and not use them against me later. I hope he and his cousin enjoy each other's company.

I hope he grows up to be someone strong, but compassionate. A leader who can also ask for help when he needs it. A person who achieves much, but also knows how to be humble.

In short, I want him to be awesome.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Appointment at 35 Weeks

Tuesday I went in for (what should have been) a normal appointment. I got a flu shot, hoisted myself up on the table, and had goo rubbed on my stomach so the Doppler could pick up the baby's heartbeat. The nurse had trouble locating it for the first time in ages. Despite the sugary breakfast cereal I'd eaten that morning, the baby was still sleepy and would not be prodded into a better position. But we did finally record a heartbeat of 140 or so.

I mentioned to the nurse that I had some intense pelvic pain on Wednesday night (the 12th) and believe that the baby dropped sometime later that night or early Thursday morning. I said that his movements haven't been nearly as frequent since then. She notified the doctor, who set me up with an ultrasound and a non stress test to be done right after my appointment.

Mark and I hadn't seen the baby since my scan at 25 weeks, and he looks so much more like a baby now. Chubby feet, chubby cheeks, and the sonographer even highlighted an area at the top of his head where little hairs had sprouted.

And then I finally connected with him. He isn't this weird alien thing that was being projected on the wall. He is a human, a human that is part me, and part Mark. He is a tiny little being that needs me and depends on me. I'd been a little scared because I hadn't made that connection yet. Yeah, I loved him and I was going to take care of him, but it wasn't that agape love that parents develop for their children. That unconditional love, that sacrificial love. Some moms develop that love the first time they see the little bean-shaped fetus at their first ultrasound. I worried that something was wrong with me because I didn't. But really, just because you don't doesn't mean that you won't.

He squirmed a bit on the screen, but wasn't really interested in punching or kicking like the sonographer wanted, so she used a little vibrating tool that would elicit a stronger reaction. I think he elbowed me so hard that my entire stomach moved! After that, I went to another part of the clinic for a non stress test. The nurse over there was the first nurse that I've had who wasn't very nice. She was very snippy and didn't explain what the monitors and the button were for - I was glad I had already done some reading on them so that I wouldn't just be sitting there, helpless. She almost made me feel like it was my fault that the monitor wasn't able to pick up the heartbeat, like I was moving around too much. She came in to check on me after I had recorded three kicks and stomped off again, as if it was my fault that I was having decreased movement and was wasting her time. I was glad when a different nurse came in a little later and said that I was good to go after looking over the readout that the machine I was hooked up to had printed.

The doctor wanted to see me again but was falling behind with her appointments, so her nurse came back in to tell me that the doctor was satisfied with my ultrasound and non stress test. I still have been having less movement than before, but I think this is my new normal. I can accept that. I start my weekly appointments now, so I'll see her again on Tuesday the 25th. Since I'll be 36 weeks (9 months) then she'll be checking me regularly to see how close I am to delivery. I can't believe it's almost here! At last! The light at the end of the tunnel!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Biggest Fear in Raising a Boy

Even though I have more experience raising and being around boys, I feel infinitely less prepared to handle this than I did when I thought I was having a girl. To some extent, I am afraid of having a boy.

So what am I going to do? Even admitting this will make some people raise their eyebrows and mutter "ungrateful." But being judged isn't making them go away. It just makes me feel belittled. For now, I can put aside most of my fears. A lot of them are petty, and I may not have to deal with them at all, so worrying about them now is silly. But there is one fear that nags at me.

I worry that he will make me feel stupid.

Ever since I was little, men have been putting me down and making me feel inferior. Male teachers made jokes at my expense when I didn't understand material. Male friends enjoy humiliating me for a laugh. Even men in my family, including a nephew who used to adore me, tend to use that incredulous voice when they talk to me - the one that plainly indicates that they can't believe they're talking to such an idiot.

I can't even convince myself that he wouldn't do that to his mommy. I know just as many boys who think their moms are idiots as I do boys who think their moms hung the moon. My odds are not good. If friends and family already think I'm stupid, he's going to pick up on it. If he ridicules me and anyone laughs at it, his behavior will be reinforced. Then what do I do? Once it starts, if it starts, how do I stop it?

And how do I stop feeling like this? Feeling like I need to be guarded against a baby now because of how he might behave when he gets older?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sibling Rivalry

My sister-in-law is due three days before me. I should be elated. In my family, I never had cousins to play with because they were all 10 or more years older than me. My baby will have a playmate on every family vacation, and share a birthday with someone who could potentially be his best friend, especially since she's expecting a little boy too.
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But I'm not really that excited about it.

I've been asked if I would be jealous about my baby sharing a birthday with a neighbor's newborn or a celebrity's baby, and I don't think that's fair at all. My in-laws didn't tell me that they might miss the birth of our first-born because some random person is having a baby. If they miss it, it'll be because they decided to be with their daughter and her children ... and probably because they live closer....

I shouldn't be so judgmental. I know the car ride between their town and our city is unpleasant, totaling more than 300 miles. We've made the trip about once a month so far, so I know very well how disheartening it can be to get in the car and know you're going to spend a quarter of your day there.

Sometimes I also worry about the effect their son will have on mine. Judging from my nephew, her first (and until now only) child, this new boy will be raised to be a rough-and-tumble sort of boy. That's pretty much the opposite of how Mark and I behave, and probably the opposite of how our boy will behave too. Will family vacations be spent drying my son's tears because his cousin shoved him again, or called him a sissy because he wouldn't play-fight with him? When I pick him up from Nanny and Papa's house after spending time with his cousin, will we have to help him unlearn aggressive behavior?

Of course, it's just as likely that my son will be the terror that will give my sister-in-law grief. She may be the one who has to remind her son for the umpteenth time that "we do not hit!" after he spends time with my son. Our son might spend more of vacation in time-out because he was bullying his cousin. We won't know for a few more years, so there really isn't any point in speculating about it now.

Besides, there may be no problems at all.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Never Forget?

This popped up on xkcd a while ago, but my mind keeps dwelling on it.

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There is a substantial amount of things on this list that I already don't know anything about. Yeah, I've heard about what happened to Challenger, and I know about Chernobyl because my dad worked at a nuclear plant, but I don't have memories of sitting in front of the television, horror-struck as I watched these events unfold. I don't think back fondly on any Star Wars movie, and working on any Apple computer doesn't make me smile and realize how far we've come in the last 36 years.

It's not until OJ Simpson's Trial that I finally start remembering something. I wondered why the news was showing a white SUV driving down the highway, why they weren't talking about anything else, and can we please switch it to Nickelodeon now? I remember having a brief discussion in my third grade class, and Mrs. McLemore giving us a very basic description of the purpose of a jury, and then we got to play the jury and determine if we thought he was guilty or not. (Times were very different then - no third grade teacher could get away with discussing a murder trial with her students now.)

I remember learning what impeachment meant in fifth grade, and how it didn't necessarily mean that the president was removed from office, and that until now Andrew Johnson was the only president that had been impeached.

I remember Columbine. I wrote a note to my 7th grade counselor after it happened because a boy in my class thought that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had the right idea. "People here don't understand people like me, and they should be shot." His name was Allen. I was afraid of him after that day.

I remember 9/11. I remember the principal asking teachers to turn on their televisions and that there would be no morning announcements. I remember my choir director saying, "Nothing is more important than our upcoming concert." I remember going to second period, Sophomore English, and being told that class was meeting in the library. I remember watching the big screen TV and wondering why we were watching a movie instead of learning. I remember realizing with horror (and a little embarrassment) that it wasn't a movie. I remember that some students were in a panic because they thought our tiny town would be hit soon too - with a nuclear plant just 10 miles away, people tended to be on edge. I don't remember much else. I probably asked Dad if we were safe when he got home, if he got home before I went to bed. Fall is outage season, so he would have been working longer hours, and I'm sure the stress level was much higher that day than normal.

It's so strange to think that one day there will come a time when the people who don't remember such a traumatic incident will outnumber the people who do. But when I think about it, it's not so strange. Even my oldest nephew, who is about to be sixteen, most likely too young to remember it. The other two are far too young. A little sad maybe, that they don't have anything so unifying, but I suppose that they will eventually. Hopefully it will be something more positive.

I wonder if my son will ask me if I remember 9/11, or anything else from this list for that matter. Will stare at me with the look of someone trying so desperately to put himself in my shoes so he can experience what I experienced, just like I did when I asked my parents if they remembered the Kennedy assassination, or Woodstock? And what major event is going to happen in his lifetime that will affect him and everyone around him so greatly?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Class About Llamas

Spoiler alert: There were no llamas. It was actually a Lamaze class.

Today my husband and I woke up earlier than normal and went to my hospital for a birthing class. Earlier as in 7:30. Considering how little sleep I got, it hit me like a truck. But! I didn't fall asleep in class. It's the little victories. I'm really glad that Mark was there with me to hold my hand while we introduced ourselves to other people in the class. I don't know why I was so introverted today, but I was glad that he would fill in the gaps of silence.

Even though it was a Lamaze class, I was actually surprised how little time was spent on practicing breathing techniques and coaching. We did a little bit of massage and birth positions, but they were really just a small portion of the class. I much of the class was spent talking about medical interventions and cesareans. Granted, both of those are much more complicated than a non-medicated birth. Epidurals require a consent form, and they have to talk about the risks involved when you bring those medicines into your body. The video of the non-medicated birth was a little more ... I hate to say it was entertaining, because birth can be difficult to watch, but you felt more connected to the woman who was not medicated versus the women who were medicated and the woman who had a cesarean.

Before we went on lunch break, we got to take a small tour of the labor and delivery floor. It was neat watching the instructor break down the bed just like the nurses will when it comes time to deliver the baby.

When we got back from lunch we were shown things that would be provided for us by the hospital, like the mesh underwear I keep hearing about. They look like the top part of control-top pantyhose! I will remain skeptical of their awesomeness until after delivery, I guess.

We also learned about cesarean sections in the afternoon portion, complete with a computer-generated version of the incisions made and how the baby is removed. Let me tell you, I've read a lot about cesareans ... reading is nothing like seeing it, even in animated form. I was pretty freaked out by the entire thing.

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My favorite part of the day was when we went to the postpartum floor to tour the nursery and postpartum rooms. Two of the three babies were already asleep when we walked past the huge window, but one of them watched us through sleepy eyes. Absolutely adorable.

I can't wait to see my little boy and his little knit pumpkin hat, sleepily gazing at me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Boy Fashion Makes Me Say "Eww!"

Can I be honest here?

Whenever I walk into the Gymboree at my mall, I die a little on the inside.

On my left is a plethora of lovely dresses and stylish patterned shorts and t-shirts, complete with adorable accessories. On my right are some clothes that are trying oh-so-hard to be cute, but they just don't quite make it there, or they crossed the line entirely and look extremely effeminate. I think the ladies that work there know it too, since the boy-clothes are mostly positioned on the wall with maybe two floor displays, while the rest of the store is girl-clothes and coordinating floor displays.
Avenger Graphic Tee, $6.97
Wal-Mart.com

Bigger, all-in-one stores are even worse. Passing by the boys' department is like walking through a giant advertisement for whatever superhero/cartoon character/wrestler is popular at the moment, designed by people who couldn't be bothered to put something sophisticated on these fabric sandwich boards. The designs on these clothes are so bold that they are borderline offensive.

That's not to say I wouldn't let my boy wear superhero-themed clothes at all. I just prefer subtle designs over boisterous slaps-in-the-face. I would be okay with my son wearing shirts like these onesies at ThinkGeek. They say, "Yes, this is the logo for my favorite superhero," but they don't scream it at you.

One of my favorite stores is Threadless because of their awesome prices and clever designs, which sometimes include subtly nerdy prints. And now they carry baby clothes too! One day I will have to order a kid-sized "Do-Re-Mi-Quack!" shirt so that he can match me.

I think the biggest issue I have with boys' clothing, though, is the fact that there is very little crafting/sewing/knitting/creating done for boys on the internet. There are endless tutorials for pillowcase dresses and giant head-eating-flower headbands, but when it comes to making things for boys, most of the time I see "he doesn't like handmade stuff, so I don't bother." But there are people who are trying. I started following Seven Thirty Three because she does a weekly linkup of boy-themed projects on the internet. Dana from MADE has also done an annual series on Celebrate the BOY, and I really hope that she does it again this year because the projects from the last two years are phenomenal.

Maybe I should be the change I want to see in the world, and start devoting my time to boy-specific projects, to finding fabric prints that are appropriate and not tacky, to creating patterns that result in garments that will make both of us yell, "AWESOME!" and give each other high fives. And then some future crafty mom who's expecting a boy can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that she can still continue doing her thing but now she can share it with her son too.

It's definitely something to think about.

For legal purposes, I should probably mention that while parts of this post read like a review, I was not approached by any company or person, nor was I compensated for any opinion I had. This post was thought of, researched, and written by me, and only me.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Laborious Knitting

I'm spending my Labor Day trying to knock out some more rows on the Doctor Who scarf. (I guess I don't really understand the purpose of Labor Day....)

For some perspective, I made little graphic of the scarf. The true colors at the top shows how much I've knitted, and the faded colors at the bottom show how much is left to go. Honestly, it was reassuring to see more than half of the scarf done. Suddenly, 376 rows doesn't look quite so intimidating.

I mean, it's still a little intimidating. But slightly less so.

My main goal for this month is to get this scarf absolutely finished - meaning not just the knitting part, but also the weaving in of ends and attaching fringe as well. I hope to be taking this scarf to the post office on September 30th. That way, I can spend all of October focusing on baby knits. I'm ashamed to say that I've knit nothing for my little boy yet, and I'd really like to have something done for him when he arrives.

You might be looking at this and wondering why it looks so crazy long, maybe longer than one you saw on another blog. That's because this is the scarf used in seasons 16 and 17. It's a compilation of two previous scarves, and is pretty monstrous. I have no idea how long it is actually supposed to be. One website said 15 feet, another said 26, and I naturally did not want to be working on 26 feet of scarf so I'm going with 15. Although now that I look at it, it probably is supposed to be closer to 26....

Some changes were made to my pattern because I'm starting to run low on the off-white color. I really don't want to buy another skein just to knit a few rows, particularly since I'm trying to pare down on my crafty supplies before we move again next summer. I'm trying to keep the stripe widths as proportional as possible, but I can tell that the chunks on one side of the scarf are quite a bit smaller than they are on the other. Hopefully the guy I'm knitting this for won't notice.... Or if he does, hopefully he won't care.

Oh, by the way, my nifty little graphic on the side was shrunk down slightly so it wouldn't take up a lot of space. If you want to see the clearer, full size one (which also has no fading on it) then just click here. Want to use that graphic for yourself? That's fine by me. Just leave a link here in the comments or on the Flickr page. I just like seeing what other people make.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Appointment at 32 weeks

No news is good news - turns out the reason I never got a call after my appointment at 29 weeks is because I don't have gestational diabetes. High fives to all the guys!

Everything still measures on schedule. His heartbeat was a comparatively slow this morning (126) but the doctor and nurse swore it was still in an acceptable range. I'm still a little worried about it, of course. I worry about everything. It's just my nature.

I go back in on the 18th of September, and by then I will have attended my Lamaze class and I will (hopefully) have a pediatrician lined up for when the baby is born. After that, it's pretty much just a waiting game.

Honestly though, I'm at the point where I think I'm just about done with this whole pregnancy thing. There aren't just a ton of things left to buy, and the things that haven't been purchased yet are things that can be purchased even after the baby arrives. I'm kind of burned out on clothes shopping - but if you want to buy him something, please look at this hoodie from Gymboree, because I love it bunches. If I had to say that there was anything left that I really ought to get done soon, it's to stop by the fire station and have someone check to make sure the car seat was properly installed. I might wait until the 19th to do that, since I know I'll be in town that day to pick up Wonder Woman #0. I so have my priorities in order.

I don't understand what people mean when they say to enjoy this time. Why? I don't sleep anymore. I lose my balance frequently, and recently had a bad fall because of that. Sitting, standing, and everything in between hurts. Can't I have my reward now, please? I keep telling myself that it's just for another 4 - 8 weeks, but really, it's probably going to be closer to 8. Blah. Come on September! Hurry up and get done so it can be October already!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crafting Ennui

I'm not one of those people who can keep up lots of projects. Essentially, my personality makes me  obsess on ONE THING and it is THE BEST THING EVER I WILL LOVE IT ALWAYS and everything else just sits on the side. After a (week, few weeks, month) then my love for it starts to die down and is replaced with another obsession. It's actually the main reason why I've talked for years about starting an Etsy store and still haven't started one ... I knit four things for it and hit the  "blah, knitting" wall.

Actually, a large part of that wall is my on-again-off-again project, the 15-foot-long scarf of DOOM Doctor Who scarf. Do you realize how much garter stitch is in 15 feet? Too much. Here, this is about what it'll look like it when I'm done:

The 4th Doctor and his crazy scarf.
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Really, I've made pretty good progress. I started it in February, and even after taking off a few weeks here and there, I have about 5 or so feet left. But whenever I go to work on it, I end up putting it down in favor of doing something - anything! - else. I hate the yarn I'm using now. I hate the color scheme (it looks like the 70s barfed a rainbow.) I hate the mindlessness of garter stitch, and how tight my stitches are getting.

So what did I do at the beginning of summer to get my mind off of it? I started working on Christmas presents. I'm not going to go into detail about them because some of my friends read this blog, and all of my friends are getting pretty much the same thing, but it involves sewing, some embroidery and applique, a little paint, and one will even involve lights. (Don't worry, it'll make sense in a few months when I write a post on them.)

Of course, the sheer task of sewing up approximately 20 (spoilers) in addition to the gifts I was going to make for my family is, well, overwhelming to say the least. And when I get overwhelmed, I shut down.

What needs to happen is that I need to finish something, whether it be completing one of the Christmas presents that I've already started or finish knitting the monstrous scarf. I think that, once something is finished, I will get back my energy and find the motivation to finish more projects. So for right now, I'm going to shut down my computer, pick up my needles, and knit the heck out of that scarf. Wish me luck!

When you feel no motivation to work on a project, what helps you get working on it again?

Monday, August 20, 2012

26 Years Old

Shirt from Threadless
The sun has set on another day, but for me it was a pretty important day. Today was my birthday!

I've always loved my birthday, even though it's right around the time school starts. When I was younger, I liked being able to take treats in for my classmates at the beginning of school. I was the first one who got a "class birthday" every year. When the first day of school and my birthday were the same day, it made the first day less scary because so many people wished me a happy birthday.

Plus, my parents usually planned a super-fun pool party for me and my friends on our first weekend.

So today I turned 26 years old, and I also hit 31 weeks in my pregnancy! I can tell that since I've quit work, the weight is really starting to pack on ... guess I better get back to walking 15 miles a week. Bummer. At least the weather has been really pleasant lately. I hope it stays that way!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Invasion is Here

MANN   VS   MACHINE


Team Fortress 2's latest update came out on Wednesday, but I didn't get to play until Friday due to some trepidation about the game in general. (I quit playing in April because the online gaming scene was raising my blood pressure too much, which isn't good for pregnant ladies.) But a friend of mine showed me the trailer above and I had to at least see what it was all about.

The format is basically a survival mode - waves of robots will come at you, and you need to stop them before they drop a bomb at your base, blowing it to smithereens. The bomb carriers also follow a set path, indicated by blue markers before each wave starts, so it has a tower defense feel to it as well.

This new mode reminds me of another popular Valve game, Left 4 Dead, which I should add is pretty much my favorite game ever. Naturally, I love this too. It can be really tough, especially when you don't have the appropriate classes covered, but it is oh so satisfying when you do stop the robots from invading. I've also been tinkering around with the upgrades you can purchase, and I feel like I've got a really solid build for the Heavy in this mode.

If you want to know more about Mann vs. Machine, check out their page about it. And if you want to play with me, you can find me on Steam.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Letter to the Baby, part 3

Dear Baby,

I'm sorry that lately I've been eating so much that you end up not getting any wiggle room. You see, my birthday is coming up soon, and birthdays mean eating lots of food. You'll understand soon enough.

Love,
Mommy

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Disappointment with Craft Wars

Let's talk about Craft Wars; more specifically, my problem with it.

Before I climb on my soapbox, I want to say that I do admire what the crafters come up with in spite of the time constraints and odd challenge materials. It is a reminder that I should not limit myself on what I can do because of time or resources. I just have to think a little more creatively.

My problem starts when I see just how much stuff is in the challenge materials. It's always new, and there is always lots of it. In the very first episode, the master craft was to create a playhouse out of school supplies. Having taught in a district where the majority of families couldn't afford all of the supplies on the school list, I watched with a furrowed brow while composition notebooks were ripped apart for wallpaper and brand new pencils were sawed down for accent pieces. Other viewers shared my concerns too. "Yeah, that looks really great, but there are lots of children and schools that could have actually used those supplies."

It happens every week. A slew of comments appear, mentioning all sorts of places and charities that could have benefited from the challenge materials that were used on the show. I know that whoever is in charge of coming up with challenges and materials can't change it now since the episodes have already been filmed, but I do hope that if the show is renewed for another season that they are a little more mindful of the fact that there are people who are in need of this equipment, and that no crafter is going to have 60+ boogie boards at his or her disposal to build a lounge chair.

The "Heavy Metal" episode was really got to me. I hadn't been able to watch Craft Wars the last two Tuesdays due to being away from home, but when I got home just before midnight last night, I was able to catch the episode from last week. When they wheeled out the paint cans for the master craft challenge, I wasn't bothered. Then they brought out instruments. Perfectly decent, brand new, shiny instruments to smash and break apart so the competitors could build (in my opinion) a stupid sculpture for the Grammy museum. Let me interrupt myself here and say that I don't think the sculptures themselves were stupid. The ideas and construction were clever, and I applaud both contestants for their creativity and ingenuity. What made me beyond angry is that they had to destroy music instruments or face losing the contest and $10,000.

My husband was a band director at the same school where I taught elementary music and art. Those same students who couldn't afford all of their school supplies definitely could not afford instrument payments. So who purchased them? We did, with our budgets, and if we needed something else for our classrooms, we bought it with our own money. We learned how to make basic repairs to instruments to save our students' and our school's money. To see instruments that could have been used by that band program being used so frivolously ... I am just infuriated.

When will Craft Wars stop asking their contestants to make paltry projects for the sake of making something, and start giving them resources that another person/organization isn't in desperate need of? When will they ask their contestants to do something that matters?