Sunday, December 20, 2009

In the Christmas Spirit

This will be my last post for 2009! A year ago today, my daughter hadn't been born yet, she was 2 days late and I was getting pretty antsy. The following is my recollection of that time:

We had taken our Lamaze classes and I was sitting on my exercise ball and we went on walks every day at least once. We went and ate spicy Indian food too. Still nothing. It only started to really get cold when it was very close. I remember one day that a frigid cold front came through and we walked during the day instead of at night, hoping to get as much warmth as we could, but the whole walk was us thinking how crazy it was to be taking a walk when it was that cold. We had very fun times talking to our baby and stamping our feet trying to encourage something to happen and singing songs and exploring our neighborhood, looking at everyone's Christmas decorations and talking about our future family and plans and such.

I was so prepared ahead of time, I had put our Christmas decorations up early so that I wouldn't have to worry about it and I would be sure to have them up, because everyone was coming to our house, with or without a baby.

I was a bit depressed about not producing a baby yet and as Christmas loomed I was pretty convinced that I would have to be induced. I didn't think I would have a baby on Christmas, what were the odds? I had just passed my mucous plug, but that was no guarantee that I wouldn't still hit my induction deadline. I was trying to keep my spirits up because I wanted to just be at peace with however she was going to come even if it wasn't how I wanted it to be. If I thought about it too much though, I would get pretty blue. On Christmas Eve, all those feelings were coming to a head. I was convinced that Christmas was going to come and go with no baby and my whole family would come over and we would have Christmas but it wouldn't be as much fun because we had all thought she would be here before then. I whined that all I wanted was a baby for Christmas, but that I wasn't going to get her in time. I knew that I had to find joy though, so I cried a little and talked to Bryan and asked him to help me distract myself so that I could have good memories and be in a festive mood. It was Christmas Eve, after all! We decided to bake some Christmas cookies. We were going to make Christmas tree shaped ones and went to the store and bought fun candies to decorate them with. Bryan wasn't used to decorating cookies, and we had lots of fun. I put on my Christmas morning pajamas and went to bed.

At 5:30 in the morning on Christmas day I woke up and went to the bathroom. I then noticed a short crampy contraction like sensation. It went away and I was going to go back to sleep. It came again and again and again. I was watching the clock in the dark and it seemed like it was happening about every five minutes. It didn't hurt that bad though. I told Bryan what was happening and that I was going to go and get in different positions and walk around a bit and see if it went away or not. (Many times this had happened and as soon as we went on a walk or changed things up, it would fade). A little while later, Bryan got up and checked on me, it was still happening. He started to write them down and we eventually had been having contractions every five minutes for two hours. Bryan called the nurse line and they said to come in.

In retrospect, I would have waited to go to the hospital, but I was so anxious to get the ball rolling that I was going to jump on the situation as soon as possible.

We called Celena and Jack, who were already packing all the presents up in their car and Mom and Dad's house. (they were helping them to bring the inordinate amount of gifts to my house for us to all open; mom is crazed about Christmas). They were ready to come to the hospital right away, but we told them to wait until I actually got admitted. I was worried they would just send me home because the contractions weren't strong enough.

I went to triage and they kept asking me to rate my pain, they seemed to want it to be worse, but it just wasn't that uncomfortable. It was happening regularly though. They called my doctor and she allowed me to be admitted because she knew that induction was the next day, so she was of the mind to get the show on the road. I was admitted around 9 am. We then called everyone back and my family was there shortly. We also called Bryan's parents and they got in the car to head into Austin.

When I was being put into the bed and hooked up to everything for monitoring, I thanked my nurse for being there on Christmas. She said that she wished she could say she was happy to be there, but that the only reason was because she was new to that hospital, so she was 'low man on the totem pole'. So, right off the bat, Nurse Brenda and I weren't friends. I was told during the hospital tour and at the Lamaze class that the nurses would ask me what my wishes were relative to getting an epidural or not, and once I told them, that they would not ask again or press the issue. Nurse Brenda went into her personal preference for the epidural several times and was being really pushy, saying that it was the best way and that she knew there were these 'earthy granola' types who didn't want to do it, but that she just thought it was the only way to go.

I told her that I wanted to try without it and see if I could do it. I was concerned because I had a compressed nerve in my lower back, so I didn't know how that would affect things. If I had to get the epidural, I would, but, if I didn't need it, I didn't want it. I also didn't want pitocin.

Celena and Bryan and I were all hanging out. Mom and Dad had come and stepped in, but were waiting most of the time in the lobby. I wasn't allowed to eat except for popsicles, water and jello. The jello was nasty. The popsicles were pretty good though. Bryan had some snacks in our bag. I was hooked up to fluids so that I wasn't really getting dehydrated or too hungry, but I really wanted to eat. Bryan was making us laugh and things were pretty fun.

I was being polite and waiting for Nurse Brenda to unhook me and let me walk around a bit. I kind of hinted at it and she said that my doctor wanted me to stay hooked up, so I waited some more. My doctor came in to check me, as it had been awhile and the contractions were regular and were getting worse. I was at 3 cm, but my water hadn't broken yet. Things were progressing fairly slowly, so my doctor broke my water. Nurse Brenda came in a little while later and checked me and said that I still wasn't much further and that she was going to give me pitocin. I told her I really didn't want to get it and asked her if I could get up and walk around and see if I could progress on my own. (I had been laying on my back for hours). She reluctantly said that she would give me an hour, but that then she would come back and give me the pitocin anyway. I asked her if she couldn't check me to see if I had progressed any more at that point. She said that they really didn't like to check any more frequently than was necessary once the water was broken. I told her that that was what I wanted.

I put on my special undies and got unhooked and put another gown on for decency. Bryan and I went to walk around the halls. There was no one around at all. We did walk past the room where Nurse Brenda was hanging out, talking on her cell phone, distinctly getting the impression that she wanted me to just do what I was told so that her job would be easier. Walking was good, we would stop when I had a contraction and Bryan would count me through it.

I went back to the room after an hour and Nurse Brenda checked me and was all surprised when I was at 4 cm. She didn't give me pitocin, but she hooked me back up and wasn't keen on unhooking me unless I needed to go to the bathroom. She also said that I should have the baby by 7:00 pm, because that was when she got off. I marked the time mentally.

Celena and Bryan helped me through the next few hours. Celena was massaging me during contractions and they were both keeping my spirits up between. Bryan's eyes became my focal point. The pain was getting fairly intense now and I was wanting to be in different positions. I tried lots, but didn't find one that I felt I could settle on as the 'one'. During one rough contraction, I was standing and Bryan was hugging me. I started crying out of nowhere. It was like an involuntary response to everything that was going on. I didn't feel that emotional, but it felt right and it was like my body was emotional. I had to have Bryan make me focus on him and not let me go inside of myself during the pain because it was much worse when I did that, but at the same time, it was easier. I felt okay, but it was already early evening and no one could give me any idea how much longer anything would take and there was nothing that would reliably speed things up either. I was anxious because I could feel myself getting more worn out and didn't know how much longer my energy would hold up and I still had to push, having no idea how long that would take.

Every time Nurse Brenda came in was tense and annoying. Finally, 7 pm came with a new nurse, Heidi, who was wonderful. I was at 7 cm; at this point my contractions were so bad that I was passing out between them, only waking up for the pain. I spoke with Bryan and we both agreed that we wanted to go for the epidural at that point. I did feel that my compressed nerve was making things worse too. I asked Heidi about the epidural, expressing that I really hadn't wanted to get it, but was thinking I wanted it now. She said that if every birth took 5 hours, that she didn't think people would need it, but when they took so long and the woman was so exhausted, that it was really a great thing. I was dreading each contraction and was beyond really being able to focus on anything and was just moaning and writhing during them. The anesthesiologist couldn't get there quick enough once I had decided to get it. He came and was on his cell phone pretty much the whole time, except when he was actually injecting me. I had to stay as still as possible while this was happening and my contractions were so bad that it was difficult, but I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel, so I did pretty well.

The pain didn't go away immediately, but it got better pretty quickly. I ended up needing more because I'm so tall. They gave me a little button to push if I wanted more medicine. Celena had left earlier when Bryan and I were discussing getting the epidural and I was feeling like just having he and I in the room because I was so uncomfortable. I asked for her to come back so she could see how much better I was doing. I could still feel my contractions, but it was just pressure, there was no pain and my lower back was completely pain free. We played my relaxation music and I was able to get some rest. I felt so much better and was very relieved to be making progress and not at the mercy of my contractions any longer. Bryan stayed with me and everyone else waited in the lobby. My mother was annoyed because there were no eateries open. We kept having to point out that it was Christmas and that that made sense. Heidi was supposed to come in and check me again around 10. I was eager for her to come right on time because I didn't know how long pushing would last and I wanted to have a Christmas baby. What fun is being in the hospital all Christmas day and then having the baby the day after? I knew everyone had been waiting for so long in the lobby. I was sure I would be at 10 cm.

Heidi didn't come in until after 10:30 because another patient's water broke all over her and she had to change her scrubs. There were apparently people coming in that night at very late stages of labor. She checked me and said I was ready to start pushing. I was impatient, but they had to do some prep before I could actually start and I didn't really begin until after 11 pm. I had less than an hour to get this baby out! I pushed as hard as I could and took every opportunity they gave me, they said I could take breaks, but I didn't want to. I wanted to push even more than my contractions would allow. It was very difficult and when I pushed it felt like my head was going to burst, but I was focused. Heidi and Bryan told me I was doing great, but you can't tell until you get very close to the end that anything is really happening. I had a little bit of bleeding, so Heidi called my doctor just to be on the safe side. By the time Dr. Cutler arrived, the bleeding had stopped, but she decided to stay because I was just about to have another contraction and she wanted to watch and see how things were going. She said I was doing great. On the next push, I could really see the baby's head crowning and they told me to stop pushing because they had to get the bed ready for delivery. I stopped, but the baby didn't. It was like when you break the seal on a brand new tube of acrylic paint, she just kept coming. I remember Heidi putting her hand on the baby's head as if to keep her in, but it was happening regardless. Bryan remembers that someone was surprised and actually took a step back, knocking some things over. She just came right out onto the bed. Everyone was very surprised by how quickly it happened. Dr. Cutler said she was glad she had stayed!

I saw her little face in the mirror and was impressed by how normal and pretty she looked. They put her on me for a brief moment and I got to see the umbilical cord, which was so pretty. It was surreal and I couldn't even comprehend it all. They put her under the warmer while they worked on fixing me back up. Bryan went over to look at her and take pictures. He said she was looking around with one eye closed, all suspicious. He said she looked great. After I was cleaned up, everyone came in to the room. She had been wrapped up and I got to try breastfeeding her, it went well. Bryan's parents and sisters were there, Nathalie and Jason, Celena and Jack and my parents. I remember Celena was the first to hold her, then I think it was Ginny, then Bryan for awhile and then Nathalie. The room was bright and I was so proud.

Celena and Jack had a leftover breakfast sandwich from Jack in the Box that they hadn't eaten. I was so thrilled to eat, I didn't care what it was, so I was very happy. They asked me to try to go to the bathroom, but I couldn't yet. My legs were still numb, but I could walk pretty well, but my body didn't even seem to remember how to go to the bathroom. We packed everything up and went to our post partum room. I think Dorothy was being washed up at that time.

We got to our room and got settled around 2 am. They asked if I wanted anything from room service. I just wanted to sleep, but I got some juice and some graham crackers which were delicious. A little while later, they wanted me to try and go to the bathroom again and it still was nowhere near happening, so they got two nurses to put a catheter in me. It was awful and I just laid there and pretended to be asleep and tried to mentally go somewhere else. I was so tired and the epidural was wearing off and I just wanted them to leave me alone. It took awhile to do and was very uncomfortable. Bryan was asleep. It seemed like every time I started to go to sleep, someone was coming in to either check my vitals or the baby's vitals.

Bryan got more sleep than I did, but he was very uncomfortable on the fold out couch in the room. We had to mind the thermostat. It took Dorothy a little while to regulate her temperature. Bryan did most of the diapers because it was hard for me to get up and move and stuff. Feeding seemed fine, nurses would ask me if I felt it was going well and I said yes, so they left it at that. She was pretty hard to wake up, we had to take her out of the swaddling blankets and out of her clothes and move her around. It took 30 minutes just to wake her up so that she could eat. They seemed to want me to feed her more, she would eat sometimes for brief stretches and then fall asleep, we would wake her up again every 3-4 hrs., but they said if she wasn't eating for longer stretches that she should eat every two hours. Everything was confusing and overwhelming and you're so unsure of everything. I remember her snorting a bunch, I was worried, but they said it was normal. They were checking on her again because of her temperature and someone realized that she had amniotic fluid in her lungs. They were surprised she had been eating at all, because that normally makes babies feel so full that they will even gag. After that she would nurse for longer stretches, but we still had to wake her up.

I was so thrilled when they finally took the last piece of tape off of me. Taking a shower wasn't easy, but it felt so great to get clean and into my own clothes.

We left her in her outfit from the hospital for awhile, I didn't know if it was okay to put her in her clothes from home yet. We were finally able to put her in cuter clothes and we realized that her "outfit" was actually just two baby wrap shirts, one of which was rigged to serve as pants. Our clothes for her were much better. She was swaddled most of the time though, so you didn't see her clothes much.

One time while we were changing her diaper, she started to have a bowel movement. It started so small, we thought it was just the opening, but then the dark spot got bigger and in no time there was poo everywhere. It got on her hands, her feet, our hands, the blankets, her outfit, underneath the monitor on her ankle; it was a mess. We called for some help because we didn't have many wipes, but they didn't come very quickly and we had gotten it figured out by the time a nurse arrived.

Celena brought us a unicorn balloon. Ginny (MIL) and all her sisters came to visit at the same time. We went in on Thursday morning and got to go home Saturday afternoon. It seemed to take forever to do everything we needed to do on Saturday before we left. It was pretty nerve wracking to have her in the car, she didn't seem big enough for the seat and just looked so fragile. We brought her home and we had a big plate of our cookies and lots of food that my mother had planned to cook but just ended up leaving with us.

Early Saturday evening, shortly after we got home, Celena and Jack and my parents came over so we could open presents. Zoe and Marc came by for a short visit because they were leaving for France the next day for a vacation. We had an excessive Christmas. Everything was overwhelming and wonderful at the same time. I was so tired, but so happy; I got everything I had hoped for.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone. Take this time to enjoy your families as they are right now. Next year everything could be completely different!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Heart Hanukkah

I love Hanukkah and am really excited about the lovely menorah stamps the post office has this year. I also taught myself how to make schmaltz and latkes this year. I'm not Jewish. I'm actually in turbo Christmas mode. This is a picture of my 11 month old daughter yearning for her advent calendar treats (gerber yogurt melts). Several of my loved ones are Jewish; I also actually thought my husband was when we first met. He knows way more about Judaism than I do, he grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Houston and three of his closest friends are Jewish (two of whom are godparents to our daughter).

I never really had a favorite holiday; I like all the holidays, because they're all pretty fun. This year I'm beginning to realize that Christmas has officially become my favorite holiday. Last year, practically my entire family spent all Christmas day and evening in the hospital lobby waiting for me to give birth to my baby girl at 11:50 pm (just in time, whew!). The day we came home from the hospital, my family came over and we opened presents and it felt like no time had passed and that Christmas morning had lasted for days. I love decorating, sending cards, buying and wrapping presents, cooking, planning, traveling; I love it all, and I want to share that with everyone around me.

I remember learning about Jewish history for the first time from a girl older than I was at the time; she was in high school, I was in elementary school. She gave my sister and I a little bit of the history and answered some basic questions that I felt like I should have already known the answers to. Prior to that, Judaism was quite the mystery to me. I had heard of it, but didn't really understand that much about religion in general, not being brought up as a church goer. I found it confusing that it was a religion as well as a culture, not having a frame of reference for those things being particularly related.

I have been only too happy to learn even more and be exposed to more through my husband. I guess I've always felt like I should know a lot more about it. My name is a Hebrew word and people have been confused that I'm not Jewish because of it. We've been to a very traditional Jewish wedding and I so look forward to bar/bat mitzvahs of the future. I'm gradually feeling more and more at ease with my knowledge of Jewish culture and am so appreciative of that.

At this time of year, I want to share my glee with everyone, especially those close to me. I'm working on learning the ways that I can share the joys of the season with my Jewish friends in ways that are more considerate of their traditions and nostalgia. I've also been fairly obsessed as of late with making Etsy treasuries (which have also been distracting me from my blogging duties). I thought it only fitting that I make a Hanukkah themed treasury and am quite pleased with the result.

I sincerely hope to have at least partially tapped in to what really is fun and connected to the holiday as opposed to just presenting an alien's viewpoint of what those who observe it would want to see. Would love to hear opinions on this! Would also be into hearing any theme dreams for treasuries. I have loads of ideas myself, but would be happy to think about taking requests. I fancy myself a pretty sensitive and intuitive treasury maker. :D*

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and making the most of this special time of year when celebration, yummy food and being with loved ones is a cross-cultural good thing!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why I married my husband Reason #57; or Happy Thanksgiving!

I have recently discovered a love of making bread. I find it really exciting to literally make food. By combining things that, alone, do not really constitute food; you can create a yummy, healthy and versatile happy loaf of goodness. I think that's neat.

I'm making rolls for Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house this year. Our babies' first Thanksgiving and her first Thanksgiving in her new home (a short walk away from mine). We're pretty jazzed and are enough past the new baby stage to be able to take on projects to make this holiday a little more fancy than it has to be. What good is being a SAHM if you don't take the time to make things special?

I'm also in charge of one of those dips where you pour a prepared jar of sauce on top of some cream cheese. I got some tasty pomegranate chipotle sauce that came from Fredricksburg (one of my husband's and my fave places), but that wasn't quite fancy enough, so my sister and I decided it would be cute if I molded the cheese to be a festive shape for the occasion (you know, like you do). With our powers combined we rustled up squirrel and acorn shaped cookie cutters and I had my task set. I had never molded cream cheese using a cookie cutter (or anything else for that matter), but nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh?

Upon cramming the gooey-ness into the shapes I realized that I would never get it to be nice and flat and perfect (like a jello jiggler), so I decided to push it out right away and sculpt them into presentability. They pushed out better than I'd hoped and sculpting went smoothly because I didn't lose sight of the fact that it was a dip to be eaten, not a work of art. I did have a little Stepford moment of zen when I was completely absorbed in the task though.

I was pretty happy with it, but couldn't decide if I wanted to leave the eye just sculpted, or if I wanted to put a little clove in the cheese for the squirrel eye. I decided I could be just a little insane at that point, so I brought it into my husband to ask him what he thought; prefacing the question by telling him that it was silly. His response was that I, of course, needed to put the clove in, that it wasn't a silly question and that he loved me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Turkish Delights!

I really need to go to bed now, so no time for a real post. Just wanted to share my new treasury, a tribute to some amazing artisans all the way in Turkey! I kept running across lovely items and finding many of them originating there, so decided to highlight these glorious sellers. Hope you guys like it!

Ugh. I think I'm getting sick. Husband has early shift, so I can't sleep in. Hope I don't feel worse in the morning; it will not be a fun day if I do.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hear! Hear!

I am somewhat frequently peeved by Usage and Abusage of the English language. I'm the first to admit that I am far from perfect and am sure I am guilty of many faux pas in my written and spoken speech. The language is an odd one, full of wiggle room and exceptions. It is also a living, changing thing and can, therefore, be subject to the whims and tendencies of those using it. However, there are some wiggles and exceptions that I am not comfortable with; lest we devolve into the grunts and epithets spoken by the human race in the frighteningly plausible Idiocracy (by Mike Judge).

I took advanced English throughout my schooling. My mother started out her illustrious teaching career as an English teacher. I've been a proofreader in a professional setting. When I take the quizzes that are supposed to be able to tell you where you're from by your vernacular, the result is General American English. I have a reasonable grasp of what is and what isn't when it comes to grammar, punctuation and spelling. I try to always put two spaces after the end of a sentence* (even in texting). I admit that I'm a bit of a stickler and a dork, though I try to be as gracious as possible and mostly just worry about myself. Everyone makes mistakes. I have a chronic difficulty in spelling receive and surprise and my husband and I are constantly looking things up and learning things from each other. I often refer to websites for grammar and punctuation rules. Please do not take this as me putting myself out there as any kind of authority.

My whole life I thought that if something made sense with what you knew from past experience it "jived" with what you knew. Come to find out from Bryan that it actually "jibes" with what you know.


John: "Sally wants to go to the Renaissance Fair this weekend."

Trevor: "That jibes with everything I know about her."

I used the word "champing" (at the bit) and my husband hadn't heard it before. We looked it up and found out the "chomping at the bit" and "champing at the bit" are both accepted phrases.

Just this morning I wanted to agree heartily with someone on Facebook; but before I did, I had Bryan look it up so that I could clarify for myself whether it was "Here! Here!" or "Hear! Hear!" (the latter is correct).

It's an odd language. The important thing is to admit that we're all just doing our best and to check yourself; also to remove the stigma of helpful reminders from those around us when we blunder. That said, here are a few mistakes I've seen/heard repeatedly in recent months and would like to set the record straight (at least in my little corner of the internet).

I'm fairly certain that most of these are brought about by mishearing someone else and thinking you've heard them correctly, then using that version; or hearing enough people saying something incorrectly and thinking that they must be in the right. I've also encountered problems when someone has only read a word and never heard it spoken, though these are not examples of that situation.


"Loose" is the opposite of tight.

"Lose" is the action of misplacing something.


"Welt" is a raised bump on your skin.

"Whelp" is a young dog or wolf. Can also be used in slang to refer to a child or a young, impudent person.


It's Wheelbarrow.


"Breath" is what comes out of your mouth when you "Breathe"


"Moot" refers to something being doubtful or debatable: A moot point.

"Mute" refers to a person incapable of speech or the act of silencing something.


"Peel" is the natural covering of a fruit, such as a banana peel.

"Peal" is a loud burst of noise, as from bells or laughter. Ex: "There were peals of laughter coming from the cafeteria."

The word is not spelled or pronounced "Vo-lump-tuous". Even though it refers to lovely lady lumps, there's no "lump" in voluptuous.

Supposedly should not be pronounced "Supposively."

Could've is an abbreviation for "could have;" as in "I could have done something about it, but I chose not to." It isn't "could of."

One that I foul up all the time is an expression. I could have cared less/I couldn't have cared less.

It is so easy and common to say "I could care less." This, in writing, becomes abundantly clear as an ineffectual statement; but in everyday speech is less obviously wrong. It's easier to say than "I couldn't care less." That doesn't make it right.

Side note: I was interested to read about the origin of the word "O.K." on the yahoo home page the other day. If you didn't catch it, it was a fad in the 1850s(ish) to take a common phrase and then abbreviate it as though it were misspelled. Ex: "no good" was expressed by saying "K.G" - as if the expression were spelled "know good." Weird, huh? "O.K" is abbreviated from "oll korrect."

In short, I know that much of our common and accepted language has evolved from humble human tendencies/preferences/misconceptions/habits; but I guess I just hope that these words aren't getting muddy already. I don't want to see the language degenerate any faster than it has to.

*Upon inserting this text into Blogspot, all my lovingly typed spaces were messed up. Feel free to point out any hypocrisies you find in this post, but I already found that one!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


My best friend and one of the Godmothers to my daughter, Nathalie, had to move away from Austin to San Antonio a couple of months after her own daughter was born, who is now only 4.5 mos. old. My husband, Dicey and I went to visit them.

They are renting a house with well established landscaping, the showiest of which were the zinnias which joyfully crowded their front walk. I felt like sharing these with you.

I've recently become quite fond of zinnias. I purchased some on clearance at my local megalo hardware store and they went ape in my front yard. Then they shriveled up and turned brown. I pulled them up by the roots, but more popped up with our little second summer here in Texas. It seems like they spread, which, with their happy color and jubilant tiny flowers in the centers, could only be good as far as I can tell. I love the red one's little flower crown and how the pink one just has the one tiny fleur. So fun! Zinnia Love!

Monday, November 9, 2009


I went to an art fair to check out the lovely katinkapinka's booth of delightful curiosities and was totally blindsided by the opportunity to meet one of my favorite artists, none other than the utterly charming Tom Tierney! My sister had arrived earlier than I did and was the one to alert me by cell phone as the venue was confusing and convoluted and we had no chance of finding each other in person. As luck would have it, I was very close to where she was, so I didn't have to wait long before I got to meet, hug and chat with this lovely man.
I grew up loving his paper doll books, as my mother had several. They were special and not to be cut up, but they were so artful and engaging that I didn't really mind. (I think I did try to cut one up once though, sorry mom!). I now try to acquire them whenever I come across them at the second hand bookstore my husband works for. If I bought them new, I would be in the poor house, they're inexpensive, but geez this man is prolific! I can only hope to be as vibrant and relevant when I'm 81 yrs. old!

He was born in Texas :D*, has lived in New York, but last year decided to move to Smithville (small town between Austin and Houston) to be closer to his family. I couldn't be more thrilled. He has a studio there with a shop underneath and they're having a paper doll party in March! I'm also fortunate to have an artist husband who not only knows who he is, but likes his work and totally appreciates all this and is on board for us making the day trip with our baby girl.

He was exceedingly gracious, giving me an autograph and telling us the most amazing stories from his impressive, decade spanning career. Including how he met Greta Garbo and the impeccable Erte!!!

He also walked us through several of his books, telling us interesting facts and tidbits about movie and costume history that you can only get from a firsthand account. It was amazing.
I could have listened to him all day and hope to visit with him some more when I go to the paper doll party. (who wouldn't want to go to a paper doll party?!)

Anyway, I thought I would share, as it's always notable when one meets an art hero. Plus, some of you may have been unaware of his work, so I'm thrilled to offer him some unnecessary exposure! I could go on and on, but wanted to post this ASAP.

In other news, I actually have a treasury up right now! It's a miracle whenever this happens as it's tricky business. Please go check it out and click on the links, I think the amount of traffic helps it to be eligible for the front page!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Is upon me! Now that Halloween is past, I feel a little crazed about all the things I want to get done by Christmas, which seems to loom large in the very near future. I'm also full of holiday spirit as I remember my holidays last year leading up to my daughter being born just before midnight on Christmas day. I'm excited to think of all the traditions that we'll create in the years to come and defying the odds of Christmas birthdays being a drag. My husband and I are committed to making her birthday just as special, if not more so, as if it were any other time of year. So there!

I have several custom orders from friends and family to complete; makes me feel good to be busy, even if it's business from biased sources, it's still business!

My headaches have subsided for the most part. I wonder if I was stressed about Halloween? Surprising, but maybe that was it. Halloween was wonderful, incidentally. I couldn't have asked for a better 1st one for my baby girl. She had a great day. While I got ready she played with all my stage makeup on the floor of the bathroom. We visited her Daddy at his work (a bookstore) along with my sister and her family, who were also in costume.
A pit stop at the smoothie place afterwards was grand fun and delighted the smoothie girls as well. On the way to the car, D had a blowout and got her entire outfit dirty, but I had taken her important costume components off already and had spares of what she was wearing. I also didn't have any wipes with me (she really never has these blowouts, it was quite the fluke) but it happened when Celena was still very close by so the Bears came to the rescue and it ended up being no big deal. The weather was really nice too.

Then we went to our neighbors' little girl's birthday/Halloween party; where Dicey got to have a couple nibbles of cake and found lots of things to pick up off the floor and was so excited to be in a crowd of kids. She was totally comfortable in her costume, which made me want to burst with pride.
We hung out on the neighbors' driveway, playing with tiny pumpkins and kids until it started to get dark and trick or treaters were coming. Dicey waved at the kids when they came to our door and got to meet her first parrot, Gustavo!
We kept the babies up a little bit late because of daylight savings time, which was fun because D likes to stay up later than normal for exciting things. The Bears stayed and we watched ridiculous horror movies while passing out candy and eating pizza.

I'm in denial about Christmas present shopping though. I hope I don't start getting headaches before every holiday!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

blurred vision

I have had a headache almost all day. I took Tylenol (won't take anything stronger, still a nursing mom!). It started when I was at the computer, so I shouldn't be doing this right now. I went to go get a bowl of cereal and a glass of water because I thought that would fix it. When I got back to the computer, I was having trouble with my vision. I thought it was just the computer screen, but I was in the middle of a task I really wanted to get done, so I pushed forward. It didn't get any worse, but it didn't get any better. I kept blinking and trying different things, but it was like there was a smear on one of the lenses of my glasses that (within itself) was wavering around.

My husband came home for lunch and brought me another snack and a coke; I thought the caffeine would help. I didn't really notice the vision issue for awhile, but the headache was still there.

The vision problem came back later on after my daughter woke up from her nap, it was getting pretty bad, so I walked over to my sister's house to distract myself from focusing on the issue. It went away again, but I still have a headache. I had something similar in high school once with a really bad migraine. It was the same eye and kind of the same spot, but farther into my peripheral vision and just a fuzzy round spot, not a arc of wavy vision. This time I wouldn't go so far as to say my headache was as bad as a migraine. I've had those enough to know the difference. Well, guess if there's blurred vision, it's likely a migraine, but just not as bad pain wise? Not entirely sure. Should I be worried or is this sometimes just a fluke? Haven't had headache/migraine issues for a while, and even when I did it wasn't that bad or something I couldn't usually deal with by eating something and going to sleep or putting ice on my neck.

Off to take a shower and try ice on my neck.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Costume Basic for Baby 12 easy steps!

This is a pattern that I created for my 10 month old (who is a little on the small side, but this would fit a wide range of sizes) daughter's Bride of Frankenstein Halloween costume using cloth diapers! She will be wearing a long sleeved white onesie, long white pants and white socks underneath. I have also made her a Bride hairdo hat to complete the look. This tutorial is for the white gown/robe/tunic portion of her costume. Click on the pictures for larger versions of these images!

You will need:
4 white cloth diapers (the kind everyone uses as burp cloths these days)
white thread
4 snaps
(sewing machine is preferable for a couple of steps*, but not necessary)

Steps 1-2
First, you lay out two of the diapers; then fold over the inside edges to the middle, away from each other.

Steps 3-4
Next, sandwich the top edges of the diapers together so that the open flaps of the foldover are on the inside. Sew all four layers together just to the width of the folded over section. This creates your first shoulder seam. You will repeat steps 1-3 on your other 2 diapers so that you have 2 halves of your costume.
This caption reads (other side of stitched edge) It shows you what the shoulder of your finished costume looks like when it's folded right side out.

Steps 5-7
Now, lay your costume halves wrong side out again. Bring the two long edges that were folded over in step 2 together to make a side seam *easier with a sewing machine; leaving space for an armhole. Again, do this for the other half of your costume as well.

Step 8
Now to start bringing your two halves together! First (a somewhat optional step - mostly for aesthetics, somewhat for fitting) accordion fold and stitch the top edge (the leftover part that was not sewn into your shoulder seam) of one of your front-of-the-costume pieces to create a gather at the neckline of the costume. Do so to the other half as well.

Steps 9-10
Next, bring the two long edges that form the front of your costume together and sew the entire length *easier with a sewing machine. The gathered edges should be at the top of the seam you are creating. You will then (another aesthetic step) fold over just the edge of your gathered section and stitch it down so that the serged edge doesn't show on the front of the costume.

Step 11
Check your costume. It is almost complete! 11a is what the front should look like; 11b is the back.

Step 12
On the back of your costume, there are two side pieces of cloth diaper that will overlap easily when you hold the garment by the shoulder seams. In order to finish the costume, you will need to sew 4 snaps (2 pieces to a snap = 8 sides to sew) so that they will serve to adequately close the back of the costume and keep it from falling open when your child bumbles around in it. You could do this step with velcro, ties, buttons, hooks and eyes, etc. Whatever your preference is will probably work just fine.

I'm using this pattern for the Bride of Frankenstein, but it would work for many fun characters; such as Princess Leia, Gandalf, Mr. Spock from Star Trek IV, a ghost who didn't like to have their face covered...and that's just with it being white! You could throw it in the sink or washing machine with some fabric dye of your choice and the possibilities would be endless!!! :D*

The cloth diapers I used were ones with a pretty thick middle section. I preferred these as they created the big square shoulder that I was trying to achieve. You could use a less padded diaper if you wanted less of a shoulder pad effect.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New items in Shoppe!

So, I'm starting to list my tiny embroidered ball earrings in my shoppe. This is my first foray into a wearable item and I'm pretty excited about it.
I have my sister, celenajustine to thank for the idea. When I first started embroidering ornaments, I wanted to experiment with all different sizes and bought some tiny styrofoam balls just to see what would happen. I made my first one and it was harder than I thought it would be! The smallness makes it more challenging to keep the base thread wrapping from slipping off while you wrap it and your hand cramps really bad from having to tightly hold such a little ball for a prolonged period.

My sister sees my frustrating effort, loves it, and, of course, states that she wants earrings. Aaargh. Of course my sister not only wants more, but she wants matching pairs to boot! But seriously, I think it's a neato idea. I've never seen anyone else who makes them. (Correct me if I'm wrong, please!) Plus, with how many amazing temari artists there are out there who make me look like a total amateur, it's nice to feel like I'm doing something unique with the technique.

I also have KatinkaPinka to thank in part for this new product coming together. I had already bought some earwires for my hypothetical earrings, but when I purchased some lovely felt ball earrings from dear Katinka, I knew that the kidney earwires were the way to go. I inspected them and asked her a few questions, she was wonderful as usual! So, with a little help from my friends, I am now an earring monger. Never thought that would happen. But then, I never thought I would do a lot of things I've done this year!

Also, finally put up a new banner in the shop. My sister hand carved herself a sign for a show we were planning on doing (though we didn't get accepted!) and, being the dominant twin, I told her to make me one too! She was actually kind enough and generous enough to do so. She's been too busy to finish the sanding, so it hasn't actually been stained yet, but I did some photo editing on it and I'm pretty happy with it; think it suits the look of my shoppe and could be a long term fixture! Thank you Celena!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Here comes Halloween!

I don't have much time these days to write nice posts, but thought I'd at least share some pics of some of what's keeping me busy!

As you may have guessed, I'm making my baby girl's first halloween costume; the Bride of Frankenstein. Here, you see my concept sketch, and my usage of my compost canister as a mannequin (it's the closest thing I have to her head circumference). I've had to buy a few things, it was supposed to be an easy peasy 1 2 3-sy kind of project, which I think it basically will be, but I've had to purchase a few more items than I originally thought. Isn't that always the way?
Dicey was very cooperative for her first fitting! Here, the hat is just basted together. It's made out of fleece. I plan on putting some lightweight plastic boning in the hat to help it keep its shape and adding ric rac chin straps to mimic the stitch lines on her throat. I couldn't find the skinny ric rac, so I bought the regular width, but am not sure I will be happy with it. Sigh.