Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pass the Chocolate Please

Gina over at The Feminist Breeder posted yesterday about body image, the holidays and pregnancy.  While I wouldn't normally post about a post, this one really resonated with me.  Her suggestion to really speak not to what we hate about our bodies, but what we love.  I thought that this was a good topic. This is something we all struggle with it.  I don't claim to have any solutions, but sometimes just knowing that this sucks for someone else helps.
This pregnancy has been hard for me when it comes to my body image.  After gaining 70lbs with Fiona and then loosing about 60 of it, I was finally starting to almost feel human again.  Then, there I was, staring at a second pink line and trying not to throw up.  It didn't help that just a few short weeks into my pregnancy nothing was fitting again. How do you look ahead at the next 32 weeks knowing that you're just going to get BIGGER? I saw that scale that had a number over 200 when I was in my final week of Fiona's pregnancy and vowed that was NOT going to happen again.  How do you come to terms with a changing body that is doing something so wonderful and hate what you see?
Anyone that's had children knows that in those weeks where your shape first starts to change are hard. You don't look pregnant. It looks like maybe you need to dial back the cheeseburgers a little. It's the period day when all you can wear is sweats - except it doesn't go away.  At 8 weeks I started putting away my "regular" clothes and pulled out my maternity gear again. And not happy about it.
I think I've been really lucky this time.  I've gained 9lbs in the last 13 weeks (my first to most recent OB appointments). I've gained 13 from my last PAP in April until my most recent OB appointment at 22 weeks. Right now, I am pretty much all baby.  But like Gina said, it's hard to not believe you look like a land whale when you feel like a land whale.  Little Miss Georgiana is sitting so low in my hips that I sometimes have trouble walking. My hips hurt. I can barely put my shoes on. Dropping something usually elicits some swearing.
But there are the better days. There are the days when I can look at my swollen pregnant belly and feel down right sexy. It's not something that happens often, but it does happen.  Here I am with this swollen, pregnant belly and full, round breasts. It doesn't get more feminine than that. My body is doing what it was designed to do and this is how it looks doing it. And for a brief shining moment I can celebrate that.  Doug has even, in a moment of uncharacteristic complementing, said "girls are supposed to look like that. You're making my baby." How do you not feel like a goddess at that point? 
I love the times that I can celebrate my changing shape.  Because of how I'm carrying this little one maternity jeans are uncomfortable. They are tight around the bottom of my belly and make it even harder to move than it normally is.  So, I've decided that since I don't have a dress code I'll be living in yoga pants for the remainder of my pregnancy.  That way when I'm not quite in my pre-pregnancy jeans yet and need some comfy pants to chase a toddler while nursing a newborn I'm already set. The best part of this is that I feel like I have been able to accentuate this ever growing belly.  I love my fitted maternity (and non-maternity) tees. I've gained a pretty good size in my breasts, too so I'm feeling kinda rock-star. A knocked up rock-star, but still.  
I will say, thank you Gina. For reminding me that looking like this is beautiful in its own right and we all need to feel like a rock star sometimes. Knocked up or otherwise.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Newest Project - Part 2 of...

Part 1 was getting a little long, so I thought I'd break it up a bit. 
I did get started right away yesterday.  I'm struggling to not drop everything for the next week and finish it. So I'm going as I can. Hopefully it doesn't take too long.  I did warn Doug that our living room is going to be in a state of half-mess until I get this done. He said he's fine with it. (Can anyone find me the process for declaring someone a living saint please?)
So I didn't have the sense to start taking pictures before I started tearing things apart.  Oh well. 
I figured I would start on the chair first. It's a little easier - read smaller - than the couch, but will give me more impact than the ottoman.  I removed the cover from the back cushion and pulled the seams apart. I wanted to use it for a basic pattern and to make sure I got the size of everything right. Then I ironed the pieces and cut the fabric.  Putting in the pleats was challenging.  But, when you're trying to put 12 layers of fabric through a home sewing machine, your bound to find some problems.  I was able to salvage the zippers that were already there.  Which is great, and something I didn't think to do when I was planning all this. But, they're the right size and are actually pretty easy to work with, plus they're FREE!  I was really  happy with how the back cushion came out. The pleats don't match up perfectly on one of the corners, but it's really not something you can tell.  I think I need to add some more batting to it.
The T cushion was a little harder. Getting the cover off to make the pattern was a pain in the ass! Those things are on there SNUG! But after some cussing and pulling I was able to get it off.  The T cushion was a little more difficult to sew.  The rounded edges in a box shape is complicated. But I made it work.  I came into a little bit of an issue at the end when I was trying to finish off the zipper. It just wasn't matching up right. So I put the cover on the cushion - it looks awesome - and figured out what the issue was. When you're cutting pattern pieces from an old cushion there are a couple things to keep in mind. The pattern is not exact like from the factory. I cut a little wide to give myself some bigger seams.  Also, I was patterning from a piece of material that was not in the best of conditions.  It was frayed, worn and stretched out.  So, I'll be closing up the final hem by hand.  I think it made putting it on a little easier so I'm not going to complain. It's the back of the cushion anyway so no one will ever see it.
So, here is what I have finished so far. It took about 6 hours. I wanted to start pulling the couch cushions apart to be ready to start today but my right hand was hurting too much to mess with the scissors (I have arthritis in that hand and pregnancy induced carpal tunnel - whee.) Let me know what you think!
You can see the sorry state of the rest of the chair. The shape is good, but there is no amount of cleaning that will help that.
Here's the sorry looking couch in it's full "Before" glory.  This is generally what my couch looks like.  Now you know what I'm dealing with.

So that's it folks. I'll be updating and uploading more pictures as I go along.  Hopefully it doesn't take too long. I would like this done before the baby comes. (That was totally sarcastic, I swear)

My Newest Project - Part 1 of...

I hate my couch. There, I said it.
Let me clarify a bit. I hate the state of my couch. It's dirty. It's fraying at the edges.  The couch itself is great. We were given the set - couch, chair and ottoman - by some friends when they got a new couch.  I thought then that I could "easily reupholster" it. Not one of my brighter thoughts I know. If my mom and my aunt can spend a drunken weekend reupholstering a couch and have it turn out great I can do it, too. Right?
I have been hit with an urge to nest lately that would send even the most non-OCD person into a tizzy.  So I look around my house and see all the things that need to be done. Plus, we are trying really hard to move to another state and transfer Doug's job (more on that in another post I'm sure).  That has me in a moving mindset. Not a good place for a nesting preggo to be. All I can do is look around and see the things that need to be organized, donated, updated or cleaned.  The fact that I'm not on anything stronger than Welbutrin is a miracle.
So the couch has been taunting me. There's only so much I can do with it. I can't scrub it. I could but it wouldn't do much could. Who is the dumbass that makes white couches anyway?  We talked about getting new couches and realized that it just wasn't practical.  We could spend $500 and go to the cheap furniture stores and get something that looks nice, but won't last but a couple of years. We have four full size people, soon to have two little kids, two dogs and two cats. Our furniture receives a pretty good beating.  We could go to somewhere like Thomasville or Broyhill and spend $2000 plus on a good set of furniture and hope to get eight years out of it.  Quite honestly, the thought of spending $2000 on anything right now is not something I'm interested in. And I do like our couches. I like the shapes, I like the style. They're deep enough to be comfortable for my long-legged husband. They're comfy. They're long enough that Doug can actually lay down on them and not be uncomfortable. Plus, if you take the back cushions off they're perfect for us to lay together and watch a movie, or for someone to sleep on if we have a surprise overnight guest. OK, like that last one ever happens, but it could. So, to my frugal way of thinking, why get rid of a perfectly good couch when I can just recover it?
Is it going to look new? Probably not. Showroom quality? No friggin' way. But it's something that will work for our family and not cost a ton of money.  So I made the decision to reupholster it and started the research.  If you know me you know that I've spent HOURS on the internet reading and shopping and soaking up everything I could possibly find out about reupholstering furniture.  I thought about just making a slipcover and realized that it'd probably be less work just to actually cover the whole thing - so scrap that idea.  Then I started researching fabric and pricing the stuff. Holy tapestry, Batman! That stuff is expensive. I'm looking at roughly 20 - 25 yards of fabric. Good upholstery fabric can run anywhere from about $10 a yard UP! WAY UP. Like $30+ a yard up. Screw a bunch of that! So I started to look at how to bring down the cost without sacrificing the quality.  
Insert trumpets here...Coupons! D'uh. Did you really think I'd get into this project without coupons?  JoAnn's fabric runs 50% off coupons pretty frequently. And the cotton duck fabric is usually about $10 a yard - so really $5 a yard. That I can handle. I found a good spot in the budget to pull the money out of and yesterday headed off to the fabric store. Now, I had a basic idea in mind. I wanted a chocolate brown for the couch itself.  Then something in a blue to go with the beach-y theme that I'm trying to pull off in my living room.  I didn't have anything really set in stone, but I know what I like and I'm pretty good putting colors together so off I went.   I ended up with 10 yards of a chocolate brown duck for the couch, and 5 yards of steel blue for the chair. I bought a big floral blue/tan swirly thing for the ottoman. Of course, sometime over the course of the project I decided to use the floral that I bought for the ottoman for the cushions on the sofa.  It all pulls together nicely.
We'll see what the finished product look like!  Lots of pictures to come.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If I Fell In Love With You...

Last weekend Doug and I had the rare chance for a weekend alone together.  It was fantastic! As one of the most gag-inducing things I've probably ever said... I got the chance to fall in love with my husband all over again.
When you have 4.5 kids and a full time job and a house to run and a family to take care of it's a flippin' miracle I ever got pregnant in the first place.  "Time together" is that time of night between when the last kid finally goes to sleep and when I fall asleep watching whatever show we happen to have on.  This was some much needed, real time together.
When Doug and I first started dating in 2006, and I'm talking like 3 weeks in, he took me to Orcas Island for the weekend just a few days before Christmas. We both will agree that is where we fell in love for the first time. It was a beautiful place and the best thing that could've happened. Doug says it was all in his Master Plan. Take me to a seasonally deserted island where I couldn't get away while he convinced me he was the best thing that could happen to me. Well, obviously it worked. Here we are four years and almost five Christmases later. 
Because of all the traveling Doug does for work he earned a free night at a Best Western hotel that expired on December 24. When I realized there was one on San Juan Island and we could have a little bit of that "island magic" back I jumped on it. 
We both felt lighter just leaving the house. Doug actually forwarded all of his calls and emails to someone else! Really? You mean no constant beeps from emails of questions that really need to wait until Monday? No phone calls because someone was just being stupid? Really really? Awesome!
For a couple days we actually laughed together again. We joked and flirted with each other.  I got to see a real, light-from-within, smile from my husband. For two solid days I got MY Doug back. We went to an expensive dinner and had delicious food. We actually got dressed up like grown-ups.  I put on a dress and heels!  I could see some of the stress just roll off of Doug. I'm sure he could see the same with me. 
I didn't yell at kids, or obsess over what needed to be cleaned/organized/sorted/fixed.  I did not check on the kids at all! I left the girls in the very capable hands of my mother-in-law.  She raised three kids of her own, she can handle three of mine for a night.  OK, so I did leave three pages of "instructions" for the girls and threatened penalty of permanent grounding to the first child to so much as call me for anything less than imminent death.  But hey, when you have kids certain concessions need to be made when you are away.
By Sunday afternoon we were ready to be home.  Not that a winter holiday spent on a beach somewhere wouldn't be welcome, but it was time to go back to reality. 
It was a beautiful time away and a fantastic reminder of how we got here in the first place. 
I love you, Doug. For all of my tomorrows.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Even When You Love Them, They Make You Nuts

If at some point in your parenting "career" you have not wanted to stick your children in the crawl space under the house and forget about them either a)  you haven't been doing it long enough or b) you're a fucking liar.
Don't get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE being a mom. I LOVE my children.  I also have a very limited amount of patience in my head.
And I would LOVE a margarita the size of a fish tank.
Having children of any age comes with it's own unique challenges. Span those ages from still-gestating to ready-to-drive and what you end up with is a mom that should probably be committed. 
I love my children. Love. LOVE. L.O.V.E. my children.  They are the light in my life and I would be empty without them.  However, a small vacation from them would be a welcome respite. 
There seems to be some kind of rotation going on that we have not yet been able to put our fingers on. (Thankfully) They don't all go wonky at the same time.  But, this also means that there seems to always be one of them doing something that is just flat stupid! So, by definition, there is never a time when all of them are just fine.  I don't know if this is purely a numbers thing because there are so many of them that statistically there will always be one of them in trouble. That seems likely. But it also seems like at any given time there should be some kind of calm. 
A couple of weeks ago a good friend said "you know who I never hear about...". Way to jinx it! Gee thanks. I've now spent the last couple weeks wondering if I've started speaking a totally different language or if this previously well behaved child has LOST HER DAMN MIND!
Seriously it's not that  bad. Not in the grand scheme of things. But a splinter under your nail isn't really that bad compared to a broken leg either.  I think part of my current frustration is that I thought that they were finally all on the same page.  I'm pretty sure I got a solid 24 hours of everyone playing nice together and actually listening to me.  Now the smallest request is met with a complete inability to follow the simplest instructions.  "Go shut the doors in the hall and then come back". Five minutes later I'm looking for the child. "Where did you go, I asked you to come back?". "oh, I forgot". Forgot? In the time it takes to walk down the hallway you FORGOT to come back?
This all sounds stupid even to me. If you're a parent you get it. Or you will.
Allie and Jane were supposed to fly out to their dad's last night.  Because of a stupid mistake on his part they didn't. I almost cried. Not because of the stress of the situation, but because they weren't LEAVING. I was going to have almost 3 whole weeks with 2 less children.  I needed this break. I needed the time slightly off, because I am slightly off.  I've come to depend on these times when they go to visit their dad. It's a luxury that not all parents get. That much needed break. When you're ready to run away from home your house is slightly quieter for a week or two.  Having that delayed was harder to deal with than the rearranging of travel that we had to do.  I don't ever want my children to not live with me. But, since I can't go on vacation every 6 months or so, it's great that they can.  I know that they need this break as much as I do. I know I'm making them as crazy as they are making me. 
I asked Doug last night - "What are we going to do when Fiona and Georgi are 11 and 13 and I just need a break?" He said "Easy, we send them to visit their sisters!" That's why I married him, he's always thinking!
Have I mentioned how much I love my children?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I've Reached a Parenting Milestone

Today my oldest daughter turns 16.
If you've ever had a teenage daughter, been around a teenage daughter or even heard of a teenage daughter, you realize the fact that she is not being forced to live in a little box shoved into the crawl space under the house with nothing more than a hamster-type water bottle and whatever food she can convince her sisters to bring her is a freaking MIRACLE.
Krystyne was born on December 11, 1994 at Loma Linda Medical Center in Loma Linda, CA just after midnight.  I was 17 years old.
I went into labor at only 30 weeks pregnant.  I was kept at the hospital for a couple days and then sent home with some medication that I had to take every four hours and strict bed rest instructions.  I even had a nurse that came in and checked on me every couple of days.  After about a week and a half I went to my doctor's appointment for a routine visit. After a cervical check he informed me that I was still dilating and that I needed to immediately go to the hospital and he would call L&D so they would be expecting me. This was just a couple days before Thanksgiving.  That year I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital.  I spent almost two and a half weeks in the hospital on bed rest.  I was allowed to get up to go to the bathroom and every other day to shower.  I read, I did homework and word search puzzles and watched a lot of TV. ER started that year. I spent a couple hours a day hooked up to a monitor for contractions. 
Early in the afternoon on December 10th my contractions started and didn't seem to want to settle down. By 7 o'clock the decision had been made that it looked like there wasn't much more they could do and I would be delivering soon.  I remember the contractions were starting to get painful. I remember being terrified because I didn't really understand what was happening.  I did remember that my mother had always told me that labor was the most painful thing that I would ever endure, but that it was necessary to have a baby (I'm glad I later learned that, at least for me, this is not the case).  My body was working against me and I was loosing control.  I called my mom and a good friend to come and be with me. I couldn't do this alone. I talked on the phone with my Aunt Tina through the contractions until they took me to L&D around 8 o'clock.
I had a great nurse who promised me he would do everything he could to get the anesthesiologist as quickly as he could.  My heplock was flushed, an IV started and the monitors set up.  I remember I almost cried when the anesthesiologist  made it in and started my epidural.  I finally had some relief from the child that was trying to rip itself from my body.  I could rest and relax. I was contracting, but could only see them on the monitor. I couldn't move my legs. The nurse told me to let him know when I needed to push. I told him I didn't know how I would know when that was.  He said "oh, you'll know. It'll feel like you need to poop". Oh great. He was right.
I don't know how long I pushed for. I know I pushed when they told me to. I remember having to tell my mom to please stop crying and count. I yelled at the doctor for hurting me when he was trying to stretch me and not give me an epsiotomy and help me not tear. 
Immediately after she was born they took her to the isolet to check her apgar and breathing.  She was six weeks early and they needed to make sure that everything was working the way it was supposed to.
She weighed 5lbs 2oz. 
I don't remember getting to hold her because the NICU team that I had with me wanted to take her right away.  I remember getting to see her wrapped in her little blanket on a warming pad.  I was told I could sleep and go see her later.  And that's what I did.
I spent two or so more days in the hospital. Krystyne spent 11. I spent 18 hours a day with her. She came home on December 22, 1994.
In the last 16 years I have made good decisions and bad decisions. Sometimes it's hard to tell which is which.  Some days they're the same decision.
Happy birthday baby girl. May you make better choices than I did. May all of your dreams and desires come true.  You were a beautiful baby and have grown into a beautiful young woman.  I love you with all my heart.
Please, don't make me kill you, this has been a lot of work!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's a girl...

I know it's been a while. I just hit a rough patch.  I've actually been rough-drafting in my head the last few days and trying to carve out a moment to get it out.  I feel like it's been all Doom and Gloom around here lately and not nearly enough positive stuff.  That's what I was working on. I swear.
This is not that post. I don't think it's all Doom and Gloom but I won't be blowing little bits of sunshine up your ass either.
I had my 20 week ultrasound today.  And yes, it's a girl. 
Damn it.
I cried. OK truthfully, I bawled. I managed to wait until the tech got out of the room before I actually sobbed.  My husband is grinning like an 8 year old with a double-scoop ice cream cone and all I can do is put my head in my hands and cry. Don't get me wrong - I am happy to be having a baby at all. I am blessed to be having my 5th baby! But my dreams of having a son have just vanished.
I think most women want a little girl to do girlie stuff with. I've always wanted boys. I don't know why, but since I was a little girl I remember wanting boys. I think it stems from a childhood of feeling trapped in frilly dresses for every fricken holiday and not being able to run and play. Meanwhile, my cousin was free to run amok and get dirty.  It wasn't "lady-like".  I couldn't get dirt on my dress. I couldn't snag my tights or scuff my shoes.  You can't go on the monkey bars in a dress.  I wanted to BE a boy so I thought the next best thing would be to have boys of my own.  Then I became a teenager and decided I never wanted to go through that.
I guess God has a sense of humor after all.  More than just the platypus, I have five daughters. Very. Fricken. Funny.
I feel like such a horrible person.  Instead of excited for the possibilities I'm trying to find acceptance. Honestly there's a lot of joy that just got sucked out of this pregnancy for me. I know  it will pass, but right now it's not fun anymore.  I don't know if I just pinned all my hopes on the possibility of a boy.  I sure wasn't expecting this kind of reaction. I'm sick to death of pink and dresses and little tights and shoes with sparkles. I have no interest in hair bows or tutus. The thought of buying one more doll makes me want to hurl.  Yes, Fiona loves trucks and blocks and climbing on things. She loves to kick the ball and run as fast as she can and jump around. Still, not the same.
I will never know that special relationship that a mother has with her son.  It is something so different from what  I have with the girls.
Maybe part of my disappointment comes from the turmoil between Krystyne and I.  She's almost 16 and I swear I will happily sell her to the first band of Gypsies I can find.  Going through this not three but FOUR more times seem s like more than I can take. I'm not superwoman, I only wear that outfit on special occasions. (wink)
I am raising tomorrow's women. I am teaching our future mothers and wives.  What I teach my girls about being a woman and my thoughts on women's issues matter times five!  One of my biggest thoughts in my decision to leave my first husband was that I didn't have the marriage I wanted for my daughters. I didn't want them treated the way I was treated. I didn't want them to be the kind of wife and mother I was. It's a lot of fucking pressure and I was really hoping that someone else could take on some of that just for a little while.
I feel like I have cried all that I can cry but I know there's more in there.
I have apologized to my husband repeatedly.  I don't want to suck the fun out of this for him, too.  He is over the moon about our baby and the sex of that baby isn't important. I am blessed beyond belief to have a husband like I do.  We are so in love it's a little nauseating. Even to me. This baby was conceived in love and because of love.  (see what I mean, I think I just gagged a little) A healthy baby is the best thing that I can ask for. 
I don't want my youngest daughter to ever feel as if she was not wanted with all my heart. I promise you my little one, you are. You are not even born and we love you already.  To see your little heart beat today made mine stop.  You'll learn soon enough you're Mama is a crazy person. Sorry for that.