Thursday, October 27, 2016

My son has a Barbie doll and it makes me uncomfortable.

Wherein my reasons are definitely not the ones you are expecting to find.

My son has a Barbie doll and it makes me uncomfortable. I never thought I'd be one of the parents that said that.

I'm trying to raise William with more... European.... values than I myself was raised with. I admire those values. Among them I think that violence should be more shocking and disturbing than nudity. However, sometimes my American upbringing gets the best of me.

On a recent Saturday, I had the opportunity to take William to the park, and then I wanted to go to the thrift store. A block away from the park we saw a sign for a garage sale, so we stopped in. There wasn't much, but while I was looking at a set of coffee mugs on one table, William was looking at some nick nacks on another table. He said to me “Oh, Mom, I see something you will want!” I looked over, and it is a salt shaker, in the shape of a naked lady. She's tastefully bare, but still very bare. I say, “Are you sure it's not you that wants that?” I could hear the smile in his voice as he said, “Yeah, ok, I want it. Will you get it for me?” Sure,why not, it's just a salt shaker. And European values, right? I get the salt shaker and the coffee mugs, and we head back to the car.

“Thanks Mom, for getting her for me.”

“You're welcome.”

“Mom... I like naked ladies!”

“I know William, I know.”

Next we head to the Goodwill thrift store. While looking for some shoes to fit my children's fat little feet, William finds a Barbie doll that is missplaced by the shoes.

“I couldn't play with her. If I did, the boys would say it's a girls toy.”

“And you would tell them that you can play with whatever you want, and there is no such thing as girls toys and boys toys!” I say, emphatically. Gender equality is a huge issue in our household, as is gender identity, since William is referred to as 'she' just about every time we leave the house because of his beautiful long hair. But William knows he is a boy and will happily correct strangers.

“Can I get her, Mom?”


“Sure, why not?” I agree. I find it important to note at this point that the Barbie dolls sold in this store are sold naked.

After not finding any shoes, we moved over to the actual toy section where William sees a whole pile of naked barbies. “Oh, actually I want this one. And Tristan can have this one. Is that ok, Mom?” “Of course!”

Because certainly we can't exclude little brother from our trip down European Values road.
I check. There are no Barbie Doll clothes on the toy aisle.

My child carries his naked barbie doll to the checkout, but then she is bagged up. He asks to hold her in the car, but when we get outside it is raining and the bags go straight into the back.
It's time to go home and eat lunch. William tells me he wants to name his barbie doll Marina. The other doll is her twin sister, and she is Tristan's, and her name is Trina. “Can Marina sleep in my bed when I take my nap?” “Yes, that's fine.” I answer. He often takes a toy to bed. “Will you talk like Marina when you're reading to me?” “I can do that.” I'm often all of the Mane Six Little Ponies, and sometimes a Ninja Turtle is thrown in. “Let's get home and have lunch first.”

We get home, have lunch. Marina gets to come out of the bag and lay down with William. William introduces Marina to his other toys, and cutely says “You can sleep beside me, in my bed.”
“Oh thank you, let me get under the covers, it's cold in here.” I answer in a high pitched Marina voice.
“I'm sure sleepy. Let's go to bed!”

When William wakes up from his nap, I am cooking, and he brings Marina into the kitchen. “Oh William, I'm cold! I would like to find some clothes to put on,” I say in Marina's voice. I am trying not to let it bother me that my child is carrying around a naked Barbie doll, but I am losing.

“How about,” says my ever-bargaining 4 year old, “you can wear clothes when we go outside, and when you're here with me you can be naked?”

Here I had to step in. “William, it is NOT ok to tell someone what they can wear, especially when they can and can not wear clothes! Marina has said she is cold, so we should find her some clothes.”

We don't have anything resembling doll clothes in the house, so I take a receipt paper and wrap it around her into an asymetrical shift that actually looked quite fetching. William says we need to make it more 'fashionish' by removing the top portion. In the spirit of compromise, I allow this. While I start making dinner, we discuss some cool clothing we could go buy for Marina.

“She could be a scientist, or veterinarian or doctor, or firefighter, a paleontologist, or even an astronaut! Would you like to get any of those clothes for Marina and Trina?”

When Clark comes home, I let him know about the situation, and I tell him I'd like him to pick up some outfits when getting something we needed for dinner. “We decided Trina was going to be a paleontologist, right, William? And what was Marina going to be?” I direct the question towards William, since I have forgotten.

“Uhh,” he answers with a sly smile, “A naked Egyptian.” Just in case anyone was wondering, no, that was not one of the options we had previously discussed. Clark and I look at each other as if to ask how exactly our baby seems to have gone directly into being a teen.

Clark agrees about the immediate need for clothing, and the overall weirdness of the situation. He and William go to Walmart and find Marina a cheap outfit, which comes with a purse and heels, which Clark makes sure to tell William are like prisons for feet.

It's been a couple months now, and Marina still finds her way into William's bed for naps. He occasionally requests I read in her voice, and I sometimes oblige. She has long since lost her clothes, and I haven't yet bought her more.

Usually, when parents worry about their son having a Barbie doll, they think their son is too feminine. I've never heard of anyone being concerned over the opposite.

I never thought I'd be the type of mom who cared if her son played with a Barbie doll, but my son has a Barbie doll, and sometimes that makes me uncomfortable. Sometimes I realize I'm trying to raise my children to be comfortable being outside the 'norm', even when it is outside my own comfort zone; and then it makes me proud.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Hopeful Return

If being gone for almost a year isn't a good enough reason to start blogging again, I'm not sure what is.

It's not that we've had nothing going on. If anything it's the opposite. Yes there was the usual having a new baby and learning how to work as a two child household, but more of it came from the vacation we took last June. It was the biggest, long awaited vacation we have ever taken, and I was fully aware from the beginning that there might not be another trip like it. We had definitely planned to write about everything that happened.

 Multiple times every week I would (and still do) find myself composing a blog post in my head. Mr. and I even discussed them quite often for months after our vacation. How do we separate the days/events? If we want to rate things, do we do it all in one post or in a narrative? Disagreements led to arguments led to 'You can still post' or 'I'm still going to post', I don't remember which, led to feeling guilty about posting OR not posting.

In the past year we've had two good friends get married, I was a bridesmaid at one, and made a short speech, and Mr. Covington performed the ceremony at the other. These occurrences made me think about the overused trope of waiting until the last moment to do you vows. I saw it multiple times as a child/young adult, and often thought how silly it was, that they would leave the most important bit until last. I didn't leave my vows until the last minute, but I certainly did leave them until the last month of a multi-year engagement. For the wedding Clark performed, I happened to know that the ceremony was put to paper the day of.

The thing is, I realized, that putting ideas to paper limits them. Are we leaving something out? Will they understand how important this person is to me? It is hard to contain all the reasons why someone is important to you in mere words, whether you are trying to contain all the events of a friendship or all the possibilities of a lifetime. So to it was difficult for us to contemplate taking this life changing event and parsing it into words, to try to express the importance of some of the moments that occurred, and to maybe parse them into something that an audience might get something out of. It is rare to me to remember what I did last week. I get lost in a town I've lived in for a year. But I feel like I can remember every day of our trip, and if you dropped me in downtown Portland, I could find the market or Voodoo Donuts or my way to Food Fight Grocery. Basically, it was a big deal, and we didn't want to get it wrong.

But rather that worrying about somehow getting something wrong, or leaving something out, I want to write about it, to get the story out, and maybe somehow along the way we can leave an idea or important piece of knowledge or a new way of looking at things, and if so that's great. If not, that's ok too-perhaps the lesson is mine to learn.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Arrival of Wiggles


Monday the 30th marked my 41 week appointment (41+2) I knew I would be needing to make some decisions about whether we should schedule a csection or try to wait a couple more days.  I actually had a few real contractions on the 1.5 hour drive to the appointment, and while walking around the mall until it was time to go in. They weren't intense at all, in fact I was the one doing the driving. They were, though, completely different from the Braxton Hicks I had been feeling off and on for the past month.  With those, I would first start feeling a chest tightening, like a panic attack, and then my spine would feel a bit like it was getting an electric shock. If my uterus decided to get in on the game, I could only feel it in the uppermost part. (Either way I could feel my uterus tighten up. With the real contractions, there was no chest tightening or spinal shocks, just a cramping tightening feeling in the bottom of my uterus.  I *tried* not to let it get my hopes up that I might actually have a shot at things working out.

At the appointment, I had finally had a tiny bit of progress-only 1 cm, but it made me more hopeful. The doctor wanted me to decide what to do (c section or wait until Thursday and see if more progress has been made.) If I wanted to wait, the next step would be seeing what baby's fluid levels were like. We told him there was no point in deciding to wait if we wouldn't be able to, so we should go get fluid measured and have all information before making our decision. I was concerned about fluid anyway since Toddles had basically no fluid. Sure enough, Wiggles did great on the NST, heartrate and movements were good, but when It was time to check fluid levels our doctor tried but ultimately found next to none.

Obviously at that point we were headed to a Csection, but at least the doctor didn't rub it in my face like the doctor who delivered Toddles. He let me sit up and try to compose myself while I said "I guess we need to talk about timing." When I teared up a bit about losing my VBAC chance, he tried to comfort me by reminding me that I could be up and about in two days. I told him it wasn't about the recovery time, but about the experience. I said I would really like to have the drapes lowered and video it, but I knew at least video taping is not something they'd let us do. He called the pediatrician who would be responsible for us and cleared the drape dropping with him. 

He also called ahead to L&D so we could have a tour of the hospital since we'd never been on one.  We asked the nurse giving us a tour about some of the things we wanted and she okay'd just about everything. Most of the things we wanted come standard at that hospital, and some things were just a slight change.They usually do skin-to-skin for a minute after birth then let dad take the baby to the recovery while the mom is getting sewn up. I told them I'd like to keep holding baby until my surgery was done, and even carry him with me to recovery if possible. The only answers she couldn't give us would depend on the anesthesiologist.

Basically at every step people could have told us no, but instead worked with us and with each other. The anesthesiologist ok'd lifting my head, and while my hands were literally tied down during my first c section, that is not something they do here. I got to see his head be lifted up, (didn't get to see him being pulled out of me) but they tried.. anesthesiologist lifted my head and they lowered the drapes, just not quite enough to get a clear view. However, this is not something they are used to doing, so I was very thankful.

It's worth mentioning that Wiggles came out 8lbs 8oz, a full pound heavier than I was expecting, and was not stained with meconium and not particularly scaly! (His overdue brother was both.) Him weighing a pound and three ounces more than his brother is probably why I felt so ridiculously full of baby at the end -- I was basically more pregnant this time around!

I got skin to skin moments after birth, lasting about 30 minutes until I was sewn up and ready for transfer. He even managed a bit of breastfeeding while I was still being sewn up. At that point hubby took baby to the recovery room, and I joined him in just a few minutes. (They had to do a transfer back from the operating table to a bed, which is always a little rough, so couldn't hold baby during that.) I got to continue skin to skin while baby was checked and even while he was given his shots. I was able to nurse him during his shots as well, so his pain/frustration was minimized. Also worth noting they didn't second guess or try to bull us about not getting erythromycin. (Seriously, am I missing something? I don't know why this is even offered to C-Section babies.)  All in all I had baby on me for about 8 of the first 9 hours. It was wonderful.

When Wiggles was given his first bath and footprints were taken, I asked the nurse  if we could possibly get another set for the baby book, and she brought back two inking pages, for hands AND feet. Later we mentioned we cloth diaper, and the nurse in the room said if we brought any they could use those and it wouldn't be a problem. We explained that we would be using disposables for meconium and going to cloth afterwards, but the offer was appreciated.

Everyone was comforting, pleasant, and willing to accommodate us. I feel they all went above and beyond their duties, and I will be forever grateful! Basically, I feel like the factor that differed between our previous experience and this was was respect for us and our decisions. Ultimately, we chose this hospital 1.5 hours from home not only for the chance to VBAC, but because if I did have to have a CSection their policies were more aligned with what I wanted. Even though I'm sure I'll keep mourning my lack of VBAC experience, am very pleased with how things turned out.

Toddles has been adjusting well, he is generally affectionate towards little brother, even though we are still working on being gentle. Wiggles just had his two week checkup and is doing wonderfully. We have so far managed to exclusively breastfeed, which I had very much hoped for with Toddles, but the first few days of his life were basically a checklist of everything you can do to completely wreck that.  Other than the new experience of cluster feeding, things are generally easier this time around. He's a great sleeper, so once he is down I can usually get at least one segment of 3-4 hours a night of solid sleep (He'd probably sleep longer but I set an alarm to wake him to be sure he feeds.)

We are excited about and getting ready for the next big change in our life, where we will be moving to a new city to run a new property currently under construction. I'm sure many interesting changes will be occurring shortly!


Our work of art.

Time of arrival.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What I've Been Up To: Nursery Projects: "Sons" Sign!

So, here is the last nursery craft update. I thought it would be cute to have some nursery wall art like those vinyl inspirational quotes, involving a pun on son/sun for our space theme. I thought surely it was obvious and must exist, like the 'No Wake Zone' signs for nautical nurseries. When I couldn't find anything I decided to make it myself.


There is this thing that Toddles does, where he expects any two things he wants to be available, smashed together online in game form. Sometimes the universe has his back and you get phone games like Ninja Turtles Vs. Zombies. Other times we just have to tell him it doesn't exist yet.

It seems I fall into the same trap sometimes. If I can imagine a useful website I assume it has already been made.  I was hoping to find a website where you can input whatever text you like and it will organize the words/change fonts and sizes to make it all be connected. As far as I can tell, this does not exist yet.  Thus, I had to create it by hand.

I found an in browser application called Cricket Design Space specifically made to work with the cricut machine. (Unfortunately I don't have one of those.)  The reason I used this program was because in my research I had found it had a tool called 'weld' that joined pieces together. I assumed this was an automated process, but once again I was mistaken. You have to manually maneuver the pieces into position, the weld function just tells the machine not to separate the letters at that point.


By the time I realized this I'd already had a nice font picked out, so I just kept arranging and resizing until all the pieces were touching. I layered the pattern over two sheets of colored poster paper and began cutting with a carpet cutter/box cutter.


I started with small areas, trying to keep it from being too floppy until the very end. Here, all the pieces are cut out--except, can you spot my error? (I did not until after it was hung up!)


I glued it layer by layer on a black poster board background.


And hung it over our bed. This shot was taken before I extended the blue across that area, I think it looks better on blue than white.

   This project was very very cheap-under $3 for the poster board, and glue I had on hand. However, it was far more time consuming than I expected!  I would say it took me a minimum of ten hours, spread out over several days. In the future, if painting on walls is a possibility, I would definitely go that route if I were to do something like this again.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

What I've Been Up To: Nursery Projects: Cradle Ruffle!


So I am officially at 41 weeks today. I'm hoping to go into labor today or tomorrow, otherwise (and even possibly then) I'll have some decisions to make on Monday.

I thought I'd show one of the reasons I have multiple pregnancy tracking apps:
This is "I'm Expecting" It cycles through a bunch of cute baby pictures at the top, has a progress bar with a countdown, and lets you track symptoms. Usually it says "You have 5 days to go" right over the bar. As you can see, at 40 weeks it just says you're past due. Thanks pregnancy app, thanks. I never would have known.


This week they gave up altogether. I don't even get to track symptoms or weight anymore (not that I want to at this point!) It still says only "You are past due" in the middle, but you can't see it due to the baby bottle.   The app on the right is BabyCenter Pregnancy App. It goes till a full 42 weeks pregnant with different bits of info, and then till the end of the second week of baby. They also have baby tracking apps which I will be using.

Look how BabyCenter tries to be comforting, even though I have -7 days to go!


So I guess it's time for another nursery craft: The Cradle Ruffle!
I don't sew, but really wanted a crib ruffle. Specifically I wanted something with lime green to offset the dark mattress sheets. I purchased the material when I was visiting my mom, making the rocket roller coaster table. I had originally planned on having to hand sew it, when I didn't have time to sew it while visiting my mom. Thankfully, an employee who lives close by was willing to bring her machine over and let me use it.  That turned this into a simple, quick project even for a novice!  The cradle was approximately 18x36, so I figured out in the store the least I could spend to get a decent ruffle. I started with fabric that was 45" wide, and I purchased 1.5 yards of it. I cut it down the center, since I didn't need it to hang down very far, sewed the two halves end to end, hemmed the bottom, and hemmed the top with room to slip elastic through. 

I then ran elastic through the band I'd created at the top, making sure to give it a bit of ruffle but not worrying about making it difficult to stretch around the cradle. I found the lovely matching ribbon, and hand sewed several section into position at the corners and the place where the two ends meet. I had also purchased wonderful bright blue matching ribbon, but I didn't pay enough attention to the type and it ended up being plastic-y stuff made for floral arrangements. I have yet to find the same color in actual fabric, but I'll be adding a few more bows if I do!

Here is the cradle in its spot by the bed. There is just enough room. The blankets were a last minute find, with wonderful colors/patterns to match my theme-very happy to come across them! They are packed away until baby actually gets here, and the mattress is in the cradle now, but still wrapped in plastic until then as well. 

With the mobile set up, it reminds me a bit of the Doctor's cot, which pleases me greatly!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What I've Been Up To: Nursery Projects: Rocket Toy Box!

       So, obviously I'm making these posts in an effort to distract myself from the fact that Wiggles is still not here. At this point my main worry is that all my trying to be patient and let my body do it's thing is going to fail and I'll still end up with a repeat C-Section. I'm already second guessing myself and thinking I should have tried to bribe the doctor into a Saturday delivery at 39 weeks so I could have a pi day baby.  By now I'd be cuddling a ten day old.  As much as I want a favorable birth experience, these thoughts are hard to ignore when I'm worried it won't work out anyway and when I'm so ready to meet this baby.
        My Doctor doesn't understand why I wouldn't want another C-Section, which is a tad annoying. On the other hand, he is still good at reassuring me of my concerns. I talked to him about meconium aspiration, since Toddles was born stained green. He said that it wasn't a real issue these days, and only when there was very little fluid, and that they would monitor fluid starting next week. 
        My main concern is of course not wanting another Emergency C-Section. I want instant skin to skin and bonding time with baby, which was my main reason for wanting a home birth last time, and something I was ultimately absolutely denied. As long as there is no emergency situation going on at the time of his birth, then a C-Section at this hospital will likely hit more of the points I want than the hospital Toddles was born at.
        I'm still really surprised that a doctor couldn't comprehend any reason why a mom would want to give birth the 'natural' way, even being a male. If *he* were the one to get pregnant after he and his wife conceived, wouldn't there be a sense of frustration? Having to have a surgery when you didn't want one? Even feelings of loss, over not having your children come into the world the way you'd always expected? When it is so intimately connected to your very body, it's hard not to feel like there is something wrong with you, that you aren't able to do this thing that has been done since time immemorial.
        Enough whining self pity. I'm still trying my best to be patient and hopeful. In the meantime, more crafts!


This is also not a strictly 'nursery' craft, but is made for the boy's room and in theme, so I'm including it here.
We made a rocket prop for Toddles' one year photo shoot, and afterwards I wanted to keep it around as a toy box. It was duck tape stuffed with immense amounts of pillow stuffing, and it didn't have any actual structure to it, so I was not able to come up with anything to make that idea work. I still wanted a rocket toy box, so I had to start from scratch.

I decided to use the method in this Epbot cauldron How-To, and started off with an 18x48in concrete form cylinder base.

Actual usuable space.

I cut dozens of ribs while Lord Covington taped them in place.



I left space at the bottom for the fins to go, so that it could be sitting on its base but look like the fins were propping it up.

Many fins. Such mess.

Fins are attached to the base here...

and taped together like so. You can also see a circle of carboard that will be taped on the bottom (We atually did three layers to make sure it was sturdy enough.)

Then, the taping began. I first had to go around the entire thing making sure there was tension between the ribs so that they would mostly stay in place for the bulk of taping.

Then, taping. We went through many rolls of duck tape.

It was a good opportunity to get rid of all our extra partial rolls.
After the rocket was taped, I cut two port holes for toy access. This was far more labor intensive than I had anticipated. I thought I'd be able to use a Dremel, but the angle made it impossible. I ended up using a keyhole saw and patience.

After cutting the holes, I taped around the exposed cardboard to re-solidify the surface. 
The next step SHOULD have been to paper mache the entire thing several times, but I was not able to do this during my week of super crafting, where Lord Covington was out of town with Toddles in tow. I completed many craft projects that week, but ran out of steam on this one. It remained unfinished until a couple weeks ago. We finally decided to just go the expedient route and tape over everything again, in the colors we were wanting to use. We went with a shiny chrome tape for the body, lime green for the top and fins, and some accent marks in black.  
Here is the final product, filled with a couple plastic tubs worth of stuffed toys.  I attached the lid with rope so that it can be dumped upside down to clear it completely out when warranted, and there are also two ropes shown here on the front side to help with lifting/moving. By the time we were ready to get this into its final spot, I could not physically lift it into position, my bump would not allow it! I am pretty happy with the results. This ended up being a fairly cheap project, with the most expensive part being the duck tape.
Concrete form: approx $15
Cardboard: (free)
Duck Tape for base layer: at least three big rolls, $10, and five partial multi colored rolls (on hand)
Duck Tape for top layer: $26 (Chrome duck tape one roll + extra, $14, lime green, two rolls" $8, black: one roll, $4.)
Curtain rope from fabric store: $8

Total cost: $59
Considering any wooden toy box would cost at least twice as much, and that we get something on theme in the colors we want this way (and that takes up less floor space!) I think it was a worthwhile project.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What I've Been Up To: Nursery Projects: Rocket Rollercoaster Table!


This may only be tangentially a nursery project, since it will be a while before Wiggles can play with it, but whilst pinning lots of wonderful rocket themed things to my retro rocket room board, I came across this super cool rocket themed roller coaster table. 
The price was a bit outside my range, being something like $200+, so I sent a picture to my mom a couple days before I was heading to visit her, and told her we should make one.  I expected her to laugh it off, but she was super enthusiastic instead! She told me she'd look for some wood and start making rocket patterns.
She didn't find any good wood to use, so we did have to end up going to the store for wood and a few other things. I had planned on using macrame beads I knew she'd had for a few decades, but she suggested making smaller rockets/space shapes and cutting them out to use as beads. I thought this was an awesome idea, so I traced all the pieces, including the rocket pattern she made (Two versions with different sized holes.) and she cut them out (in freezing cold weather, because she's awesome.)

The sanding took forever with a dremel, so I ended up having to take all the unfinished pieces home to complete the project.  Very early on I realized this would not be a project with a 'professional' looking finished product, so I embraced the quirkiness of it.

Here is the table top at the beginning of and after staining with watered down tube water colors. I had decided to try making holes in the tables and wrapping wire around the legs and through the holes.



I enjoyed painting the main rocket, and thought that the shaped beads turned out really well.

I began threading beads and shaping wires....

I ran into problems with the beads fitting around the bends of the wires, so I had to do a last minute change of orientation. This involved drilling each hole three times with increasing drill bits to make the holes big enough, then sanding each end of the holes.
I *should* have repainted the raw wood, but I was far too ready to be done at this point.

Side view...

Front view....

And finally, Toddlesworth's immediate attempt at destruction.

The wood was the most expensive part of this project, being about $25. The tube watercolors were about $7. I would have like to use liquid watercolors if I had them on hand. The wire was some my mom had, but likely would have run less that $15 if I had needed to buy it. The beads were on hand or made from the wood. 

All in all, even though it isn't as perfect and shiny as the inspiration table, I am quite pleased with the results!