Thursday, December 1, 2011

SUCCESS!!

Apparently the Flying Spaghetti Monster is indeed touching my machine with His Noodly Appendage!

Brian just texted me to say that all is well and the machine is working!  Not satisfied with his text, I called him.  Apparently the lady at shop looked it over, rethreaded the machine, tweaked a few adjustments and TA-DA--working machine.

She told him that 90% of the time, when it appears that the trouble is in one of the fabric, the solution is found on the other side of the machine.  She suspects that the threading got all cattywampus some how.

I'm just pleased as punch that my machine is working again.  I cannot wait for Brian to return home with it.  Perhaps I can get something done today after all!

This photo has nothing to do with this post

Insert all manner of curse words here

(Note: I am typing this one-handed, thanks to a nursing baby D.  Please overlook any typos.)

I am ready to scream.  My sewing machine has failed me.  Again.

A few weeks ago, I got my crafty little hands on a copy of the Colette Sewing Handbook.  (As mentioned on this blog before.)  I was instantly inspired.  I immediately decided that i needed fabric.  A trip to the LA fabric was in order!

Alas, caring for an infant, plus lack of funds meant that several days on the calendar flew by before I finally pleaded with dear hubby for cash and settled on making a quick trip to a M&L Fabrics in Anaheim instead.  There I found some great cottons for a skirt, and an okay gaberdine for trousers.  No nice georgette or chiffon, though, for a blouse or two.  So, a fabric district trip is still in my future.

With fabric, book, patterns, and notions, I was ready for the most loathsome part of sewing--cutting the fabric.  I hate tracing the pattern (a necessity this time as I want to keep it intact for when I am back to a pre-pregnancy figure).  I abhor laying out the pieces.  I cringe at the thought of hunching over the table cutting out pieces.  Worst part of sewing, no doubt.  It isn't nearly as bad when I've had a nice large surface at just the right height, but our living space is so cramped these days that I must suffer to use what i have--our dining table in our over-full dining area.

A few days ago, I began the dreaded task.  Got the pattern transferred to paper, pressed the fabric, readied the cutting surface, laid out the fabric and began tracing the pattern onto the fashion fabric.  But before I could finish, life resumed and I returned to my domestic duties.  The following day, between lack of help with Declan and volunteer obligations, I got nothing done.  Then it was grocery day--another day of no progress.  Finally a day to work--today!

I finished all tracing, pinning, and cutting.  Readied the machine.  Cleaned it, threaded.  Was able to sew a few darts and had just moved onto zigzagging the pattern piece edges when it happened.  The machine started skipping stitches, the bobbin tension was a mess.  I rechecked for threads in the bobbin case--none.  I replaced the needle--problem persisted.  I cleaned the machine a second, then third, then fourth and fifth time.  Yet each attempted to sew produced the same maddening mess.

I was nearly as unraveled as my bobbin thread!

See, for most of my life as a sewist, I have had to suffer with inferior machines.  My mother was a cheapskate who could not fathom spending more than $75 for a machine.  But this machine is not, or rather was not supposed be like any of those other garbage sewing machines.  I spent a small fortune on it, for starters!  And it sewed like a dream at first!  A true workhorse, just like the salesman said.

Last winter, I decided to sew myself a new bag.  I was working on one of the folded handles when I broke a needle.  No biggie, just switched out the needle and tied to resume sewing, only it immediately broke that needle.  A third needle and a bit of troubleshooting and I see that something is terribly off.  The hook tip in the bobbin case was not moving in sync with the needle.  Naturally, this meant a trip to the shop for a repair.

I was dispirited to learn that the repair was bound to take weeks--and it did, three to be exact.  While I may happily go without sewing for several weeks, it is because I chose to do so.  To be in the middle of a project, but be forced to wait weeks to resume left me quite dejected.  But once the machine was fixed and cleaned, I happily resumed the purse.  (Which ultimately turned out only okay.  Lack of satisfactory hardware meant that I was left without the handle I had hoped for, but that's fuel for another post.)

Point of this digression being, as my machine was in the shop less than a year ago the last place thing that I'd want to have happen was yet another problem with the machine.

As I was near tears, I begged dear hubby to take the machine to the shop.  Visions of my dissolving into sobs on the showroom floor persuaded me to stay behind with the baby.  I was so hoping that Brian would arrive at the shop, the experts would look it over and chuckle at how some silly something or other caused my problems, quickly fix it, and all would be right with the world.  But I also knew that the odds that it would be some major problem were more likely given my luck.  The last thing that I need is another forced three-week hiatus from sewing.

I am writing all this up know in the hopes that it'll somehow allow for the universe to smile upon my misfortune.  Perhaps in committing my frustration to ePaper, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever divinity will look down and decide that I need a well-earned break.  Just maybe, events will turn in my favor.

Let's hope, shall we?
This bloke is ready to teach my machine a thing or two

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Seven months

(Note: I began writing up this post yesterday, the 29th.  Volunteer obligations interrupted my writing, so I continue the post today, the 30th.)

Seven months ago today, I was relaxing at home after the out of hospital birth of my first son.  It seems simultaneously like yesterday and yet like it's always been like this.  I am so used to so many aspects of our daily routine.  And morning just would not be the same without his wake up smiles.  He is such a happy boy, especially now that his GERD is almost completely under control.  Plus, we took him to the chiropractor a few weeks ago and that settled a lot of his aches.

We had a follow-up with the chiropractor yesterday.  His back and neck tension is much improved--even the spots that are characteristically troubling for GERD babies.  Most of his tension was in his jaw.  No surprise as he has been teething like crazy.  Two teeth at once.  Poor guy.  Thankfully his bottom left front tooth has just broken through.

Declan continues to amaze us in many ways.  He is very quick with a smile and has the cutest little giggle.  Not much of a belly laugher, he choses to quietly chuckle instead.  He does so well sitting on his own now, he only teeters when he gets distracted by a toy or new interest.  No crawling yet, but we do not mind.  I'm going to enjoy him in arms as much as I can.

He takes after his father in more ways than just his good looks.  Like dad, he is not much of a conversationalist.  He will chitter from time to time, but not too often.  However when the mood strikes, there is no shutting him up.  He loves to blather away at his squeaky giraffe, Sophie, or sing songs to his fishie-keys.

Holding up his own bottle of coconut water
His favorite game is probably still the Stand Up Game.  He just loves it when Dad grabs his hands so that Declan can pull himself first to a seated position and then into a supported stand.  Declan can support his weight very well (he's been doing it for about two months now).  It make his so happy to stand up and survey the world around him.

Favorite toys include Sophie and his key rings.  Just the other day, though, I let Declan play with the monkey that I had knitted for Brian.  He took to it right away, immediately putting it to his mouth and squishing its soft body in his little hands.  It was so sweet to see Declan has so much fun with something that I had knit.  I may have to knit up some toys just for him.


New foods in Declan's diet include pumpkin and mashed potatoes.  Yes, from his Thanksgiving dinner.  We also made a huge batch of sweet potatoes--probably his all-time favorite.  He has become a good little eater.  We still breastfeed, of course, but he also gets bottles of coconut water from time to time.  All of this is helping him to put on weight.  (He even has regained his cute little double chin!)

He's not really skin and bones, but he is messy!
In short, Declan is still right on track developmentally except for where he is a bit ahead of the game.  I couldn't be happier, but I'm also starting to really notice just how fast he is growing up.  So there is some definite melancholy from mom.  Still, I am so happy and grateful to have such a happy, healthy child.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Besame Workshop Recap

I'm only a few days late on this, but as I saw a tweet today from What Katie Did LA requesting photos from this event, I figure it's best if I include them all in one write-up.  Thus this post.

Several weeks ago, I received word that the founder and owner of Besame Cosmetics, Gabriela Hernandez, was going to be doing an in-shop workshop at the new Los Angeles What Katie Did store.  I had gone to the store grand opening celebration, in part to meet Gabriela, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she was unable to attend.  I was so excited to attend the workshop until I realized that I was already booked for the day on which the workshop was scheduled.  Drat.

Long story short, a few days before the event, I realized that I was, in fact, free that morning, but I was still hemming and hawing about whether or not I should go.  Six month-old sons are not exactly cheap, so I've been trying to be more frugal.  Plus, I was also scheduled to attend a wedding later that day.  I just was not sure if I wanted to be out and about so much that day.  My friend Tricia, however, convinced me to go.  And boy, was I glad that she did!

Gabriela began the talk by asking the assembled group if there were any specific topics that she should cover.  I love that she wanted to make sure to address all burning questions and touch upon all desired topics.  I had none, I honestly just wanted to hear what she'd have to say.  As someone who has done make-up professionally, I did not need any tips or pointers on application.  (But I'd be lying if I said that I didn't learn any--Gabriela was even able to teach this old dog some new tricks!)

The lecture itself was focused on the 1940s, specifically on glamour and grooming.  Gabriela has recently authored a book on make-up that covers the subject from pretty much the dawn of recorded history to the year 2000!  So she picked a decade that really ushered in the use of make-up by the average woman.  Prior to that, make-up was used almost exclusively by the theatrical industry and by women of ... ahem, looser moral standards.

She talked at length about not only how women wore their hair and make-up, but also about the products themselves.  As her business seeks to replicate the best aspects of vintage make-up, it was fascinating to hear more about the composition of vintage cosmetics.  It was also very refreshing to learn that Gabriela's interest is in truly recreating the good stuff--not just making knock-offs of colors used back in the day.  

She discussed how products of the 1940s were often manufactured to be multi-use and to last and last.  Most modern women have experienced the frustration of pay big bucks for a product, only to have it spoil or end up contaminated before the product is close to empty.  I know that I've shelled out thousands of dollars on product that only later is thrown away half full.  (Granted, a lot of that is par for the course when it comes to maintaining my professional kit, but still!)  The lecture even included two period film clips that showcased beauty tips and application methods.  I was quite impressed!

After the lecture, Gabriela held a question and answer session where multiple topics were discussed.  Attendees were also able to review her new book, and she was happy to sign copies for purchasers.  (Oh, how I wished I could have afforded a copy!)

Finally, she was on hand to help answer questions about her products and even helped a few of us pick out a new lipstick.  

I should point out that What Katie Did were gracious hostesses.  I received a lovely goodie bag which included a Besame lip balm and generous samples of all of Besame's red lipsticks.  I am very much looking forward to trying them all!

Note the gorgeous lingerie in the background


The lovely Ms. Gabriela Hernandez






OH!  I do know that Gabriela will be doing another book signing on 19 November at ReVamp Vintage in LA.  I highly recommend attending!  ReVamp's salon is filled with gorgeous reproduction clothing and, if you're a fashion and make-up geek like me, getting the change to hear Gabriela speak is not something to be missed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

ADSLA Volunteer Appreciation Night

5209 Wilshire Blvd.
It's nice being appreciated.  Tonight, the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles did just that for its regular volunteers.  They held a cocktail party and shindig at the Deco Building on Miracle Mile in LA.

Brian and I got a sitter and headed out for a night of fun.  As usual, the crowd was divine.  We were able to socialize with many of our good friends from the ADSLA.  Like-minded folks who hold the years between the World Wars with great esteem, and so many of them looked amazing.  There really is no other word for it.

This is the front reception desk--cool, eh?
The event itself was wonderfully intimate.  At its most crowded, there were probably only about fifty people.  There was never a long wait for either the bar or for the food, it was perfect.


The building itself is wonderfully Deco.  The current owners have put a lot of work into restoring it.


Check out the deco details!
Even the lighting features the zigzag



Brian and I closed the night at the table
Oh, and the party also had a blackjack table!  How great is that!  We were playing for Tootsie Pops.  I managed to come home with two, Brian outdid me--he won three or four.




To reward the volunteers, there was an opportunity drawing.  We received a ticket for each event we volunteered for.  I put most of my tickets in the pot for the free Household Membership (2 people)--and we won!  Sure, we would have renewed anyway, but this way it's free!

The table just beyond this grate is made from an airplane wing--it was gorgeous!

As the building was a former bank, it came with the old bank doors

Hit me!

Overall, we had a terrific time and were definitely looking forward to volunteering more so as to be able to attend the next one.
Yours truly, en route


Oh!  And as we were leaving, the DJ for the night (there was period perfect tunes playing in the background) approached us with a CD of the evening's music!  Drinks, treats, gambling, and music!?  Who could ask for more!?

Brian is ready to go

Six months, three weeks

Life with a six month-old is in full swing.  We are three weeks into his tenure as such and he's proving be quite the handful.  He has hit all the typical six month milestones.  He rolls.  He chitters.  He grabs.  (He is especially grabby when breastfeeding--OUCH!)  He is learning cause and effect, i.e. he loves picking up his toys and dropping them.  But he still has the occasional GERD flare-up.

A few weeks ago, frustrated that he was still insisting on using the Supplemental Nursing System from time to time, I scheduled an appointment with our lactation consultant to see if there was anything else we could do to encourage weaning from the SNS.  I had started weaning him, but was beginning to notice a decrease in diaper output (polite way of saying he wasn't peeing as much).  This concerned me, so I was continuing to supplement him.

The lactation professional told us that, because of the decrease in diaper output, we would have to continue the SNS.  I was disappointed, to be sure, to be in a situation where we needed to continue the one thing that causes his GERD flare-ups.  But Declan's health comes before my comfort--so continue it we have.  (The good news is that Declan will likely need the SNS for only a month or so more while his need for solid foods increases.)

About a month ago, Declan's interest in solid food was at an all-time high.  He had even gotten to the point where he was pulling food off of our plates if we happened to be holding him while eating.  Because of his delicate system, I wasn't too keen on introducing him to food right at six months, but he was obviously very keen on eating.  We decided to wait a little while, but that wait only ended up lasting about another week.  He was obviously ready, so we started him on food by introducing him to avocado. (Try as I might, I could not find our video of that first experience, so here is one of his third time eating banana.)

Since that first avocado, Declan has experienced banana, carrots--a favorite, sweet potato, and teething biscuits.  We also picked up one of those net/popsicle things and offered it to him with mango in it.  He is still unsure how he feels about frozen/cold food.  

Lunch at Zephyr
All in all, he is a good eater and still breastfeeds quite a bit.  Though I confess to being so proud of him yesterday as he sat with us at one of our favorite restaurants and happily ate fresh banana.

Oh, for anyone keeping count--still no teeth.  Copious amounts of drool.  Lots of chewing.  Just no teeth yet.  Frankly, I'm somewhat relieved.  I am not at all looking forward to him biting me while he breastfeeds.  


Friday, October 21, 2011

iWants

I have book lust.  Again.  This time the book that I am desperate for isn't even out yet (and no, it isn't by Geo. R. R. Martin).  No, I'm going crazy in anticipation of Sarai Mitnick's Colette Sewing Handbook. (Why did my fingers want to type Sewing Handcock?)

I am still struggling to finish my fall wardrobe.  I seriously suspect that it'll be winter, or GASP! spring before I'm even done, but this book has me slavering to get back into the groove.  Five patterns, lots of tips and tricks... I so want this book!

---

Oh, and yes.  I do envy all of you with iPhone 4s.  I waited since June to upgrade and now that it's here, I don't have one.  I tried to score one earlier this week with no success.  Everywhere is sold out and I hate the delayed gratification of ordering one online when, in theory, I should just be able to pop into a store and buy one.  Some theory, though.  No one has any.

---

Lastly, I have a silly desperate desire to buy an airbrush make-up kit.  Why, no, I haven't done professional make-up in ages.  Sure, I used to do make-up professionally, but do I really need an airbrush kit now?  Of course not.  Which is perhaps why I want it all the more.  Sheer silliness.

So, you know what to do--send me cash. ;)  Or, write me a check just like this busty gal is doing.

Oh, yes.  I can be bought.
  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

GWW Photos

Below are some random photos from Great Western War.  I was not able to capture too many shots this year, was a bit occupied with Declan, but the shots that include me were stolen from Facebook.
La Famiglia Gate (entrance to our camp spot)

View into camp from the gate

Camp view from kitchen
Declan and I (photo by Jen C Kelly)

Company of St. George Procession begins
Elizabeth of Gyldenholt wears daddy's death mask
Sir Gavin's armor
Death Helm

Rommelpot! (photo by Kristina Gundersen-Rudmann)
Dylan, Padraic, Morgana, Declan and I (I hope I spelled the names correctly!) (photo by Kristina Gundersen-Rudmann)

Great Western War 2011

It's true that I spend most of my free time playing in the past.  Typically, I lounge around in the Art Deco era, sipping cocktails, and oozing glamour.  (Well, at least trying to ooze glamour.)

Last week, however, I set foot even further in the past--the Middle Ages.

Our home away from home (on left)
I am a card-carrying member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group of historical reenactors who study and seek to recreate the best parts of medieval Europe.  Throughout the year, local SCA groups put on various events, such as tournaments, arts competitions, feasts, and even wars.  Last week was one of our local wars, Great Western War.

It's a camping event that includes large-scale battles, one-on-one tourneys, archery contests, arts classes, brewer competitions, et cetera.  We pretty much treat it as our annual family camping trip.  But by no means are we roughing it.

Kitchen
Our campsite includes a medieval-style kitchen (with modern sink), and communal dining pavilion, courtesy of our camping group.  We camp in our own medieval-style tent (pictured) with a full sized four poster bed.  No ducking and stooping to dress each day for me!

This year, our camping group joined up with a couple other SCA camping groups.  One of the groups, a fourteenth century company, hosts a themed Pas d'Armes each year.  This year the theme was Memento Mori, remember death.  Perfectly ghoulish for an October war!

I was able to capture a lovely snapshot of "death" before the company processed through the war marketplace in order to drum up attendees for the Pas.
Memento Mori

Alas, I failed yet again to capture any photos of yours truly this year.  Perhaps I'll find some favorable ones on Facebook to share here in a separate post.  But before I sign off, I do have this gem captured by a friend of Declan:
The Declan Witch Project




Thursday, September 22, 2011

What dress? OH! That one!

I cannot believe that it's been WEEKS since the art deco festival, but it has.  And I did manage to finish my ball gown for the event (just barely).  What I failed to do, however, was to take quality photos of said dress with my ample body in it.  Here's a photo taken by friend and fellow deco-phile Patricia:

Sometimes a cigar IS just a cigar
Yes, that's me sporting the stogie.  My dashing husband can been seen to the right wearing a tied bow tie. (Boy, was that a fun lesson.)

I'd hate to leave this post without a recap of the festival, but the baby just won't let me have the time.  Thankfully, 'Tricia posted a few lovely posts about the festival on her blog.  Do go check them out.

Friday
Saturday
Sunday

Monday, August 29, 2011

a smattering of updates

Video blog update has been made!  Find it here.

This is the pattern I am basing my ball dress on.
My life in the last week has been focused on sewing, sewing, and more sewing.  And all for the same damned "easy" garment.  Deciding that I would rather sew than buy this year's ball dress, I've been busy stitching up the thing whenever I can.  See?  That's the key--whenever I can.  This whole mom of an infant business has been limiting my time in front of the Bernina to maybe an hour or two a day.  Plus this past weekend we were out of the house due to multiple obligations.  I had hoped to be able to sew a couple of outfits.  Now I'll be lucky to finish one!

I am, of course, quite disappointed to be faced with so few garment options for this year's Queen Mary Art Deco Festival, but that is just the reality of a postpartum body.  Most of the pieces in my closet do not fit at the moment.  With the help of some foundation garments, I can barely fit into a couple of dresses that were on the larger side.  That will have to do.

(Oh, how I wish that What Katie Did's Hollywood location were opening a few days earlier.  Alas, but I will be there when then do open next week!)

At any rate, I'll be enjoying myself this weekend whether or not I'm in the most wonderful Deco-era clothes or not.  I must remember that my friends are not going to be judging me upon each and every ensemble I throw together.  


Declan will be spend two days with his auntie while we are "away."  I'm equally excited and nervous.  Excited that he'll be able to spend time with family, nervous that I'm going to miss him like mad.  I know that I need to spend some time away from him.  Recharge my batteries and all that.  But he is such the focus of my everyday that I know I will constantly wonder what he is doing.  Thank heavens for technology, I will be able to ask for photos and updates via text.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Casting a Light

I need accountability if I'm going to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight before Declan is a toddler.  As such, I've decided to start a video blog (aka vlog) to hopefully shame myself into doing what I know that I can do but have so far been to lazy to do.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for an online "bootcamp" specific for moms.  In those past few weeks, though, I've only succeeded in half-assing it.  And it shows on my hips and on the scale.  My realization or turning point came when, on Tuesday, I was putting together a test bodice for the gown that I am making for the upcoming Queen Mary Art Deco Ball.  The bodice should have fit, but didn't.  It was close, but not quite a fit.  (Thankfully, it's just a test run.  No actual evening gown fabric was harmed.)

It made me sick to think that I should easily fit into the bodice, but couldn't and the reason was that I couldn't be bothered to eat better and exercise.  So... time to take off the gloves and put me squarely in my place.

I'll warn you now.  The first video blog entry was made this morning.  I have on no make-up (not even my eyebrows!)  My hair is a wreck.  The house is torn upside down to accommodate my sewing.  In short, it's a glaringly bright light into all the ugly cracks and crevices around my personal facade.  It is not for the faint at heart.

And here it is.

To help remove the image of me in my 8:30am glory from your mind, here is a lovely photo of a gorgeous gal in her skivvies.  Enjoy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

i take it all back!!

Declan just fell asleep, completely on his own, in his swing.  I take it all back.  All that talk of guilt and such.

This morning, he was a bit cranky (yes, teething already).  I thought I'd do a little experiment and I placed him in the swing.  Almost instant calm.  Well, for a moment.  After about fifteen minutes in the swing, he began to fuss again.  So, he came out of the swing for some playtime.

About an hour ago he started to really fuss.  Poor fella.  He was obviously tired, but did not want to eat.  We walked and talked.  We danced.  We played.  Still cranky.  So, I popped him into the swing again and calm.  Calm which eventually led to sleep!  Joy of joys!!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

One Swingin' Fella

And so it begins... the guilt.  Nice baby-faced helpings of it.

Let me back up and bring you up to speed.  At the end of this month, Husband and I will be going on a "cruise" aboard the Art Deco gem, the Queen Mary.  Every Labor Day weekend, the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles hosts a festival of Art Deco lectures, cocktail parties, and just all out splendor aboard this floating hotel.  It was at this festival three years ago that my husband and I became engaged.  Two years ago, we were married there.  It is a special place and a special event.  Husband and I save so as to be able to attend each year.

Since before the Little Fella was born, his aunt has offered to sit for us.  Declan will be with us on Friday evening, so as to quell some of the questions about him.  But I am grateful that my sister-in-law has been eager to help us by watching Declan on Saturday and Sunday.  In order to get Declan prepared for playing and sleeping with her, we decided to chuck some money at the baby industry and purchase a baby swing.

To back up a bit further, I had initially decided that we would be a non-swinging family.  Sure, my daughter ADORED hers when she was an infant, but I had a lot more room at my disposal then.  Currently, the four of us live in a meager two-bedroom apartment where space is at a premium.  Have you seen the current army of baby swings?!  They're HUGE!  So I made an executive decision and vetoed the swing idea.  Plus, as a proponent of attachment parenting, my hope was to wear the baby most of the time. Too bad he doesn't always want to be worn...

What is it about babies that all the best-laid plans manage to go right out the window on a whim?

Since the Little Fella is not always keen to be in the Moby Wrap or his Hotsling, or even his Gemini carrier, we purchased for him a bouncy seat a few weeks back.  He LOVES being in the bouncer while Husband or I cook.  Declan is just the most contented little guy there, however he will not fall asleep in it.

Naptimes around here happen one of two ways.  1) Declan falls asleep while nursing and I refrain from doing anything until he wakes.  2) Declan falls asleep in his Hotsling while his dad finger-feeds him.  As Declan will be under the care of neither one of us for two days during the festival, we need a new sleep option.  Thus did we decide to suck it up and buy a baby swing.

We figured that our odds for getting him to sleep without boob or sling would be best with a swing.  Now we just have to get him used to it.  THIS is where my guilt comes in to play.  When I put him into the swing, he looks at me as if to ask, "Why don't you want to hold me?"  He doesn't fuss, and doesn't even look sad or upset.  But my mind immediately and irrationally imagines him questioning me.

This ought to make for a few interesting days.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lily isn't sewing

Nope.  I am currently listening to the milk-blurbly snores of my funny baby.  He is catnapping at the boob leaving me to type this one-handed.  Rather appropriate for the last day of World Breastfeeding Week.

Last week I played the birthday trump card and scored a trip to the marketplace at Costume College.  While there, I picked up two more Decades of Style patterns.  I've decided that so long as I still have this heavier version of me (thanks, postpartum me!), I am going to at least make some flattering, well-fitting attire for myself.
My figure isn't nearly as waspy, but whose is?

When I've been able to squeeze in a bit of time here and there, I've been working on a toile/muslin of the 1950s Gourmet Skirt.  Cute, isn't it?

I crafted the toile in the largest size the pattern offered believing that, as it was smaller than my last waist measurement, it would be snug.  But, no, it ended up waaaay to big.  Yay?  So I'm back to stage one.  Last night I managed to tear the toile apart, iron out the seams, and reassemble one pocket.  All hopes of stitching this morning went out the window when Brian left for archery practice leaving me alone with the babe.

Baby boy is still napping while boobing.  Very cute, but rather limiting.  Guess I'll go back to watching streaming episodes of I Love Lucy...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Grown-up Time Recap


Last night was wonderful.  Absolutely magnificent.
In my last blog post, I mentioned that Brian and I were going to an event at the downtown Los Angeles Coca Cola building.  I had lamented my postpartum body and blathered on about the struggle to find a good outfit for the occasion.  Thankfully, all of the negativity that I had was washed away by the time spent with good friends.
I did manage to squeeze into the red knit dress and not look a total mess.  I would like to think that I captured the spirit and joie de viv of a heavy Elizabeth Taylor.  At least, that’s what I continually told myself so as to not frump over into a completely lackluster posture.
The tour and Coca Cola building was nice.  While not truly awesome, it was a lovely time for the right people (ADSLA members only) and the right price (FREE).  Plus, yours truly was one of the fortunate.  I won a gigantic plush polar bear in the raffle.
Post Coca Cola event, friends Tricia and Paul agreed to join Brian and myself for dinner.  Our first two attempt to find the right place to dine were bust.  Wurstkuche was beyond crowded, Cafe Metropol was closed.  Paul suggested a supper club, First and Hope, and thanks to Open Table integration with Yelp, we were able to make immediate reservations for four.
The supper club was gorgeous and proved to be a perfect location for four friends to drink, dine, and chat as we certainly enjoyed all three.  As for the drinks, Tricia ordered a glass of Skylark wine, Brian settled on a Manhattan, and I indulged in a 20th Century--my first time enjoying this particular drink.  It will certainly not be my last, it was quite tasty and should definitely be a future Cocktail of the Week!
Dinner was divine.  I had such a lovely time chatting with Paul and Tricia.  I do wish that we weren’t quite so geographically distant as, selfishly, I’d love to be able to see them more often.  We talked and laughed (often) about a multitude of subjects--to many to note.  It was tough to finally say, “goodnight,” but as all had babysitters to rescue we did have to call it a night near nine o’clock.
Reflecting now upon the evening, I cannot help but desire to spend future evenings in a similar fashion--a small group of friends simply enjoying each others company.  Big gathering as grand, but there is something truly special about a couple of friends, a couple of drinks, and witty conversation.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grown-up Time

Tonight, the fella and I are going out just the two of us.  We were able to convince the teenager to watch the baby.  I'm confident that she'll do just fine, but her occasional anxiety when Declan cries in the car has me mentally preparing for the possibility of calling it an early night.  Declan is MUCH improved from where he was when first diagnosed with GERD, but he can kick up a real good fuss every once in a while.

The event that Brian and I are attending is a special tour and event at the Los Angeles Coca Cola building. As the building is not open to the public, I'm pretty stoked.  Plus, I thought that it would be a gas to dress in Coca Cola red.  I have only two red articles of clothing.  One is a cotton day dress with delicate floral print all over it.  As seen here:
Great summer dress, but not very fancy

The other option is a gorgeous red knit dress from the 1950s.  But yeah, knit.  In summer.  At least it's a cotton knit, but still.  Not to mention that my postpartum body is not at all attractive in a clingy knit number.

So, on Friday I decided to do some quick shopping to find a suitable skirt or dress.  The two + hours that I spent that afternoon would have been much more enjoyable had I instead stayed home and drilled random holes into my skull.  It was that bad.  I knew that finding a good red would be difficult, but I failed to account for the ego-crushing feelings associated with finding the perfect item, in what is normally my size AND what is normally a couple of sizes too large, but not being able to fit my ample a** into any of them.  Ouch.

I've decided, as Brian will be wearing his white linen suit, to attempt to squeeze into enough foundation garments to make my figure not too horrifying for the red knit dress.  Failing that, I'll wear the cotton summer shirtdress.  

Now, who's going to take bets to see just how quickly this evening out comes to a screeching halt?  I do hope that we're at least able to enjoy all of the tour.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Two Photos at Ten Weeks

I love my Hipstamatic app.  Took a few photos today.  These two, I thought, were particularly amusing.  Enjoy!

Fascinated while at Art du Vin

He needs a nap, but is letting Daddy do all the sleeping

Ten weeks


video

Ten weeks ago, at almost exactly this time, I met my son face-to-face.  The last ten weeks have certainly been intense--almost as intense as his actual birth.  We've dealt with the usual newborn fun of diapers, spit-up, sleepless nights.  We certainly did not plan on also dealing with a touch of jaundice, latch issues, gastroesophageal reflux disease, thrush, weight gain troubles.  But we've faced them all and are coming out on top.

But there are wonderful milestones, too.  Declan has learned to smile.  For the past few weeks, he melts our hearts with the sweetest of grins.

YAY!

He has also begun to giggle.  No full-fledged laugh just yet, but occasional hiccup-ish noises as he smiles.  It's just too darling for words.

Since Declan was a fews old, he has tried to hold his head up.  He's become a real champ at it with only fleeting moments of bobble-head.  Also on the muscle-control front, he has begun to "regard" his hands.  He tries to grab certain items, namely my boob while he nurses, and he loves pumping his arms and legs in excitement.  He has become very strong for a newborn and even likes to "stand" quite often.

Our little man is alert and active as ever, too.  From his third day his pediatrician has constantly remarked about how vibrant and curious Declan is.  At D's last visit, the doctor had to remark on how strong he has become, too.  Despite the weight issues, we've always felt that Declan is otherwise so healthy.  Hearing it from the doctor helps, too.  His GERD has vastly improved in just the last couple of days, even.  He's keeping down the supplemental formula/breast milk so well, only a handful of spit-ups!

I am very much looking forward to his next few weeks.  I cannot wait to hear his full laugh and to watch him roll over (he almost rolled completely from back to front this morning!).  In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy his sweet disposition and his charming smile.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Boosting the Local Medical Economy

I sometimes wonder if my family is single-handedly keeping Orange County doctors in business.

Declan has been under doctor's care since he was three days old.  Because of his medical troubles--small mouth/bad latch, gastroesophageal reflux disease, thrush--I feel as though doctor's offices dominate my life.

About a week ago, I noticed that my throat was beginning to feel scratchy.  My first concern was not for me.  Oh, no.  My first concern was what if Declan gets a sore throat, or strep throat, or some other throat-aching illness from me?!  We already have enough trouble trying to keep food in him.  The LAST thing that we need is more issues with his eating!

One last minute ENT doctor's appointment later and I learn that--thank heavens--I had no signs of anything too troublesome.  However, while there I scheduled a first appointment for Taylor.  (If it's not one kid, it's another, right?)  We might was well get back on course for her cholesteatoma  follow-ups.

Two doctor's office visits in one week.  Thankfully this week should be doctor-free.  Should be.  Fingers and toes firmly crossed.  But Declan does have yet another follow-up appointment next week.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Senility already?

I had an idea for a post yesterday.  I wanted to talk about my frustrations with juggling TWO children now.  I started to type out--one-handed--my thoughts on the subject, but the needs of a newborn took over and the entry was left unfinished.

I sat down a moment ago and tried to recapture my thoughts.  I got nothing.  Could only recall in vague brush strokes the point that I was trying to make.  I'd had a definite direction that I wanted to take my post--lost that direction almost entirely.  Cripes.  I was left only with the continued frustration and guilt that I feel about not being able to adequately balance my duties to my daughter and my duties to my son.  THOSE FEELINGS I still have in abundance.  Ugh.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Noticed this morning that Declan had a milky coating on his tongue. Yeah, he's got thrush.

Naturally he'd get it the day that his doctor only does a half day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dx: GERD--Follow-up Appointment

We had a follow-up appointment with Declan's pediatrician this past Tuesday.  Never have I been so pleased to see an increase on the scale--but Declan put on almost a full pound!  This is terrific news as it's the first time at the doctor's office that his weight has gone up and not down.

As for his GERD, we have still be seeing improvements.  Most days, Declan eats very well and keeps most of the food down.  Last week we did have a day of chronic spit-ups.  It seemed that after every meal, he "blurped" it all right back up.  It was messy and so frustrating.  But, thankfully, that day has proven to be a rarity.

Here he is--making faces in the car.  Big Sis calls this his Blue Steel face.


The doctor renewed Declan's prescription, plus wrote a prescription to hopefully help get insurance to pay for a hospital-grade breast pump rental.  The doctor would much rather have Declan supplemented with breast milk instead of formula--something that we'd all like very much, too.  But the Medela pump that I was generously given by a friend just is not cutting it.  I can pump for twenty minutes each side and barely produce 3/4 of an ounce.  We're hoping that a hospital-grade pump will be more efficient.

Looks so much like daddy


Otherwise, Declan did so well at the appointment that his doctor scheduled his next follow-up to be a month from now.

Yesterday, Declan was invited to accompany us to a friend's party.  Several of our friends remarked on how much chubbier our little lad was.  It was so heartwarming to hear that people are noticing that he is gaining back his weight.

He loves making faces.
Each day, we continue to try to pack on the pounds and help Declan keep his food down.  It's proving to be a slow process, but we're trucking along as best as we can.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Hour: CotW--Sidecar

Being the parent of a new baby, my life is pretty much on HIS schedule now--not mine.  So, it should be no surprise that I'm late with the Cocktail of the Week this week.

I decided to choose a cocktail that IS often available in well-stocked bars these days--the Sidecar.  Plus, it's a cocktail for which we already had all the ingredients on hand.  Since I was not able to pop by the liquor store, if I wanted a Cocktail of the Week--it had to be one we could make with what we already had.

The Sidecar

1/3 brandy
1/3 Cointreau
1/3 lemon juice (fresh)

Easy, eh?  Plus, it is easily tailored to one's palate.  Want it sweeter?  Add more Cointreau.  More tart?  Go heavier on the lemon.


The husband and I invited a friend over last night and whipped up a few Sidecars for everyone.  The verdict was unanimous--we all LOVED them.  For such a potent beverage, it is very drinkable.  Especially for today's palate.  Not a syrupy-sweet as so many common cocktails today, it's a good introduction to the more potent vintage cocktail.

Do let me know if you give this one a try, whether at home or at a bar.  Oh, and insist on Cointreau, not Triple Sec. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Declan's birth story

On Friday, 29 April 2011, my family was blessed with a new addition--Declan Rhys Philip.  Below is the story of his actual birth.  I chose to use hypnosis to help me manage my comfort, so some of the terminology may be a bit foreign.  To help, where first mentioned, I have added a “translation” in parenthesis.
I was convinced that I would have an early baby.  His father was born early, as were all of his siblings and nephews.  It just seemed appropriate that Declan, too, would be a 36 or 38 week-er.  But when week 36 turned into 37, soon followed by 38 with no signs of labor, I did begin to feel a bit disappointed.  Granted, I wanted a fully-formed, ready-to-birth baby.  THAT was always most important to me.
By week 38, though, I was really uncomfortable.  Nothing extreme, I confess, just normal pregnancy discomfort; but my patience--already in short supply at the best of times--was running dangerously low.  I downloaded a new hypnosis track to help encourage baby to come out just incase he was ready.  I began pumping my breasts at least once a day.  I pestered my poor husband for uh... “service.”  But week 39 came along just the same without change.  This baby was going to be born on HIS schedule, so while I may have complained a bit about my continuing pregnancy, I was certainly going to accommodate the baby’s schedule.
Towards the end of week 39, on Thursday, I awoke to mild pressure waves (contractions).  Perfectly manageable, but regular at about six minutes apart.  Our midwifery asked to be informed when pressure waves were at six minutes, so my husband paged the midwife on duty at about 7:30am.  Since I already had a prenatal appointment scheduled for 10:30am, we decided to keep with the plan, and check out our options at the appointment.
By the time we made it to the midwifery for the appointment, my pressure waves had slowed and were still mild in intensity.  The midwife suggested that she strip my membranes, something that I had previous thought I would decline.  As I was now getting concerned about the possibility of having a late baby (which could put me at risk for a hospital birth), I agreed to the procedure.  
I had heard that membrane stripping was very uncomfortable, so I allowed myself to ease into a mildly hypnotic state.  When the midwife was finished, I was honestly a bit shocked the lack of discomfort that I felt.  Hypnosis success!
While there, she had checked my cervix.  It was quite favorable, being more anterior, thin, and about two centimeters dilated.  All good signs that my body was preparing for my birthing time (labor).  
After the appointment, I did not want to head straight home just incase the membrane stripping kicked things into gear.  We decided to take advantage of the discount movie house nearby and saw Tangled: 3D.  (Cute movie, by the way.)  But my pressure waves never resumed a steady, predictable pace.  After the film, we grabbed lunch and headed home to relax.
For the rest of the day, I experienced mild and random pressure waves.  I went to bed hoping that again I would wake to something more productive.  I wouldn’t be disappointed.
At about 3:30am Friday morning (baby’s guess date), I awoke to that now all-familiar pressure wave sensation.  Still mild, though a bit stronger than the previous morning.  For the next hour, I timed the waves and found that again they were about six minutes apart.  Unfortunately, they were only averaging six minutes.  Some were as few as two or three minutes apart, others are far as eight or nine.  I stopped timing, and went back to a light sleep.
I was partially awake at about 6:00am when I “heard” a “pop” in my lower abdomen.  I immediately thought, “Did my water just break?”  Sure enough, I started to feel a tell-tale trickle.  
I woke my sleeping husband.  Poor guy seemed somewhat in shock at the news--probably because he was still so asleep.  But the adrenaline must have kicked into gear for him quickly as he sprung out of bed to fetch towels and the telephone.
Our midwifery had instructed that, in the case of membrane rupture, to lie down and remain still until the midwife was notified.  I did my very best, but was feeling a mix of excitement and fear.  Excitement from knowing that I’d meet my baby soon.  Fear at knowing that now we were on a time schedule.  If birth did not occur within twelve hours or so, I might have to be transferred to a hospital.  Thankfully, this mix of emotion was easily overcome as I had to focus on getting ready while not leaving a trail of fluid.
My husband phoned the midwife and we were given clearance to allow me to move again.  I will save the reader from the laughable description of how I managed to get to myself into the bathroom.  Let’s just say that I waddle in a rather amusing fashion when trying to walk with a towel stuffed between my legs.
After packing up the car, I decided that it was worth heading south towards the midwifery.  It was about 7:30am at this point and I wanted to miss commuter traffic.  I figured that if we arrived and were not allowed to be admitted, we could just check into a local hotel.  
We arrived at the midwifery just prior to opening.  It was about 8:00am and my pressure waves were averaging about four minutes apart and had increased in intensity to the point where I was actively using my hypnosis techniques to relax.  In particular, my sacral area was uncomfortable--suggesting that the baby may have turned from occiput anterior to occiput posterior.  
My hypnosis must have been working well, though, as our midwife suggested that we still had a few hours before we should check into the center.  (Hindsight being what it is, I now realize that here is where I should have insisted that we stay.)  
We left the center and headed over to a local hotel to relax until our birthing time progressed to the point where we needed the center.  Our doula and my sister-in-law joined us there and I spent most of the time in the shower (midwife said no tub yet).  By about 10:00, I knew that we should head back to the center.
Once back at the center, the midwife checked again for “progress.”  I was dilated to about 4 centimeters and given clearance to get into the tub at about 10:30.  (Hallelujah!)  The warm water felt terrific and I was able to deeply relax and just give in to what my body needed to do.

Finally in the tub!

At this point, the passage of time became rather fuzzy.  I was very well attended by my husband and doula.  I did my best to relax through each pressure wave.  As they grew in intensity, this became more difficult, but in between the waves I felt terrific.  My difficulty in maintaining a relaxed state, I believe, was due to all the hustle and change caused by leaving the center to go to the hotel.  
Eventually, my body began to contract and push.  The midwife asked to check my cervix to verify readiness.  I was still only dilated to about a 7, but felt so pushy that she held open my cervix and allowed me to push.  This certainly put my hypnosis to the test and certainly did feel uncomfortable--however I was still able to focus on the task at hand and breath my baby down.

Cheesy little baby

While pushing felt like it took longer, I later learned that I was in second-stage labor for only two minutes!  While the midwife held my cervix, I pushed with each pressure wave.  I never felt any significant discomfort, nor any “ring of fire.”  I was simply focused on tuning in to my body and allowing it to do its job.  I found it much more comfortable to push on hands and knees, so was unable to see the birth, but once Declan was out at 12:17pm, I was able to recline and take him immediately to my belly.  We then delicately moved from tub to the bed to easily birth the placenta while my son began to nurse.  

WE DID IT!  PHEW!

While we waited for the cord to stop pulsing, the midwife and staff left the room to allow our new family to bond.  We had a blissful hour all to ourselves to catch our breath, snack, and--of course--admire Declan.  When the staff returned, they weighed and measured Declan (8lbs 9oz, 19.5in long)  I did end up with two or three minor tears, but these were easily stitched up.  The rest of the visit was spent cleaning up, finalizing paperwork, and toasting our little lad with a bit of Guinness.

Chubby cheeks


Declan meets Big Sis' approval

Slainte!

We were able to leave by about 3:15pm.
In short:
6:00am--Membranes ruptured
10:15am--Admitted to birth center
12:15pm--Pushing stage
12:17pm--Declan Rhys born
3:15pm--Allowed to leave birth center
Pretty spectacular!  

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