Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Word I Hate


I hate that word.  Really.  Even typing it makes me cringe.

Growing up my underwear was called, well, underwear.  Or undies for short.  My mother never called them panties and so when I heard others say it, it sounded funny.  When I got older and able to choose my own underwear, the types that could be classified as "panties", I still called them underwear.  No one ever pointed out that I only referred to my underwear as underwear.  Except my husband, who loves to taunt me and try to get me riled up ready to go on and on why I can't stand the word.

It wasn't until I was well into my 20s that I realized why I hate the word.  Panties is sexualized.  It seems anti-feminist.  It's also used in the colloquialism, "Don't get your panties in a bunch"; basically a derogatory way of telling a woman to calm her irrational feelings.

When I hear mothers say to their young daughters, "Make sure you have clean panties with you" or something like that, I cringe.  I feel like it is prepping young girls to feel like they need "cute" and then as they get older "sexy" underthings.

I've watched many true crime shows in which rape and or rape/murder is the topic, and the victim's "panties" are used as evidence.  The use of the word panties in this context seems to be an ever so subtle nod to the woman having some ownership to the assault.  Perhaps this is because I can't stand this word as I see it charged with sexism, but none the less, I cringe at lawyers talking about the victim's "panties".

When you see a picture of a model in underwear, the catalog or advertisement has the word PANTIES pasted all around a young woman with her butt cheeks hanging out while seeming to find herself in some innocently exotic pose.  You know, that subtle marketing to tell you that you need those "panties" to feel sexy and good about yourself.

If you see an advertisement of good ol' cotton "briefs", all you see is a crop picture of a modest pelvis swaddled in waist high, low cut thigh underwear.  It shows you the product.  And that is all.  For me, that is all I need.  But I don't need panties.  I wear underwear.  The kind that covers everything, is comfortable, and practical.  Just don't call them freaking panties, because I am not ever in panties!  I am a human being that wears underwear; just like men.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Just Back

Today I returned from a very short but sweet trip with my good friend Kirsten from the Mt. Washington Resort and Spa.

Holy cannoli, it was awesome and when I say there was not enough time in just a one night stay, there is just not enough time.  I took a lot of pics, and will post them soon. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I've recently got myself back into the pool.  As a kid, you could have confused me with a fish with how much I loved being in water.  I took swim lessons until I was about 10 (when my mother pulled me out because I was told my lap times required me to stay back and repeat a class, to which she replied, "Well, you did learn how to swim" so that was that even though I wanted to keep going and try out for the swim team).  I had a pool through junior high and high school that I used every single day.

Then I gained some weight.  And more weight.  And I was unable to find a bathing suit that I both liked and fit in a regular store, so I gave up.  I decided I was an adult and no longer had either the time and desire to go swimming or even spend some relaxation around a pool.

But I was really just fooling myself.  My fatness was keeping me from swimming.  Finally I've come to realize and admit this to myself.

My daughter and I go to our local YMCA several times a week, and I take her into the pool.  She loves it, and so do I.  But initially, the process of getting me into the pool took some psychic cheerleading.  First, I would have to invest in a bathing suit, and one that I felt would adequately cover me in public.  I joked initially that I needed a swim burqa (there are such things for Muslim women) to look socially acceptable but settled on long board shorts and long tankini top.

First time swimming in this suit felt weird because I was being self conscious and I really didn't like the feeling of shorts to my knees in water.  But I didn't feel like anyone at the pool was staring at me in any obvious way or whispering behind their hands about the fat lady in the long swim shorts, blah blah blah.

And the more I got in the pool, I started to shed my self consciousness.  So much now, that I decided to take up lap swimming for my exercise.  Previously I had been using the track to walk a few miles and use free weights, etc, but I recently went off my medication that helps control my joint pain (I have a chronic connective tissue/rheumatology disease- yes, yes, I am one of those people) because the side effects were just intolerable so walking and what not was not as enjoyable on my body.

But the pool felt awesome!  And with my rekindled love of swimming, it only made sense to start lap swimming again.  Good on my joints, awesome cardiovascular exercise. 

Except those board shorts and tankini top were just not going to do for laps.  I went online and bought myself an athletic swim suit.  Basically, a traditional tank suit meant for actual real swimming.  I also bought some awesome goggles and as soon as they arrived, I couldn't wait to get into the pool!

By this point, I had really begun the mental shift in my head about my size separate of this decision to go back to lap swim.  What fully emotionally liberated me was posting this other post, which I have to admit I am surprised has not received much feedback at all.  I mean, it's a pic of a fat lady.  It's one of the most controversial images in the American culture.  But, I digress...

I put that bathing suit on, strapped those goggles to my head, and strut out to the pool for lap swim with my head up.  Seriously.  Whether I walk in to the pool area with my conservative pool shorts or my traditional tank suit that shows all of my cellulite and hugs all my abdominal rolls, people can see I'm obese.  And if they are going to judge, they will do so no matter what suit I wear.  There was one occasion that I walked by a group of parents who were watching their kids in a swim class that was going on, and one father was making no effort to cover his disgust at the site of me walking by.  But I looked him in the eye as I walked and smiled.  I so wanted to say, "Yes, I'm fat!  I know! But can you swim laps for an hour without stopping?"  My guess is probably not.  And I didn't say anything, but there was no way his obvious repulsion at the sight of a fat woman in a bathing suit was going to stop my love of swimming and showing up in a regular suit.

And on that note, a picture that inspired this post! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Update: Pin Test of White Vinegar Manicure

I previously reviewed a popular pin on Pinterest about using white vinegar as a way to keep your manicure from chipping.  Initially I thought this was a good trick, but after I took the original polish off my nails kept peeling and splitting.

I gave my nails a rest from any polish, and kept them super short to keep them from peeling any worse than they already were.  But they also felt very weak, and wanted to give them a little strength.  I ended up polishing my super short nails with Sallie Hansen NailGrowth Miracle in a clear base coat, and used Sallie Hansen Diamond Strength in lavender.

As mentioned before, I do my nails after Vera goes to bed.  I let them dry before going to bed myself but I almost immediately noticed that none of the bumps occurred like they did with the vinegar version.

So I guess that the vinegar did cause the bumps, although I did use a different nail polish brand the first time.  Either way, I won't be using the vinegar again.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Another Birth Story

For the birth junkies, I will add my story to the numerous birth stories that can be read out on the internet.  Part of this is a way I can work into some other things that led to the demise of my health care career, but for now it will focus solely on my personal birth story.

As a little background, it took quite some time to actually get pregnant.  We started trying actively in the early fall 2009, and I got pregnant in January 2010.  But unfortunately, this pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 8 weeks.  It was a devastating loss for me, and I had a very hard time picking myself up emotionally.

But we kept trying.  And I got fairly aggressive about it.  I did the LH surge (ovulation predictor kits) tests every month to time things just right.  I also kept track of everything in terms of my cycles.  With my midwifery knowledge, I soon realized that we were dealing with a very short luteal phase (any where between 8-10 days).  Because of this I contacted an infertility physician and got started with the process.  I'll leave it to that, as this in itself could be take up an entire post by itself.

In December 2010, I took a pregnancy test for the sole purpose to stop using the disgusting progesterone suppositories.  But it was positive.  I couldn't believe it.  I did two more over the course of a few days, and each one was positive (with a progressively darker line on the stick). 

So started my pregnancy with my daughter.  And now after years of working with pregnant women, having studied all sorts of normal and abnormal pregnancy stuff as a midwife, thought I'd have a good handle on it.  I was wrong.  I also thought that I'd enjoy being pregnant and the experiences related to it.  Again, I was wrong.

I hid my pregnancy, which wasn't hard given my weight and body size, until about 20 weeks at work.  The two nurses I worked with on a daily basis knew I was pregnant because I was so nauseous and had about two whole foods I could tolerate for most of my pregnancy that it was difficult to not share with the people who saw me all day long.

Around 28 weeks, I started to physically feel like a pregnant women in the sense of the weight.  My pelvis hurt almost constantly and my two close nurse friends at work told me I waddled.  I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes around this time, and found it so challenging because my food aversions were so strong.  There left very little for me to eat to keep my blood sugars down while actually liking what I was eating.  But somehow within three days of diagnosis, I had controlled my sugars with diet alone.

Except on a rainy, crappy, June Saturday when I turned 31 weeks, I felt terrible.  Just extremely tired, achy, not right.  Nothing specific but I spent the day laying on my couch and knitting.  I ended up in bed by 8:30pm that night because I was so exhausted.  My last blood sugar of the day was in the 130s, which was high for me at that time.  But, nothing about that day triggered anything in me that something was wrong.

At 2:15am, I woke with a start.  I remember quite clearly thinking, "Oh my gosh! I can't believe I slept this long without needing to pee!" at the exact time I felt hot warm liquid coming out of me.  I jumped out of bed quickly, afraid that I was peeing the bed.  But by the time I reached the bathroom, I knew that this was not urine.  My inability to control it, not to mention the classic amniotic smell I was more than familiar with was the tip off.  I hopped on the toilet and it was just pouring out of me.  When I stood up, it poured all over my bathroom floor.  There was so much freaking amniotic fluid that I was worried if the cord had prolapsed.  I wasn't feeling the baby move, but in the two or so weeks prior to this I wasn't feeling much movement anyhow.

I was at the hospital within 30 minutes.  I wasn't contracting, at least what I could tell, but the fetal monitor was showing contractions every five minutes.  It was pretty obvious my water broke, so much so that the doctor only did an exam to collect specimens for infections as a possible cause and to visually look at my cervix, which was completely closed.

The plan at this point was to admit me, keep me on bedrest and monitoring until 34 weeks, then induce labor.  I'd get the standard preterm premature rupture of membranes plan.  Antibiotics, bedrest, steroids, no vaginal exams.

My daughter and body had other plans entirely.  By 6 am, I was contracting uncomfortably enough to not be able to talk during them.  By 7 am, they were getting stronger and closer together.  By 8 am, I was totally unable to cope, and my plans to hypnobirth went right out the window.  My husband kept leaving the room (more on this nonsense at another time), and my planned doula was already post-call (she was a midwife friend of mine), and my nurse had another patient that was very needy.  Oh, and the hospital I delivered at was the hospital I worked as a labor nurse.  They knew me, and I knew them.  This was good and bad.  The good at this moment was that I told my nurse that I needed her to get rid of her other patient.  She totally obliged.  And also, it just happened to work out that all of the staff that was with me during my labor and birth were all doctors and nurses that I enjoyed working with.  I did feel safe knowing that I was in their hands.

My contractions at this point were every 2-3 minutes and totally awful.  I needed to take my glasses off and press my eyes with an ice cold washcloth in order to not literally rip my eyeballs right out of the sockets.  I seriously was thinking that I needed to rip my eyeballs out during my contractions.  Totally irrational, but that is what I felt.  Many of the contractions were not fully relaxing in between peaks, and it was feeling like it wasn't letting up.

By 9:30am, I had an epidural.

Yes, you read that right.  I. Got. An. Epidural.  At my request.

It was placed before I even realized we started.  It worked like a charm.  Fortunately, no visible side effects (because you know once I was feeling less pain, I was looking at that damn fetal monitor).  Around 10:30am, my daughter's heart rate took a dive.  All the usual stuff was done to help it go back up, and it did.  The doctor checked my cervix and I was 5 cm.

Another heart rate dive occurred at 11am, and now I was 7 cm.  About 15 minutes later, I was feeling some pressure near my pubic bone, and I was complete at +2 station.  Everyone got ready for my daughter's imminent birth.

I started pushing at 11:20, and my daughter was born at 11:41am.  She came out like a rocket; I felt her head literally "pop" right out and seeing the doctor fumble a little at catching the rest of her body as it shot out.  Initially they placed her on my belly, and she had only her right eye open.  She looked just like me in my own newborn photo, and I even said this out loud.  But she was whisked quite quickly to the neonatologist and NICU nurse. 

Vera was born quite vigorous (I think she had APGARS of 7 & 8), and the neonatologist was very happy she showed such good signs.  But within minutes, she very clearly was having some respiratory difficulty, and turning a bit gray.  They wrapped her up, brought her over to me for a quick kiss before she was put into a rolling isolette and brought to the NICU.

My adrenaline kicked in, and I felt ready to jump up and run to the NICU to be with her, but of course was reminded that I needed to take care of a few things on myself.  I needed one stitch inside my vagina, but that was all.  I examined my placenta, which was as large and healthy looking.  Actually, it was as big as a full term placenta.

The official cause for my preterm birth is unknown.  All tests were negative for any type of infection, and there was no other obvious reason documented.  However, my own diagnosis was polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid). Had I not given birth, the following day I had an ultrasound scheduled because my fundal heights were measuring very large.  I believe at 30 weeks, the doctor had measured 40 weeks.  Also, in hindsight, the fact that I started to feel less fetal movement was probably because there was so much fluid.  My belly, until the moment all that water came out of me, was as tight as a drum.  And I had one of the biggest known risk factors: gestational diabetes.

But, because there was never an official amniotic fluid index done prior, no one can actually formally call it so.  But, that's very likely the cause.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Personal Struggle

I've been struggling a little with a few things about my past career, and those of you who have come by via my previous life's blog and wonder what about....don't worry.  I'm sure it will all be like verbal/blog/post diarrhea all over the place here. 

I just need time to be ready to discuss all the points and collect my thoughts.  It's not a simple reason or even one reason needing elaboration.  It's going to be a multitude of things that just culminated into one giant clusterfuck.

What ended up terminating my career (originally on a temporary basis, so I thought) was the birth of my daughter.  She was born unexpectedly at 31 weeks.  It was probably one of the most traumatic events of my personal life, and spun things into such a downward spiral that I was unable to return to work.  This is such an oversimplification of actual events, but will suffice for now.

Now, over 2 years later, I've gone down a completely unexpected path.  But it is a welcome one, and one that I am glad to have landed on.  I love where I am at today, and the struggles in the last few years has made it possible to appreciate it all that much more.

Repurposed Window Valance

If you have one of those nursery sets, it probably came with one measly window valance.  If your baby's room only has one window, you are all set.  But if not, you either have to purchase another matching valance (if one is even available to purchase separately) or buy an entirely separate set that coordinates with the set.  Or, if you want to be crafty you could make some.

At the time that my daughter's nursery was being put together, I was in no shape to actually make two window valances to match (more on why later).  So I bought some simple valances at Target but hung on to the single valance that came with her set.  And finally, it came to me what to do with it.

I originally posted this repurposed window valance for her nursery on my business blog, but thought it would be suited to post here as well.  To see exactly what I did, click here.

This is the final product, but I'd love to see how you repurposed something for your child's room.

The other thing I did with her nursery set was take the crib quilt and hang it as wall décor.  It is not recommended to use the crib quilt for infants, and now that she is 2 and could use blankets safely she prefers wearable blankets.  So, all off her nursery set got used in some way.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Pin Test: Crayon Art

There are millions of pins on Pinterest on melting crayons onto artist canvas, and this was intriguing.  But, there were a few things that I didn't like about this.  First, I didn't like that people used hair dryers to melt the crayons.  This seemed not only boring to stand there with a hair dryer pointed at crayons, but messy and hot.  Also, there didn't seem to be a way to direct the melting wax. It just basically splattered on the canvas.

Enter my brilliant idea:  Use the hot, humid, sunny weather we are experiencing here in New Hampshire to do the work.  I had several artist canvas left over from the canvas art we recently did, and Vera had recently broke ALL of her crayons into pieces.  My second brilliant thought was that she wouldn't care to use broken crayons, so I'd use these pieces up for my little project, while using this as an excuse to go to my local AC Moore to get a large box of crayons on sale.  As an aside, I learned that 2 year olds don't really care about broken crayons, and as a matter of fact, will go ahead and break all 64 of the new crayons without so much of a hiccup.  I, on the other hand, realized that I am the one who preferred the intact crayons in an array of 64 colors, as I watched in horror with each snap and attempt to save whatever might be left.

Shortly after Vera went down for a nap, I gathered my canvas, my broken crayons, and some tape.  As you can see here, I arranged them in the proper rainbow spectrum (thank you, Wikipedia, for refreshing my rainbow color order) and taped to the canvas.  I set them out on my deck, angled enough to allow the sun to hit it and get the melted crayons to drip down nicely on the canvas.

And I was playing with my macro setting, so here is a closer pic of the above:

Several hours later, in 90+ degree weather and direct sun, I had this:

Doesn't look much different, does it?  Ya, it didn't appear much different to me, except if you strained your eyes enough you might notice that the crayons were sweating.

After consulting with Kirsten, we felt the issue may be that I used washable crayons.  Perhaps there was something different in these crayons that was causing this lack of melting.  But for any of you familiar with the washable Crayola crayons, they are softer than the original crayons, so I made the assumption that they'd melt super quick.

Wrong.  And wrong again on day 2.  Seriously.  I thought maybe they just needed more time in the heat.  Ya, wrong again!  I left the entire thing in my garage, hoping that maybe almost 24 hours in a hot, humid environment would perhaps do the trick.

Day 3 gave me this:

Ok, I wasn't going to mess around with this "simple" project.  My solution?  I was going to smash these suckers to the canvas.  I took a baby spoon and started smooshing these crayons (which were very soft by this point) all over the canvas.

And, finally....I had something that was very salvageable!

I let it "cure" for a few days so that the crayon wax would harden.  Then I had the grand idea that I would add some Mod Podge Sparkle to it.  Nothing like a little bit of glitter, right?

Yes, a little glitter is good....

Let warn you now.... Sparkle Mod Podge does not appear to have a whole lot of sparkle when sitting in the container, or even as you practically pour the stuff on your project.  I mean, a good 1/2 inch of the stuff, when wet, barely twinkles!  So imagine my surprise when I woke the next morning after the Mod Podge application and saw that I practically killed a unicorn with all the glitter thrown on my rainbow.

Need a closer look?

Now the dilemma, what next?  I don't dare chuck this, as I worked for days on this damn thing.  I just don't know what the right thing would be.  I'm afraid.


Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

This was my little girl before Vera came around.  My Lucy Loo.  As you can see, I love playing around with photo editing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Super Simple Placemat Sewing Tutorial

When I picked sewing back up as an adult, I needed to get my sewing feet wet again with something super simple.  So I decided to do a basic two sided placemat with some interfacing.  I'll share how I did them below, and this basic tutorial makes the assumption that you have some basic understanding of your sewing machine and a straight stitch.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that this is just sewing.  If something I do doesn't work for you, try something else that does!  I always do things my way (just ask my husband), and so I use tutorials as a guide, not an absolute.  This tends to help keep frustration at bay.

So, here we go!  I made 6 placemats total.


-100% cotton fabric
  •  1 yard of top print
  • 1 yard of bottom print
-Interfacing, 1 yard
       I used a basic polyester batting, anything could do.  You can even skip the interfacing, but if you prefer the placemats to have a bit of thickness, then go for it.

-Cutting mat
-Coordinating thread
-About an hour of time

There is much to-do in sewing groups about pre-washing fabric, with the majority of the authorities and experienced sewers always washing their fabric before cutting.  I recommend that you do that in this case as the cotton will shrink when you wash it, and if you wash the finished product, it may not look as good as it did when you first completed it.

Now, first you will cut your pieces.  I cut them 13 inches wide by 18 inches long.  You will get 6 pieces total of each fabric.

Now, iron all the pieces (be careful with interfacing, some of it is not iron friendly!).  Some people do the ironing before the cutting.  It's more manageable for me to iron after I cut.

To start laying the placemats for sewing, lay the printed cotton fabrics with right sides facing each other.

Lastly, lay the interfacing piece down on the two right facing cotton fabrics.

Pin the layers and head to the sewing machine.  I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance, a straight stitch at 3mm/inch length.  Make sure to leave an opening to turn the placemat right side out.

Now I'm ready to turn them inside out, but to decrease bulk with the seam allowances I clipped the corners at a wide angle.  I also trimmed the seam allowance all around to about 1 1/4 inch, but you don't have to do that.

So, now you can turn your placemats right side out, gently pushing out the corners.  I use a large size crochet hook to push my corners out to shape, and any area of any project that I can't reach with my hand.

The next steps I don't have pictured, but it's pretty straight forward.  Press your placemats on a warm setting once right side out, and pin the opening closed, making sure that it's inline with your seam.

Head back to the sewing machine to topstitch around the placemats.  I used the same straight stitch at 3mm/inch length, and kept the topstitch edge to 1/4 inch.  The topstitch will also close the opening.

And here are mine!

For those curious, I found this fabric at my local WalMart.  It was a Warren Kimble print with a coordinating star print, and matches my dining room perfectly.

I'd love to see your finished placemats!  This is such an easy afternoon sewing project, and if you can snag some fabrics on sale, can make all kinds to match your décor and just about any holiday.  (Tip: best time to buy holiday fabric is either immediately before the holiday or just after, when the store is trying to get rid of it.  You can always store the fabric or finished pieces for the next season!).