Monday, March 14, 2011

The end is near...

As we close in on 10 weeks I alternate between terror and denial that I have to return to work soon. This is compounded by the fact that up until recently I had been counting wrong and have to go back even a week earlier than I thought. Boo.

It's not so much that I'm overly attached - I know she'll be in good hands with her doting grandmother. It's much more selfish than that.

I'm not ready to be part of the world again yet.

I'm just starting to get the hang of this. I'm just starting to feel like the pump isn't ruling my life (or ruining my life).

I'm not all that bothered by not bathing or getting dressed each day, and I definitely don't miss laboring over my hair or makeup. I spend my days like this:

And that thing, that creature, that little parasite on my lap - I think she's just starting to get the hang of it too:

She's sorta kinda sometimes sleeping for six hours at night. She's still unbelievably pukey, but she usually follows each eruption with a big smile. She has a great smile:

It's still really hard. I get frustrated when I can't just make something to eat whenever I'm hungry or run to the store easily, heck, it's hard to even fit in a bathroom break. I am still exhausted, and don't foresee catching up anytime soon. I'm not sure how I'll force myself to stay awake at my less than thrilling desk job. I'm not sure how to keep myself from gaining a million pounds when I have that uninterrupted time to eat again. I don't know what I'll do when I can't catch a little cat nap with this booger on my chest:

"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you." ~Carl Sandburg

Monday, March 07, 2011

Romp in the Swamp Louisiana Halloween Party - VooDoo Shop

Yeah, yeah, it's been 4 months, but there are a few last details from Halloween I wanted to write up before I'm on to next year, one being the nursery decor. You see, it went through quite a metamorphosis this past year. It started as a seldom used guest bedroom with ugly tulip print wallpaper. When we bought the house, it was staged as a little girl's room, but not exactly my style:

When we found out about the cupcake, I knew that wallpaper had to go. I was really worried about scraping it all off, but one day I started picking at it and the whole thing just peeled off in huge sheets:

Underneath it was baby pink, but that wasn't appealing either, so with the help of my BFF we covered it in "tantalizing teal:"

And then we took a big 'ol detour from traditional nursery decor in the month leading up to Halloween, turning the nursery into a N'awlins VooDoo Shop!

This was where the psychic readings took place, I wanted to create an eerie backdrop packed with details so that everywhere you looked, you noticed something new, sort of how Disney has made even the ride queues and long lines part of the attraction by setting the mood. And I wanted to do it on a budget, so I focused on repurposing free stuff, using what I had, and finding great bargains for the rest.

To start with, I arranged the bed as a couch so people could sit and listen to other fortunes being told (and, it turns out, wait in "line" because it was so popular!). I covered it with a $6 black duvet from Goodwill and all the throw pillows from the living room. I used shelves and hutches I already had around the house as the "store shelves". Since the walls were so bright, I draped long panels of fabric around to dull the happy tone and create a more intimate setting. I used fabrics I already had and a few picked up dirt cheap at goodwill (I got real good at shopping on $1.49 days!). I used 3M strips and hooks to hang everything - no way was I re-painting again :)

I gathered all the skulls, crows, and skeletons I had in my Halloween stash, and re-used the bloody rose garland from last year's Queen of Hearts scene. I also pulled a bunch of creepy religious relics I had acquired over the years, a lot of angel Xmas ornaments I had inherited, and some spooky nun dolls I found at the goodwill a few years ago and could NOT pass up.

I filled some bigger spaces with cheap art from Goodwill - remember the distressed painting in the broken down frame and the puzzle in the ornate gold I found back here? Rustic candlesticks and old wine decanters fit in well too. Old photos in antique gold frames also fit the mood, and I picked up a couple sets of battery powered candles at Costco that I mixed in everywhere:

I kept the lights really low, it was dark other than all the battery powered candles and a single lamp (shrouded in white gauzy fabric) on the psychic's table, so that helped to blend the scene together and draw your eye to the details (and away from the empty spaces). More items "from the vault" stocked the shelves - an original Ouija board, a fake heart, plastic bugs and snakes. I saved all the unsold glassware from the summer's garage sale (candle holders, dishes, vases) and filled them with foam eyeballs or water and "grow animals" from the $1 store (make sure you do this a few days ahead, they take a while to reach their full size!).

My favorite was the snakes - I had saved them from the bathroom decor in 2009. I had asked people to save clear jars and containers a few months leading up to Halloween, and my mom came up with this great pretzel jar - don't they look fantastic?

I did a few quick and cheap crafts for this room too. My husband was on a Pelligrino kick so we managed to save a ton of bottles. Rather than going to the trouble of soaking off the labels, I just printed new ones using shipping labels and creepy fonts (yay for 1001 Free Fonts!) and slapped them over the existing labels. I used a black permanent marker to color in some of the words, used fabric paint to simulate contents "dripping" out of the bottles, and voila - creepy "ingredients" for sale at the voodoo shop:

I used the same process for other shapes and sizes of containers too - tea tins held "werewolf fur." A clear jar full of tiny pieces of string became "mummy stitches."

This was actually a pretty cheap & green craft. The bottles were all free & bound for the recycling bin - I just kept them a while longer and decorated them a bit before kicking them to the curb. I didn't even bother cleaning most of them out first - a pickle jar easily becomes slug slime or swamp water with little effort. The paint and labels I had on hand, and these really made up a big part of my "display."

The only other craft project I did was some crudely painted signs advertising various voodoo shop sales and policies - "We Have Wart Remover!" and "Deadly Nightshade - $9.99!"

This room took weeks to actually put together, mainly because I arranged and rearranged everything so often. Turning on and off all of the candles took another chunk of time (and a few fingernails) but it really worked out well. Of course, the main decorative element was the table in the center of the room where the psychic held court:

Luckily The Cupcake didn't try any funny business like showing up a couple months early, or she would have had a voodoo themed nursery that I'm guessing might have garnered some sideways glances (and possible calls to child services). But she cooperated, so I was able to get everything taken down and turned over to a more child friendly look.

This room took time, but saved money. In fact, I think I might have actually come in UNDER budget on this room (don't worry, I blew it + much more on the food). I wish I would have gotten a better pic of how the lighting levels looked, but I'm still a rookie with my camera, so you'll have to take my word for it - the darkness helped, and the final effect was spooky and excellent!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A dirty schizophrenic hermit

The Cupcake hit 2 months old yesterday, by which time a lot of kids are in daycare and their moms back to reality, going about their daily lives as a part of society.

Reality? Huh? I think our paths diverged somewhere and you are nowhere in sight.

If I were a good little mommyblogger I would have shared a million funny stories with you by now, we would have bonded over the trauma and truth of birth (and afterbirth), or at the least bored you with endless photos of my child doing cute things. Like this one:

(Olivia Wagner Photography)

But I haven't made it there yet.

It's 4:30am and she's fast asleep (miracle).

But I'm not (d'oh).

(so peaceful when she is sleeping)

I woke up with a rock hard chest. Like an elephant was sitting on me, or I was buried under rocks. I tried to ignore it, flip over, burrow back in - to no avail. So I'm pumping and praying that she's still asleep when I finish, and that we both get a few more hours of rest. Especially since today is my first adventure out with the girls (the ADULT girls), like a real grown up and not a dirty schizophrenic hermit.

Yeah, that's right, I'll admit it - I'm sort of a dirty schizophrenic hermit these days. It's the new reality I guess. I shower...sometimes. When I have a reason. Otherwise it just doesn't rise far enough up the priority list. Other "necessities" I don't have/find/make time to do anymore:
-anything with my hair beyond a messy pony tail
-cleaning my glasses till they are completely opaque
-cleaning the house
-going to the bathroom
-eating anything requiring more prep than Girl Scout Cookies and Goldfish Crackers
-leaving the house unless absolutely necessary
...and so much more. Priority #1 is keeping the kid alive & content (the latter is a pretty distant 2nd, and only done if possible). After that it's sleeping, AKA keeping myself alive. Luckily you can totally live on cookies & crackers, and if you are breastfeeding/pumping you can even lose 30+ lbs that way. Who knew?

(jewelry? clearly this was a planned photo op. My usual accessories are burp rags. They're cute and multi-colored, but not exactly red-carpet).

The "dirty" part is also furthered by my vomit volcano of a baby who keeps me covered in partially digested breastmilk most days. Mmmm, nutritious. We're generally both damp and sticky, it's become our natural state of being. This is admittedly gross, and should probably elevate the quest for a shower a little higher up the priority list, but why take the time to hose it all off when you'll just add another coat moments later? Better to use that time for a nap, or a sandwich, or more likely it just gets used up between holding and changing and pumping and feeding and otherwise surviving day by day. It's the same attitude I've always had towards shaving my legs. Shaving is annoying and cumbersome and a lot of times I just don't do it if my legs won't be showing. Especially from, say, November - April. I don't particularly like having fur or looking like a yeti, and it's not some feminist statement, but seriously, who likes to shave? And I figure it's only gross if someone sees it. Since we don't leave the house much, nobody does :)

She's awake now by the way. And just spit milk out her nose.

Being a hermit is also a matter of choice/priorities, and one of my best coping mechanisms. And I really don't mind it much at all. I've heard a lot of stories of moms dying to get out of the house with their little all seems like way too much work for me. When we leave, there's the juggling of schedule for eating and pumping. There's the luggage - diaper bag, baby carrier, bottles, stroller... My pump if we could be gone longer than 4 hours and all the parts I need with it. Extra clothes for her AND me, since she likes to "share" her food after the first time down her gullet... Trips out of the house really do seem to sack her out (LOVE that carseat), but they also sack ME out, so the benefit is negated a bit. It's so much easier to exist within the walls of my house. I like my house. I have cable, DVDs, radio, and now FINALLY fast Internet. I have her magic swing and laundry available without hauling it around. I've never really been an "outside girl" anyways :)

And as for schizophrenic...happens to the best of us. I engage in conversation with the baby, of course. Most people can understand that. I also engage in conversation with the swing, the lamps, the radio... I swear the rhythmic sound of my pump is a secret language and I hear mechanical words when it's running. I forget things, mostly due to the sleep deprivation, and can rarely tell you what day it is because they're all somewhat the same. When the house is actually quiet and I try to run to the bathroom, or even when someone is watching her and I take a shower, I always think I hear her crying even when she's not. Voices in my head I guess :)

It took me another day to finish this post, because it takes me twice (or 10 times) as long to finish anything these days. In between, I went out with my friends. It went way too fast, and I had to ditch out early to race home and pump, but I made it. And honestly, I didn't even have time to sit and worry about The Cupcake, it all went by to fast. I splurged on two cherry cokes (which I coveted way more than alcohol after almost a year), caught up with some great friends, sat down to eat a meal with both hands at a table, and was completely distracted oogling the sparkly drag queens on stage. I still appreciate sparkles, and I even managed to wear some of my own. I even showered. Maybe I'll only be a part time dirty schizophrenic hermit.