Monthly Archives: April 2014

What a Difference a Decade Makes

Tyler and Kate the Chicken will be over ten years apart in age. Many people have asked me if this pregnancy has been different, and how.

Most of the time, the honest answer is that I don’t remember all that much from my first pregnancy. Which is probably why I signed up to do it again!

Just kidding.

In my mind, this pregnancy has been easier in a lot of ways, but I think a side-by-side comparison is in order.

The Basics

Then: It was 2003. I was 23.
Now: It’s 2014. I am 34.

The Stats

Then: My pre-pregnancy weight was north of 190 lbs. I gained 50 lbs. during the pregnancy. My first post-partum pants were size 20.
Now: My pre-pregnancy weight was just south of 160 lbs. I have gained less than 40 lbs., with 5 weeks to go.

The Cravings

Then: MEXICAN FOOD, Shoney’s strawberry pie, Totino’s frozen pizzas (the really cheap ones), Apples and peanut butter
Now: Frosted Mini-Wheats, Apples, PASTA

The Exercise

Then: Zero. Zip. Zilch.
Now: Regular walks and prenatal yoga, plus a healthy dose of running around after three kids and three animals.

The Discomfort

Then: Heartburn LIKE WOAH (see: cheap frozen pizzas and Mexican food), constant low back pain, swollen ankles.
Now: Mild heartburn, occasional low back pain, swollen ankles started last week but are much better now.

The Emotional State

Then: I moved to a new state in March 2003, where I didn’t know a soul except my in-laws. I was unemployed. My father passed away in May 2003, when I was six months pregnant. It was, to put it mildly, a dark time.
Now: I am happily married in my home state, where I have developed a solid network of friends. I have a job that I find reasonably fulfilling most of the time. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, knock on wood.

The Entertainment Options

Then: I watched reruns of TLC’s “A Baby Story” instead of attending a birthing class. During middle-of-the-night feedings, I had to resort to channel surfing – QVC, SciFi (before it was SyFy), news – or reading a book one-handed.
Now: In addition to my iPhone (introduced 2007), my Kindle (introduced 2007), and Netflix streaming (introduced 2007), I can still channel-surf or read a book one-handed. I skipped the birthing class again.

The Birth Plan

Then: Epidural. Healthy baby.
Now: Epidural. Healthy baby.

The Baby Plan

Then: Breastfeeding, disposable diapers, jars of baby food
Now: Breastfeeding, cloth diapers (to be fair, modern cloth diapers were not widely available in 2003), homemade baby food

The Information Age

Then: The internet was still relatively new in 2003. I didn’t know enough to peruse mommy-to-be forums and get yelled at by strangers for all my choices. Guess I really missed out.
Now: The internet has become a finely-calibrated tool with which pregnant women can scream at each other about their choices AND cite to multiple bloggers who agree with them. I avoid it entirely. Guess I’m really missing out.

How I Feel About the Whole Enchilada

Then: Mmmmm…. enchiladas. Tyler was my one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy landscape. From the moment he was born, we were a team. We’ve always had a very close parent-child relationship, and I am grateful for all the ways he made me a better, more organized, more responsible person. I feel like I grew up right in front of him, while he was growing up right in front of me.
Now: Mmmmmm…. enchiladas. It took me a long time to be comfortable with Kate the Chicken not being a boy. I have to keep reminding myself that she is going to be her own person, in the same way that Tyler is his own person.

How the Children Feel About the Baby

Then: What children?
Now: Tyler is very excited. He reports that he is especially looking forward to snuggling and reading books to her. The girls? Not so much. They see the arrival of the baby not as the incorporation of another human being into our family, but as a threat to their position in the household and their hold on their father’s time and attention. They have their moments of excitement, but I think there’s a lot of anxiety that we will force them to be full-time babysitters. We’re also getting a lot of “no one asked ME how this would make ME feel!” Which….no.

Obviously, I wish the girls were more excited. I also wish I could walk from the car to Publix without getting sweaty. But there’s not much I can do about either of those things right now.

What about Jason?

He’s completely psyched. He’s already told me that, since I get to spend all day with Kate the Chicken, he wants her bassinet on his side of the bed so he can get to her first when she wakes up. He’s gone to every OB visit except one, and gets a little giddy every time he feels her move. In short, he’s been the best, most supportive, most encouraging partner a pregnant lady could ask for. I don’t think anyone’s surprised.

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Frankenshirt

Several months ago, Jason had an epic closet purge. Like most of us, he was tired of having a full closet, but nothing to wear. I helped him purge his dress shirt collection, then grabbed them and hid them in Kate the Chicken’s closet.

You see, I had a Plan for them. This was the plan:

Adorable. Recycled. Perfect.

The problem? The Pinterest pin did not lead to a tutorial, or instructions, just a photo. And I am not confident enough in my fledgling sewing skills to make my own pattern.

I had also pinned several pillowcase dress tutorials. If you’re unfamiliar with this style of dress, they look like this (courtesy of Aesthetic Nest):

Then I ran across this tutorial on Smashworks, which is technically for turning a men’s dress shirt into a women’s tank top, and I decided to hybridize the two ideas.

I started with my least favorite shirt from Jason’s castoff collection.

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It’s an off-white shirt with gold and blue stripes. The material is lightweight, so it will make a nice summer dress.

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First, I cut off the sleeves, following the old seam.

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Once that was done, I measured six inches up from the bottom of the armhole and cut straight across, to get rid of the collar and extra top material. Then I folded and pressed the armhole seam (making cuts in the fabric to go around the U-shaped opening), and folded and pressed again, then pinned and sewed the armholes.

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I used a lot of pins, because this part is the most nerve-wracking for me.

This is what the inside of the armhole looked like when I was done sewing. It ain’t pretty, but no one will see it:

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After that, it was time to make a casing for the ties at the top of the dress. I folded the top over just a little and pressed it. Then I folded it over one inch and pressed it again. This keeps the raw edges out of sight. Finally, I sewed the shirt right across the front, steamrolling over the placket and button.

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Finally, I took some blue ribbon I had on hand, and threaded it through the casing I just made. You can arrange the ties in several ways – one bow on each shoulder, one bow on a side, or if you’re feeling super-frisky, you can sew your ribbon to itself and have now bows at all.

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I have no idea what size this dress is – I’m guessing a 2T. 3T? I don’t know. It will fit her eventually.

But it’s cute, right? And it was free.

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I have six more shirts to turn into dresses. Now that I have one under my belt, I think the rest should be easy – famous last words, I know. This is about the largest dress I could get out of Jason’s shirt, but I can certainly make smaller versions. And I will play around with various tie options – making ties out of the leftover sleeve material, for example, or a contrasting fabric.

In addition to being relatively simple, this project was not time-consuming. It took me just a couple of hours from start to finish, and most of that was spent fretting about the armholes.

These little dresses would make sweet shower gifts, especially if one of the baby’s parents has to dress up for work. Goodwill has a huge selection of button-downs, or you can peruse the clearance racks at other stores.

I can’t wait to make more!

 

 

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Conscious Uncoupling

Much ado was made last week about Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s announcement regarding their separation, which appeared on Paltrow’s GOOP website on March 25 under the unfortunate header of “Conscious Uncoupling.”

I admit, I bristled at the title. No married pair “accidentally” uncouples, or “unwittingly” uncouples, or “unconsciously” uncouples. They get divorced. Let’s call a spade a spade, folks.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve watched an increasing number of friends and acquaintances get divorced. Most of them start out with similar announcements – we’re still best friends, we still love each other very much, nothing HAPPENED, we’re just….. not together any more. But we’re going to do it right! We’re not going to be like other divorced couples! We’re going to be the Valedictorians of Uncoupling!

Because obviously, my inner horned devil whispers, “other” divorced couples set out to mortally wound each other, destroy their children, and spend a small fortune in the process. Of course.

A few months pass. One of the exes discovers that former friends have been socializing with the other ex. Or that it’s not possible to divide the family pets 50-50. Or that the ex is dating someone (hard) and your child seems to like him or her (harder). You suddenly NEED that crock-pot your ex took from the marital kitchen. You discover that your child has been eating chicken nuggets at your ex’s house. Every night. For a week.

And suddenly something snaps, and your good intentions crumble, and it’s TOTAL WAR, SALT THE EARTH. This is the moment when the “real” divorce happens, when you realize this is no longer your best friend, and maybe you don’t still love each other very much, after all.

And that’s okay.

In fact, after I got over the smug title, I applauded Gwyneth Paltrow for having good intentions. Getting divorced is like having a baby – nothing can prepare you for it, and the best laid plans tend to fall by the wayside. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to have lofty aspirations. Look at wedding vows!

Besides, what’s the alternative? “Hey, guys. We can’t stand to be in the same room, but are going to suck it up for the kids until we can’t any more, and one of us will probably develop a drinking problem and/or start dressing inappropriately for our age. Cheers!

I believe it’s better to aim high and fall short than to set the bar low and slide by.

However.

I think we need a new way to phrase the commitments we make during the process of separation and divorce. Stop using statements like “we are closer than we have ever been.” Because srsly, if it takes divorce to bring you closer as a couple, you’re possibly doing it wrong.

Maybe we should have divorce vows.

We are separating.

We will strive to be unfailingly polite to each other in all our interactions.

We will fulfill our parental duties to the best of our ability, and trust that our ex-spouse is doing the best they can, too.

We will not hold information or tangible items hostage, nor will we hold grudges over material possessions.

We will recognize that our friends and families are not ours to control.

We promise to be respectful, and to think long and hard before posting that nasty Facebook status, because that sh*t is permanent.

We will try to dismantle our life together with grace and good humor, and we appreciate your support during this transition.

Call it conscious uncoupling, call it divorcing like an adult, but it would be a step in the right direction.

Do I fulfill these divorce vows perfectly? Bleep no. But I aspire to. Just like in a marriage, every single day I am given a fresh opportunity to do it better than the day before.

 

 

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