Category: Confessions of a Drama Queen


So, my brothers are working toward listing their houses and finding something new (maybe somewhere new; maybe not). I’m cool with where I am, which is weird considering Hubs and I purchased our house with the intention of selling in 5 or so years. It’s a “starter house,” if you will, to be upgraded to something better: bigger, of better quality, and in a more “in-demand” location.

But now my brothers (twins), who are MIND-BLOWINGLY competitive, are preparing their first owned properties for sale, and I’m absolutely GREEN with envy (I’m practically comatose compared to these two competitive-wise, but I have to admit feelings of jealousy). I LOVE shopping for houses. I want to HELP them, but it’s their, and their wives’ deal so I don’t offer or give my advice to them (much). (Life story short: I’m the oldest and was their erstwhile babysitter beginning my fourth grade year, and it took me longer than it probably should have to consider them adults). They always seem to work at one upping each other and/or doing things at the same time (freakishly often), and it is SO easy to get caught up in their excitement and feel the pull of how awesome it would be to get something new!

When we bought our house 13 years ago (just over 2000 sqft with 4 bedrooms)( we’d moved from a 1300 sqft, three bedroom apartment (the nicest place either of us had ever lived since acheiveing adulthood) to a 600 sqft apartment when the closing of the house we wanted fell through (to save money for whatever future house awaited us)), it was one of less than a dozen in the first phase of a very small “dead end” neighborhood. (You can’t go through our neighborhood to get to somewhere else.) We also only had Chi, who was not quite 2 when we bought our house. We had very little furniture or kitchen gear. We could park both cars in the garage because we didn’t even have a lawn mower, no wagons or bicycles or scooters or water guns or car washing gear or saws or tools or shelving units or other lawn care accoutrements. We had space and empty rooms and empty cabinets and a bare backyard and no grass on the side of our house and no flower beds.

But now we have Pynni and Pieces, in addition to Chi, and all the furniture, toys, and gear, both inside and out, that go with 5 people living in a single family home with a just-right-sized yard. Now, the house that was once WAY TOO BIG for the family we were is closing in on not big enough for the family we are.

615040_10202063090280398_1859506030_oHere’s the deal, though:

While our house may not be as big in some regards as we’d like, we have spent a not-inconsiderable amount of money upgrading it (the new paint color on the outside, alone, has rekindled my love for this house).While our house may not be as big in some regards as we’d like, our neighborhood is small and HUGELY populated with kids (heck, Halloween is a HUGE deal in our neighborhood). It feels safe to allow my kids to hang out outside and ride their bikes all over the neighborhood. While our house may not be as big in some regards as we’d like, I don’t want a house that’s much bigger to clean right now. The house we have could have one more bedroom and be, maybe 300-400 sqft bigger because bedrooms 2 and 3 are small, but I’ve come to believe that I would be trading the things I love for a bit of more room  THAT I HAVE TO CLEAN.

Also, no matter where you go, there are going to be things you’d change; especially if you are me. If you are me, you redesign every space you enter, so of COURSE, you’ve mentally remodeled and redesigned your house countless times. Moving to a new house would not be any different.

It’s been a not-looked-for but quite educational and much needed exercise in enjoying other peoples’ news and happiness while looking around myself and being grateful for all I have and where I am.

So, there you are.

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This post requires backstory.
Backstory: A few days ago, Pynni and I were out running errands just the two of us. Somehow the conversation got around to Harry Potter, as all things do, and I mentioned that Hermione is my favorite character. Pynni said that Harry was her favorite, and I agreed that Harry is, indeed, a great character and worthy of some admiration. But, I said, “But, without Hermione, Voldemort might have won. Hermione did all the research, knew all the spells, gave Harry all the information he needed to solve the problem of the Horcruxes and defeat Voldemort. Without Hermione, nothing gets done. Hermione is AWESOME!” To which Pynni replied, “Yeah, but Harry is my favorite.”

Today.

We went to the library. We don’t do this often enough, but I like books and I usually buy them so there are lots around the house for any and all reading/maturity levels. Anyway, today we went to the library and I told the kids before we went in that we had a time limit due to upcoming lunch and after lunch appointments, and that they were going to need to pick out one or two books to check out. We ended up checking out 11 books between the two littles and spent almost an hour doing it. (no worries, we made all our afternoon obligations, including lunch.)

As we were hauling our load of books out to the car, Pynni gasped. “I’m Hermione!” I looked at her in question. “I LOVE the library! I LOVE books! I’m JUST LIKE Hermione!”

I laughed and laughed. Not in amusement, but in joy. She loves books! She’s identifying with this great female character that maybe she didn’t feel too parallel with until now.

I’ll take it.

IMG_1680I bought the newspaper for the papier-mâché, which was an adventure all on its own due to it being a Sunday and WHERE DO YOU BUY NEWSPAPERS THESE DAYS? A book store seemed logical to me (the bookstore I worked at in a previous life sold newspapers), but that was a big bust and gave me a good reminder of why I hate malls. So, then I thought about the convenience store I worked at in an even earlier life and how it sold newspapers, and that’s when I started hitting the gas stations. That turned out to be the right place , although the line was stupidly long.

After I got home, I tore the newspaper, which was much easier to do than tearing the tissue paper had been. Then I began dipping and placing. At first, I thought I’d hang the wings and paste like that, but the wings weren’t holding their shape well at the time so I laid the wings onto a covered work surface and started. Even this part was more involved than my brain had planned for it to be. I thought I’d be able to get one whole layer of paper done before letting it dry and doing another, smoother layer. WRONG.

IMG_1649Since the wings weren’t holding their shape, I had to reshape them on the table. AND since the wings to which I was pasting paper weren’t solid either, I was basically creating wings around a wire frame the paper stuck to the table. So after one side of one wing was done, I had to hang the wings up to dry, or the side would dry to the table. It took many hours for the one layer to dry completely, and since I was using a flour paste, complete drying was a necessity to prevent mildew.

When I laid the wings down to work on another side the next day, the previously pasted wing had… warped while drying. This goes back to the whole bit about the wings not holding the shape I wanted them to have. I decided I would do one side of the other wing and find a way to prop it away from any surface to which it might stick while it dried. Then I would reshape the warped wing when pasting the other side of it.

IMG_1648OKAY!

I’m just going to short-story it here for you and say that the reshaping didn’t work as great as hoped. THEN, I remembered that this is a costume that will be worn an entire ONE time, and probably not for the whole trickertreating event because my kids shed costumes on Halloween like cats do fur in the summer: just sort of constantly. THEN, I, also, remembered that it’s going to be dark and little details like feathers and slightly warped wings aren’t going to matter. THEN, I, ALSO REMEMBERED that between having to do a quarter of the wings per day and also having to do the ribs along the top of the wings separately, I WAS RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

IMG_1645The ribs took an entire extra day to dry completely. I think this is because the paper tubes got soaked and had to dry, also. When I tried the wings on Pynni, which aren’t at all as heavy as you’d think, the elastic bands from the Wings That Were were not nearly strong enough to hold the New Wings to her back. They just sort of hung down by her side. And this was BEFORE the wings were even painted.IMG_1646

So, while I waited the extra day for the wings to dry, I crocheted a new harness and a new mechanism to hold the new harness on the wings. And I went to the store to buy paint. I had decided after my “this doesn’t have to be perfect” epiphany that I was just going to spray paint the wings grey. At the store, they had “stone” faux finish spray paint. PERFECT!
Then I painted the wings which took more paint than I could have fathomed, but ended up looking like stone anyway.

The final step to all this was to attach the harness and try the wings on Pynni. After some adjusting of the harness and tightening of it against the wings, everything was about as perfect as I was like to get it hours before the trickertreating started.

I have to admit. I wasn’t happy with the wings even after the alterations. They weren’t exactly how I’d pictured them and they didn’t hang on Pynni’s back the way I wanted. I was, actually, very disappointed in them. I felt a little nauseous. I had done all this work, and this one integral part was not right. In the end, when the whole costume was put together, I was happier than I thought I’d be.

And Pynni loved it.

These WILL be angel wings when I'm done. I think.

These WILL be angel wings when I’m done. I think.

The wings.

Ah, the wings. Honestly, when I was first planning this costume, I thought the wings would be the easiest part, because I was going  to be repurposing wings I already had and not making anything from scratch like the dress or the wig. I was pretty far off the mark.

The dress was the easiest and now I know I can sew from-scratch garments decently.

The wig was next easiest, and it only missed being the easiest because there aren’t as many webpages out there about making yarn wigs as there are about making dresses so the planning was more difficult. The wig took longer to make because I had to let glue dry and set between rounds of working. Plus, you know, manufacturing hair.

The wings. Ah, the wings.

So my plan was as follows:

  1. Reshape the existing wires of the wings to more fit the shape of angel wings.
  2. Use pipe cleaners to connect the existing wires into the final shape. The idea was that these pipe cleaners would connect the spaces between the wires and finish the general outline.
  3. Use toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls to create the rib along the upper edge of the wings.
  4. Papier-mache over the whole lot. First layer would be covering the framework and the second layer would be the shape of the “feathers” to give the impression of carved feathers after painting.
  5. Paint the dried papier-mâché wings using highlights and lowlights as needed to give depth.
  6. Crochet covers for the straps that hold the wings onto Pynni since they are green.
  7. Voila! Wings.

IMG_1588The reshaping went well and worked better than I thought it would. The pipe cleaners, not so much. They were much flimsier than I needed them to be and so I ended up doubling them to make them sturdier. They weren’t supposed to be integral to the structure of the wings, but more guidelines for the paper-mache, but the wings, after being reshaped, weren’t as  sturdy as I thought they would be. Moving the wires around compromised the integrity of the structure, making the green nylon stretched over the frame loose and unable to help the wires hold their positions. I had to have the paper-mache do that job, but it was tricky to get the wings to stay put while the paper was applied.

The toilet paper/paper towel rolls were a little more difficult to apply than I had envisioned. They needed to go around a curved edge. I employed a version of lobster armor by laying narrower strips of the rolls, over-lapping one another along the curve, and had to cut slits in some of the pieces to make a sharper curve than the lobster armor technique was allowing. I tried to hot glue everything as I went, and ended up having to tape some of the pieces because the glue wasn’t holding them exactly the way I needed them held.

I’ve papier-mâchéd before, but it’s been a while and I needed the end result to be fairly light weight. So I did the research on papier-mâché to get all the info I could before starting this part of the project. One of the resources I used suggested using tissue paper to make a lighter project so I bought a bunch of tissue paper.

I sat down and laboriously tore that paper into strips (which doesn’t tear all neatly like newspaper) and dipped it into the paste I’d made before sitting down. The paper practically dissolved before I could pull it out. I tried several pieces of varying length and width and it fell apart every time. It was something I thought would happen when I was reading the article, but I gave it go anyway. The author of the article must have used thicker, more expensive tissue paper than I had, so I had to go buy newspaper before my paste started drying out.

to be continued…

Weeping Angel as seen in the Doctor Who episode "The Time of Angels".

Weeping Angel as seen in the Doctor Who episode “The Time of Angels”.

This past holiday season, Pynni got all caught up on her Doctor Who episodes. She was enthralled by the episode The Angels Take Manhattan. As a Doctor Who fan, myself, I find that episode incredibly sad. I won’t post any spoilers here except to say that the bad guys are the Weeping Angels. Hoo-boy. Pynni loves her some Weeping Angels.

So she decides she wants to be a Weeping Angel for next Halloween, read: 2013. I say, “Sure!” Because I like making things, I’m pretty crafty, and I’D APPARENTLY LOST MY EVER-LOVING MIND.

Then, as the year progressed, Pieces says he wants to be The Doctor, but not 11. No, not the most easily identifiable one, what with the bow-tie (Bow-ties are cool!) and the occasional Fez (Fez’s are cool!). Nope, he wants to be 10. Which, let’s face it, 10 may be the best character ever to have graced the small screen, but his Doctor outfit isn’t especially… out-standing. But, whatever, man! I can do that!

Right around that time, Chi says he wants to be a Dalek.

“A Cyberman, you say?” I ask.

“No, a Dalek,” says he.

“Not the 11th Doctor with the bow-tie, which is cool?” says I.

“Ex-ter-min-ate!” he says, in the best robotic imitation.

Work space chaos.

Work space chaos.

Alright! Sure! No problem! I’m making a Weeping Angel and somehow cobbling together a 10th Doctor, in between I can definitely whip up a Dalek!

Right.

So the plan was to start making and make through the spare time I had during the summer. I look back, now and laugh. Spare time?!? HA!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

The fabric I have the most of.

The fabric I have the most of.

About a week ago I started researching the costumes, gathering pictures and ideas and organizing my thoughts on the projects, in general. I realized that the Dalek was going to be a very involved costume if I was going to get Chi to wear it and that coupled with handmaking a Weeping Angel that will please Pynni was stressing me out.

So I got together a lot of pictures of different costume ideas for Chi to peruse, in the hopes that something would strike his fancy. I lucked out and he picked something both inexpensive, and already manufactured. So there’s that.

So now I have a pile of grey fabrics that don’t match because I couldn’t find enough of any one kind of cheap fabric. I’ve researched, measured, and drawn out the yoke that makes up the top of the WA’s dress using one of Pynni’s dresses for a guide. I have a general idea of what I need to do to make the draping of the dress happen.

These WILL be angel wings when I'm done. I think.

These WILL be angel wings when I’m done. I think.

I’ve scavenged a set of luna moth-like wings from Pynni to reform and redress to be statue-like angel wings and I’m digging through the recycling for all those discarded toilet paper rolls to use as the upper spine on the wings. I’m thinking about reshaping the wires of the wings and covering them with papier mache so they won’t be too heavy, but I may just drape them in left over fabric soaked in a stiffener and pin them and allow them to dry. I’m not sure yet.

Also, a wig. Weeping Angels have statue hair. So my plan is to crochet a beanie and then glue yarn to the beanie in the shape of Weeping Angel statue hair.

I just have to keep telling myself that it doesn’t need to be over-the-top as it will probably be worn once, maybe twice, if we go to a Homeschool Halloween party like we did last year.

Speaking of. I better go work on it some.

The whole dietary change endeavor is going really well. I’m not really struggling with being vegan like I thought I would, but I can’t say that I’m having any majorly noticeable health changes either. I don’t get my cholesterol checked again until the week after next and we’ll see if my changes have made any positive difference on that front.

While I’ve been really good, I have fallen off the wagon, so to speak, a few times over the past month or so. The biggest failure was during my two youngest kids’ birthdays. They have birthdays less than two weeks apart, and our family tradition is to let them pick every meal for the day of their birthday and the day of their party. Needless to say, they aren’t vegan and their choices made mine harder, and quite frankly, I didn’t fight it.

I regretted that with Pieces’ birthday party day when I had a Red Robin hamburger for lunch and Smithfield’s fried chicken for dinner. I felt horrible the next day. My digestive system completely rebelling. So I won’t be doing that again, and I was much better behaved during Pynni’s birthday choices because of that experience even though my choices were not vegan.

My big failure to be vegan revolves mostly around fish. I can’t seem to get enough fish; sushi in particular. It is unhelpful that Whole Foods has really good sushi, and when I go there, it’s super easy to pick up a roll or some nagiri or both (depending on the selection). I guess the upshot is I’m not eating my weight in sushi when I cheat.

So not totally vegan. My problem seems to be that I don’t have any hard held moral objections to eating meat. If I could afford it, I would eat only local meat from animals I’ve looked in the eye, but that’s expensive. I do, however, support local farms as often as I can.

Also, I never really got around to committing to the Engine 2 diet. I have been mostly vegan, and except for maybe 7 cheats, I have been wholly vegetarian. I’ve stopped cooking with butter (I’d given up margarine a long time ago) and I’ve switched from olive oil to coconut oil for sautéing. I use much less oil than I used to and it’s healthier, so I’m hoping that a plus. I’ve tripled my fresh produce intake, at the very least, and I’ve been eating only whole grains. So all in all, I’ve been very happy with myself and I haven’t let any bad choices or momentary weakness derail the over all goal. Basically, I haven’t completely reverted to eating foods made with cream cheese and heavy cream after having a hamburger because why even try? So there’s that.

It remains to be seen if my efforts will have any noticeable effects with my blood work in a couple of weeks. My actions after that will be determined by the results of the tests. I can tell you that those actions will not include returning to the foods that put in the place I’m in now.

 

IMG_0777I went on a road trip to see my parents. I took my kids, my homeschool, my yarn, some E2 Happy snacks, and a bunch of good intentions. Well, the trip was great and the kids were very well behaved. I got to see my grandmother who has been in the hospital for some time. I crocheted her a hat that looked fab on her and spent a bunch of time running errands for her. It was good to see her spunk and spark, again.

We had school during the week days and the kids were great considering that it was a modified version of our workboxes. I expected a bit of an issue with Chi, but that didn’t happen. He was very amenable to the change. That is amazing. Chi. Flexible. Chi. Chill in the face of change. CRAZY and so amazing! I’ve said it here before, but homeschooling him has been the best decision I ever made.

I spent some time before my trip looking for quilt designs for a quilt my mom is making. We usually do it like this: I pick a design, find the pattern, choose the fabrics and help cut out the pieces. Mom puts all the squares together and assembles the quilt and does the quilting. She does all the sewing. Due to all the things I was in town to accomplish, that gave me several days to actually do some of the sewing.

Triangles together with thread

Triangles together with thread

It was a sort of newsflash for me. I LOVED it! And this time, I made the quilt design based on a photo I found of a quilt I liked. I took the whole project to a whole different place when picking out the fabrics. So much so, that Mom wasn’t sold on the idea until we started piecing it all together. It’s going to be really fabulous and I’ve discovered that I don’t hate sewing at all, let alone how much I thought I hated it.

Toward the end of the week, I went to watch some basketball in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the NCAA tournament. College ball is always great and live College Round Ball is always super fun. It’s been a thing I’ve shared with my dad since junior high. There were a couple of downsides. The main one being that Rupp Arena is old and crappy and uncomfortable, but also Dad got sick and missed a couple of games. The b-ball was fun, in the end. I’m glad I went.

Rupp Arena runs Cardinal Red.

Rupp Arena runs Cardinal Red.

So that leaves us with the good intentions. So I did okay in the first few days of the trip. I wasn’t eating entirely vegan and not even close to E2 Happy, but I was making good choices. Choosing the vegetarian option, which almost always includes cheese, and the veg where possible. Admittedly, I didn’t make any special efforts, like ordering things not on the menu and giving special dietary cooking instructions to the waitstaff.

My downfall is, and has ever been, soda. I don’t like artificial sweeteners of any stripe. They are just awful tasting to me. So when I have a soda, I go all out. For some reason, when I’m drinking soda, my inhibitions in other places, dietarily speaking, gets completely shot. It’s hard for me to resist sodas when I’m on a road trip. I don’t know why, but it probably has something to do with rationalizing wanting a caffeine boost, but not wanting coffee in the middle of the day. Perfect recipe for the drinking of sodas. And this road trip was 10-ish hours to my parents’ house one day followed by 6-ish hours to my grandmother’s house the following day. Doubled for the return trips. Lots of driving. Lots of time to convince myself I could have a soda.

So I did.

The rest of the trip/visit followed suit and my good intentions paved my way into food choice hell. But, I’m home now, and I’m recommitted. I want this to work. I want to be healthier. I don’t want to have a heart attack before 40. I don’t want to end up a diabetic because I can’t give up the damn sodas. I’m working hard to not beat myself up over the lapse, and just move forward, one food choice at a time.

WARNING: This post is full of TMI of a personal nature. Please avoid if you are allergic to such.

Self! Get it together!

Self! Get it together!

I don’t know if you know this, but I’m fat. I’ve not always been fat, but I was one of those people who gained a bunch of weight during a first pregnancy and never really lost any of it. I’ve gained more since then. I’ve now been fat twice as long as an adult than I was thin as an adult. Of course, I’ve hated this and I’ve dieted with some success, but nothing stuck. The only three things, healthwise, that I’ve done successfully in, quite possibly, my whole life is quit smoking so I could get pregnant without dealing with that addiction and successfully regulate my blood sugar with diet while afflicted with gestational diabetes so  I wouldn’t have to subject my baby to drugs and have three children naturally.

All pretty big things, I think.

For some reason, weight loss is not one of the things I’ve been able to do. I think because it isn’t directly FOR anyone else. I haven’t really held myself in the highest of esteems for quite some time (see this post), and that makes doing anything for me, low on the list of priorities. Then there is the whole “I HATE EXERCISE” bit. I don’t hate doing things (for example, I like swimming, and gardening and lite-hiking and camping and cruising around on my bike (in theory)), but I hate the whole endeavor of working out. On top of that, I have pretty bad back issues that result in a sort of Catch 22, damned if you do damned if you don’t, kind of scenario. I need to be moving, but I can’t move too much or in certain ways, or I’ll reinjure my back. So yeah.

A couple of weeks ago, I went in for my physical.

You know, I’m pretty smart. I have pretty great intuition and self-awareness. I’m not a hypochondriac. I probably deal with more pain than I should because I really HATE doctors (even though my doc is pretty awesome). I’ve known for a long time that if I didn’t get a handle on my weight, the shit would eventually find the fan and my health would be at risk for failing. Well, my dear friends, loyal readers, that time has come.

My cholesterol is way out of control. I’m extremely iron deficient. I’m extremely vitamin D deficient. I have inflammation indicating that my body is struggling with something (that something could simply be Epstein Barr, which I have, and which flares up when I get worn out, which I have been and is super easy to do when you are as out of shape as I am). Right. My Doc says I should look into removing all animal and animal by-products from my diet. She strongly urges me to do so. At the appointment, I smiled and laughed derisively at the suggestion. BAHAHAHAHA! Me? Vegan? Not in this lifetime.

I get home and I think. I go about my daily stuff and I think. I do some research on various dietary alterations I should be making and I think.

My grandmother is hospitalized and I go to sit with her. It’s a fourteen hour drive followed by 10 hours of sitting in her hospital room while she mostly sleeps. AND I THINK.

I do a lot of thinking. When I get home, I do a lot of reading. I watch some documentaries on food. And I think, “Self, you’ve done some pretty whacked out diets that SUCKED, but had good momentary results. Would being vegan to get your crap together be so awful? Don’t you, in fact, love fruits and veggies and nuts and legumes and whole grains? Well, Self, you do even though you seem to avoid them rather handily normally.”

So I came across this diet. It’s called Engine #2 and it’s all about the whole food, plant based eating. It sounds doable to me. It sounds deLISHous, to be honest. I’m not saying that I’ll be able to stay vegan forever, but making it part of my life in a sustainable, ongoing way? Count me in.

So I’m going to journal about the experience here. From one Omnivore who likes it that way out to the world. The plan is to actually journal, not just blog. I have added a, currently empty, board to my Pinterest boards onto which I will post foods that sounds yummy and I will label them when I make them, and stipulate their level of delishiosity. (I can spell it how I want. It is MY word.) Just in case you are interested.

We’ll see how this goes.

(WHAT?!? My Chi has been sick and when able to open his eyes, he’s been watching Phineas and Ferb. I have been infected.)

So I’ve been working on these two posts; one for months and the other for a couple of weeks. It occurred to me today that they may be related and that may make a better over all post if I just combine the topics. The first post was about the book Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer and the second post was about being a stay at home mom rebelling against stereotypes and sometimes myself. They ARE related. Let me show you.

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I have always been me. Never was there a time when I wasn’t just exactly who I am regardless of what people around me thought about me. It wasn’t that I didn’t care what people thought (although I was very good at telling myself that people could take me or leave me; their loss). It was that I really didn’t know how to BE anything else. This was true all through elementary school, when it was super easy; all through junior high, when there were taunts about my hair/clothes/makeup or lack thereof; and all through high school, when I took standing out as a compliment.

I was entirely me through and through every single phase of my life. I never worried about what people thought of me because I was just being me. I was never good at trying to be anything else, so why bother?

That is to say, I was comfortable in my own skin whether or not I was liking it.

Motherhood changed that. I don’t know if it was the sudden unknown of having a baby for the first time. I don’t know if it was th 80 lbs I gained. I don’t know if I had some hidden preconception of what being a mother meant that suddenly sprang forth with the birth of my baby. What I do know is that I was suddenly floundering.

Now, I don’t mean that I questioned everything about my decisions and my baby. I don’t mean that I lived in constant fear of doing the wrong thing. I do mean that all of a sudden, I didn’t know who the hell I was anymore. I didn’t know what my future was going to be. I didn’t recognize the face in the mirror and that’s not even mentioning the changes to my body. It was like my self confidence fled and with it my definition of self. This was an entirely new experience and it was accompanied by wild physical and emotional changes that I had no idea how to handle since I didn’t know who I was anymore.

It was terrifying.

So I spent a lot of time putting on the “mom” clothes and the “mom” face with the “mom” hair. I did “mom” things and tried to make “mom” friends. My husband even started acting differently towards me. I tried fitting into that “stay at home mom”/”homemaker” mold that I thought was who I suddenly was. I couldn’t figure out why I was so miserable.

I mean, I loved my baby. I was grateful for being able to stay home with him. We did things together, Chi and I, but I was depressed, restless, adrift.

I have since sloughed off worrying about being whatever “they” think I should be. I have stopped trying to be that perfect homemaker because I will NEVER be that. It’s been a long hard slog of trying to find myself and redefine myself without really knowing that’s what I was doing.

So I’ve been down this road of putting on “Mom” and not feeling comfortable in that skin; in that definition; in that confining, limiting space. And I’ve, since, struck off on my own, crashing through the brush and brambles and blazing my own “Mom” trail. I definitely fit in that spot better. My role is not so easily defined as “Homemaker” or “Stay at Home Mom”. Those labels conjure up certain, iconic, unbreakable images of things I will never be. I’ve come to see that they aren’t bad. For someone else. Just like “Working Mom” isn’t bad. For someone else. It’s just, none of it, ME.

My whole struggle to find myself became clear to me when I was reading this book Shine Shine Shine. The main character is this woman named Sunny who is completely hairless. Her complete baldness was not something that defined her until she got married and became pregnant. It was like she suddenly couldn’t be the “Sunny-who-makes-art-wigs-and-hangs-out-with-Maxon” anymore, she had to become “Sunny-the-Mom”. And to her? The two were not synonymous. She had to shed the one to become the other. In the book, Lydia Netzer writes of Sunny:

“When she got pregnant for the first time, Sunny was afraid she had to become something else. When you become a mother, how can you be another thing at the same time? When you become an orphan, how can you be anything other than that? She worried now that everything she became had just squeezed the love out, until she might only sort of love him, only used to love him. Maybe she forgot how to fill up the rest of it, because it’s full of other things—orphan-to-be, mother. Maybe you can’t truly wrap your flesh around another person, after there’s been a baby inside you. Maybe your parentless sorrow puts you in a box with those who have the same sorrow. Her mother was dying. She wanted Maxon, the old Maxon, the way it used to be. And yet she knew that he had always been the old Maxon. It was she who had changed. Yet everything else she had tried to become was stupid and pointless.”

Netzer, Lydia (2012-07-17). Shine Shine Shine (Kindle Locations 2366-2372). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

It took a car accident during which her wig flew off to open her eyes to all of the ways she’d been trying to cram her and her brilliant, odd, autistic, robot loving husband and her brilliant, odd, autistic son into these perfectly “White, affluent, suburban family” holes. Holes they did not fit into. Holes where parts of them had to be shaved down to fit into. Sunny has this moment when she realizes that it has to change:

“A week ago, a day ago, with blond waves touching her shoulders and curling around her ears, she would have stopped at the desk, bent over at the waist, arranged another appointment. She would have acquired a different small brown bottle, administered doses, continued to smile and drop off and pick up and accommodate and advance. She would have gone home, would have prompted her gangly husband with the appropriate things to say and do at a cocktail party, dressed him, impressed on him the importance of sticking to the basics. Now, she felt differently about everything. More impatient, more severe. She felt she had been living under clouds, underwater, hearing at low volume, seeing at a distance. Without the wig, what she saw was all very awful. Yes, the whole world. There just wasn’t any point in pretending that it was fine. She felt like shit for talking so harshly to Maxon. She wished for any way that she could take it all back.”

Netzer, Lydia (2012-07-17). Shine Shine Shine (Kindle Locations 960-967). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

This fictional woman’s journey spoke to me and placed a spotlight on things that weren’t clear to me before. She helped to make me see that I am not just a “Mom” and that is okay. She helped me to see that I am not just any “Mom”, I am my very own definition of “Mom” and that’s pretty spectacular.

I’m pretty content with where I am again and who I am and what I am. Oh, sure I have things I could be working on to improve me, but those things that need improving do not define me. I do not find myself so lacking in anything good anymore. I can look at what I do everyday and be thankful for it and be proud of it and just be. So me? I am the “Home front Coordinator”. I am the “Baseline Engineer”. I am Super Sticky Glue that makes everything stay together and function. But most importantly? I am me.

ps. The book Shine Shine Shine was written by Lydia Netzer. It is a really fabulous, complicated book. There is so much going on with Sunny and Maxon. So much more than what I’ve shown you here. It’s one I recommend.

That’s right, I mean YOU, Lowe’s.

I was on a quest. I needed a meter stick. You failed me on many levels, not the least of which was NOT KNOWING WHAT A METER STICK WAS. Yeah, failure should be your middle name.

I am not crazy (okay, maybe a little). I bought a meter stick from Amazon. (Thank you, Amazon!) So I did, in fact, know what I was talking about.

It’s THIS much longer.

See? A meter stick is a little longer than a yard.

This child moves a lot.

See also, that my five year old son is small. Cute, too. Oh, and the picture? It’s blurry because when standing still Pieces flashes fakey smiles.

For your information:

A meter is 100 centimeters. An inch is 2.54 centimeters. There are twelve inches in a foot and three feet in a yard.

3 ft*12 inches= 36 inches

36 inches*2.54 = 91.44 cm

100 cm-91.44cm = 8.56 cm

8.56 cm/2.54 = 3.370 inches

THAT is how much longer.