Saturday, February 25, 2012

Retract Your Claws!

While I was up a night ago, sick and killing time, I browsed several blogs. I found something that really stirred my fire. My angry fire. I got so angry. Mostly because my feelings were deeply hurt. I've stewed on it a bit to make sure my reaction isn't all fire and no thought. Now I feel less angry or hurt. Everything has settled to the point that I mostly feel bothered. But very bothered.
This blog is a pretty good blog. Sometimes, the writer of the blog is funny. Most of the time, she's a good writer (she is published, and that is cool). I appreciate that on a blog. And I actually like most of what I have read on her blog! She makes me laugh, and sometimes she makes me think in new ways. But one of the posts she did really stung me. She said,

If you meet a girl who does NOT like hanging out with other girls, be careful. She is possibly crazy. Here's exhibit A: if you ever watch a reality show where you hear a girl (usually a pretty one) say, "All my friends are guys. Girls hate me," then you just met the crazy contestant. I guarantee it. Women who have problems getting along with other women have those problems for a very specific reason: they are defined by male attention and are too emotionally damaged to find validation in healthy friendships with other women.

I thought "But that's me." At least, it was me until I got married. I grew up with four incredible sisters. We were close, tight. We're even more so now. I knew I could always be myself with my sisters, weird or moody or quiet or hyper, and they would love me and even enjoy me whatever the occasion.
Here is the way I approached other girls: I was nice. I really was. Once in a while, I got kind of PMS-y, but never in an abnormal way (and that is true, I promise). I was willing to be friends with other girls. But you know what? It was...I hesitate to put it this way, but the more I think on it, the more I realize it's was nearly always the kind of situation where the nice girl is the outcast. Girls were very hesitant to welcome me. After all, I was usually the New Kid. Every two years, actually. And girls tend to be very territorial, possibly more than boys do. They had to size me up, figure me out, determine whether I was a threat. And believe me, it's not with pride that I say they usually found me too hard to deal with.
You know how I reacted? I was a little sad, secretly. I wanted more girl friends. I wanted to be popular and cool with them, but not enough that I'd do just anything for their friendship. So I kept being nice. I even kept trying to be a good friend. I tried not to bug anyone (I knew what it was like to have a desperate person attach herself to you; being nice has its disadvantages), but I would have welcomed the friendship of more girls.

Guess what happened. Boys are much easier to befriend. That's what I found out, anyway. It worked for me. They didn't mind my company, and I found it a lot easier to have fun with boys.

I was not defined by male attention. Did I like boys? Yeah! Oh yes, I did! Was I emotionally damaged? Oh, seriously. If I was, where do you think it came from? The boys who were so willing to hang out with me, or the girls who were incredibly standoffish and catty? I think most kids go through some amount of emotional damage, but I was still a happy kid. I was nice to people. And I had considerable confidence in myself, despite my lack of girl friends. I knew they didn't define who I was (nor did the guys I hung out with).
Now, from a comment on the offending post:

I heard recently that studies have show [sic] that girls who are in serious boy-girl relationships in their teen years have a harder time forming relationships with other women as adults. I think they said that the relationship part of your brain is forming then, so whichever kind of relationship you have more of, that's the kind your brain develops best.
I am not articulating this well AT ALL, but I think you get what I'm saying. And I am so glad I had more girlfriends than boyfriends at that time.

She does have a point, and it makes sense. But the study is about serious relationships. Weren't we talking about girls who have boy FRIENDS? I actually agree with the study, but it doesn't mean that girls shouldn't have guy friends. And if the study is true, then my friendships with guys would be a big, fat, healthy groundwork for the incredible relationship I enjoy with my husband. Thanks, guy friends!
I'm glad that there were a few comments disagreeing with the narrow-minded argument of the post. A few women pointed out that the main problem they found with girls is drama. Guess what? I hate drama. Forced drama, the type a lot of grade school and high school girls tend to relish. I've never been into it. It has always felt so soap-opera-shallow. Such a waste of time. And really, just dumb.

Maybe I felt so hurt because I read that post in the wee hours, feeling tired and sick and just finishing off a period. I was kind of volatile. But I just had a hard time with the idea that someone would draw a blanket conclusion about "girls like that." It made it seem like she would have been one of the girls to shun my efforts of friendship, back in the day. That isn't really what bothers me, though. I think I just get tired of cattiness from all sides. I can usually back away and ignore it, leave the drama in the other room. But when it's pointed at me? With such a stupid reasoning?

I like to imagine that this blogger, Melanie, from Write Stuff, is quite a normal woman. Maybe someone I'd get along with in "real life" (it's quite possible). I don't feel angry at her, at least not anymore. Just upset that some women think that way. I guess I had thought I left all that drama behind when I left high school and college because I now have more choice in what social atmospheres I spend my time in (I'm sure I never really thought so--that would be terribly naive--but I did escape the bulk of it, in many ways).

I like girls. I really do. Sometimes, for whatever reasons (which anyone's entitled to), they don't like me. And that's okay. But those girls who don't like me shouldn't be mad if I don't want to hang out with them. That does make sense, right?

Does this cattiness (from either side) light anyone else's fire?

On the Rise! Or Something Encouraging Like That.

Apparently, it's in my nature to be really optimistic. Because after finishing that last post--I mean, after finishing the post and then getting a little bit of sleep in the chair--I felt determined to defy everything I had said. What, was it embarrassing or something? Why did I feel so driven? It's almost like as soon as I had some sympathy to buoy me up, I could get my engine started.
I overdid it. I washed the dishes, I cleaned tidied the living room, bathroom, and "study." I threw away all my nasty tissues littered around the house. I even put on actual clothing. In my mind, I felt good. In my body, I ached horribly. My head was pounding with so much pressure my teeth hurt. My bones were begging me to stop. And I meant to, but I'm tricky-- when I start cleaning, I'm a fast little whirlwind, and it's hard to get out of the momentum I spin up before I've already done a lot of "damage."
So! I finally broke out of it, when my body cried "mutiny!" And I rested. When Michael came home, we drove around for the sake of getting out of the house. For some weird reason, I was glad to be home when we were done, but I desperately needed that outing.
Now today, I feel better. I do. I honestly feel better. It helps that I was able to shower and do my hair--that helps tremendously. I am still sick, and I am resisting going wacko with my refreshing feelings of energy and comfortableness. But I can see the finish line! I may have to sleep in the chair again tonight (that was not fun, but at least my cough attacks were really minimal, and I got better sleep than otherwise). Michael slept on the couch, pulled up next to me. :)
Scarlett is getting better. Ender is getting better. Michael is, too. We're all past the worst, I'm sure of it. And it's thanks to everyone for their prayers and love. We got your good health vibes and healing thoughts!

PS: Have you noticed I Capitalize My Post Titles? Part of me feels like it's a nuisance, especially with a title like this one. But the other, more dominating, part of me sticks to it, let me think...ew, like boogers to my kids' faces. *shudder* Don't worry, I do clean them. I find myself thinking, though, "This post title is lousy and doesn't deserve Capitalization. But it's a title! I can't let it be so different from the other titles, either!" It's not quite full-out OCD, but it's in that neighborhood.
PS2: I only matters to me...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Still Sick.

It is hard to feel happy while I cannot do most of the things that bring me happiness. I am so sick, and I have been sick for over a week now. I gave Ender dry cereal for breakfast yesterday, and I didn't move when he spilled his uneaten yogurt on the floor. The mess is still there. I let him watch movie after movie after movie, pausing only sometimes to say "maybe you should play LEGOs...," but never with much conviction. I nurse and change Scarlett, but I'm relieved she mostly sleeps or sits still with me while she's sick, too. We can tell she has lost some weight by the way her bracelets slide easily on her wrists; I'll be honest, that scares me. She's so tiny anyway. I feel like I am barely scraping across the minimum "requirements" of mothering. It's probably needless to say that these things chip away at me and leave me feeling like I'm being a terrible mother.
It's starting to take a heavy toll on my emotions. I cannot clean my home, play with my kids, or even do my hair without suffering extreme exhaustion and debilitating coughing attacks. My fever has been relentless, and last night was the third night I couldn't sleep for coughing. In fact, I gave up around 3am this morning and have been sitting in the recliner, shoved up against the computer. Sitting up and sitting still, my cough is less present. I have a paper trail around the house of scrunched up tissues (now digging into the toilet paper supply). Isn't that gross?
Without energy to do anything, it's really hard to feel happy. The ways I usually feel fulfilled as a wife and mother are through my activities, you know? Cooking, cleaning, playing with Scarlett, chatting with Ender, doling my affections on Michael. I'm trying so hard not to wallow in misery. I am so tired, tired of being so sick. It's been too long.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February Creation

Back in the day when I wasn't sick, I made this meager, yet overly complicated, boat for Ender.
Original here (much cuter). He likes it...

That's it! My fever is calling my brain back from the world of functioning.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Artist

I finally found her--the artist of the paintings I copied!
Her name is Anne Tavoletti. She used to be a fashion illustrator in New York City. That's a job I think I'd really enjoy...I'm assuming the paintings we saw at Burlington Coat Factory come from her Fashionistas collection (and now that I've seen there's more than the three, I want to do more, too!); Here are the original paintings compared to my copying, just so you can see what I was working from:

Left: hers, Right: mine - she must have used acrylic paint rather than watercolor, wouldn't you think so? I've wanted tempera and acrylic paint sets since I was about 12 years old. I love how thick and bold they go on.
It does take some more belabored swallowing of pride to put these up side by side with all the wrinkleage going on in mine...but I'll do it.

The Money Shot

I take lots of pictures of my kids. LOTS. And per each lot I take, I share a few. 

That's my house being very housey in the background. Kind of pushing out of its boundaries of "background."
That is definitely part of life right now.
Oh yeah, plus I was miserably sick while this was going on,
so I wasn't even going to TRY and fix all the housiness happening here.
Not that I need to defend myself.
 Since kids move all the time, it's hard to get a really good one, or the one that I meant to get the first time. But with this photo session, I got plenty of "shareable" pictures! (I think they're all cute, but not everyone enjoys looking at dozens of poses that have miniscule changes between them).

And then this hilarious thing happened:

Call me gross, but I LOVE it.

Valentine's Day Nails

This was for the week before Valentine's Day-- for the week of, I'll do something different.

I love having a little girl. It's fun to share girliness.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Boop! Boop!

You know those moms who talk to their kids like the whole world is listening (and interested)?
I don't hold a grudge against them or anything, but for some reason, when they start talking like that, the last thing I want to do is respond. I hope that's not rude of me, I just don't really like the idea that I'm to assume they want my attention by talking to me through their kids. Cause I'm not their kids.

In the checkout line at the grocery store, I stood quiet and happy while the cashier slowly and quietly booped each item for me. Boop! Boop! I like that sound.
A lady pulled her cart up behind me, and her kids started perusing the gum stands asking if they could have everything they saw. They were normal, and she was normal in her response. But as she kept talking, I could feel invisible strands from her voice tugging my attention. When the kids asked if they could just sit in the cart, and she replied that the cart was for food and not kids, with me standing in front of her with my cart packed with Scarlett and Ender, I had to smile. Really, I thought it was funny. And then her kids started getting impatient (still normal, and I was totally unbothered by them).
The kids wanted to help her and put the stuff from her hands on the conveyor belt, but she said "Oh no, we can't put it on the nursery tab! The nursery doesn't need gum!" Ah,I thought, a nursery leader! Somehow that's suiting.
The mom spoke in this perpetually cute voice. Like, like...not like when you talk to babies, but just sugary. And the kids were so bored in that crowded space between checkout stands.
So then the kids started pushing their cart. I'm still enjoying the Boop! Boop! when I hear her say, 

"Oh, don't push the cart into that lady or it will hurt her and kill her, ow! We don't want that." 

=|  Pardon? 

HAHAHAH! No wait, really? It will kill me? I had such a hard time not laughing aloud!
(Yeah guys, it's "aloud" and not "out loud," so the whole LOL trend is totally wrong. But I get it, LA just isn't as cool).
When I left the grocery store, I was still smiling. Oh yeah, and I was thinking "I want to blog about this" (hahaha!). My whole grocery trip had been wonderfully cheering, and I really just felt grateful that this perpetually sugary woman had made it all the more fun. I'm glad she was being kind to her kids. I would have been sad if she had felt stressed with them for being restless. They were quite good, honestly.
So next time, should I acknowledge that kind of woman even if she's trying to talk to me through her kids? Maybe women like that just feel awkward at initiating conversation, even when they desperately want it. I think next time I'll be less proud. But hopefully just as cheery.

10 Perks of Having a Baby

    Scarlett ponders my wedding ring
    Being adorable just for me!

  1. If you've been lazy all day, just tell people you're busy being a mom. They'll congratulate you for getting nothing done.
  2. Forget sweeping. Just stick a swiffer-pad on your baby's belly and send them crawling to the kitchen!
  3. Use dirty diapers as bargaining chips. 
  4. To snatch a quick nap, claim the baby won't nap if you won't nap with them. Wait, that's true for some babies? 
  5. Stuck in boring company: pretend you have to go nurse.
  6. You can have a messy house. Nice people get it.
  7. On gassy days, blame it all on the baby.
  8. When you're undeniably cranky and hormonal, you're allowed to be because you have a baby. Everyone knows that, and if they don't, teach them.
  9. No one can get away with critiquing your figure. You just had a baby! Even if you just had a baby a year ago! Or four years ago...or...really, no one should critique your figure.
  10. Lastly and most sweetly, you get to enjoy the most adorable smiles that are given with pure love. :) And you get to snuggle. And you get to laugh and be silly, and get excited over seemingly tiny things like "she's slapping her tray to say she wants another bite!" Oh, it's wonderful.


One of my goals has been to learn more hair styles. 
I'm's a process!

1. "punk bangs" - after blow drying my hair upside down with a roll brush, instead of correcting my bangs, I hairsprayed them lightly from behind and then gently smoothed them back. I felt pretty cool for figuring it out (even though I realize some people don't care for this style-- including myself sometimes).

2. "twisty bun" - I pulled side pieces together in the back and pinned them in place. Then, I separated the rest of my hair into two pieces and made a twisty rope. I wrapped the rope around and secured it with bobby pins. Invented on the spot, it worked better than I'd hoped.

3. "messy bun" - this is usually a flop for me. Like, too much of a flop and not just the messy bun flop. I have such thick hair, even the smallest strands seem like fat chunks when I'm trying to do something like this. So I made a low ponytail, lazily twisted it, and very loosely wrapped the twist around the ponytail. You have to do it loosely so it doesn't stick out from your head. Then I pinned the loops flat. 

 4. "braided bun" - 50% fail on this, in my opinion.Well, no, that's harsh. But it's NOT how I wanted it. You can tell I'm not particularly happy with it by the fact that I had to take several pictures to try and find one I'm pleased with. I felt like I looked 12 years old in too many of them.

Finally, a picture I like! Too bad it isn't really showing the bun, hahaha!
So it is a braided bun, but the main mistake is that I made each braid so tight that when I tried to pull them gently (to broaden the braid before wrapping everything together), it didn't happen. If I had been successful, the bun would look less like a wad of braids and more like an intricate bundle of prettiness. Plus, I've got darker roots in the back, which looks pretty weird to me with this style (Michael liked it, so I realize I'm just picky). I'm not as upset as I might sound; this is all a learning process, and I actually wore this braided bun for two days! Haha! So really, it's okay. But it's one I'll be practicing.

5. "five-strand braid" - notice, however, that the side braids joining into the bun are 5-strand braids! I will do a tutorial on this one because I love it so much. I'm excited to have learned how to do that.

6. "fishtail" - I finally learned it. I've tried it, somewhat successfully, multiple times over the years. And I still made what I'll call an "optional" mistake; if you don't want the poofy look at the top, put your hair in a tight, low ponytail with a clear elastic. Fish-braid that ponytail, and then cut the elastic band. Gently pull the sides of the braid. This makes for a more even fishtail, and if you have layers like me, it helps the braid stay in longer (that was my problem-- my layers came out during church, and I had to abandon the whole thing).

7. "bangs" - shaggy bangs, specifically, but that's only because I'm growing mine out. I used my straightener after my regular, habitual style of blow drying. I barely, barely tilted the straightener for a curl, and then I fingered and brushed the bangs (quite carelessly), kind of flattening them. I think I just used to be shy about my bangs, afraid of messing them up. 

8. "gentle curls" - I used to have a hard time balancing just how much curl I ended up with. One half of my head would be full of amazing, tight curls. The other half would be full of pretty but loose curls. So the fix for that is to watch where you start tilting your straightener (or where you place your curling iron). I started a slight curl (not pulling the hair all the way around the barrel of the straightener) halfway down the strand of hair. For this look, I had to use pretty skinny strands-- as skinny as my thick hair gets. This is a really simple hairdo, but seriously, it's been hit-and-miss for me for such a long time. A lot of my hair styles just kind of "happen," so my aim with my Hair Goal this year is to learn more styles and be more on purpose about it, able to recreate any of the styles I want. 

More Styles coming up: I'm learning (in the process, totally) no-heat curls and a few other styles. I actually did the no-heat curls, but I forgot pictures, and it's kind of a tutorial type thing to explain. 

PS: A most helpful tip I have learned recently is that you ought to slightly curl your hair before you braid. Even before you do other up-styles, because this makes the ends of your hair cooperate better. Everything will go into braids or styles more smoothly, with less frizz or pokeys. Don't think of it as an extra chore-- you can be lazy with the curling. 
If curling your hair is an enormous project no matter what, go to bed with freshly dried (perhaps slightly damp) hair wrapped in a tight, twisted bun. In the morning, your hair will be smoother and tamer. That's the point.

Follow Up

Last year, I made a little felt panda and felt bunny for Ender (I never posted about the bunny). They are buddies: 

sharing an umbrella

(if you can see past the blur) 
playing pirates on a ship

But this is their current adventure:
locked in a cage with their IKEA moose friend

And a very long time ago...*sigh*...I used the Cherry Darlings for the first time 
(why is time so brutal? Why is she already 6 1/2 MONTHS OLD?!) 
(at least she's still teensy. 12 pounds, still fitting in some of her smallest clothes). 
She wasn't happy about the hair things at the time, but she was sure cute: 
Oh, tininess! 

She used to suck our thumbs all the time! (Clean thumbs. Mostly).

And I have to include a current picture of her:
 smiling at Ender

being simply darling, as usual :)