Monday, May 31, 2010

The Invites Are Going Out!

One of my goals for this weekend was to finish the invitations to Lydia's Mad Hatter Tea for 2 party. Done and DONE! The invites themselves have been designed for a while now. I tend to not want to let go of the minute details and have been obsessing over the exact wording, font size, etc. for weeks now, but the basic idea was in place. I used three different images for the invite. All came from the original illustrations for Alice in Wonderland. Would you believe that the sweet picture of Alice holding a cake originally had a dagger sticking out of it? Not sure what THAT was about! Luckily it was easily removed and replaced with a number 2 candle.
The devil ended up being in the details. I found this image of the fish footman delivering invitations to the Queen's croquet game. The envelope was MUCH smaller and there was some background drawing to get rid of, but it seemed easy enough. Only I started before I owned a copy of Through the Looking Glass or a scanner (Thanks again Jen!) so I was at the mercy of Google images. I kept trying to get a picture to work that had too few pixels and was enlarged too much. Today I went back to the drawing board and scanned the image for myself. It was SO much faster once I had a good quality image to work from.
I was even able to type the addresses into the image so it looks better than my handwriting and it was FINISHED instantly. No waiting for me to write addresses on envelopes. They are stamped and hitting the mail soon. And speaking of mail, wasn't it nice of the US Post Office to join in the fun by making the 2010 LOVE stamp based on the King and Queen of Hearts? How PERFECT is THAT!P.S. If I forgot to send yours (feel free to laugh at me again this year cousin Sarah) I will turn right around and blame the USPS for any mix up!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Today's Tea Party Pictures

So I have some ideas for Lydia's birthday that require a picture of her. We may still visit our favorite JC Penney's studio, but I end up hauling SO much stuff in for our pictures, and I DO have a camera, and I AM an artsy person, and I DID like the idea of these pictures being outside, and I WILL need to photo shop the it looked like I was planning our first do-it-yourself photo shoot. So I needed an outfit and I liked that I made Lydia's birthday outfit last year. More on the dress in a later post. Needless to say, I was rushing to finish it this week in addition to rushing to finish the teapot and rushing to finish the invitations. Notice a trend? Anyway, this morning it wasn't raining AND my husband was around to help watch Lydia AND we had a few hours before church AND the dog was being set up a tea party, outside, and took 235 pictures of Lydia and the dog and the tea stuff. I also got something like 235 bug bites! Now I am on picture overload! There are some REALLY cute shots and some that I may tinker together in photo shop to get exactly what I need, but for now I have taken too many pictures and looked at too many pictures and I am about to begin photo shopping too many pictures, so I kind of can't see them anymore with any objectivity. I'm just going to post a few here, un-retouched because who KNOWS when I will finish that process! ENJOY! And let me know what your favorites are. My brain can't process them anymore!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My classroom

PJ and Lydia stopped by my classroom last Friday. Lydia and I were heading directly from school to Chattanooga, so Daddy and daughter had a play date at the park while saving me a trip to daycare. Lydia had a lot of fun with a mask that I brought home from Japan.
Other than that my classroom is a flurry of students trying to finish projects. only this year I am also hurrying to meet a deadline. The 2 teacups need to be glazed and cooked. I wanted to do a multi-layered glazing, requiring multiple firings, but somehow while telling my students that they only have a few days left to finish their work, I forgot that the same deadline applies to me too! So, the teacups got a quick coating of color today.
The pictures came out blurry and were taken before I put the color on, but I was SO happy with the effect of the wash of black in the crevices! I think paint washes are my favorite art trick. I am constantly trying to convince my students to slap a layer of dark paint on their work and then wash it off!

Sadly, the house may not be finished in time for Lydia's party. It now has a handle and a spout, made out of Alice's arms, just like in the song, I'm A Little Teapot"! I only have a few details to add, so the good news is it WILL be finished and it WILL be a teapot (not a large cookie jar) but it needs to dry slowly and then get cooked and painted and cooked again. Here she is today. Her "handle" hand is holding the "eat me" cookie. her "spout" hand is holding the "drink me" cup. Can you see her legs folded up inside the house? If not, they will be more apparent once the paint is added. Finger's crossed that it all survives the kiln!

Monday, May 24, 2010

This Weekend

Lydia and I went to Chattanooga to visit with my college roommate and her daughter. We had SO much fun!
The weather was beautiful and the girls are finally old enough (almost 3 and almost 2) to play together and enjoy all the fun outdoor recreation areas downtown Chattanooga had to offer.
We ate cupcakes and saw the sites. Lydia and I were in vacation mode and it felt really good, like a preview of what summer can bring. I hated to leave, but we aren't quite finished with the school year. I am wrapping up my last week of "real teaching" and still have a week of exams to give and grade. Then it is off to find more adventures like these in our own downtown.

Friday, May 21, 2010

This Week....

This week has flown by. I only have one more "real" week of teaching left and then we get a long Memorial Day weekend and return to work for one day to clean the art room and three days of exams. Then one teacher workday and I will be on summer vacation!

Of course that also means that any art projects that I want to complete at school need to be finished soon. Especially if they are made of clay and need a week to dry and then need to be fired in the kiln, and then need to be glazed and then fired again. i may already be out of time for this, but I really want to make a teapot to go with the 2 teacups I made for Lydia's Mad Hatter birthday tea party.

My idea was to build the house that Alice grows too big and gets stuck inside. I have spent 2 planning periods on it so far at the point that you see it here. It has already undergone renovations as it originally had a second story, but was WAY too big. Now it is just awfully big for a teapot. It looks more like a cookie jar in size, a large cookie jar! It is scheduled to get Alice's arms reaching out of windows on the sides to become the handle and the spout (pretty much like in the song "I'm a little teapot") I suppose if that fails, Lydia will have 2 teacups and a cookie jar. Hey, I like cookies with my tea!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lydia's Birth Story

The author of one of my favorite blogs is a new mom (for the 5th or 6th time!) and has been posting amazing birth stories while she recovers from delivery. I am enjoying reading them and keep thinking I should write down Lydia's story before I forget. If this sounds like TMI stop reading now! Otherwise, here is all that I remember almost 2 years after the fact.

I was so glad that I was due in the late summer. I would be off work for more than a month before my due date and have lots of time to prepare and rest and soak in the pool. My Lamaze class didn't start until I was out of school and that sounded great! I was convinced that Lydia, due at the end of July would be late. I wanted to buy some type of birthstone jewelry in her honor, but wasn't sure if she would be a July or an August stone. I figured I would rather be wrong and be surprised with an early baby than be anxious after my due date passed. I did, however, plan on having my hospital bag and all the small details finished by 36 weeks, the end of June.

By the end of June, we had only been to about half of our Lamaze classes. I brought both PJ (daddy) and Jennifer (aunti) to the classes and I have to say we rocked at Lamaze! We brought snacks and laughed and took turns squirming during the birth videos. I was enjoying it and looking forward to another month of classes.

By the end of June, I was racing to have everything ready by my deadline of 36 weeks. I really planned on taking it easy after that, but the day before Lydia arrived I had a meeting about a project for work, and then I was near the baby store so I wanted to complete my registry, and then there was a store going out of business, and then I was really hungry and I realized I never ate lunch, and it was already 4pm, so I ate an early dinner, and then I was really tired so I went to bed.

Lucky thing, because I was able to get a full night of sleep beginning around 5pm. At 3:45am I woke up, glanced at the alarm clock (the only reason I know exactly when my water broke) and suddenly found myself in the bathroom knowing that my water had just broken. How I knew that was happening when I still wasn't quite awake is a mystery because my water didn't even break until I was already in the bathroom, safely perched on the potty. I woke PJ, I called the midwife, I was 2 days away from being 36 weeks pregnant. If your math skills are any good you know that made me 35 weeks and if you have been through labor and delivery you know that that classified me as being in pre-term labor. I actually tried to argue the finer points of this classification with a very sleepy midwife at 3:45 in the morning. I pointed out the discrepancy between my initial due date and my final due date. She did not see my side of the argument. I was 35 weeks, preterm and therefore, I was going to the big hospital downtown and not to the quaint birth center where I had made a deposit for the room with the birthing tub. This meant that I would have an IV. This meant I would not be allowed to eat during my labor. This meant I would be hooked up to a monitor. This meant I was probably going out of network as far as my insurance company was concerned. Regardless of the changes, I would meet my baby girl one way or the other within the next 24 hours. I was definitely in labor. There would be no false alarms, or wondering if it was time to call my mom in Idaho and tell her to get on a plane.

I was relieved to learn that my midwife would meet me at the hospital and would be responsible for my care. Only the location and lack of birthing tub had changed. In the end, the insurance was not as sticky of a situation as I had feared. I paid $125 total for all my maternity care and for my delivery. You have to LOVE a PPO when it works well!

Jen came to our house and the three of us headed to the hospital. My mom was called and began arranging a flight from Idaho. I was surprised to learn that you continue to gush fluids after your water broke. No one warned me! I arrived at the hospital knowing exactly how far apart my contractions were because I gushed every 5 minutes. Once checked in, I did get an IV and fluids and had to keep the needle in my arm for the entire delivery "just in case". I did have to be hooked up to machines to monitor my contractions, but they found me a portable machine so I could walk around. When I proved that I wasn't going to stop walking, and my labor looked normal on paper after several hours, they eventually let me take off the monitor for a while. I was not allowed to eat so I politely took the popsicles offered by my nurse and then chowed down on granola bars every time she left the room. Jennifer and I walked through early labor. Then I sat on the birthing ball until that became uncomfortable. Then I slow danced with PJ and eventually was clenching his arms during contractions. I know it must have hurt, because I grabbed his arms pretty hard, but I don't remember the pain. (Sadly, he had a bad burn on his arm and no matter how I tried to grab, I always grabbed exactly where he was hurt. He still remembers the pain!) I remember telling Jen that what the contractions felt like in early labor was what the time between contractions felt like in active labor. I never took medications for the pain. I only really got uncomfortable at the very end (transition) and I knew that by then it was too late to take anything anyway. So I asked the midwife to suggest something else to do. PJ and I were ushered into the shower, which felt GREAT! Not as great as I imagine the tub at the birthing center feeling and certainly not as spacious, but hot water is hot water. Poor PJ was not enjoying himself as much as I was as he was now confined to a very small space with a thrashing pregnant woman going through transition. For those of you who aren't familiar with labor and delivery, many women vomit while transitioning. I vomited all over PJ, in a very small shower, with a birthing ball blocking the drain. We laugh about it now, but he was traumatized.
I think after the shower I went on my knees in the bed with the now freshly washed birthing ball under my elbows. I was in full blown labor. I am sure I was in pain, but I can't remember it. I know that I would realize I was thirsty and only have time to ask for water in between contractions and have to wait for the next lull to drink the water. I know that I was holding one of PJ's hands and one of Jennifer's hands. Apparently I grabbed there hands and then crossed my arms, so they spent a good hour or so leaning over me awkwardly so that they wouldn't have to let go! I do remember the weirdest sensation in between contractions, like I was floating or being rocked. I thought I was on a water bed for a few minutes. Apparently I was rocking back and forth on the ball and was just that ecstatic at how good the moments between contractions felt. I remember feeling like I wanted to push and being told to try not to. Like that is possible!

Suddenly my mom (who flew from Idaho to Salt Lake City, to Chicago, to Nashville and then drove 2 more hours to Knoxville) arrived and it also happened to be time to push. What a relief pushing was! I know i don't really remember the pain, even when I know there must have been pain, but I remember the pain stopping once I could push. I was on fire for a second as her head came out, but then she was out. I thought I was done, but I was neglecting to remember the placenta. In movies the mother gives birth to the baby, the doctor delivers the placenta, as in mom doesn't have to do anything! Would it help my case to remind you that I did not make it to the last half of my lamaze classes, so I missed some vital information.

I finally stepped back to reality when the midwife started talking about a surgery consult and taking me to an OR. I did not go through 17 hours of natural childbirth to be sedated over a placenta! I huffed and I puffed and I pushed that thing out. On my behalf, I was later told that it was abnormal (double lobed?) and that probably made it more difficult to deliver. Either way my work was done. Lydia was celebrated with family and friends and pizza and cupcakes. Jen and PJ stayed at the hospital to help me and Lydia stayed in our room the entire time we were there. I felt like super woman after bringing my baby into the world. I was so ecstatic that I was able to do it the way I wanted to. I know that i was fortunate. She was early and a lot could have gone wrong. More than anything I am grateful for the result, but I do enjoy the story and I want Lydia to know it some day as well.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

The weather turned cooler this weekend, so Lydia was able to wear the beautiful smocked dress that my mom made for her. What a great gift for both my mom and myself, to see Lydia in it. We took some pictures in a random patch of grass outside the restaurant where we had lunch because I was afraid lunch and napping and playing would either get in the way of more pictures or dirty the dress.

These pictures are from earlier in the day. I got to sleep late and enjoy breakfast in bed, before going for a little jog with Lydia in the stroller. I got back from my run and realized that I still had an hour before I needed to be ready for church AND that I had neglected to get or make Mother's Day cards. I had intended on making something for a while, but needed time to decide exactly what to make. Then we all spent 2 weeks sick and I spent last week catching up on housework. So with an hour to play with, I pulled out a tube of pink paint, a glue stick, ans some Easter grass.
Lydia made a painted hand print on several pages of graph paper. I glued on a stem and then made a sticky area for the grass. I also found some butterflies left over from her first birthday and put glue on those as well. Lydia enjoyed sticking them on the page.

I liked that they were quick and simple, but oh so cute. A good way to say "Thank You" to Lydia's Grammy, Mamaw, Nana and Auntie who help me be a better Mother. Happy Mother's Day to all!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A few of my favorite things

So, it's May and not only does that mean that next month I am on summer vacation, it also means that next month is Lydia's birthday. I know i am getting a little ahead of myself and her birthday isn't until the end of the month and that is 8 weeks away, but in my mind the time for dreaming up ideas is over and now it is time to start doing some of the thing that I want to get done. Here are two images that I stumbled on while dreaming. I didn't make anything in either of these pictures. I won't even try to make anything like anything in them. But aren't they amazing? The little girl's queen of hearts costume comes straight out of the new movie. So many exquisite details! The hand made teapot figurines below are just too precious or words. For now I will be content to point out that I am obviously not the only person out there who is Alice obsessed right now. In fact, I don't think I am NEARLY as obsessed as these folks. So there!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tea with Buckley

I couldn't resist. I have been letting Lydia play with her "birthday" tea set since it arrived in the mail. I am so happy with it and SO glad it is plastic. She has a nasty habit of dumping all the pieces out of the box. We will be lucky if she hasn't lost all the pieces before her birthday. Hopefully enough can survive to at least get some official birthday "Alice in Wonderland" themed tea party portrait pictures taken before her birthday. Who knows. For now we have learned that Ritz crackers are the perfect tea "cookie" for the tiny plates. Fortunately we also learned that buttery Ritz contain no real butter, so they are Lydia approved. We also realized that Buckley likes Ritz crackers and he will even attend a toddler's tea party to get his paws on one.
Hmm. It doesn't really look like Lydia is sharing. Hopefully Buckley won't mind getting the crumbs!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Liddy at the car show

PJ wanted to take Lydia to the car show. He stayed up very late last night and put the finishing touches on her super retro, pin striped peddle car/stroller. I kept telling him it wasn't important and he needed to rest. I hate that I got a good night's sleep and he didn't, but I am SO glad he finished the car.
She looks SO cute in it! Little boys watched as she passed by with jealous looks on their faces.

Older couples smiled, took pictures, asked where we got it. It was like walking in our own little parade. PJ attached a bar and handle so we pushed it kind of like a stroller. It has a few steering issues that need to be worked out before the next show, but he did such a good job on the peddle car.
Here is one more of PJ's creations. The owner of this car is Australian, so PJ had to really make sure that all the stars and stripes were in the right order.What can I say, he is super talented and Lydia and I are lucky to have him in our lives.