Monthly Archives: June 2014

City Planners

I will never forget when I went to Paris with my high school marching band.  We actually took a 10 day tour of Western Europe, but it is Paris that made the biggest impression on me as a teenager.  I was warned that Parisians are rude to Americans, especially if they don't speak French; I found this to be quite untrue.  Armed with my 2 years of German, wandered the streets of Paris with a couple of friends one afternoon.  We spent hours at the top of the Eiffel Tower, just taking in the scenery.  We explored to the Notre Dame de Paris, gazing upwards at the weathered gargoyles and saints.  We ate at various cafes along the sidewalk and explored small shops down the side streets.  It was a beautiful time in a city that quickly became my favorite.

If I could, there is one thing that I would bring back to my current city; I would bring back the boulanger and the patisserie.  The bread was the most delicious I have ever tasted; it was pretty much all I ate while I was there, with some cheese on the side.  We would just go to a bakery and buy a baguette with some turkey, lettuce, and butter on it for lunch.  As we walked down the street, we saw mothers and children stopping by to pick up bread for dinner.  This availability of fresh, artisan, bread really made an impression on me.  It was a little bit of the past right here in the present for us to participate in.  No big grocery stores with harsh lighting, just a family selling their baked goods behind a counter.  Friendly and welcoming to each person that came into their shop.

Daily Post

 

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Peaches are in season again and we have one very happy boy.  The difficulty is limiting him to only one peach per day (for digestive reasons).  I think we will be going to the farmer's market every Wednesday for the foreseeable future…

Low Tech Layover

Back when I started flying as a kid, we did not have smartphones (or even cell phones), laptops, or various other electronic forms of entertainment. During long flights and layovers I entertained myself with coloring books, novels, and playing cards. My carry-on backpack was always heavy with books, books, and more books. It was the end of the world if I ran out of books to read on a trip!  (I am a reading addict and I always have been)

Now, I always have my smartphone and my Nook with me on flights, but I always remember to bring one low tech novel just in case. I have been stuck in airports before, having forgotten my charger, and stuck with the newsstand book and magazine offerings. I have to admit, I love having a e-reader for traveling. As someone who would regularly pack 5 books of 400+ pages for a week long trip, the lightening of my load has been much appreciated.  Yet, ever since that one trip with a forgotten charger, I will never forget to bring a backup book to read.

The Daily Post

The Beauty of Motherhood

Recently I have noticed bipolar approach to women's bodies post motherhood on the internet.  Being a new mother, 2 nd time around, I am sensitive to this topic; looking at all my baby weight and stretch marks on a daily basis makes this hit home.  

One side of the coin is all the adds and systems to get your body back into shape, or even better than it was before.  There are the various challenges you can take part in, such as: the 30 Day Abs Challenge, the Beach Body system, Fit4Mom, and Bikini Body Mommy.  All these plans are aimed at erasing the evidence of having a child from your body (or as close to that as you can get).  Society is adding a level of shame to how a mother's body looks after birth, and the public images of celebrities are not helping one bit.  Regular women do not have dieticians and fitness coaches, we do not have time to exercise for hours each day (we have jobs and kids to take care of); and yet, we are held to the same standard as the celebrities that have these things.  We are being told to "get our bodies back" after having a child.  This implies that we lost our bodies somewhere along the way.  Changed is not lost.

The other side of the coin is a more artistic one.  There is a new movement of photographers that are celebrating the scars of motherhood as badges of honor.  They are emphasizing the beauty of our changed bodies; encouraging women to cherish every stretch mark and jiggle as proof of their accomplishment.  The one that has gotten the most recognition (and well deserved) is the 4th Trimester Bodies Project.  I think that Ashlee Wells Jackson and Laura Weetzie Wilson are taking beautiful pictures of real women and their children.  They show that mothers come in all shapes and sizes, and not one of us is perfect, but we are each beautiful in our own way.  

I am proud to say that I will be participating in this project when they come to San Francisco in August.  This is a huge thing for me, because I have never been comfortable with my body (even when I was at my healthiest).  Now that I have experienced the pressures that are placed on moms to look like they never had a child, I want to help to destroy that for my daughter.  (For the record, J has never put any pressure on me about my body, as long as I am happy with how I look, he is happy with how I look.)  No matter how much I try and diet and exercise, I will still have the body of someone who has had 2 children via c-section.  Nothing will change that.  So, for this photo shoot, I am not going on a crazy diet or extreme fitness regime.  That would defeat the whole purpose.  I am just going to be me, and I will come out of this a little happier and more comfortable in my own skin.

I will not write about that

There isn't much that I feel uncomfortable writing about, so when asked what one topic I will never write about is, I have a hard time coming up with something.  After much thought and many discarded ideas (my marriage, poop, family, food, etc), I finally realized the one thing I will never blog about.  My job.  There are a few reasons that I will not write about my job:

  • The nature of my job (research) means that I am working on things that competitors would like to steal the idea for.
  • If I ever express dissatisfaction with my job, there is a possibility that a coworker may read it and spread it around, thereby putting my continued employment in danger.
  • I have no desire to write about my work; I write to relax and not think about work.

I think that those are three very valid reasons to not write about my job, no matter how I feel about it. Maybe if I ever have my own business or become a domestic engineer (aka stay at home mom) I will feel more free to discuss my work and satisfaction with it.  Ironically, the point is moot currently as I am still on maternity leave.  In conclusion, since I will not write about work, you get to read about the other things in my life . . . mostly the kid.  Sorry not sorry.

A Teacher from the Past

There are many people, throughout history, that I find inspirational and/or admirable.  I admire Picasso and Van Gogh, Jane Austen and Shakespeare, Plato and Socrates, Kurt Cobain and George Carlin, and the list goes on.  It is very difficult for me to pick one person that I would like to teach me, but if forced I would pick H. P. Lovecraft.  I absolutely love his style of writing and his "voice" in said writing.  The language he uses is very descriptive without being excessively wordy.  I would like to learn writing from him, not to write horror, but to mature my style and voice.

The Daily Post

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One day after her one month birthday, we got our first social smile from R.  She woke up one morning at about 6 am and just gave me the biggest gummy smile.  My heart just melted.  Since then, her smiles have been fairly rare, but I could usually get a couple in the early morning.  Today, she was nice enough to smile for me while J had his phone ready to snap a couple of pictures.  Official proof that we have a smiling baby!  Now if we could just get her to roll over again…

 

Three Songs

There are many songs that speak to me over the years, but right now there are 3 songs that have had an impact across many stages in my life. I included links to the Amazon mp3 of each song so you can hear a preview of it if you want.  I can sing these songs in my sleep and frequently belt them out while driving to work.  A very good reason why I never carpool.

Hurt – Nine Inch Nails
This song was my anthem in my angsty high school phase.  I felt like I was empty because no one understood me, as I am sure that most teenagers feel.  Everytime I hear this song, it brings me back to those days.  I am too busy now to feel misunderstood, but I still think that this is a beautiful song; full of pain and feeling even though it is about not feeling.

Timshel – Mumford & Sons
Another song that makes me feel a little less alone when I am feeling down.  This song has been a favorite of mine for the past couple of years, when things really get tough and stressful, it is nice to think that other people are going through the same things.

Odds Are – Barenakesd Ladies
I listened to this song many, many times while I was pregnant with R.  It was a great reminder that no matter how paranoid I was, things would most likely be just fine.  Whether I was worried about birth defects, living with 2 kids, money, or toddler tantrums; this song made a point to say that chances are, everything will work out fine.

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Even though I already talked about R being 6 weeks old, I wanted to share my weekly/monthly/whenever-I-can picture of her.  I am following the style of Young House Love and taking a pic of R in a white onesie and photshopping her age on it.  Instead of using fun fabric, I am using quilts that my grandma has made for us.  I can't wait to see all the funny expressions and poses she does for the future pictures!

Re-dye Jeans to Save Money… Maybe

So, I love jeans.  Like really really love them.  I wear them every day; they are my version of yoga pants.  Unfortunately, I also work with chemicals that will leave "bleached" spots on said jeans.  As you can see below, I have a few spots on a few different pairs of jeans.

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In an effort to save some money and not look bad at work, I decided to re-dye my jeans in my washer.  The thought was to refresh my jeans while making no mess (haha!).  The first thing I did was to read up on how other people did this at their house.  Here are the sites that I found most helpful: How to Dye a Faded Pair of Jeans and How to Dye in Your Washing Machine – Rit Studio

Now I have to admit, I did one pair before taking pictures and writting this post.  I wanted to do a trial run so I could take pictures of the important steps the second time around.  Here are the things I learned from the first dye test

  • You will spill dye, no matter how hard you try not to and how well you prepare.
  • Have LOTS of towels handy to clean up spills.
  • Dye will be in the seals of your washer.  Have towels to clean this up to.
  • Do not use the plastic bag in the detergent compartment to protect it.  This is more trouble than it is worth and just makes a mess.
  • Dissolve the salt in more than 4 cups of water or it will not all dissolve.

Ok, now to start the process of dying jeans in the washer.  I chose to dye 2 pairs of jeans using the Rit Denim Blue powder dye.  I read that the powder dye is more concentrated and works better in the HE washer.  Here are the jeans before dying.

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I used 2 boxes of the dye to make sure that I got a nice deep denim blue color.  First I used the rise cycle to wet the jeans (no spin).  

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Then, leaving the jeans in the washer, I dissolved the dye in 2 cups of hot tap water.  I used the normal wash cycle with heavy soil and hot water with an extra rise to dye the jeans.  You need at least 30 mins of wash time to get a good dark dye, and more time wont hurt anything.

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Once the cycle started I poured the concentrated dye solution in the washer, into the spot where you put the detergent.  I followed that with 1 cup of salt dissolved into about 6 cups of hot water.  This rinsed the detergent area out nicely, but if you have some residual, you can keep adding water until it is clean.

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After that, just let the washer do its work.  Once the cycle is finished, you need to wash the jeans with detergent to remove any excess dye.  After this wash, you can repeat the wash if you want, or you can just dry the jeans as I did.  Here is how my jeans came out!

The yellow stiching did not dye, which makes me happy!  And here are the stained spots that I was aiming to cover up.

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As you can see, the blue color is refreshed in the jeans, but the stains are still visible.  They are not quite as bright as they were before, but they are still more visible than I would like.  The blue color is lighter than I would have liked, so I will be trying this project again soon.  Next time I will use a box of denim blue and a box of black (or liquid if I go that route) for one pair of jeans.  Hopefully that will give me a nice dark wash.