Friday, October 31, 2014

Everything is Awesome.

Ahh... Halloween. How I wish I remembered you were coming on October 1st.

Last year, the night before Halloween, I was busily knitting a Gryffindor scarf, while waiting for the cover on "Advanced Arithmancy" to dry so I could finish adding the gold paint to the runes.

There has also been a flower costume (with posable leaves), a jack o' lantern (I didn't get to add the glow sticks to the "face"... still a little disappointed), a jedi... each costume finished in the early hours of Halloween morning.

To be fair, I do it to myself. I can't just get something from the store, or make it simple, I need AUTHENTICITY*. "Which year are we doing? Hermione needs to have S.P.E.W buttons! An ugly knit elf cap! Ugh... all these wands are too plastic looking... I'll just carve her one."


This year, I thought I had it easy. Kee wanted to be a superhero of her own making. She is a cheerleader for her secret identity, but at the first sign of trouble, she turns into "Pom Pom Girl!" She has a cape, and a "power belt", and she can freeze the bad guys for five seconds. She ran around the house and collected everything on her own. Super easy for me.

Beege wanted to be Batman. Cool. Black clothes, cape, mask, done-zo. Not so much. I found out last week that she wanted to be LEGO Batman. Oh. Okay. Still do-able. No big. I really should have started then. Being me, however, I decided to wait until yesterday.

So here is how to make a Lego Batman costume. In eight (or so) easy(ish) steps.

It really is a good idea to measure your kid** first, so that you have some idea of how big you need to make this thing. Crossing your fingers and guessing based on the shirt she left on the couch isn't a great idea. Remember that if your child will be wearing it to school, they need to be able to sit down.

Lucky for me, there are a tonne of pictures of Lego Batman all over the internet, from different angles and in different colours.

Now it's time to paint. It is helpful if you know where both paint and brushes are. Husband suggested that spray painting would be easier and give more even coverage, but like I said, I like to make things hard on myself. Acrylic craft paint worked just fine.

Again - thank you internet! I chose to leave all the abdominal and chest lines off, because I think they look silly. If you have a printer, as I do not, it might be helpful to print out the bat, etc., or at least measure so that you don't end up staring at it later and obsessing over that little crooked bit right there.

It probably would be easier if you did some math and calculations and things. Cross your fingers and wish is not a valid method of design, and I really should learn to do things properly. That said, looks good, right? Everything lined up nicely for me, because I'm some kind of savant.

This is also the point in the evening when you will realise that you also need to make a head for this thing, and text anyone who might want to get in your good books to pick you up a construction tube. (Thanks, Husband!) Or you could just plan better than I did and already have one on hand. In fact, that sounds smart. Do that.

So. You're going to have to cut the tube. Those things are like... eight feet tall. You only need nine inches. Just think of all the other Lego heads you can make with the leftovers! You can either paint that construction tube or, as I did, wrap it in the coloured duct tape of your choice. We left an open space to put the face. I chose a mouth that she could use it to see out of. Again, many examples on the net. I covered the opening with cheese cloth - although I would've preferred white tights/nylons - so that it would be white, but still see through.

At this point in the evening, I broke down and ate some Halloween candy, after realising that she did not have any black pants. Then I sewed her some black pants. Husband was a big help on the cowl part of the costume - which we made using a couple of large sheets of craft foam - because at this point it was after midnight, and I was having some sort of a breakdown.

There is also a really awesome cape that was just a felt cape purchased for $5 at the craft store and then covered with black duct tape and re-shaped a little. It didn't make it into any of the pictures, despite it's awesomeness. Probably because it was super easy to do. Almost boring.

Only getting a few hours of sleep was totally worth it though, to see how happy she was with her costume. To complete the outfit, she wore a long sleeved black shirt, black mittens, and the aforementioned black pants.Now I just have to cross my fingers for her that her head isn't falling off all day.

If I figure out a good way to keep that thing on, I'll let you know.


*I've mentioned that I went to school for costume design, yes?
**Or whomever will be wearing it. I know
I'm thinking of being Lego next year.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Should I call the CSA?

We've been getting up late for the past few weeks. It's getting harder and harder to make myself get out of bed now that there's no sun. I don't know if it's true in your house, but in mine, if I don't get up neither does anyone else.

Yesterday, for the first time... ever, I think... I slept through the alarm. It was a mess. There was yelling, and running, and just general chaos. Everyone got out the door, but it wasn't pretty.

This morning, I stumbled out of bed, grumbled at the kids to get up, and shuffled down the stairs to get the day started. I started pulling out stuff for lunch and realised, oh crap, there's not really anything for lunch. I hurriedly pulled ingredients out of the cupboards and turned the oven on. Muffins. Muffins are quick, and healthy, and quick.

The kids wandered in and started eating the cereal I'd put out for them. I corralled Husband and asked him to wash the lunch containers that nobody'd gotten around to washing yesterday. The next twenty minutes were a blur of veggie chopping, hair combing, and bag packing.

They stood at the door, hair neatly in braids, shoes and coats on, ready to go. Shoot, the muffins weren't ready. I glanced at the clock in a panic. 8:00. Wha...?

So now I'm really excited, because I think there's a wormhole in my kitchen. 

Also, muffins.

*The CSA, in case you're wondering...

Monday, October 20, 2014

I'm Still Considering Going Bald.

The thing about lice is that if you don't get in there and scrape the little buggers out, you never get rid of them. You have to confiscate soft toys, pillows, and blankets. You need to clean coats and hats. If one little egg survives that toxic shampoo, or the nit comb, you're in for round two.

Which is (sort of) okay when it's on the kids, because the grownups deal with it. A parent or caregiver (in my house, me) sits there and breaks their back picking the dreadful little beasts and their million eggs out of a kid's hair.

Usually, there's the unspoken knowledge that one person is in charge of this kind of stuff. It's usually the person who is more skeeved out by the idea of tiny bugs feasting on his/her children's scalps, because this person is not content with cursory glances. This person needs to check every single strand of hair. Multiple times.

I'm sure I've said before that Kee hates having her hair combed it. HATES it. Every morning, we go through the same argument when it's time to comb her hair then she gives in, but rails against the injustice of it while I tidy her hair into a braid.

I was dreading having to go through her head over and over again. 

You know what saved me? Netflix. Seriously. My daughter submitted to over twelve hours of hair combing, checking, washing, and more checking because I let her watch two seasons of Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated.

Luckily, we only needed Scooby, but I had a whole backup playlist, just in case. 


What happens though, when that person who does all the checking and obsessing gets it?

I asked Husband to check me that first night. He proclaimed me clear. I didn't believe him. I trust him, but dude doesn't always notice the dishes need doing, or the laundry needs folding; and my head was still itchy.

I called my sister. She found a bug almost instantly, but only a few nits. I used the shampoo on myself the same time I did Kee. Then I checked her head again, and found some more live ones. What the eff, dude. New supplies were in order. I got Husband to check me again.

This time he found a bug. "Is this one?" he asked, holding it out to me. So innocent. "Yes," I replied. "Any bugs that you find on my head should absolutely not be there." Time for a different shampoo.

I had my sister check me again. I had my mum check me. I had my Husband check me again, more thoroughly. After treating my head three times, after wearing a shower cap constantly for an entire week, after changing all of our bedding every day for that week, after being cleared by three different sources; I finally believed them.

What I really need though, is a way to check my own damn head.

*Luckily (knock wood, toss salt, spit &whistle, etc...) Beege never did get them. She wore a shower cap the whole week in the house, and avoided Kee and I like the plague.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Picture Day.

On Beege's first picture day, I sent her off to school with elaborately braided hair, there were flowers tucked in, just so. They matched the pretty red velvet dress that set off her hair brilliantly. (She started school after lunch, so that kind of thing was totally do-able.)

I found those photos in a box this week, as I was (yes, still) unpacking, and it occurred to me that, although they are lovely pictures, that is not what my child really ever looked like. I think from now on, I'd like pictures of my actual kids, not pictures of my kids as "carefully groomed child 1 and 2." So when they asked what they should wear for picture day, I told them to pick out their favourite outfit.

Beege picked her "Math is Beautiful" shirt, and a pair of pants I'd made her. I hugged her and told her that the outfit was "so totally her", and she grinned a big goofy grin that I hope makes it into the picture too. We braided the front of her hair over to the side, and left the back free.

Picture day is the only day I will let them go to school with their hair down, because I'm completely paranoid about lice.

Kee picked little capri pants that I've never seen before and a frilly shirt. Also totally her. This year's pictures are going to be awesome.

Usually she pitches a fit while I'm braiding her hair in the morning. She screams and cries before I'm even touching her. She mightily objects to this year's french braids, even though that was the deal for growing her hair out. Today however, it being Picture Day, she wanted fancy hair just like Beege's.

Beege was getting antsy at the door. She was all ready to go, and hates being made late by her sister, who doesn't really seem to care whether she's on time. Luckily Husband hadn't left for work yet, so I sent them on their way, telling them I'd bring Kee along when I was finished her fancy hair.

As I combed her hair into sections, I saw something move on her head. Somehow, I decided it was a fruit fly. "Why do you have a fruit fly on your head?" I asked, laughing. Then I saw another one. And another one.

"Looks like you're staying home with me today!" I said brightly, my skin crawling. "You can watch a movie, and mummy's going to comb your hair, okay?"
"I get to watch a movie?" she asked skeptically, furrowing her brow.
"Yup!" I replied, as cheerfully as I could, while twisting my hair into an unforgiving knot at the back of my head.

After calling the school to let them know she wouldn't be in, I  texted Husband to melodramatically inform him that we had an infestation on our hands, and he needed to bring supplies. Then I got down to work. While waiting for him to get home with the lice treatment, I stripped all the beds, bagged all soft items, took everything to the basement, and started up a scalding hot load of towels. Anything that may have touched a head was suspect.

This beautiful, clean, shiny hair? Apparently, lice paradise.

By the time he got back, it looked like the bedrooms had never been lived in. Kee was happily sitting on a stool in front of me watching Scooby Doo while I meticulously checked tiny sections of hair, scraping the nits off individually with my fingernails and dropping them into a cup partly filled with tea tree oil.

Despite my best efforts. Despite the braids, despite the preventative spray, despite the lectures about not sharing hats. Lice. On my kid. Who I had snuggled in the middle of the night after a bad dream. I had fallen asleep with my head on the pillow next to hers, murmuring that it was only a dream and Mummy was there. My scalp started prickling.


To be continued...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Already Looking Forward to Next Year.

The first year I went to Blissdom, I was terrified. It was an entirely new thing for me.

Last year, I went again, and I wasn't quite so nervous. My goals changed from "don't crap your pants and pass out" to "talk to at least three new people, attend at least one party." It was easier the second time around, and I'm pleased to say I met my seemingly small goals.

This year? This year was fun. My goals? Stop focusing on my anxiety long enough to actually learn some things. And go to all the parties*.

The first people I met at Blissdom 2012; reunited.

Tara at Don't Lick the Deck, was one of the very first people who spoke to me at my first Blissdom, and I was lucky enough to snag her as my roommate. Christa from Christa Clips, who huddled with me in a corner at that first Blissdom was actually running mini sessions this year!

Kyla (Mommy's Weird), Elan (Schmutzie), and a new friend, Courtney (Moonsoar).

Lesley (who spoke at this year's "Power Hour") was one of those new people I spoke to last year, as was Sunshine, and I was thrilled to have them right next door. I didn't manage to hang out as much as I would've liked with Kyla, but I did hug her pretty much whenever I saw her, and she didn't seem to mind.  

Really, the list of new people I met, and the ones I was happy to see again, is pretty damn long. It's funny how these people, who you talk to on Twitter, who you connect with through blog comments, who you only manage to see once a year, can get to be such good friends.

Sunshine, Lesley, Tara, Jenn and Marya

The sessions I went to ranged from ethical discussions, to how to write for magazines, to how to pitch to work with companies**. I got to listen to some amazing people tell their stories. The funny thing about Blissdom, and I've heard other people mention it as well, is that it's all a blur. The experience is so full, that it's still untangling itself in my head weeks later.

I must've come away with something though, because as soon as I got the lice situation under control, I sat down and sent off my first pitches. Whether I hear back or not... well, the fact that I even hit "send" is a big step for me.

Elan, Natasha, and my long time buddy, Katie.

I try to set a goal after Blissdom. Something that I want to accomplish before I meet all these fantastic people again next year. Just one, and it doesn't have to be big. The first year, it was just talk to people on Twitter so I had people to look out for once I got there.

Once again, among all the other things I took away with me, I heard this message; the only thing that is really in my way is me. I think it's finally starting to sink in. So, this year's goal? Write.

Sit down, shut up, and write.

*The parties this year were AMAZING! The #TBT party on Thursday, sponsored by Kahlua included a giant bouncy game of Twister, Huge game of Connect Four, a giant spread of 80's candy and comfort food, and air brushed tattoos. 
The Friday night party sponsored by Lentils was beyond fabulous. There were carnival games, entertainers, wine tasting booths, and mounds of carnival food. 

**Speaking of which, I want to thank the sponsors of Blissdom Canada. Without them, this wonderful chance for these talented people from all across the country to connect in person wouldn't be possible. There are just too many to name here, but a complete list can be found on the Blissdom Canada site.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Yes, but...

So. I got home from Blissdom 2014, where I had a marvelous time with new friends and old, to two sick kids and a lice infestation.

Sure, I've spent the last few days washing and boiling everything, and spent hours and hours hunched over children picking bugs off their heads. Yeah, I've been hauling bedding and towels back and forth to the washing machine pretty much incessantly. Okay, I've been wearing a shower cap for three days and am seriously considering lighting my head on fire if this latest round of lice melter doesn't work.

But this is happening on my kitchen counter, so I'm pretty happy. 

I'll get back to you about all the fun I had at Blissdom. I've got to throw in another load and re-check a kid right now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014