Author Archives: aliciamariel

About aliciamariel

wife, mama, crafter, traveler. always want to learn more.

Infant Mermaid Costume DIY (Super Easy)

So, remember how I bribed my daughter so she’d be born before I had to get induced?  Well, here are the results of the sparkly Halloween costume I promised her ~ a mermaid!

Now, I realize it’s kind of nuts to DIY a halloween costume the week after giving birth. I fully believe in having time to bond with the baby, get the family settled and give my body time to heal before I jump back into ‘regular’ life (although now that I’m a SAHM, I’m not sure how realistic that is).  I know a lot of people go back to work and start training for marathons the day they leave the hospital, but that’s just not me.  So it felt somehow wrong to make a Halloween costume for a ten-day-old baby. But a deal is a deal, and I couldn’t bail on this one.  I mean, how bad would that be to not go through with the first deal I make with my own daughter?

And it’s not like this was difficult to do.  All it took was a mad dash though Joann’s a few days after she was born for some shimmer tulle (one yard each of three colors) and some elastic sequin trim.  The baby stayed in the car with my hubby while I ran into the store.  And then I foraged through my craft stuff for anything else I needed, which ended up being a square of felt, a rubber band, a needle and thread and a rhinestone button.

I began by making the skirt by following directions for a tutu (like this one except that I cut my own strips of tulle), but I made mine long enough that it would go past her legs and then some.  I tied it a little past her feet with a rubber band, and then I put trim around the waist and around the rubber band, barely stitching it in place by hand.

I then placed my square of felt (the ones that are like 39 cents in the kids craft area at Wal-Mart – nothing fancy here) over a long-sleeved onesie and cut it to fit in a bodice-like shape so that it wrapped around just a bit past the sides. I used some leftover tulle to make the bandeau top, and added a bit of sequin trim.  I glued the tulle to the felt and then hand-stitched the felt to the onesie so that I can use it again.

For the headband, I measured out how much sequin trim I needed and glued the ends together.  Then I made three yoyos with two layers of tulle each so they’d be full.  I sewed them on and sewed a rhinestone button on the center one because every infant mermaid headband needs bling.  I should have done some sort of pearl to go with the mermaid/ocean theme, but I used what I had on hand.

This project is super easy.  I think it probably took about 45 minutes, and that’s because I hand-stitched a lot of it so that I can reuse the materials later. I was able to easily do it between feedings here and there over a couple of days, despite being in that post-partum recovery/newborn adjustment time.

How I Bribed My Daughter Into Being Born

Yes, you read the title correctly.  I unwittingly bribed my daughter into being born.

A couple of Fridays ago, I was almost a week past my due date and getting more and more nervous about my scheduled induction that coming Monday.  I had been induced before when my labor stalled and really didn’t want to relive the experience.

So after I woke up from a nap that afternoon, I decided to have a little talk with Baby Daisy (her code name). I told her that if she was nice and got things going on her own I would make sure she had a sparkly Halloween costume.  Otherwise, she’d just have a plain ol’ onesie, not even Halloween-themed.  I called my husband to check in on him, told him of the deal I made with Daisy.  I hung up the phone and my water broke.

After I made sure that I had indeed gone into labor, I called my husband, who was pulling into the driveway.  I was laughing hysterically because, I mean…come on…I just bribed my unborn daughter!  And also because I realized I was about to go through childbirth and freaked a little. And I was going to have to somehow come up with a sparkly Halloween costume for an infant.

I still had no contractions, so we waited a while.  I took a shower, got ready (meaning I grabbed a bunch of crap to stuff into my hospital bag that I didn’t really need), spent a little time with my son and ate dinner.  By then I was getting contractions and we decided to head to the hospital.

When we checked in, we were led to the same room where I delivered our son.  And just like with my son, my labor stalled.  The doctor said we could wait until midnight to see if things got going before starting pitocin, but after talking with my husband and doula, I decided I just wanted to get things going instead of freaking out for hours trying to make my body do something that I knew it wouldn’t do.

So I won’t bore you with all the gory details, but pitocin was started around 10:30, really kicked in around midnight, and just after 4 a.m., our beautiful baby girl was born!

Our doula was amazing (you can read about my non-crunchy stance on doulas here), and knew when to be supportive and comforting and when to lay the smack down to get me to focus.  There were times when I didn’t think that I could do it, but with my husbands support (I’m pretty sure I fractured his hand during some of those contractions), and our doula’s coaching, I was able to make it though labor with no other drugs, which made me very happy.

But now the question remains…what will I do for my little girl’s costume?  The tiny infant costumes for sale don’t appeal to me and not a single one is sparkly.  I have something in the works that I hope to share with you soon! Here’s a little sneak peek of the sparkle tulle and sequin extravaganza that is going on between baby feedings:

Stay tuned…

Coming Full Circle

I’ve seen a lot online about baby/pregnancy loss lately.  I love how there is so much support for moms who go through that. I don’t usually talk about my loss because I guess I feel that even though it’s something that changed who I am, and it’s something I think about almost every day, I don’t feel like my loss was as bad as some of the stories I’ve heard of, so I don’t really talk about it.  I was just a couple of days away from my first ultrasound when I woke up spotting.  At a doctor’s appointment that day, an ultrasound showed the baby had no heartbeat.  But this post is not about the loss.  It’s about where I’ve been since that sad day just over four years ago.

Today, I had an OB checkup. My last one at 40 weeks and two days.  The next time I see the doctor, I’ll be in labor or getting induced.

After getting a weight check (I lost two pounds since last Thursday – how the heck did that happen?!?!), I followed the nurse to a patient room.  It’s the best in the office – it’s bigger than the others, and has two windows that allow bright sunshine to pour in.

I hate that room.

It’s the room where I had the ultrasound that showed the baby with no heartbeat.  The room where I learned that I was losing my baby.  I am never comfortable in this room.

But today, it changed for me.  Yes, that room brought back some sad memories for me, but look at me now.  I’ve come full-circle. Cracking jokes with the doctor and learning about the latest news in obstetrics.  Past my due date with my second child.  Two healthy pregnancies, one healthy child, and hopefully another healthy child that I’ll get to meet in the next few days.

If someone had told me I’d ever be happy to step into that room again, I would have flat-out laughed in their face.  I just remember how sad I was back then, and how unsure I was of everything.  Was there something wrong with me? Was I ever going to be a mom? Will it happen again? How many times?

I am putting this out there because I remember how scared and sad I was back then, and feeling like I would never have a baby and not having anyone to really talk to about it.  I know there are so many people out there that don’t feel like they’ll ever get through that nightmare.  And unfortunately, the truth is that not everyone will.

But so many people do.  So many of us have had a loss and become stronger for it, and gone on to have the families we’ve always dreamed of.  And I wanted to share that.  Because maybe…just maybe…I’ll be able to reach someone and give them a little bit of hope, because that is something I would have given anything to have at that point in my life.

Words of Wisdom {Nursery Wall Decor}

Confession time: I’m a little scared to raise a little girl.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m excited about having a little girl, all the pink and glitter, ballet classes and general ‘sugar and spice’ that having a girl entails.  It just seems like it’s so hard to be a girl and it’s getting harder.  I keep hearing things like how third graders at a school nearby have lunch group therapy because the cattiness with the girls has gotten so out of control (although that might be the product of helicopter parenting), and I see more and more cattiness and just downright rudeness between little girls.  And women as well.  I mean, let’s just look at the whole mommy wars thing.  Breastfeeding vs. formula, attachment vs. cry-it-out…  We do it to each other. It breaks my heart.  And I don’t know how to raise a kind, smart, confident, creative little girl that will grow to be a strong woman someday.

But dammit, I’m gonna try.

So when I was thinking of what to do in the nursery, I got an idea in my head of having a wall of wisdom, if you will.  I looked for quotes from strong women that would reflect qualities I want my little girl to have – things like kindness, confidence, creativity, doing your best, reading… I thought it would be hard to find enough to fill a wall, but the hard part ended up being narrowing them down.

The project was a lot of fun to do. I rummaged around my house, craft stores and Goodwill to find frames and my hubby and father-in-law spray painted them white.  Once I had an arrangement I liked on the wall, I began designing what went where and how it would look.  I ended up with a few other things that weren’t word frames: a corbal/shelf to which I added a little bud vase with a pink rose, a mirror to add some sparkle to that side of the room (and because it was $2 at Goodwill), and her initial.

To design the word ‘art’, I used a free trial of Adobe InDesign.  I love, love, love the Adobe Creative Suite.  I miss it so much.  I think that’s what kept me at my old job for so long.  Sigh.  But I digress.  I channeled my inner design nerd and spent way too much time playing with fonts, sizes, kerning, spacing and all those fun things I used to do back when I worked 9-5.  Finally, I had each frame the way I wanted it (mostly).  Most I was able to print at home, but there were two that were too big for my printer, so I had them done at Office Max for a whopping $3 or so. I then trimmed everything down to size as needed and popped them into the frames.

It might be hard to see the quotes in the photo, so if you are interested, this is what is up there (for now, at least):

1. We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. – Marie Curie

2. Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible!” – Audrey Hepburn

3. Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment. – Oprah Winfrey

4. Let us always greet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. – Mother Teresa

5. You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have. – Maya Angelou

6. No me embarco sin galleta. – my grandma (this means “I won’t get on a boat without a cracker/cookie” in Spanish, meaning to always be prepared and being able to take care of yourself.  She said this all the time, and we take this advice to heart, literally and figuratively.  My husband who travels a lot will now not get on a plane without crackers based on her advice.  My grandma passed away this summer, so it’s nice to have a little piece of her in my little girl’s room.)

7. …something magical happens when you read a book. – JK Rowling

8. A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. – Coco Chanel

Admittedly, some of these have been all over pinterest and aren’t exactly novel, but they all speak to me.  What I couldn’t find were quotes on travel/seeing the world, but got some travel-inspired prints for another wall in the room to give her that sense that there’s a world beyond our little town.

Here’s another look from further away. I love how it’s part of the cozy little corner where I’ll be rocking her for hours  and hours.

I’ll admit that having these quotes on a wall in a room for a baby who can’t read may not make her a strong woman later on in life, but at the very least, it will inspire me to try to live up to these ideals and to work hard to raise a daughter that embodies these sentiments.

Glider Makeover

A few years ago when we were shopping for nursery furniture for my son, we found a glider in what we thought was a great neutral color that will work in any future baby’s room, whether it’s a boy or girl.  The taupe-y cushions looked great in our son’s woodland-themed nursery and the microfiber was soft and easy to keep clean:

But flash forward to a few weeks ago, when we put it in our light, bright aqua girl’s nursery and it looked like baby poop:

So what’s a hormone-raging mama-to-be supposed to do? Have a panic attack about how I can’t possibly have that glider in this room, or else some awful catastrophe will happen. Totally normal, right?

Well, I wasn’t that melodramatic, but close.  Still, I was really intimidated at the thought of recovering the cushions.  I mean, I’m used to coffee cuffs, notebook covers and bags.  Cushions are big.  But when a 60% off coupon for Joann’s arrived on my smartphone, the project didn’t seem so bad.  At least I wouldn’t be out too much money if the project was a bust.  So armed with 4.25 yards of fluffy pink fabric (which is enough for the glider, a blanket and more), I set to work.

I began by laying out the cushions on freezer paper, my pattern-making material of choice.  I had to tape two pieces together for the back and seat cushions to get it wide enough.

Then, I traced around each cushion.  After that, I used a compass (yes, the ones that gave you headaches back in ninth-grade geometry) to give myself room for the cushion depth. There’s probably a good way to measure this, but my pregnant brain wouldn’t process it correctly anyway, so I guesstimated how much to add. I ended up with an extra two inches except for the front of the seat cushion that’s a little thicker.  I went with three inches for that.

After cutting out the paper templates, I pinned them to the fabric and cut out the pieces. Next, I pinned the fabric pieces right sides together and stitched them together, leaving one side open to stuff the cushions.  I added two 20-inch lengths of grosgrain ribbon where the straps that snap to the chair on the back cushion so I could tie it on instead of trying to make little covers for the straps.

And this is where I began to cheat and get lazy.  I decided to just safety-pin the back cushion closed, since it rests on the seat cushion and I wasn’t going to see the closing anyway. I didn’t want to sew more ties or deal with a zipper/velcro closure, and I hate it when cushions are sewn shut because then it’s so much harder to pull the covers off to wash them.  I pinned the seat cushion closed as well, which allowed me to use the ties from the original cushion.

Here is a view of how the cushions tie.  The back cushion ties with the ribbon and the seat cushion ties with the original ties.

For the arm rests, I made the pattern pieces and cut the fabric the same way as the cushions, but I sewed just the sides, so I ended up with tubes.  My glider arm cushions snap onto the chair at the top and bottom.  At first, I was going to sew them completely in and then slit some holes where the snaps are until I realized that the snaps are completely hidden.  So I slipped the tube/covers on the cushions, pinned one side to the cushion to keep them from sliding off and snapped them onto the chair.  I didn’t even need to pin the bottom side.  It’s snugly snapped in and well hidden.

The foot rest was next.  I cut out fabric the size of the top plus a half-inch seam allowance, and added 4-inch bands around the side.  When those were all sewn together, I hemmed the bottom to make it nice and straight and an even depth.

So there it is.  A glider makeover for a little girl’s room, all pink and fluffy and soft.  And it was so much easier than I thought it would be.  I think it will make those 4 a.m. feedings much more pleasant, don’t you?

Changing Table Makeover

The baby’s due date is getting closer, and I’ve found myself in a tailspin of DIY projects for her room.  One of the big projects I’ve worked on is an update of our changing table.  It’s pretty basic – just a white changing table with dressers, with one side a little taller to make it easier to store diapers, wipes and all the lotions and potions that come along with diaper changes.  We opted for the hutch that goes over it to give the nursery some stature and extra storage.  It worked great in our son’s nursery, but the back of the hutch got a little beat up.  And it looked a little bland in a little girls’ room.  So an update was in order.

We took off the back, wich was really four pieces that screwed in.  This was awesome because we didn’t have to pry off little nails, which would inevitably have ended up with cracked boards.

Then I painted the boards in Behr’s Poetic Princess.  I got one of those sample-size jars, and it worked really well.  I used a regular roller, and I had just enough to finish two coats, but I think if I had used a foam brush or weenie roller it wouldn’t have soaked up as much paint and I would have had extra.

Next, I used a stencil and regular craft paint to paint a pattern of polka dots.  I lined up all the boards on my garage floor so I’d have one continuous pattern and went to town.  I did two coats of white paint using a tiny craft foam roller (about four inches?), which didn’t completely cover it, but I liked it that way…kind of softer and obvious that it’s DIY, and not printed/factory made.

The last step was to seal it.  I wanted a little protection and sheen (the paints I used were flat and looked boring).  I tried a spray sealer, but it looked horrible and stripey, despite doing light coats.  So I went over it with clear polyurethane and a foam brush and it worked really well.  You can still see my spraying faux pas if you look at it at the right angle and in the right light, but I’m not going to worry too much about it.

Once everything was dry, we screwed back the pieces onto the hutch and changed out the boring white knobs for simple acrylic ones to give the room a little sparkle.

I still need to dress it up, but you can get a look at how it’s all shaping up.

There’s a new ‘C-word’ in town.

Yes, my friends.  Around our house, we have a new ‘c-word’.  It’s cooking.

I can’t say it around my son anymore, because he insists on being part of the action.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m thrilled that he loves to cook.  I hope to keep his interest going long enough so that someday I can take a break from cooking and give him a night or two a week to cook for the family. I know I’m many years away from that, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Plus, I definitely want my son to know how to cook.  Someday, he’ll be a grown man, and let’s face it girls, a man who can cook for you is just…dreamy.

But it’s starting to be a bit of an issue now because he wants to be part of everything cooking-related.

I started ‘cooking’ with him when he was just over a year old.  I let him spread sauce and sprinkle cheese when we made pizzas, or add cinnamon to his oatmeal – simple tasks like that.  His preschool did more adventurous stuff with the kids – making ice cream, churning butter, letting them ‘measure’ and mix instant pudding and crush cookies to make dirt cups, etc.  When he turned two, I took in cake mix and the kids made their own cupcakes.  It was so cute and way more fun than just handing them cupcakes.  But his love of cooking has hit new heights in the past few months.  It’s an obsession.

Recently, I’ve gotten more adventurous and have tried to let his love of cooking benefit me.  He’s more than capable of mixing pancake mix and scrambling eggs, so I let him do those tasks while I get other things ready.  And I love having my little buddy around in the kitchen.  As soon as I take a cutting board out, he pulls a chair up to the kitchen island and stands on it, and asks me questions like “How many cups, mama?” or “I cut this now?” which I think is so cute.  I give him plastic measuring cups and dry beans so he can ‘cook’ with me when there’s nothing that he can do, but he’s starting to catch on and insisting on being part of the real action.

The thing is, I can’t always have a two-year-old helping in the kitchen.  I don’t want him around raw meat, or close to knives and stuff.  And sometimes I just need to get stuff done.  But as soon as the ‘c-word’ is mentioned, he runs to the kitchen and starts grabbing stuff.  I’m to the point where I avoid the word if at all possible, instead saying ‘mama’s making dinner’ or ‘getting food ready to eat’ and sneaking around when I’m getting dinner ready.  Which is hard because our house has a very open floor plan, so I can’t really hide anything.

Here’s a great example: just a minute ago, he went up to the counter and turned off the slow cooker, gleefully saying “Mama! I’m cooking!” as he turned the knob round and round.  Cute.

We got him a little play grill so he can cook on his own, and I have a strong feeling that Santa will bring him a play kitchen this year. But if he’s not convinced by Tupperware and dry beans while he’s standing next to me, I’m not expecting the toy kitchen to work as a distraction when I need it. He’s okay right now.  I can say “Mama has to do this part, it’s too dangerous for you right now.”  and he’ll reluctantly watch me finish up. But I can tell he’s getting more and more stubborn and wanting to do more (as witnessed by his encounter with the crock pot).

So, how do you handle kids in the kitchen so that you can do what you need to do but still keep them involved?  What are your favorite dishes to cook with your kids?

The Case for Doulas (from a non-crunchy mom)

My doula holding my newborn son, and me with about 85 lbs. (not really) of IV fluid and pregnancy bloat back in ’02.

Check! One more thing on my pre-baby to-do list has been completed!  I have hired a doula!

Now, I know many of you just went “Uh…doula? as in ‘feel your womanly birthing power and smell the patchouli, doctors are bad and hospitals are evil so you should just squat in a field’ kind of doula?”  It’s okay.  I used to think the same thing before I got pregnant with my son and I met an awesome doula.  She had been a labor and delivery nurse for most of her career and when she retired, became a childbirth educator and doula.  She had the medical background and knew her way around a hospital and enjoyed helping families welcome their new babies.  Her job was to help me and my husband do what we thought best for our labor experience, whatever that was for us.  She believed that ‘interventions’ aren’t always necessary, that the body is equipped to handle birth, but that medical technology can be very helpful and there are times when you do need them. So I was crushed to find out that she wasn’t available for my due date with this pregnancy.

What made me decide to have a doula in the first place? Basically, I felt unprepared. I thought about what it would be like once I got to the hospital, just me and my husband in a room dealing with contractions and who knows what else.  Then, while watching football one weekend, it dawned on me that a star quarterback won’t do so much as throw a ball without a coach telling him how and where to do it, nor will an Olympic swimmer swim a lap without a coach timing it and critiquing his strokes, so what makes me think that I can do something as monumental as bringing a human being into the world without a professional there to guide me?

Personally, I am thankful for the technology we have today.  I don’t want a home birth. I want to be close to an OR if I need a c-section or have some other complication.  I want pain meds available if I reach a point where I truly believe I need them.  But I do think that a lot of times medical professionals tend to jump to interventions a little too quickly.  And frankly, although the nurses and staff in the L&D wing are great, they have too much on their plates to give each person in there a ton of individualized attention, especially with this crazy baby boom that seems to be going on right now.  I like the idea of having someone there for me, watching out for what I need.

My doula experience was great. After the first couple of contractions in the hospital, my doula said “In all my life I’ve only seen a few people that should labor in a rocking chair and you are one of them.”  She left the room and came back a few minutes later, dragging a rocking chair with her.  I spent most of the rest of my labor comfortably rocking and sleeping, despite pitocin and nausea.  She knew tricks that I hadn’t seen in any labor book that really helped me be comfortable during a very long labor.

Her help continued in a million different ways that my husband and I could have never thought, like explaining to me how different medications that were offered worked so we could make our own decisions, telling me about the doctor I ended up with (one from my practice wasn’t available that day), allowing my husband to have breaks, keeping me hydrated, taking notes of what happened throughout labor and delivery, and most importantly, reminding the nurses that I hadn’t had a chance to hold the baby yet as they were getting ready to take him for some tests (everything was fine – he was just a little stunned after delivery and they wanted to watch him to make sure his breathing evened out).

I went into labor with a ‘let’s see how it goes’ attitude, and hoping I wouldn’t need an epidural or a c-section, not because I am against them, but mostly because I am scared of them and how I believe my body would react.  Not for a minute did I think I was going to have a stalled labor that would require pitocin, nor get such bad nausea that I’d be in danger of dehydration.  Having a pro there helped me take everything one step at a time, be able to discuss my options and in the end, have a positive labor experience.  I honestly think that if I didn’t have her there, I would have felt like I somehow ‘gave in’ and agreed with the doctors instead of feeling like I made the choices that I wanted, even though I think it would have been the same.  Does that make sense? And yes, despite the pitocin and everything else, I was able to make it without the epidural.  Largely because I had a team (my hubby and my doula) to support me.

So you can imagine how sad I was to find out my doula wasn’t available. After some research, and with the high recommendation from a friend, I have finally found another non-crunchy doula practice that I am excited about.  It is clear that they fully support a mom’s choices and are thereto help us make decisions that are right for us and support us through labor.  Exactly what I want.  I love this excerpt from the contract:

“will provide emotional support, physical comfort, and facilitate communications with your healthcare provider so that you have the information you need to make informed decisions.”

No patchouli or twinkle lights, no ‘feel your birthing power’ mumbo jumbo, no anti-med jargon, no judgement on choices.  Just support and advice during a process that can be scary and confusing. Much like how people get a real estate lawyer for house closings or hire wedding planners to make sure everything goes as planned.  It’s not something you do every day, so why not have someone who does be there to guide you?

And here is where I begin my plea: I think a lot of people are like me.  They want the safety net of a hospital and are thankful that we have such good technology, but want an advocate for them – someone who is there for them, looking out for  what works for them.  I don’t think people want the uber-crunchy doulas who bring in rain dances and twinkle lights and are against medical procedures (despite their assurances to not be judgemental), but are looking for more of a coach and partner.  So please,  if you are a nurse or a nurturing person with a heart of gold, and aren’t uber crunchy, look into being a doula/labor coach.  The world needs more non-crunchy doulas.

People Watching: The Summer Tour Edition

Last week, my hubby and I had an awesome night out to see my favorite band in the world, the Barenaked Ladies.  The show was awesome, but I think my favorite part was the people watching.  As I mentioned before, living in the burbs, I don’t escape the bubble of my car enough to really see people out and about and experience street life.

But, oh…those summer night concerts…they do attract some good stuff, right? Between the spastic dancers, the dude with the “Keep Calm and Chive On” shirt (is he a chive farmer? is ‘chive’ code for weed? does he just really, really like chives? is there a ‘parsley on’ or ‘basil on’ alternative? unfortunately, after a google search, I learned that it’s just to promote a thechive.com.  how anti-climactic.), and the air musicians, my night was spent laughing more than grooving.

So, in the spirit of soaking up life and having some good fun, and inspired by conference call bingo, I came up with a scavenger list of sorts of what to look out for at a concert (perhaps a drinking game?):

Air Band: Can you spot an entire air band?  There’s always someone playing air guitar, air bass and probably air drummers too.  Bonus points for unusual instruments, like keyboard or the air harmonica solo we saw (Blues Traveler was playing).  I had high hopes for an air standing bass when BNL performed, but I think people just couldn’t afford $10 beers that late into the show and the air-orchestra-inducing buzz had worn off.

Oldest/Strangest  Concert T-shirt: I think the only thing to do with concert t-shirts is wear them to other concerts.  Can you find the oddest or oldest?  I think we had a combo winner: a circa 1992 Toad the Wet Sprocket shirt.

Spastic Dancers:  They are all there.  People hula dancing without meaning to, hippity-hopping, diva-snap arms…It was awesome.  I noticed the more spastic the dancing, the more fit the people were, and they were all having a blast.  I think once I’m able to drink again, I’ll join their ranks.

Praise arms: I worked at a church, so this is pretty common knowledge to me, but it might not be to the rest of the world.  You know when people hold out their arm out towards the stage and kinda ‘grab’ towards the band?  It’s most common with one arm, but double arms aren’t rare, either, if the band playing is especially moving. Usually it’s acommpanied by eyes squeezed shut and a painful, longing face.  These are praise arms.  I think they are trying to soak up the power of the power ballad (because that’s usually when you see them appear outside Christian concerts).

Woo Girls/ Drunk Girls Who Know Every Lyric EVER:  WOOOO!  These girls will yell that randomly at the oddest moments, presumably to be noticed by the band.  It might be girls that are too old to throw their bras onstage, so they hope their WOO!s will do the job. These girls also possess an amazing power as the evening progresses: even when drunk, they know every lyric to every song ever. They might even sing stuff that’s not even playing at the moment.  I am in awe of these girls.  Also? Somehow their makeup always looks good too, no matter the weather.  How is that possible?

Have you seen any on this list? Did I miss anything?

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: London!

It’s kinda funny that summer just officially started and I’m already pretty much done with my summertime excitement.  But it’s all good. With a baby on the way, I’m happy to get my fun in while I still can. And that’s what we did.  We went to London to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, as a babymoon, and as kind of our last hurrah because with two kids, we probably won’t have time for cool international trips for a long time.

Can I just tell you how awesome London is?  It really is.  I’ll admit we chose London based on how easy it was to get there – it was the most bang for our air miles. But wow.  Just walking around that city is amazing. I feel like we barely made a dent in everything there is to see and do there.  We took it slower than we had planned (my pregnancy kind of tired me out more than I thought it would), but it was still a great time to be there, especially since we were there for the final celebrations of the Queen’s Jubilee.

We visited some great sites, but mostly we just took it easy and enjoyed our time.  Looking back, we probably should have done a quiet, relaxing vacation, not a ‘here’s a great city that you need to soak up’ kind of trip, but I’m happy we got the chance to do this.  I could bore you with the details of the sites and attractions we saw, but I thought I’d share some of the cooler moments that you won’t find in a guidebook:

Lushness: I don’t expect a city to be lush and green.  I knew London had tons of parks, but I wasn’t prepared for all the businesses having flower boxes and hanging plants.  Some places looked like mini tropical rainforests with greenery cascading everywhere.  Especially the pubs.  They were always colorful and lush.  It’s like little beacons of joy in a city of gray.  This lushness added so much charm and warmth to what could be a cold, gray, uninviting city.

Fiction Meets Reality:  I walked down Drury Lane (as in, “Do you know the muffin man who lives on Drury Lane?”).  I hopped on a train at Paddington Station, home of Paddington Bear.  I rode past Hampstead Heath, where countless girls in my favorite chick-lit novels go on their lunch breaks and/or romantic dates. I also shopped for groceries at Marks and Spencers’, where all those girls seem to get all their nutrition.  I strolled by St. James’ where Sir Lucas (of Pride and Prejudice fame) was presented. I kissed my husband same altar where just a year ago, William and Kate got married (I know that’s not fiction, but kind of surreal, you know?).  It’s like all these things I read about came to life right in front of me.

Street Life: I saw a guy playing a flaming tuba.  I saw a group of musicians playing the lambada on the tube (underground/subway…whatever you want to call it). I saw a guy in short shorts and a tank top walking around one of the ritziest areas in the world in the middle of the work day (was he perhaps going to a WHAM! party in the middle of the day?)  This kind of stuff simply doesn’t exist in my world.  I live in the suburbs of North Carolina.  I get in my car, drive where I’m going, have a good time, get back in my car and go home.   Occasionally, a kid might draw a penis with sidewalk chalk in my neighborhood, but that’s about as crazy as it gets here in the burbs.  It’s nice to see such life and activity buzzing around you all the time.

The Hubs: Hands down the best part of the trip. It’s so nice to spend time with my hubby and not have to worry about bedtimes, diapers, keeping a toddler entertained, etc.  Maybe I’m just selfish.  But I think it’s so important for us to have time to ourselves.  Date nights are great, but it seems that having everything ready for a sitter, making sure the pj’s are laid out, dinner is made and all that jazz is barely worth the hassle for a couple of hours in the burbs.  It was nice to have conversations, and be out after dark, explore a new place and just be together. We even had a picnic at the gardens around Buckingham Palace.  My favorite ‘us’ moment was when we checked into our second hotel.  They had white wine and truffles waiting for us in the room – nice!  Of course, I couldn’t have the wine, but happily dove into one of the truffles…only to find it was about 50% rum.  So, he took it upon himself to test them, and if one didn’t have liquor, he let me have it.  He enjoyed the spoils, but it was sweet of him to share with me.

What are some of your favorite vacation moments?