Monday, October 26, 2015

DIY Costume Extravaganza!

Our town was lucky enough to host a Back to the Future event for the 30th anniversary of the movie. I was so excited
I decided to look through Ethan's closet and come up with a quick Marty McFly costume.  I was able to use his
Ryder (Paw Patrol) vest and was really excited with the quick easy costume.

All children eagerly await Halloween.  You get to play dress up, it's a night full of magic and mystery, and the candy, oh the candy! As the years went by I never outgrew my love of Halloween, and although the candy is nice, for me it was always about the costumes.  Poor Jeff has put up with my crazy costume obsession. If I hear costume or theme party, you bet I'll be the first one there in full attire.  Growing up my mom always made our costumes, and not only did she make them, but they were always the most extravagant, well made, pieces of art you've ever seen.  Needless to say, this set the bar pretty high for me as an adult.  I'm not as good of a seamstress as my mom, so I have to work hard at making nice costumes that don't need a ton of sewing.  Since I was incredibly overwhelmed with work and a toddler last year I didn't write a post about the costumes that I made so this year's post will include last year and this year's costumes.  I am really terrible at tutorials, I always forget to take pictures, and I don't have the patience to do step by step instructions, so please forgive me for not including Pinterest quality tutorials.

2014 Costumes

Can of Pork and Beans

Last year Ethan was a can of pork and beans.  We received many strange looks and one person even said, "Their baby is dressed as a can of beer!" Jeff and I got a big kick out of it though and it turned out to be one of my all time favorite costumes. 

1. red felt
2. white felt
3. grey fabric
4. white t-shirt
5. thin wire

1. I never use patterns, everything I create is made as I go, so bear with me.  I measured the red felt around Ethan's body and cut to the desired length. The width was perfect for the length I wanted so I didn't have to cut that. I then eyeballed where the arm holes would go and cut those out (like I said I totally make things up as I go).
2. I cut a circle that was the size that I wanted for the top of the felt out of the white felt and the grey fabric.  With my sewing machine I sewed the white felt to the grey fabric.  I sewed 3 rows to create the ridges of the top of the can.
3. Jeff had the VanCamp's can screen printed onto a white shirt, I cut the square off of the shirt and hand sewed it onto the red felt.
4. I sewed the top of the can to the red felt with my sewing machine.
5. At the bottom of the red felt I hand sewed a seam where I inserted a wire so that the can would keep it's shape.
6. On the back I sewed 3 snaps so that the costume was easy to get in and out of.

Cartoon Greg from Diary of a Wimpy Kid

For school I wanted to dress up as a literary character, since I'm a Language Arts teacher.  All of my students are obsessed with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and I couldn't wait to re-create this character.  My students went crazy over it, and it was one of the only times that I've felt really cool in their eyes.

1. white t-shirt
2. black shorts
3. black backpack
4. 2 pairs of white stockings
5. white tennis shoes
6. baseball hat
7. white foam poster board
8. thick permanent marker

1. I put on the white stockings and had Jeff draw a line for the socks with a permanent marker.
2. I'm a terrible artist so Jeff printed out a huge image of Greg's head and traced it onto the white foam poster board (bought at Wal-Mart).  He then went over the pencil with a thick permanent marker.  Finally he cut it out with an x-acto knife.
3. He then cut most of the bill off of the baseball hat and glued Greg's head onto what was left of the bill with gorilla clue.  He reinforced it with cardboard.
4. I wore the baseball hat with the bill on the side of my head, so it was really easy to see and I could give that side profile pose.
5.  I cut the second pair of stockings where the legs met and wore them as gloves.  I cut a slit in the toes so that my fingers would poke through and a hole off to the side for my thumb.

Dexter and his Victim

We had a Halloween party to go to last year and I really wanted to wear my Greg costume, but since nobody there had teenage kids I didn't think they'd know what I was, and I always love doing a couples costume with Jeff.  Jeff was really into Dexter at the time so this became a really easy cool costume to put together.  These costumes were a huge hit, and I actually had a few people ask me if I was wearing anything under the celophane, hehe.


1. celophane (plastic wrap)
2. plastic knife
3. gel blood
4. skin colored camis and skin colored shorts

1. green long sleeve shirt
2. black plastic apron
3 surgical gloves
4. grey cargo pants
5. boots


1. I put on the camis and shorts. Then Jeff wrapped me in the celophane, but I made sure that below my hips it was loosely wrapped so that I could sit down.
2. Jeff took the blade off of the plastic knife and glued the handle onto a round piece of thin cardboard.  After he had wrapped me a few times he put the knife in place and started wrapping again.  I am aware that Dexter stabs his victims in the heart and I'm a stickler for accurate costumes, but we didn't wrap the celopane up that high so I had to make do.  After a few more warps we squirted the blood gel around the knife and began to once again wrap.  Once we felt I was covered enough to hide the clothes we stopped.
3. I tucked the spaghetti straps into the celophane.
4. I covered my face with concealer to give me that pale dead look, and put a line of gel blood on my cheek.

1. Jeff bought the pants, apron, and shirt off of Amazon.
2. We already had the surgical gloves in our emergency kit and he already owned the boots.

2015 Costumes

At Ethan's school they are having a superhero and princess themed party but not wanting to buy Ethan another costume I decided to make do with what I had in his closet.  They are also having 2 parties because a lot of the children that go on Thursday's don't go on Friday's, of course Ethan goes both days and I will not have him wear the same costume twice because I'm crazy like that.

Clark Kent turning into Superman

The first costume is Clark Kent turning into Superman.  He had all of the materials in his wardrobe already and it was just a matter of putting it all together.

1. Superman shirt
2. White button-down shirt
3. grey pants
4. glasses
5. black dress shoes
6. red cape (this is also not accurate but Ethan loves wearing capes and I wanted to make it fun for him)

Super E

The second costume is Super E.  My friend Katie has an awesome Etsy shop named Chilly Knits and she sells these custom made superhero shirts.  So I thought to myself if Ethan was a superhero what would he wear? I dressed him in all of his favorite things and made it look funky on purpose.  It's silly, and super fun.

1. Super E shirt from Chilly Knits
2. Plaid shorts
3. Cowboy boots
4. Dodgers hat

Ryder from Paw Patrol
The construction of this vest was DIY but it was not easy.  Sewing all of the different colors
onto very thick material was difficult and time consuming.

Ethan's favorite show is Paw Patrol so this year he was Ryder from the show.  Since I have a newborn and a toddler my mom was really sweet and made the vest for Ethan.  

1. vest
2. white, turquoise, yellow, grey, and red material
3. Red, and white felt
4. turquoise marker
5. blue pants
6. grey shoes
7. white long sleeved shirt
8. Marshall plush toy (optional)

1. My mom purchased a vest at the thrift store.  She then sewed the red, white, yellow, and blue fabric over the vest so that it looked just like Ryder's.  Some areas were hand sewn others were done by machine.
2. I created Ryder's patch using grey material, red and white felt.  I used the turquoise marker to trace the white felt paw.
3. Finally we used hair product and hairspray to spike Ethan's hair up.

Snow White

I have a rule that I never make my kid's costumes when they're babies.  It's really hard to make something for someone that little, and since she has to be carried and have her diaper changed, it's easiest to go with something simple.  Ever since Alice was born people have said that she looks like Snow White, so I couldn't resist when I saw this onesie at Babies "R" Us.  I did make her headband out of red elastic and the bow is made from felt. 

This is what we wore to my friend's costume party, since I was nursing this year I went super easy and created a cowgirl costume with clothes out of my closet.  Ethan's wearing the lederhosen outfit that my mom bought him in Switzerland 2 years ago.  Jeff's grandpa is from Germany so I love dressing him in them whenever I can, and we always share information about that part of his culture when he's wearing them.  I hope everyone's Halloween is full of fun, excitement, and awesome costumes!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Affirmations like this made me feel powerful during labor.

*I was not compensated for this post.  This is a product that I love, have purchased, and wanted to share with my readers.

In my Homebirth Story post I mentioned that when I was looking for a way to manage my pain, during labor, I stumbled upon The Calm Birth School Hypnobirthing classes.  I had always been interested in hypnobirthing but since there weren't any hypnobirthing classes in my area that I knew of, I didn't look into that method when I was pregnant with Ethan.  When I was pregnant with Alice, since I already had a toddler at home, going to a class once a week was out of the question, so online classes were the perfect solution.  The Calm Birth School is based out of the UK and is ran by Holly and Suzy.  I'm not going to go into detail about their background because you can read it all on their site, but after researching them online and reading nothing but rave reviews from moms, I decided to give it a try.  I started with the free 3 class subscription.  After watching those 3 classes I was hooked and decided to buy the whole series.

What exactly is hypnobirthing though? It's all about being in a calm and positive mindset, ready to accept the changes your body will endure during birth.  If you change the way you view birth before going into labor, and if during labor you employ meditative methods for controlling pain, you can have a calm pain controlled labor (notice I didn't say pain free).  You may be asking yourself, did it work for Luanita? I'm going to start from the beginning, because like I said their philosophy is that in order for this method to be successful you need to start using the techniques long before labor starts.

When I used to think of hypnosis the first thing that would pop into my mind is this scene from Office Space where Peter asks if the therapist can make him think he's been fishing all day after he's gotten home from a job he hates.  Even though I knew this wasn't what hypnosis was, I would always chuckle and think after taking the hypnobirthing class maybe I'll think I'm on a beach in Hawaii, instead of in the middle of giving birth.

The Preparation
What I loved about their series is that the classes are short.  They were about 15 minutes, and some were even shorter than that.  On nights that I wasn't completely exhausted, Jeff and I would sit down and watch one or even two videos.  The series also gives you relaxation and affirmation MP3's, and a PDF of all of the information that they cover in the videos.

The videos and MP3's are taught by Suzy and Holly, and I love their approach.  They're calm, understanding, and very open to every kind of situation.  A huge plus is that they have the most lovely British accents (obviously since they're from England). The reason why I loved this so much is because listening to their voices on the MP3's was extremely soothing.  I would put the relaxation MP3's on at night before going to bed and within 3 minutes Jeff would be snoring (he found them incredibly soothing).  Suzy and Holly really recommend that you listen to the MP3's everyday leading up to the birth.  It helps you to relax and begin to meditate on the experience that you may be fearing.  It also trains your mind to be relaxed while listening to these meditation exercises, so that when you play them during your birth it will be soothing even if you are in pain.

My Labor
During the classes they recommend you don't call your contractions contractions, since there are so many negative emotions connected to that word.  They suggest surge or wave so I'll be using the term surge. I found it to be a word that conveyed power instead of pain.  In between surges I used the Calm Birth School (CBS) Breathing to calm down and relax.  During a surge I would use the Wave Breathing.  Both of these helped me immensely.  After taking the class, Suzy and Holly had made me feel that my instincts were to be trusted, and if I listened to myself during labor everything would be fine.  I do feel like this was easier to do because it was my second labor.  I already knew what to expect but I kept praying that this time around I wouldn't have back labor because even with the hypnobirthing I didn't know if I could have a home birth with that amount of pain.

As soon as my surges began to get really intense I told Jeff to put on the affirmations MP3. In this MP3, either Holly or Suzy give you empowering messages about your birth and your body.  I lay in bed and listened to it over and over again, I must have listened to it at least 20 times in a row.  It made me feel strong and confident, it also really relaxed me.  As the audio played I would find myself nodding my head to the affirmations that really resonated, as if I was agreeing with them, and every time I did that I felt better.

I slowly started to notice that the back labor was back.  I was terrified, how on earth was I going to get through this when I wasn't able to do it the first time? I started to think of Suzy and Holly and how empowered I had felt after the classes, so I decided to listen to my body and trust my instincts.  My instincts told me to go to the bathroom, hold onto the sink and sway, so I did.  I felt like I wanted heat on my back so I told Jeff to get the heating pad and hold it on my back, it felt wonderful.  I then wanted to stand in the shower with my back getting hit by water and sway, so I did. I wanted to go to the living room hold onto the edge of the couch and sway, so I did.  Through all of this I continued my 2 breathing techniques and I replayed the affirmations in my mind (still nodding my head whenever I agreed).  The pain was intense, but with my hypnobirthing techniques I was able to make it through each surge much better than I had during Ethan's birth.

Right before the RN checked me I would have guessed that I was 4 or 5 centimeters dilated with the amount of pain I was in. I also felt that if this baby came in 6-8 hours I could handle the pain for that much longer.  You wouldn't believe my surprise when the RN said I was 8-9 cm (I had my baby an hour later).  I wanted to say, "Shut up!", but I thought everyone would laugh at me so I held that back.  Not only had I gone through transition without even noticing, I was in the most intense part of my surges and had been managing my pain really well.

After being checked I went into my shower and swayed with the water hitting my back again.  Slowly I began to crouch down until I was on all 4's (my instincts had taken over).  As a surge would come on I would breathe in and with my exhalation I would make a deep loud guttural sound; it was very primal (this is another breathing technique that they teach).  At this point I had a huge urge to push but my midwife wasn't there yet so I couldn't.  Using this form of breathing helped me control the pain and the urge the push until my midwife arrived.

After all was said and done I had my beautiful baby girl at home and although it had been very painful it was manageable and very calm.  After this experience my mind is filled with questions. If I had taken this class with my first pregnancy would things have ended up differently? Was my labor faster this time because it was my second or because I was more relaxed? No one will ever know the answers to those questions, but one thing I do know is that I felt the same pain with both labors and the way in which I handled it the second time as compared to the first was astronomically better. Since I am a huge SciFi fan get ready for a very geeky reference.  I keep thinking of that scene in the Matrix when Neo is told that if he dies in the Matrix he dies in real life because his mind makes it real.  The power that our mind has over our bodies is beyond comprehension and I truly feel that the methods that hypnobirthing employs lead to a calm mind which in turn opens your body up to the experience of labor.

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