Monday, October 20, 2014

Here I go

So as I wrote last time, I went to the ER a little over a week ago for severe back and leg pain. I made an appointment with a regular doctor and went last Tuesday. I got a shot of toradol, which is an anti-inflammatory, and it helped a bit. She had me get an X-ray, told me she would get me a referral to a neurosurgeon, and had her nurse schedule me for an MRI. The first opening was October 22, which sucked because I didn't want to be in pain that long. But before we even got out to the car, her office called and asked if I could come in for an MRI in forty-five minutes. That's a good sign, right?

We went and got lunch, then B took Baby Girl home and left me there. I looked like a weirdo pacing around the waiting room for an hour--it's very painful for me to sit down--then finally got my MRI. The MRI tried to steal my earrings; the tech said they would be fine, but when I laid down they started getting pulled out of my ears. She said "what kind of earrings are these?" Super cheap, that's what kind. And possibly magnetic. Anyway, the next day I got a call saying that I had a "significantly herniated disc." It's the very last disc, the one between my last vertebrae and my coccyx. I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon Wednesday. That was another situation where the first opening wasn't until sometime in November, but my doctor found someone to get me in sooner.

I've basically been bedridden for the last week, but I do feel that it's getting a little better. I still can't stand up long enough to make my own food, and it's really hard to sit even long enough to go to the bathroom, but I can sit up in bed for short periods of time. Which means I can sew costumes! It's going to be interesting; I'm not sure I can work the pedal with my right foot (my bad leg) and I've never tried with my left foot. I've got all of the green part of Mr. Man's costume cut out, most of Baby Girl's costume cut out, and most of Yaya's costume cut out. Now I just need to get all the pieces assembled.

I'm going to try and get Yaya's and Baby Girl's costumes started today, and I will cut out the rest of the pieces of Mr. Man's costume tonight. I do need to pace myself; I've learned that just because it doesn't hurt when I'm sitting up, it doesn't mean that sitting up won't cause me pain later. Plus if my back is healing on its own, I don't want to jeopardize that. I don't really want to get surgery on my back if I can avoid it.

Alright, wish me luck. I'm going to try and set up a sewing machine on my bed. Sounds like a good idea, right?

Monday, October 13, 2014

I've been delayed

I had hoped to accomplish a lot of stuff this weekend: clean out Yaya's room, clean up the backyard, and work on Halloween costumes so I could have a tutorial to post about the Yoshi head today. However, instead I got to take a trip to the ER on Saturday morning and have spent the rest of the weekend in bed.

For about a year (yes, I know, I'm a horrible procrastinator and should take care of my health problems sooner) I've had varying degrees of leg pain. At first it was just a little bit in my butt, then it was like fire down my butt and thighs. Then it slowly moved down the leg until it was in my calves. All accompanied by lower back pain. WebMD told me it was sciatica several times, and a lot of other websites said "sciatica will probably go away if you give it enough time." And it sucked, but it wasn't debilitating. Until Saturday. I would rather give birth again than have another attack, and I am still having attacks. I can't stand up without triggering another attack. It's like the worst muscle cramps I've ever felt times a hundred, like someone is reaching into my muscles and squeezing and twisting. My whole leg went numb. When I started crying at the breakfast table because the pain was so bad, B insisted we go to the doctor. Getting there was agony because sitting was agony.

The ER doctor didn't want to do an MRI without me going to a regular doctor first, so I have to call Monday. And I will. Until then I have a muscle relaxer, an anti-inflammatory, and Vicodin for the pain. (I joked to B that I've been diagnosed with Vicodin for leg pain, now I just need to become an acerbic but brilliant diagnostician.) I am actually taking the Vicodin, which, if you knew me, would tell you how much it hurts. I didn't need anything stronger than Tylenol after I had a C-section and I don't like taking prescription pain pills. I took the muscle relaxer three hours ago but I can feel my calf trying to cramp. I have it on a heating pad, and that helps a little.

Anyway, I'm going to try my best to get back to work on the costumes. I have less than three weeks, so I need to get going even if it hurts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hacking a commercial pattern to make a Yoshi costume, part one

That's a mouthful.

This year, Mr. Man wanted to be Yoshi for Halloween. I kind of hoped he'd change his mind to something I could just buy at the Halloween store, or at least something I could buy a pattern for, but he stayed steady. No problem, though; I've used commercial patterns to create costumes before, and I've also just freehanded from what I had around. This is a little daunting, but once I get into it I think things will come together. In case I'm not the only one out there whose kid wants to be Yoshi, I thought I'd do a series of posts about how I turn a commercial pattern into something it's not.

I did consider commercial Yoshi costumes, but the reviews I saw for the kid version were kind of unclear about the fit, with most saying it ran small but some saying it fit just fine. The largest I could find was a children's large, which apparently fit like a children's small or medium, and Mr. Man is a size 8-10, so I didn't think small would fit the bill. I also didn't want to buy it and have to deal with the hassle of sending it back if it didn't work. Plus it just looked chintzy. I also looked on Etsy, and probably would have paid up to $50, but I'm too much of a tightwad to pay $90+ for a Halloween costume, even if he will wear it as pajamas. The costumes I saw were worth the $90+, but I have more time than money.

This is the pattern I'm using, view A.

This is my Yoshi reference picture.

I also have a Yoshi Happy Meal toy around here somewhere, but my kids keep stealing it.

I cut out pieces 1-4, 6-9, 12-14, 16, and 17. The pattern comes with three different sizes of spike patterns, which I believe are pieces 8, 9, and 10. I cut out 8 and 9 and was kicking myself for not cutting out 10, but then I found an awesome Yoshi plush pattern with hair, so I will be using that. More about that pattern next post.

I'm using fleece and felt for the fabric on this, but since I'm doing a few things that aren't in the instructions, I'm using some cheap to practice on. I like to check Wal-Mart's fabric section to see what I can get for a dollar or two a yard, but it can be hard to find just regular cotton there. It's also helpful to be a fabric hoarder or be related to a fabric hoarder. In my case, I am both.

Mr. Man's size requires 2 1/2 yards of fleece. Yoshi has a white belly and spots on the egg that I'd like to make as a bag, so I got a yard of white fleece for that. I also bought half a yard of red felt. I would have bought fleece, but they didn't have any in the right color red. Felt comes on a 60" bolt like fleece, so I was comfortable getting a smaller amount. I failed to notice that Yoshi's shoes are orange, so I may have to go back and get 3/8 yard of that, but I'm going to see if I have some felt I can use here. If you have a Hobby Lobby, look there for your fleece. It was $2 a yard cheaper than the regular fabric store, then it was on one of their always-on sales for 30% off. It ended up costing me around $5.60 a yard.

I don't foresee needing it for this project, but if you're doing significant alterations to a commercial pattern, it's a good idea to trace and cut a new piece. For this I use banner paper from Hobby Lobby. I bought a huge roll years ago and still have a lot of it, so it lasts for a while. Oh, and make sure you have scissors just for cutting paper. I will be using a printed pattern later on, so I need to have paper scissors so I don't ruin my good scissors.

The upcoming part two post will be about making the head. I figured I might as well eat the frog and do the hardest part, and I hope that the rest of the costume goes smoothly and quickly after that. It's one of those things that takes forever because I drag my feet, but I have two other costumes to make. I need to get moving. I'm about 80% of the way through the head muslin right now, so fingers crossed I can finish that up tomorrow and have a post up before the weekend. B has the rest of the week off so I will have some sewing time where I don't have to stop working when Baby Girl wants me to read a book or hold a toy while she plays with it. In theory, anyway.

Monday, October 6, 2014

I've been featured!

My DIY fire pit is in a roundup of DIY fire pits on BobVila.com! You can see them all here. As an update, the fire pit is still going strong. B just used it the other day, although he hasn't had much opportunity lately since we've been in the rainy season for two months. The only thing I'd do differently is maybe put some capstones on top of the open cinderblock holes, which I can do as soon as I remember that while I'm at Home Depot. Anyway, check it out!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The last decluttering

Hahaha, who am I kidding? Kids are a constant ongoing source of clutter; there will be more. But maybe at this point I can stay ahead of it.

Last Friday I went downstairs to cut out Mr. Man's Halloween costume. My sewing room and the toy room have been haphazardly smushed together, and I haven't paid any attention to it over the summer, so it looked like this.

Obviously not the easiest situation to work in. Lately I've promised myself that I would be more merciless when I get rid of things; I'm very sentimental, plus I like to keep things that might be useful someday. Not trash or anything like that, but furniture, toys that will someday be age-appropriate, fabric, etc. I'm still working on the fabric and furniture, but I'm making progress on the toys. I didn't want this to turn into yet another rearranging and organizing of all the stuff we had, and I made sure to keep that in mind as I worked.

It was hard to get rid of toys that were gifts and toys that Baby Girl would grow into in the next few years. Some of the things I got rid of were both; those were hardest. Some were both and I couldn't get rid of them, like this awesome train set that my mom got the boys a few years ago. We've never had the room to use it properly, but we are planning on selling the house soon, so maybe our next house will have a place where it can be set up. We also had at least three doctor's kits (why?), and I hesitated before putting those in the donate bag--pretend play toys are so good for them!--but the boys are too old for them and she could care less. Actually none of them really played with stuff like that, so it could have gone a while ago. On the other hand, it was very easy to get rid of all the old boy toys. I'm all for going against gender roles and all that, but she could have cared less about the cars that didn't make noise, the dinosaurs, or the sports toys and that kind of thing. If I'm honest with myself, she probably won't care about that train set even if it can be set up all the time, but I'm going to wait and see.

It took a day and a half, but eventually we got to this point.

You can see that Baby Girl is already unpacking the drawers. Every time I got out of the chair, it was immediately filled with play food. I didn't really get much rearranged in the sewing area--I need to get those cigar boxes with thread moved somewhere else; I hate having to unstack them all and dig--but now I have a few choices of where to put them. The dresser on the opposite side of the room has a few empty drawers, and I could empty out another if I could learn to let go of fabric. The stuff on top of the dresser is all her Barbies and the various stuffed animals that are staying down there. I haven't decided where to put those yet. The toy box is completely empty, just needs to be vacuumed out (the attachment that hooks the hose up to the regular vacuum has disappeared, so I have to drag the shop vac down). Maybe when that's done I can put them in there.

There's still a lot going on, but it's definitely better. We took a vanload of stuff to Goodwill, which included two trash bags and a few smaller Walmart sacks. Plus I took out one bag of trash, two forty gallon Rubbermaid totes, and a shelving unit. There are two of those colorful drawer stacks in the picture, but only one has anything in it. I'm leery of getting rid of storage furniture (or any furniture, really), so the other stack is in a dead spot in the corner for now. I'm sure I can use it for my sewing stuff; there's plenty that needs to be moved over still.

Oh, and I still haven't cut out Mr. Man's Halloween costume. Tomorrow, I swear.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I have questions

I think they are mostly variations of why. If you remember, from way back before summer, I've been working on my bathroom floor for approximately a thousand years. I'm on the downhill slide now, but there were many entire days that were spent scratching my head.

This is only one section, but it's the worst one. The rest of them just had random sistered joists for no apparent reason.

I added the blocking on the right side (and the tile that I should have left until the end, but I was trying to be efficient and it's only a little in the way), but the OSB is all thanks to the previous owner. They sistered 2x4s to the joists on either side, then added a piece of OSB on top. Not just any OSB, though, a piece that they had cut into--I think for the toilet--then decided not to use, probably because they screwed up the cut. So my first question is, is this a legit way of adding support? I just did the standard 2x4s (or, in the case of a joist with a heating pipe in the way, 1x4s) under the cut edges and toenailed in place. I told my dad about this and he just said "yuuuuup." No one will ever describe him as loquacious.

My next question is, why? Why not just toenail in the 2x4s you screwed to the joists? It's OK to throw away construction materials when you screw them up, I promise. I've done it myself. I cut a 2x4 too long, then too short when I tried to fix it. You know where it is? The trash. I could hoard it and hope I need a footlong piece of 2x4 sometime, but I think I'll risk tossing it.

And finally, why did I leave it? Because I did. I'm sorry. I wanted to take it out. But there were screws everywhere, even hidden--sparks!--and it seemed pretty stable. It held my weight so I don't think it's going anywhere.

Oh, bonus question. Why did the previous owner leave a huge gap around the toilet pipe? Why not cut the subfloor in half and go in from either side. Inquiring minds want to know.

This subfloor has been a huge pain in the ass, just like the tile floor before it. I'm not even a little bit surprised. I hope there are no more surprises; I'd like to finish this up now. I've been in there with a handsaw and a chisel getting into the corners where the circular saw won't fit. The rotozip doesn't like this floor, so it's not super useful. I have one more corner to clean up before I can put the last 1/2" patch in, then we move on to the 3/4" sheets, then the primer, then the tile, then the grout, then the grout sealer. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Slacker birthday party

I love planning parties. However, actually throwing parties has become really stressful for me these past few years, which sucks because like I said, I love planning them. This is my long-winded way of saying that for the boys' party this year, we decided to go super low-key, aka cake and ice cream and no worries about anything else.

We had the party at my parents' house, because I hate our house during parties. All the rooms are separate and it just feels like people end up in small groups and no one can see or speak to anyone that's not standing right next to them.

The boys found a witch hat at home somewhere and brought it up there, and let me tell you, they certainly did not spend half an hour chasing each other around trying to steal it from the other one.

I was going to put a picture of Yaya up, but then I remembered he hates that so I'll put this instead. I have a lot of these; B was trying to get a decent picture of him and mostly failed.

We saw kitties in the barn.

These horses want to know if the camera is food. It is not, horses. Go eat the hay half a dozen kids are shoving at you.

This overexposed turkey followed us around gobbling to be petted. My mom has two pet turkeys and a pet duck (also pictured; he didn't like anyone and would bitch at you, but then run away). She also has chickens but I'm not sure if she considers them pets. They're not for eating, they're for eggs, so she probably does.

It was a really fun party. I made Mr. Man chocolate cupcakes and Yaya a vanilla creeper cake, which I forgot to take a picture of but is like this one. Except I just smoothed the frosting on top; I'm too lazy to pipe right now. We also had S'mores made in the oven, fruit salad, chips, pretzels, and juice boxes. No decorations, but no one cared. I meant to dig out my balloons, but my basement is back to being a mess and I didn't think I could find them in a reasonable amount of time.

Yaya has informed me that we have to have a big party for Baby Girl's third birthday, doubly so because she did not get a second birthday party (Mr. Man was sick). I guess I better start preparing myself.