Friday, July 23, 2010


This post is brought to you by Odious and Peculiar. Mr. P posted a badge which declared he wrote like H. P. Lovecraft - which completely suits him and is a great honor.

I gave it a go hoping the widget would not reveal that I write like a 2 year old or, worse, Ayn Rand. Secretly, I wished for greatness (and my favorites): Jane Austen, George Elliot, Dodie Smith...perhaps even modern like J. K. Rowling, Jennifer Weiner, Helen Fielding, or Meg Cabot.

The first paragraph I submitted yielded James Joyce. I thought "that can't be right" - there is no way I am that interesting. The next result was David Foster Wallace.

The third paragraph produced:

I write like
William Shakespeare

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Hahahahaha - yeh right.

I put in another - and WTF??? David Foster Wallace??? Then Cory Doctorow??? Is it because my paragraph contained the word "condom"?

I naturally tried another...and got Raymond Chandler. And then I did it again just for luck.

Stupid effing David Foster Wallace. So I am sticking with Shakespeare.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Maternity Clothes

I have wanted to write this post for a very long time now - from the very moment my "big pants" (the pants you wear during a certain time of the month) no longer fit.

Maternity clothes suck. There is just no way around it. Well, actually, there are and I have some tips.

First of all, maternity clothes are designed for women that are 5'5'' and taller. In some cases, women who are 6'0'' and taller. So, if you are a hobbit, like me, it will require you to do some hemming.

Also, at the beginning of pregnancy, you need just a little stretch to your pants and the horrid over-the-belly-band seems somewhat outrageous (and sometimes does not fit). However, your belly will grow and the tiny bit of elastic that once was comfy will now cut off all circulation.

So Tip #1 - Get the horrid over-the-belly-band type pants, skirts, or shorts. It will make the piece more versatile.

If you cannot stand the types of pants out there OR (like me) need pants to be a certain size due to height, you can take off the top band and sew in a belly band or similar fabric. My mom did this for a pair of shorts I bought a size larger than my normal size and they are super comfy. We got the idea from this blog post.

Now, I have the good fortune of having a baby in the fall, which means I had to purchase clothes for spring, summer, AND fall. Plus, I was still working so I had to wear a somewhat professional wardrobe. This was easy enough as what I mostly wore to work was pants, shirt, and cardigan or occasionally a dress. Of course, I had to prepare for a trip to Houston in the summer when the temperatures are WAY too hot for anyone, which meant purchasing more summer clothes.

While it may be fashionable to wear shorts and a cute top, unless you are in an air-conditioned environment, I would not recommended it. The shorts usually have a belly band which covers one of the warmest parts of your body and acts as insulation rather than a cooling device. The cute top, no matter how comfortable and breezy, will not provide relief.

Tip #2 - If you are pregnant in the summertime, BUY A LOT OF DRESSES! They are cool, comfy, and just one piece, so no need to fuss with other articles of clothing. If it gets a bit cool, it is easy to toss on a cardigan.

I did a bit of thinking and research before purchasing maternity clothes. My friend Emily said I could borrow some of her stuff (she's about the same height and build as I am) and I figured I would just purchase a few things from the consignment store.

Hahahaha - yeh right. I just made ANOTHER maternity wardrobe purchase yesterday! While The Lucky Shopping Manual is my guide for any purchase, maternity clothes present a whole new wardrobe problem. The Baby Bargains book does offer advice, but I find their list a little lacking. As you know I am always one for alternating fashion lists, so I examined both Lucky and Bargains for ideas.

Lucky Manual breaks down a wardrobe into:

Under Garments

Baby Bargains breaks down a maternity wardrobe into:

Career Wear - pants (2), sweater (2), shirts (2), skirts (2), and dresses (2)
Casual Clothes - t-shirts (5) and shorts/pants (5)
Under Garments - maternity bras (2) and underwear if you don't wear bikini style (8)
Their tip: RENT formal wear and shop in the plus size section to save money

Hmmm...well, I tried shopping in plus size section and everything was WAY to wide in the shoulder, so that bit of advice didn't really work. Also, I found the Lucky Manual had way TOO many clothes for such a short period of one's life (9 months to a year, depending on how quick your body bounces back. We can't all be Heidi Klum).

Tip #3 - Here is my maternity wardrobe list (I do try to remember that one will have to wear these clothes for awhile AFTER the baby is born):

T-shirts: 7 - You need at least 2 white shirts; I wouldn't bother with black - not easy to clean after a baby throws up on it. You can at least bleach a white shirt.
Tank Tops: 5 - Especially if you are pregnant in the summer; these are also great under a cardigan. I was able to wear my regular tank tops in the first trimester, but by the second trimester it was no longer an option!
Tops: 3 - These are nice shirts that are not cotton jersey material. I had one that fit well the first trimester and then my breast grew way too large!
Cardigan: 2 - I bought two cotton cardigans a size larger than my normal size and it was really helpful when I wanted to button them up because they could accommodate my growth upstairs (during first trimester that was all that had really changed). I have just used my regular cardigans and they fit just fine!
Skirts: 2 - You need a jean skirt and another skirt. I am a big fan of the jean skirt because it can be dressed up or dressed down. Just like with pants, be sure to buy one with the over-the-belly-band - I initially bought one with just the elastic in the back and it hurt like a mofo by second trimester.
Dresses (dressy): 2 - I like to dress a little for church, so this was important to me. But, I also was able to use many of my old dresses second trimester because they had an empire waist (some required rubber-bands and safety pins, but I made it work!).
Dresses (casual): 5 - I was fortunate to have a few cotton dresses that had a high waist or elastic and I have been using those in addition to a few I purchased. I probably have seven dresses rotate through!
Pants: 3 - I bought a pair of khakis and a pair of capris; then I purchased some grey pin-stripe pants. So far this has worked out alright, but I like wearing pants to work, so if I had not borrowed some, I probably would have bought more!
Jeans: 1 - I was lucky enough to have a little Christmas money left over to purchase a pair from Old Navy. I bought the "short" cut and I still have to roll them up :| Oh well!
Comfy Clothes: 2 sets - I was astonished to find that it was necessary to have maternity lounge wear! But, honestly, there are days where you just feel like running around in your underwear (especially when it is 95 and there is no air-conditioning). I found a REALLY comfy pair of cotton jersey pants at H & M. I also owned two pairs of yoga/cheer shorts before I got pregnant. Those three items are pretty much what I wear all the time when I am at home. I also snagged my hubby's large yellow Elvis shirt (a present from my grandmother :|) and that is my go-to top.
Swimsuit: 1 - I was able to get away with my old suit for the first trimester, but I invested in a top (I had a large bikini bottom around for some reason...I think I got it in Vegas or something).

I have spent about $600 total. Now, I wish I had known what I was doing because I could have spent about $200 less than I did! So my final tip is a bunch of little tips rolled into one.

Tip #4 - If you are short (and I had to do it all over again), I would...
- Borrow as many clothes as you can from someone who is about the same size you are! This really helped in the second trimester and then I was able to return some when that friend got pregnant too!
- Don't invest in a belly band - they roll up and don't really do anything. I got lucky and was able to use it to make a pair of maternity shorts. Otherwise, I would not recommend this product.
- Wait on buying a maternity bra until it is ABSOLUTELY impossible to fit into your old bras (and that includes using bra extenders). And even then, consider purchasing a nursing bra because otherwise you will be investing in a similar product soon!
- Buy about two sizes up from your normal size! This is only if you are short - if you are taller, the plus sizes might work for you. However, when you are short, you tend to be more compact. For example, I am normally a size four or six (depending on the brand) so I bought items that were a size 8 or 10. I have a few things that are a size 12 and are a bit too big, but I did that because I don't know how much bigger I will get! Still, buying a few sizes up has helped and I was able to modify a dress so that it fit me correctly (I just shortened the shoulder straps). I can wear a medium or large and be as comfortable as when I was wearing an extra small or small size before I was pregnant. Also, look for pleating under the empire waist - that will be your best friend as your belly gets bigger (and it is how most maternity clothes are designed).

Whew! My final words of wisdom are WHERE TO SHOP! In order of greatness:

1. Consignment shops - I found LOTS of cute clothes for VERY reasonable prices. A few items looked like they had seen better days, but for the most part, all of the clothes were really nice. I paid $3 for a pair of shorts and $20 for a very nice dress.

2. Target - This is my go-to store for EVERYTHING. I purchased a majority of my maternity clothes here for a reasonable price - $25 for a comfy dress, $7 for a tank top. I also love the clearance section - I found a size 8 empire-waist dress (with pleating) for $5 which I was able to make a maternity dress.

3. Ross - One disturbing thing about the Ross maternity section is it seems geared towards teenagers. The sizes therefore run a bit small. I bought a t-shirt there that fit great first and second trimester, but is now TOO SMALL in the third trimester. Also, it is difficult to find over-the-belly-band pants there.

4. H & M - One of my favorite moments in Bridget Jones' Diary (I believe it is in the Edge of Reason) is when she goes to H&M to look for maternity clothes and finds they do not have a maternity line. But now they do! The maternity line is merely ok - like most stores, the maternity section is small and does not have a lot of size selection. However, most of my purchases there have been for regular clothes in sizes larger than my normal size! Plus the clothes are so pretty, it is worth the investment. If I get a job, I have my eye on a jacket I want to get from there that would be awesome.

5. Old Navy - I have bought my jeans, tanks, and tops here. The online store has more selection and it would be worth it to shop there for sales. Most maternity sections in the stores are small and depressing - the dresses are WAY too long for a hobbit such as myself. I also found it disturbing that they had a maternity shirt with a whale on it.
6. GAP - I have bought one item there with which I was pleased. I did try on a maternity dress there and found it was a glorified mumu. They are kind of expensive, so it might be worth it to check it out online for sales. They had one cute shirt that said "obviously no longer a secret".

7. Destination Maternity - DO NOT SHOP HERE unless it is for a maternity bra. I made the mistake of purchasing a number of items here and they don't hold up well - they shrink or fall apart. They are also WAY too expensive - unless you find items on sale. The Baby Bargains book also did not have nice things to say about them. Finding their clothes in consignment shops is alright though because the quality must have been good enough for it to make it to consignment! Plus they have t-shirts that read "good things come to those who mate." Uh - TMI!

I am done - for now :D

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quick and Dirty Movie Reviews

I scoff at the notion that I must blog daily. Isn't it enough that I update my facebook regularly? Still, facebook does not give one the opportunity for lengthly writing, so I continue to blog.

The past few months have been incredibly busy with teaching, grad school/portfolio, and pregnancy. The summer has brought a welcome respite from such a stressful situation, but I find myself quite bored. I have nothing to look forward to - no job to prepare or fuss about. The only thing I have to do is grow a child. While it can be thrilling, it is not necessarily an occupation (much less an occupation that makes money).

So, I have watched a lot of World Cup soccer and movies - and so here present my thoughts on what I have seen.

Wives and Daughters

I actually watched this as I started my professional portfolio. I tend to distract myself when I have something to do that I particularly do not want to accomplish (tasks that seem boring or pointless fall into this category). I was playing around on Amazon when I discovered this series based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell.

It was WONDERFUL - really well developed characters and a not too virtuous protagonist. It is the story of a country widower who falls in love (lust?) with a social climber. His daughter is the one to suffer at the hands of this selfish woman and her gorgeous but spoiled daughter. It will keep you wanting MORE!!! The plot is engaging and has some unpredictable points - a good amount of foreshadowing, but not the outcome one would anticipate.

If you like really well done Jane Austen novel adaptations, you will enjoy this series. I watched it on YouTube with French subtitles, but I understand it also streams on Netflix.

Iron Man

I am aware that Iron Man 2 recently showed in theaters, but I had yet to see Iron Man (the first). My uncle in Texas lent me many videos from his bachelor DVD collection and this film as one of them. It came highly recommended by my friend Megan C. and I trust her taste.

I was not at all disappointed. Robert Downey Jr. ranks among some of the first male movie stars that I liked as a kid. He has retained that wonderful deadpan delivery and is hilarious in this film as well as clever. He has definite super-hero swagger, but no so much so that you become annoyed with him. The plot is pretty darn amazing and, though it is easy to predict who the villain is (hint - usually the lack of hair gives it way), keeps one very engaged in the characters and situations. I also like that Gwyneth Paltrow was the cool assistant and Jeff Bridges was pretty awesome too. If you are looking for a decent action picture to watch and get lost in, Iron Man is your movie.


I was REALLY upset that Fantastic Mr. Fox did not win the Oscar for best animated feature. I mean REALLY upset - as I have mentioned before, it is probably one of the best children's films have seen in a long while. I could not believe that Up won with a movie like Fantastic Mr. Fox in the SAME category!!!

Then I watched Up with my mother and cried three times in the first twenty minutes.

Stupid #$U#$(&&* hormones.

Anyhow, it was really interesting and VERY well crafted! I like how the little guy sticks it to the man who is trying to over run a cute town with high rise condos (and yes, I do live in one, but it was built in the 70's so I don't feel as if our little nest in Seattle is bringing about the demise of Western civilization). All of the characters were REALLY well developed, just with mannerisms and sayings, one felt like they understood who these people were.

There was INCREDIBLY well written dialog and the animation was mind-blowing. The only thing I did not appreciate was all of the high flying action at the end - it was TOO REALISTIC and I had to shut my eyes and ask my mom when it was over!

My mother on the other hand, did not appreciate the film AT ALL. She felt like it was billed as a children's film and addressed issues that children did not need to know about (such as infertility). I am for full disclosure and I want my little one to know that the world is not rosy and that people will NOT always be nice. I don't want to create paranoia in my child, but I also want him or her to know that adults will not always treat children nicely simply because they are children and that their peers may sometimes hurt them (which is NOT ok but not a cause for retaliation) but ultimately they can learn from the experience.

I was pleased with the film, appreciate it (not to the same extent that I love Fantastic Mr. Fox), and I admit that Up deserved the Academy award.

Secret of Kells

I saw this film with my friend Renee yesterday and we both left the theatre thinking "WTF was that??? Thank goodness we only paid $3!"

Secret of Kells is a film commissioned by the Irish, French, and (oddly enough) Belgian government to present the story behind the Book of Kells. The ancient artifact is fairly well known and film is BEAUTIFULLY animated - but the characters are not at all developed and plot centers around surviving several viking attacks.

What I found fascinating was the ties the film gave to St. Aidan and St. Brendan. Though I do not know enough about these two saints, I suppose they could have contributed to the Book of Kells. I was not aware prior to the film of their connection, but I suppose it makes sense.

Or it doesn't and Aidan and Brendan were just common Irish names that the writer chose to use. The Aidan in this film was from Iona, which sounded right for the saint and Brendan had several encounters with this wood sprite/wolf which also seemed correct for the saint (I seem to remember something about St. Brendan and a wolf...).

The film was also nominated for an Oscar, but though beautiful, it was not well written or planned. There was a kid in the the theater who had Turrets Syndrome who kept asking if the film was over - and I completely empathized with his outburst!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The most interesting aspect of this film was that I discovered that my husband has NEVER seen an Indiana Jones film before! Seriously! How can one go their whole life and NOT see Indiana Jones?!

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was my hubby's first exposure to the series and he was engaged in all the action sequences (as he frequently is mostly to laugh at how outrageous they are). I enjoyed Cate Blanchet and thought she was awesome - she knew her character to be a campy caricature of a Cold War Era officer and just threw herself into the roll.

Overall - meh. The Last Crusade was MUCH better and this seemed like a half-hearted effort on the part of everyone involved in the film. The plot was ridiculous and it just had too many nods to prior films (not that this bothered my husband at all, but I did have to explain why I was laughing so hard at points).

Knocked Up


This movie is really hilarious to watch when your pregnant and feeling like you are no longer in control of anything. This movie makes you think "at least I don't have to put up with this #$#@".

Judd Apatow is the director and he really needs a good editor for his films - someone who will tell him to shut the #$#&* up and just tell the story. I saw "Funny People" and that went on for far too long and Knocked Up suffers the same treatment.

The characters are interesting, the plot is well crafted, but it takes FAR too long to get from point A to point B. While I am all for creating conflict to progress a plot, too much of a good thing can destroy the overall story.

Still, this movie is hilarious and I especially like the pregnancy sex scene - it is WAY more realistic than what is presented in the Pregnancy Bible (which I write about here). I also like the line where it is obvious the two main characters are doing a walk of shame and a dad says to his little girl (who he is holding) "never do what they did."

And she replies "I'm gonna do it." (She's about 3 years old)

Then dad says "Uh oh, someone's getting home-schooled."


Or when the main characters are in a fight and the dude says "I know this is just your hormones talking and I would like to say '!#$&#$& hormones, you #$#*#$& suck!'"

Hee!!! I feel like that every day!

Well, that wraps it up for now. I need to now get my hands on Iron Man 2....