mama whose curiosity knows no bounds

Archive for the ‘S’ Category

Easy peasy leggings

My daughter S is in the 7th grade. In her PE class, girls are divided into groups, they decide on movements they use in 5 minutes, choreograph a dance using only those movements. They also get to choose a costume. S’s group chose “80’s style” and each girl will wear different color of shirt, leggings, and tutu. S is assigned “light blue”. S, a frugal girl, chose to wear a blue printed t-shirt inside-out. Still she needs tutu and leggings. 

We at first looked for one on wal-mart but there wasn’t. So we decided to make and headed for JoAnn. We found a nice leggings and jacket pattern from McCall’s, but I knew  on Dec 4, McCall’s pattern will go on sale. So we bought swimsuit fabric, tulle and elastic a and went home.

Then I started searching for a pattern and came across this wonderful page!

This page provides YouTube video to explain how to measure for leggings, an Excel spreadsheet to automatically calculate numbers needed for drafting based on each person’s measurement, and how to draft a pattern. So I took advantage of it and draft a pattern.


 Then I set to sew. I was so lazy that I didn’t want to cover stitch the hem. The conversion between the regular overlock and cover stitch is so cumbersome. Without hem, I sewed crotch and inseam, adding a stay tape in the crotch. 

Wow, it fits perfectly! Of course the fact that I used swimsuit fabric helped a bit. But how few those passage of seams and I’m almost done! But because it is so tight fitting, she refused to pose for photo.

I installed an elastic by zigzag and that’s it. For costume, that’s good enough. And I think she will be able to use that as a warm-up during gymnastics practice. I even made a matching hairband.  I see lots of stretch jersey headband recently.

I’m not sure if I will wear leggings, but I don’t have to buy a pattern! I’m impressed how easy it was to draft.






Sabbath? no not really

For the last 3 months or so, I defined Sunday as my “rest day” as though it is a Sabbath. But in my case, it is merely “mental and physical health day”.

On Sunday I do nothing I have to do, I do something that I want to do –like blogging, or when I feel good enough, sewing. Most of the time, I spend the day in bed, just resting, doing nothing.

Now K is in group home, most Saturday I visit him, unless flare-up or other stuff interferes. Even if my husband drives for most of the time, and in cover myself with UPF50+ shawl, still 4 hours or ride is stressful to my body. That made it start my rest day habit. It allows me to recharge myself so I can go forward with the week ahead of me.

During weekdays I now have to wake up an hour earlier than before, thanks to S going to middle school that starts an hour early. I think this triggered the development of this habit.

Of course it needs cooperation of my family, and luckily, I have. I don’t cook – I often spend all day eating only cereals and my husband and my daughter enjoys meat dish – like bacon and spinach. And now S is old enough, I can ask her to prepare Monday’s lunch – or she will have “hot lunch” at the school – and she always opts for preparing one, even if that means that the lunch consists of three cookies, a cheese stick, and a cupful of fruit. Today she prepared cheese pasta with some vegetables and apparently ready to go.

I don’t do dishes – it’s always my husband’s job. I don’t do laundry, even if that means I have to do two loads on Monday.

This turns out to be quite a good arrangement.  Interestingly, no matter how much I sleep during Sunday, I can sleep through the night. So I just think I’m catching up, even though I usually sleep seven hours every day. I sometimes wish if I could do with less sleep but that was not the case. So I try to make the most out. 

I think many people with chronic illness can make use of this rest day.  It also helped me to say “no” on everything that happens on Sunday. 

When K was at home, Sunday used to be the toughest day of the week. He woke me up at around 8, asking for food. Then ask me to stay with everything he does, even though it means stimming and immerse himself in his world. Because I couldn’t take him to public place out of fear of meltdown, he demanded to go out for a ride. So I drove my neighbor, 30 minutes at a time, sometimes stopping by a gas station to buy his favorite junk food so he learns to stand in line and wait until I pay for the item before he opens the bag. We usually repeated it for 3-4 times a day. What a waste of gasoline! Then whenever he appears to enjoy himself, I sneaked out to do a week’s worth of grocery shopping. Prepare dinner and next days lunch, give K his sleep med, and had harder time making him fall asleep because I was too lazy to wake up as the same schedule.

As I write this, I wondered how I managed THAT.  Probably the sheer force of will/situation.  I realize how much I stressed myself. 

I’m finally learning how to rest myself. And I’m hoping that this will lead to better self for my family. But only they know if they are happier or not with me in bed all day.


Really tiny baby

I had to wait for 4 hours before I saw S again.  She was healthy but because of low birth weight, she had to be observed for 4 hours at the nursery.

In my hospital room was a roommate.  She was a 17 year old Latino girl who had an emergency C-section and spoke little English. Her baby boy was LOUD.  Interestingly, the night-shift nurses were all Filipinos.  When I had K in the same hospital, both night and day shifts are mostly white and some Asians, but somehow, the population shifted.  They were so hilarious.  Since they spoke no Spanish, to communicate with my roommate, they tried to make English word into something that sounds like Spanish.  It was not even close to Spanglish.  My belly hurt because of their hilarious but fruitless effort to communicate with the girl. They were much more caring and friendly than day-shift nurses, for whatever reason.  During the four-day stay in the hospital, I befriended with the night shift nurses.

One of the nurses pushed the cot cart and I immediately knew it was my girl. I got up though my belly hurt so much. This was the first time I looked at her carefully.  She was so tiny and so different from K, who was born at 41 weeks at 7 lbs. 6 oz.  She barely had any hair and her skin was scaly and red.  And most noticeably, she had no fat at all around her arms and legs.  I worried a little bit, since I’d never seen that tiny baby.  I held by myself.  She was weightless.  Still, she somehow made eye contact with me and filled me with happiness.

I asked the nurse for permission to breastfeed her.  I wasn’t sure my narcotics and anesthesia will affect my milk.  After the okay from the nurse, I tried.  But she was unable to latch on.  Well, K took a full week to master the art of suckling milk, so I didn’t worry at that time.  The next morning, however, a pediatrician on day-shift warned me that I had to give her a formula to prevent dehydration.  I didn’t want to, but she was so tiny and different from K, so I obeyed and gave a teaspoon or so of formula with a cup.  Lactation consultant was outraged.  “She was not dehydrated at all or at any risk!”  She noticed that my girl showed sign of hunger, so I tried again.  Success! She latched on and start suckling.  Now, just by remembering those moments, my breast starts to feel tender.  There is something special about breastfeeding that affected me a lot.  Some might say, “oxytocin”, and that’s probably it.

She lost a few ounces during the stay, which was pretty normal.  I started to practice walking and the nurse was really tough on training!  I had a horrible gas pain.  I didn’t know it was caused by gas but the nurse gave me a piece of Gas X and poof! The pain was gone.  During Gas X was working, I walked around and around the ward. During that exercise, I could hear the cry of my roommate’s baby.  I could hardly hear my girl’s: “whe, wheoie, hoe”–I’m trying to spell what I hear.  Unless I pay attention, I couldn’t hear her cry even though her cot was right next to me and my roommate’s was several feet away.

I had a normal recovery and left the hospital after 4 days.  I tried to maximize the stay I can because once I come back home, I knew I had to take care of K.  Except that wheelchair took so long to come (I waited well over an hour standing after all the paperwork was finished — they wouldn’t let me discharge without wheelchair — though I had to walk that much during the stay), I was discharged as a normal healthy patient.

I was anxious to know how K react with the baby.


IUGR – a.k.a., small baby and breech

It seems like that despite my more than enough weight gain, my little girl is not growing as much.  The perinatologist started to get concerned around 24 weeks and they ordered an additional ultrasound.

I’m sorry, I can’t forget the name of the ultrasound technician.  Really.  Because her name was “Elizabeth Taylor”!

She was effective and compassionate.  She told me that my baby is small, but other than that she was so confident that there is no abnormality.  I wasn’t so sure about that.

Anyway, since my baby was small at 10th percentile in size, she was labeled, “Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR)”.  The R-word didn’t feel offensive to me at that time, because this was such a technical diagnosis.  Still, she is so tiny so I need to visit the doctor more often than usual and have in-office ultrasound.

Other than being small, she was great.  I was sometimes emotional during that time because K was not performing well in preschool.  After his 3rd birthday, he was out of early intervention and started to go to a small preschool for children with special needs.  The teacher herself had a daughter with Down syndrome and staff were all awesome.  Among them, K looked the “normalest”.  After all, autism is hard to show unlike other disabilities.  Despite that appearance, K was the most delayed. I was still swinging back and forth between denial and acceptance.  After one performance at the end of school year, I was so devastated because he was the only one who didn’t understand instruction (sing and dance thingy) at all.

In terms of attachment, K was really good.  He was happy to be piggybacked on me at all time and even if I was pregnant, I didn’t have any issue with that.  My husband got a job at a university and we bought our first house (well, I have one experience during this period I need to let out, but I’ll write it later). Moving was postponed for one quarter because our baby was due mid July.  Everything was good.

Nothing dramatic really.  But at 37th week checkup, I was told that the baby is really really small, so she would thrive better out my womb.  I felt like an insult to my motherhood, but I had no choice.  She suggested to come the next day because she would be in the day-shift at the hospital.  I talked to my mentor/supervisor and K’s wonderful daycare provider, then the next morning, my husband and I headed to the hospital for induction.  Well, I seemed to have no chance for natural birth experience, but of course safe and artificial birth was way better than natural and devastated.

This time, the room was much smaller, but still LDR (labor, delivery and recovery) type room.  The nurse hooked me to I.V. and the resident physician checked my baby.

She was in breech!  The day before at the perinatologist’s office, she was in normal position. In hindsight, I remembered a big movement in my womb in the evening but I had no idea she was doing a flip.  She was a gymnast before being born. It was as though she didn’t want to get out.

Now induction must be on hold until perinatologist comes back to maneuver my baby to the normal position.  I checked in the hospital at around 9 a.m. and waited and waited.  The perinatologist wasn’t available until almost 6 p.m.  Before that, I was asked to have an epidural because manueuvering baby can be painful and epidural can make it more likely to succeed.  I followed.

“Today was not your day.” The doctor told me. “One emergency after another.” Then she told me that she would attempt three times to turn my baby and then if that doesn’t work, we hook off from epidural and wait until tomorrow or have a C-section.  Of course my baby didn’t turn.  Although at the end of 12 hour shift with many emergency C-sections, the doctor seemed energized.  “Do you want to have the baby today? I’m ready.” So the C-sections begun.  I remembered that my arms were so cold.

My husband was grossed out.  But as the doctor cut through my layers of tissues and placed the hands into my womb (You feel it), she called him to watch the birth.  He was scared but went anyway.  My little girl, already named S, was born from her buttocks.

After that everything went really quick.  She was suctioned, weighed, and Apgar score was checked (it was 8. One point less than K) in less than a minute.  The nurse pressed her to my chest so I can see her for a few seconds and she was whisked away to a nursery for observation.  She was indeed small. She was 4 lbs 13 oz. So she was considered “low-birth weight”.  I was later told that the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck three times.  I remembered thinking, if it were 100 years ago, both S and I would be dead.

I was taken to a two-person hospital room and I rested there.  My husband went home to pick up K (it was way past 7.  I can’t thank enough for the daycare provider!).  I needed to wait for 4 hours to see my girl.


I knew it!

My daughter S is 11 years old and just started middle school.  I noticed that many of her shorts are tight.  This is not surprising, as she grew more than 4 inches in one year.  When I looked at the label, most said, “M 7-8” or even “S 6-7”.  Well that MUST be tight! I asked her why she’s wearing such a tight short because I bought a lot of pants during back to school sale, and even made one.  She told me, “It’s hot.”  That is true, the high in my town is around 90 degree F for most of the days and it’s been really humid.

So, I decided to make her a few pairs of shorts real quick. The one I aimed was: not-so obvious elastic waist (after all, she’s a middle schooler); mock-fly (inserting zipper would be time consuming); slash pockets but no back pockets (she said she wouldn’t use back pockets); between shorts and bermuda length (school dress code is tight).

With those in mind, I headed to a local store of a big chain known for its coupon commotions and constant 40-50% off sale.  I flipped through pattern catalog and picked one with a fly and contoured waistband, found a nice stretch denim, then picked up elastics and thread.  Then looked at the coupons I had in my backpack: it wouldn’t be effective until Sunday!

I decided that her shorts were more important than some coupon discount, so just one 30% off one item coupon on my phone, I headed to the register.  Wow. It WAS expensive!  I NEVER paid over $10 for a pattern! Coupons and sale are so important at that store.

Anyway, I went home, serged the edges of the denim and threw in a washer to pre-shrink.  Meanwhile, I traced a pattern quickly and did a pin-fitting.  It had a good room for growth. Well, I could sew at least one by the end of the next day.

OF COURSE the next day was COLD. The expected high was 70 degree F. S wore a pair of jeans I sewed for her.  Why aren’t you wearing shorts? “It’s cool today, mom.”

Sigh.  And 7-day forecast suggests it will remain that way.  Now I have plenty of time to sew up those shorts. I would insert a zipper and welt pockets, probably.  But lesson learned: Never shop without coupons!


I barely survived the first week of middle school. Really?

This week was my daughter S’s first week of middle school. I’m sure I am more tired than S.

We planned things pretty well. For example, the school opens at 7:30. To be on time, I planned lunch for a week and packed it the night before. The whole family practiced waking up early the week before. During the orientation, I measured (well, with my hat’s chin strap) the width of the rocker and ordered a rolling backpack whose depth is at least an inch shorter so that the backpack fits the rocker.

Still, waking up is very hard.  The only positive was S’s grumpiness had about 70% power than usual. I wasn’t so sure about drop off space though friends gave me assuring words, so we went a bit early.  There were full of students waiting outside! Luckily, there was a space I could use to drop her off but at the same time my car and several others must have interfered with the school bus. This part, I’ll get used to this.

I knew that she can’t use cell phone during the school hour. So I didn’t worry I can’t find her with “find my friends” app on my iPhone.  She texted me, and I opened Find my Friends to track her. She was in an odd place. Why was she there? I texted her, “are you moving?” And she said yes. After about 30 minutes later, S, with her face with dripping sweat, arrived to my office. It should take no more than 10 minutes. Apparently she lost on her way. I didn’t do the entire course but I drove her the course in reverse (it involves one-way road). But that wasn’t enough. Well, she’ll learn.

Then we took out the supply list she received from EACH teacher. I felt things were stupid.  Two teachers required 1.5-2″ binder. Three required 100 page single subject notebook. One teacher required to carry textbook at all time from the beginning. Then band teacher required at home practice for 80 min a week.  One teacher was good enough to provide one textbook for the school and another to leave at home for homework. And American textbooks are stupidly heavy!  Japanese textbooks are usually less than 1/2″ thick and all paperback some are as thin as 1/8″! Here nothing seems thinner than 1″.

How could she fit all of these stuff in the backpack? Worse yet, for some reason, her rolling backpack did NOT fit her locker so she carried it around all day. To the gym to third floor to the first floor to cafeteria… That is stupid!

I wondered why can’t she use a notebook with a three holes and strip to transfer to the thick binder at home? Why did it have to be 100 pages? Can’t that be 50 page and replenish as we go? Maybe these things are okay, but S is stubborn to the core and follows the rules to the letter.

We immediately realized that we need to buy a new backpack. The plastic bottom of the rolling backpack is banging her back as she walk. And since she has to carry most of the time, wheel won’t make much sense. S resisted a lot. Her logic was because that backpack was bought for her, she must use until graduation. Or I will spoil her. It took another two days to convince that that backpack wouldn’t work. Phew.

The paperwork was overwhelming. Almost all teachers sent something to read and sign. Then there are regular paperwork like emergency contact, and medical release, etc.

That seemed to drain not only my mental energy, but physical one as well. As days go by, I got more tired. I managed to go to walk track to workout, but I couldn’t walk as fast as I usually do. Today, after my car had a routine maintenance, I went home to eat lunch. After that, I sat for a little and next moment I realized that I took a one and half hour nap! I think my physical limit is close.

I need to add rest to my routine to maintain my functioning because of lupus.. Yet I just couldn’t. So my body too the opportunity when I sat down, it seems. I have to find some rest somehow this weekend. Otherwise, I will collapse next week, when I have lots of important experiments to do.

Now she came back from school. Next: gymnastics. It’s really amazing that she won’t mind dong all of them!

I (finally) watched “Lord of the Rings!”

Sounds stupid.  Everyone else has seen this classic trilogy.  I’m always behind watching movies, but I’m trying to catch up.  Well, more than 10 years behind.

Why now?  The reason is my daughter, S.  She is a big fan of Jon Cozart, a.k.a., Paint, who became a YouTube sensation by his Disney Princess parody. This is really fun!  But S didn’t stop there.  She downloaded (cached, to be more precise?) all of his YouTube video on her iPhone and watched over and over and over.  She connects it to my car so everytime we drive out (we do a lot, visiting K, and going back and forth from gymnastics practices), I ended up listening to his songs, which is actually great.

His songs assumes that the listener knows the story.  That’s why Disney parody is so fun.  One of his songs is “Lord of the Rings in 99 seconds“.  I listened enough to memorize it, but I’ve never read nor watched a movie.  I suggested S to read the book but she said no, so we decided to borrow.  After some wait at the local library, we finally got all three DVD and have snack ready and watched!

Wow. So long. I couldn’t finish so the third one was to be watched later. Anyway, I finished the movie and watched the 99 seconds parody and it all made sense. Yay!

My thoughts on the movie? It is absolutely unfair to say, but “It’s much like Harry Potter and Final Fantasy!”

Final Fantasy, my most favorite video game is really like that.  Someone chosen is set out for a mission, partied with a wizard, monk, pirates, and so on.  Then encountered enemy along the way and every once in a while they have to win a “boss battle” to get to another stage of the adventure.  Eventually, the party meets the “last boss”, after lot of struggle, they win and peace will come.  There are many tricks and tweaks plus superb music and graphics and battle system in the FF series, but the basic story line is always the same.

I’m sure the creators of the game read Lord of the Rings.  After all, Lord of the Rings was written long before the first FF was released.

Therefore, I’m no different from someone on the meme circulating on Facebook, with looking at Hokusai’s great wave, “Someone draw a picture of this EMOJI? That’s wonderful.”  I have absolutely no right to laugh at them.

I will compensate my deficit by promising to read the original.



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