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Thursday, May 16, 2019

An Easy Guide to Hosting an Out of This World Star Trek Party

My husband is a huge Star Trek fan. Or as they are known, a Trekkie! The perfect opposite to my own Star Wars obsession. As his Nana so poetically put it on the custom shirts she made for our family, "The Stars have aligned", when we got married. 
I was happy to finally be able to throw him a real birthday party this year! Now that we live near his family, it was well worth putting together. And if you have a Star Trek fan you want to party with, I'm gonna outline some tips to making it perfect on a budget! 

Decorations

Every great party comes with decor. You pick the theme and then you decorate to match. So for Star Trek parties, you need stars.
I found these great foil ones at the Dollar Tree. They come 5 per pack. I picked up a pack of the gold ones. My husband cut them to look like Com Badges. The sides that he cut off, he then made into mini com badges.
I used black streamers to make the hanging decorations with the big ones and then the little ones will be strewn on the black table cloth like confetti.
I had the black table cloth on hand already as I had a tendency to buy various colors on clearance when I could... And I was planning to use it for a Minecraft party. (My kids changed their minds though.) But if you need one, the Dollar Tree is a great place to look. They had a bunch of colors you don't see often with graduation styles currently in stock.
Plus other colors that they always have. You could use blue or red (colors of the shirts) and even yellow. I'm also planning to use the Galaxy Candle jars I had made and used for our wedding as decorations. I picked up silver party plates at the Dollar Tree as well. Pinterest was a life saver for getting ideas going. Click the previous link to see the board I put together. 

Party Foods

Pinterest really helped me get ideas for Star Trek foods. I didn't want to gross out our guests with the authentic foods. Like Rokeg Blood Pie and the one that looks like worms... So I decided instead to stick with a pizza shaped like the Enterprise star ship. We will also have Bacon Cheddar Ranch Pinwheels. 
To wash it all down, I plan to make Romulan Ale
and Klingon Blood Wine
(both non-alcoholic). I'll be getting Blue Hawaiian Punch for the first and picked up V8 Splash Berry Blend for the latter.
Party Fun


My Mother-in-Law helped me get these cool name tags printed. (My Pinterest board has the link to the PDF for them.)

Everyone knows that Dr. McCoy is constantly telling Captain Kirk what he isn't. So I thought it would be funny to see what everyone comes up with. And then we have Pin the Badge on the Officer game! And lastly, I'm going to make a Pin the Badge on the Officer game! Super easy, but should be lots of fun. To make one, tape some paper together and have a kid stand against to make your outline. Color in your "officer" and create a com badge to be "pinned" on. Voila! 

There you have it! Depending on how much you want to put into this, you can play Star Trek tunes in the background.
I've considered making a "Live Long and Prosper" banner too, but not sure I have enough supplies to pull it off. If nothing else, just making sure you say it at least once and share the Vulcan greeting hand sign!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

First the Test, Then the Lesson

Life is all about learning. However, have you ever noticed that the test usually comes first and then you learn a lesson? Think about it. Stuff happens and then you learn from it. What about this other saying, "You learn something new everyday"? I'm pretty much convinced that is the truth no matter who you are. And boy, am I learning. 

Scoliosis is Not Easy

My biggest learning curve right now would be how scoliosis is still affecting parts of my life. For anyone who doesn't know me, I have had spinal fusion surgeries to "fix" the curve. However, the fusions have caused other issues. The doctor I saw most recently said it best, "You cannot gain something without giving something up." The fusion corrected a wayward spine, but it took away flexibility. And though I might not feel as changed on a daily basis (despite the problems that are manifesting now), my body isn't done transitioning. The night before last also taught me that I'm not as tough as I thought. I haven't cried so hard in a long while. How can this mother of 4 be brought to her knees so thoroughly? How about when your ribs don't flex as you breathe and you feel like you are being stabbed in the lungs. 

I had just sat down with pen and paper to write encouraging letters to my sons in time for their STAAR test. Their teachers had emailed that this is how they wanted to build our kids up and give them confidence for this great undertaking. So of course I want to do it! Out of nowhere, I gripped my mid-upper abdomen. It started as a shooting pain, so I started breathing shallow to keep from pressing too hard. Just under the cartilage, or bones, of my rib cage in the front is where it was. I tried standing up. As we sit, everything gets squished together. Sometimes standing elongates everything and I feel like I can breathe again. You see, pains like this aren't new to me. But normally they only last about a minute or two. I stretch. They go away. This time was not going to be so easy. Every time I inhaled, it was like someone slid a knife in my lung. I tried massaging the area and pressing where it hurt. I also tried stretching my arm. It kept getting worse. Every breath, no matter how light, was killing me. I stumbled to my bathroom to get my last muscle relaxer. I had been prescribed some the last time I had a "muscle spasm". It was very similar to what I was going through this time around, except that this time I could move my arm without pain. Last time, I was unable to move anything waist up on that side without feeling like I was being tortured. I texted and called a nurse friend of mine. It hurt to talk, to breathe, to just ask her opinion. Knowing my history as she does, her first worrisome thought was that a lung had collapsed. And let's face it, as much as I was struggling and hurting, I freaked out. 

Don't Fear Having Weaknesses

I hung up with her and laid on the floor. In my head, I kept praying for relief while hoping that it wasn't a collapsed lung. I didn't realize it, but I was crying and gasping for air so loudly, that my oldest son came to check on me when he woke up to use the bathroom. He was asking if I was okay and if I need him to wake Daddy (who was sleeping for work). I was torn. On the one hand, I did want my husband to come and at least sit with me. But he had to work that night. So he needed to sleep. When I could not take it alone anymore (especially with my toddler throwing her toys on my chest to "help" me), I nodded my head and my son ran to wake my husband. All he could do was stroke my face and tell me to breathe. And that was enough. I laid there crying and clutching where it hurt. After a while, the pain ebbed enough to let me relax. I still had spasms, but they were fewer and farther between. For safe measure, he ended up calling in that night.
We decided to wait until morning to get me checked out. Unless the pain kicked in again. I stayed restful for the night and we went to the clinic in the morning. After 3 tests, the doctor concluded that some of my ribs are not moving. And by staying rigid, it confines my lungs. The muscles then react at times by stiffening up. Which causes the spasms. Which then trigger the stabbing pains. Suddenly, other things made sense. Like why I feel like I'm not getting enough air all the time. Why I feel as though my chest is constricted. Why I am always trying to stretch my torso. It is because I really can't breathe deeply anymore. 

I felt quite pathetic. After all, I have a husband and 4 kids who are relying on me. I don't have time to deal with such restrictions. Even as I type this out, I'm trying to breathe and feeling like there isn't enough air in here. 


Acceptance is Key

The ultimate lesson I've learned? Acceptance. Accepting that this is what my body is. This is what I'm confined to. And I have to live with it until my new doctors can find a way to fix it. I pray daily for the strength to battle the pains. And now for the strength draw breath. It isn't easy. And I feel pathetic more often than I care to admit, but I know I have to accept what has been dealt and work with it. I have to keep praying and holding on to hope that one day this will all get better. Ultimately, I don't know what God has planned. I just have to trust that it is for the best. And hopefully that it will help someone else who may have the same type of problems to understand their condition a little better.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Preparations For Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day happens on the first Saturday of May every year. And it is a blast! Being the nerdy family that we are, we love to dress up as the characters that inspire us. As a family! Not only do we get to dress up and get free comics, but we bond. We share in fun times together as we prepare our costumes before the big day and then we show them off. As fun as it is, it can be a lot of work. And it means that I need to have all my supplies in order. My crafting corner needs some help, but it works out for now. Eventually I need to get another one of my storage boxes for my steampunk supplies alone. My Mom bought me this first box and it has been amazing! My kids can search through it as we work together. Though the baby loves to rearrange everything... almost daily!

My husband normally looks like he walked off the set of a Resident Evil movie.
He created his cosplay before we got together. And made it as realistic as possible. Makes me a proud wife! Sadly, he might not be able to get dressed up with us due to his old pants needing replacement.

My oldest son asked me to help him look like a Black Ops Guy. A spy with a cool gun, basically. His was easy to put together. But then he changed his mind and decided he wanted to be the Jedi from the Force Unleashed 2 game. *hit head here* So I started over and had plenty to come up with.
I bought a pair of cheap suspenders and hot glued belt-like pieces to it to create the chest harness. I used Pringles lids and craft sticks that I painted silver to make the decorations for his belt.
My Mom sent Ace bandages that I could use to wrap his arms. It will look awesome!

My younger son wanted something that truly tests my creative abilities. He wants to be a Tusken Raider from Star Wars.
For the most part, I was able to make the pieces easily. I sewed and hot glued his rifle sling and pockets together.
He decided to use some Jedi robes as the main part of his costume. Makes him look more like a Tusken assassin. The mask has been tormenting me though. I have to use what we have around the house, which makes it even harder. Otherwise I would have followed this guys tutorial. Or use this guys great idea. Instead, I'm using the hood piece on the black robe to hot glue these pieces I created using broken Nerf darts (painted silver) and a toilet paper roll that I cut in half and painted.
I had a couple silver pieces I had taken off something else. They made the perfect toppers for the darts that go right above the mouth. The mouth part is still up in the air for me. I have a leather belt, but I haven't figured out how to get the triangular shape yet. Then, to finish it off, more Ace bandages will be wrapped around his head.

My oldest daughter wanted to be Princess Leia. Normally, I'd be so proud! However, this was difficult in that she had no white dresses and I had nothing plain white to use. White is not a family-friendly color around here. It stains too easily. I did find a great tutorial on Pinterest about using a large piece of white fabric or sheet to use without having to sew anything. Yay for easy! And my Mom had sent me some pillow cases that I could use. Then she changed her mind and wanted to be Aurora instead. Thanks for continually being indecisive kids...

Then there is the baby... What do I do for her? I am thinking a Barbie Princess is just right for this little lady. She has dresses. I just need to accessorize her. I think...

Finally, there is my own cosplay. I'm going all steampunk. A Steampunk Time Traveler. I finally got the skirt to an acceptable style. I also found the shirt that looks perfect under my corset. I'm feeling pretty good about how it looks.

I have been working on this for quite a while. Took an old pair of boots, glued on the gears to the ankle and painted the toes. I had a cheap pair of goggles that I put in actual colored glass lenses into, painted and added gears on the sides. My Mom sent the corset.
I added gears and chains to 'punk it out more. I sewed pocket pouches that I added gears to so that I can hang them from a draped belt. I'm still debating on whether I'll add my steampunk'd glocks.
I created one holster at least. And one of my favorite pieces? This cuff!


One thing I have learned, is that your craft supplies can come from anything. I had an old pair of boots with buckles on them. I cut those pieces off and now they are being used for my oldest sons costume. Embellishments can come from things you least expect. Like the silver pieces I mentioned that I've glued to the Nerf darts. They came from a busted pair of headphones. Always remember to think outside the box!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Journey to Pain Relief: My Thoughts On Our New Purple Mattress

I've had my Purple Pillow for some time now. As you can see here, I wrote my review on it a year ago, but had it for a couple months before then. I'm still as much in love with it now as I was then! So we decided to see if the mattress would help as much.
*Disclaimer: My husband purchased this for us. I have not been endorsed, paid to write and did not receive this Purple product for this review. All opinions are my own.* 
Pain is no joke. EVER! 

I've been dealing with back pain for over two years now. My spine looks like it has been over a minefield. The various doctors' reactions when they see even part of the picture has painted an ugly reality for me. Sleep became a permanent thing of the past most recently. I've come to see a part of me that I try very hard to keep at bay. I don't have the patience I need to wrangle with the baby all day. I don't have the energy, or drive, to put in my normal effort for the daily grind. I've tried throwing myself into my crafting, but that only goes so far. Working out causes pain flare ups, however, not working has made losing 40 pounds look impossible. All this adds to my moments of feeling the blues. 

When was the last time you checked your mattress or pillow as a cause of pain? 

My husband has been looking into the mattresses that Purple had to offer. Since the pillow worked out so great and helped with my neck pain, we thought that the mattress would help me sleep better and wake up refreshed. We decided to go with their original model. It also happens to be the cheapest option, which is best for us right now. We wanted to use part of our tax return to pay for it.  They have other options, however. You can pick your thickness or firmness. With those options, the price fluctuates too. And then we also got free sheets with it! Pretty cool, huh? Super soft and stretchy.
I was so very excited when we placed the order. But then shipping kept being delayed. Which was incredibly frustrating. Especially when we ordered a box spring (from somewhere local) and had the old mattress and old box spring picked up on the day the mattress was supposed to arrive. When it was delayed, my husband had to take his post and pre-work naps on the floor.
It's finally here! 

It was not comfortable. So when everything finally arrived, you can just imagine how excited I was. I couldn't wait for my husband to wake up, so I dragged the "body bag" (my husbands description of the packaging) into the room to bust it open and get it set up. I figured he would be happier sleeping on the mattress anyhow.
One thing I love about Purple, is their packaging. They don't skimp. They want everything to arrive in excellent condition. And so it all did. There were even handles on the bag to make dragging it easier. 
The body bag comes with handles! 
The shrink wrap was easy enough to cut through and then the mattress expanded out. I definitely advise you to have someone around to help as this was a two person job. I could not wait for bed time! It looked so inviting.
Sadly, sleep was not all I hoped it would be. I tossed and turned. The only somewhat comfortable position was on my sides. When laying on my back, it felt as though there was something pressing into my lower spine where the nerve damage is. The rest of me felt comfortable when lying still. My husband slept like a baby. 
Not giving up...

So now what.... My husband thinks we can get a memory foam topper of some sort to ease my back. I think the mattress itself is amazing. I truly believe this is the future for modern mattresses. Springs are a thing for the past. I just have to find the right firmness and I think this one was too much on the firm side. But like everything, don't take my opinion and run with it. What doesn't work for me, might just be the answer to your prayers. My husband absolutely loves this bed! And if you do consider it, remember this - they offer ways to try it in the store for some cities. Still not sure? Try it for 100 nights. If it doesn't work out, they will come pick up the mattress and give you a complete refund.
Though this one didn't work out, I still believe Purple mattresses are amazing. And somehow, we will make it work for me as well. So let me know what you think? Who made your favorite mattress?