Awesome Mom: Small Victories in the World of Parenting

The time I became an Awesome Mom!

#SundayFunday: Miniature Bird Houses

Painting Miniature Birdhouses for #SundayFunday Crafts.

Turning Me-Can'ts into I Cans

Inspiring confidence in your kids

#SundayFunday: Pet Rocks

#SundayFunday Craft Time: Pet Rocks - The Pet you never have to feed!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Trick to Getting the Most Out Of Your Halloween Costumes

Halloween is my favorite holiday, but with four (and sometimes six) kids, costumes can get EXPENSIVE!  Luckily, I’ve learned how to turn Halloween costumes from an expensive, commercialized trick into a year long treat for the children and my pocket book!

Costumes tend to be costly, particularly for what you get in return for your hard earned dollars. A $20-25 costume is often little more than cheap, thin cloth that ties or Velcros at the neck and back. It can’t be washed, tears easily, and provides little warmth on Halloween night, and less usage after.  With a little creativity and ingenuity, however, you can get months of wear from a higher quality costume for the same relative cost.

Here are my best tips for extending costume wear:

1. Use actual clothing in the creation of your costume.  For example, Cady was a scarecrow for her first Halloween!  Using yellow felt, cut in to fringe, and washable craft glue, I glued felt into the cuffs of a pair of jeans and a plaid button up shirt from the baby boy’s department. I added fake patches on the knees and elbows using colored felt and craft glue. Some exaggerated red cheeks and yellow hair paint in her hair, and she was an adorable scare crow. After Halloween, I removed the patches and ‘draw’, washed out the glue, and used the warm outfit throughout the winter.

I’ve done the same for other costumes: a hoodie and sweatpants with felt ‘spikes’ and a tail make an excellent dinosaur. A pink skirt, pink tights, red shirt, pink ears and tail, paired with pink face paint and hairspray make an excellent pepper pig. Pink sweats and a Fluttershy Hoodie make an adorable My Little Pony, and that hoodie will be one from October to May (or blue sweats and a rainbow dash ball cap for Rainbow Dash)! A striped shirt and skirt  plus black and white face paint makes an adorable zebra, plus provides clothes that can be re-worn time and again.

We’ve used this technique for Toothless the dragon, the Heathers from Heathers (often we’ll all pick a theme and go as something from the theme! Great fun!),  countless cats, dogs, and witches, zebras, devils, a cheerleader, and literary characters.  This year, Punkie is using this costume method to play a Possessed Child in a local Haunted Forest attraction!

2. Onesie Pajamas.
These may be the most loved costumes of any as far as my kids are concerned! Pikachu is the favorite, but rainbow dash and elephant are used often too. (Rainbow Dash is the only PJs Cady wears!)
Available at Walmart and target, as well as amazon, these full body fleece pajamas come as favorite characters, including hoods. A little face paint and you’re ready to go.  Best of all, they’re warm and comfortable, and as they tend to run large and are supposed to be baggy, last for years.  All four of my girls have used theirs are pajamas and lounge wear for going on 3 years now, meaning I spent $25 each on four costumes that have been worn hundreds of times!
Regular pajamas work as well! Cady was the cutest “skelebaby” ever, and those jammies kept her warm many nights!

With either option one or two, proper make up and accessories make the costume work. Personally, the spray-able hair paint is key, and proper make up is essential. I prefer actual makeup, like Wet n Wild’s Fantasy collection, over Halloween grease paint. The Paint Pots are fantastic under or over foundation, or all by themselves, and I’m obsessed with the multi stick! It lasts through the night, looks better, and is better for the skin! 

3. High quality costumes.
For those characters that they are obsessed with and already play pretend as often, I don’t mind spending a little money on a high quality, real cloth costume. This privilege is reserved  for Absolute Favorite Characters, however, and never used for generics like “policeman”, “cute puppy”, or “mermaid”. The year that How to Train Your Dragon 2 came out, we splurged and spent $45 on an Astrid costume for Punkie. She’d gone as Toothless the year before (using the same technique as I mentioned for a dinosaur costume, but with wings added and eyes painted onto a black hoodie) and we knew she’d wear it often. She played as Astrid until the costume no longer fit, then gave it to her little sister. Definitely worth $45 for the two years we got out of it!

I use these techniques for myself as well!  Since I'm a photographer, I've bought dresses, high quality costumes, and more for photoshoots that are used several times a year.  My steam punk dress doubles as a pirate dress, and the corsets and petticoats I bought to shoot pinup have been used for pinup, burlesque, and other shoots, and in addition to using the costumes for multiple shoots, I've personally worn everything in my costume closet to various events through out the year!

Additionally, buying items after Halloween like hats, makeup, cloaks and capes, and other accessories allow you to get the pieces that turn next year's sweats or skirt into a ninja or cowboy costume at 75% - 90% off!

With a little creativity and planning, plus some makeup and craft supplies, you can get the most bang for your costume buck, and ensure that your costumes are used throughout the year!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Kavanaugh, Cosby, and Your Kids

I had promised myself that I wouldn't post another blog until I had something happy or uplifting to write (there are a few waiting in the wings that I haven't posted because they don't meet this requirement).  My goal is never to depress my readers, but to engage and offer optimism at the very least.

I'm breaking that promise.  

The current news cycle, focusing heavily on Judge Brett Kavanaugh (and to a lesser extent the sentencing of Bill Cosby) has brought some thing very important to my attention, and so I feel I must address it. 

Let me begin by saying that, no matter where you stand on Kavanaugh (or Cosby), whether you believe him or his attacker, there are lessons that you, as a parent, sibling, friend, aunt, uncle, or spouse need to learn.  

All week long, at work, in conversation, and on social media, I've encountered the same questions and comments:
  • "Why did she wait so long?"
  • "It's a conspiracy to take down a good man."
  • "His life will be ruined."
  • "His good reputation/the good he's done in the world will be tarnished."
  • "Why now?"
  • "She has no proof"
  • "Look at all the people who are speaking on his behalf."
  • "She's lying"
  • "Why was she at his house/his hotel/a party/there with so many boys?"
  • "She was drinking/on drugs. She took the beer/Quaalude.  Am I going to be accused of rape every time I have 'faded' sex?"
  • "Why can't she remember who was there/how she got home/other details."
You may have even asked these questions yourself.  You may even think they are completely valid questions. But these questions may be the reason your child or loved one never tells you about their assault.

Let's look at some statistics:
  • One in three women experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact violence in their lifetime
  • One in six men experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact  or violence in their lifetime
  • Up to 30% of victims of unwanted sexual contact or violence experience it before age 18. 
  • LESS THAN 40% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported. 
  • Only  between 2% and 10% of rape accusations are false. (the most accepted number is 8%)

To break that down, according to the FBI, in 2017, 135,755 rapes were reported. At the high end, 40%, that means that potentially 339,387 rapes occurred. 203632 were UNREPORTED.   Additionally, 33% of women and 16% of men have experienced sexual assault, and 30% before 18.  That means that if you know 9 women, 3 of them have experienced sexual violence, and 1 of them was a child.  That also means there is a 16% chance your daughter will experience it before age 18, and 33% chance it will happen in her life time. There is a 16% your son will experience unwanted sexual contact in his lifetime, possibly as a child.

What you are saying now will determine if your child comes to you when this happens.  You are setting the expectation of if you will believe them, and if you do, if you will blame them.

If your child sees your posts blaming a woman for her rape because she was at a party, or drinking,  will they feel comfortable coming to you and telling you they were assaulted at a party?

If your loved one hears you say repeatedly that women who report are liars, will they think you will believe them?  If you view every story with doubt, how will they trust you not to doubt them?

If  you consistently talk about the accused's reputation, good standing, or bright future, how will your child be comfortable telling you about the "good Christian", the "pillar of the community", that has terrorized them?

If someone is discredited because they waited too long to report, what incentive is there for the adults in your life to open up to you about their own long buried trauma?

If you label every missing detail as a sign of dishonesty, how will they share their story, which their own PTSD has left full of holes, with you?

The only pain greater than assault is the pain of not being believed, or of those you love simply not caring.

I am not advising you to form a death squad every time an accusation is made - "Innocent until proven guilty" in a benchmark of our legal system.  

I am advising you to change your way of speaking about sexual assault. I am asking you to consider all possibilities, to always be open to an investigation, and to, above all, to listen before you speak, even when what you are hearing makes you uncomfortable. Hold your disbelief.  

When you listen to the stories of others, with the intent to understand, you show your loved ones that you are willing to listen to them as well, when they are ready to tell you. 

If you have been a victim of attempted or completed sexual violence, or assault, there are people who believe you.  Please contact Rainn to speak to someone via confidential chat at or via phone at 800.656.4673.  
You are loved. You are believed. This is not your fault.