Chickadee Thursday

Last month (or maybe it was in August), I received this cool little Lego set free with a purchase. It has all kind of little learning activities, including making letters and numbers out of Lego bricks, and it’s just perfect for Chickadee to use while working on her letter of the week!

This week was all about the letter “P” and Chickadee enjoyed making it using just 10 Lego bricks, along with some other letters, numbers, and an adorable little giraffe!

I love finding fun little things to add to her lessons!

Tasty Tuesday–Butterscotch Haystacks (Peanut Butter Free!)

One of the first treats I started making after Ryan and I got married was butterscotch haystacks. They came to be a fall staple in our household, but once we learned that Moose was allergic to peanuts, they become less fun to make, because my original recipe contained peanut butter, and he couldn’t enjoy them with us.

I looked into lots of different potential substitutes. SunButter is almost always the first suggestion that comes up, but I never tried to make them using it. Instead, I opted for Biscoff Cookie Spread. The end result was amazing…we like them much better this way!

  • 1 11oz. bag butterscotch chips
  • 3/4 cup Biscoff Cookie Spread
  • 3 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 10 oz. chow mein noodles

Over a double-boiler or in the microwave, melt butterscotch chips. Stir in Biscoff spread until smooth. Toss with marshmallows and chow mein noodles. Shape into “haystacks” a bit bigger than a golf ball. Refrigerate until set. Store any remaining haystacks in refrigerator.

My Favorite Retro Fashion Brands

There must be something about October that inspires me to make a “Top Five” list that only has three items (instead of my usual six-ish)! Today I want to talk about my three favorite retro fashion brands:

  • Pinup Girl Clothing–I bet this one is shocking, right? I’ve talked extensively about how “PUG Changed My Life.” Most of my retro clothes are PUG pieces. I have skirts and tops, dresses, and even a bolero. I love PUG, and even when I’m not looking to buy anything and/or can’t afford anything, I still love to see what’s in the “Coming Soon” section of their website. They also have a fantastic Facebook community full of supportive (and very well-dressed) shoppers. I don’t think anybody does vintage-inspired clothing with a modern flair the way they do!
  • Splendette–In my mind, no retro outfit is complete without an awesome bangle stack. Prior to this year, I didn’t have a source for bangles that would fit over my large hands. And then Splendette announced that they were adding a Duchess Bangles line to their range, and my retro accessories prayers were answered! Splendette also offers pieces like necklaces and earrings, if you’re looking to coordinate with your bangles and get the full look.
  • Erstwilder–If there’s one thing a retro outfit really needs outside of bangles, it’s a great brooch. I love brooches, both fancy and whimsical. I actually had a few brooches in my jewelry box before I really got into retro fashions, but I’ve added quite a few since then. Erstwilder is definitely the place to go if you’re looking for something more whimsical, and they have themes and color selections to go with pretty much any outfit!

Of course, there are other brands I like. The Oblong Box Shop has fun novelty-print skirts. Unique Vintage sells house brands items, but also other retro brands. Luxulite, Meteor Jewelry, and Tangerine Menagerie offer fun jewelry options. And I wish I didn’t have giant clown feet, because I’d love to try some of the amazing retro styles B.A.I.T. footwear offers. But my top three are in a class by themselves, and make up the bulk of the clothing and jewelry in my retro wardrobe!

The First Time–Part II

Last year, I shared a very difficult story–the story of the first time I was sexually assaulted.

I would hope that over time, things would change. That women would worry less about being treated as less than human, simply because of their gender. But the fact that the worst kept secret in Hollywood is now out there for everyone to read about (and that some people still aren’t outraged by it), proves that things don’t seem to change in that area…in some ways, they seem to be getting worse, as women feel that they can’t come forward, or worse, that when they do, they can expect their accusations to be buried, and that they will be the ones to be ostracized, instead of the predator.

The stories coming out of Hollywood are terrible, but sadly, they are not unique to Hollywood. So I’m back this October to tell the story of the first time I was sexually harassed. In some ways, this story is harder to tell, because I was older when it happened, because I understood fully what was going on, and because it had longer-lasting effects. But maybe if more of us share our stories, we will stop feeling like it was somehow our fault, and we will bring this issue to light in a way that it can no longer be ignored.

My freshman year of high school, I signed up to take German I. I was very excited about having this as an option, because it reflected my ethnic heritage. And as is the case in many high school foreign language courses, I got to choose a new name for the year, one that had a German origin.

I picked Katerina. Yes, I know the spelling is a little unusual, but I liked the way it looked when it was written out. And it paid homage to my very favorite childhood figure skater…Katarina Witt. It was fun to get to be Katerina for an hour every school day.

Several students that shared that class with me also rode the same bus as I did. It took me a long time to get to know people in high school, because I had gone to a private grade school, and didn’t know anybody when I started that first day in ninth grade. But slowly, I started to get to know people, and people started to recognize me.

Well, these boys that were in my German class and rode the bus with me did figure out who I was eventually. They always called me Katerina, though…I don’t know if they never bothered to learn my actual name, or if they didn’t care, but they never used my given name to address me. And I didn’t really care, because I figured at least they knew who I was.

Well, one day, on the way home from school, I suddenly wished that none of them knew who I was at all. Because one of the boys from my German class (and one who I had thought was one of the kinder boys, at that), stood up in the seat behind me, and very graphically pretended to ejaculate on my head. In front of everyone. And, of course, everyone laughed. Maybe it was uncomfortable laughter…I hope for at least some of them, that was the case. All I know for sure is that I sat there, completely frozen while my cheeks burned red, and stared straight ahead, wishing I wasn’t there at all.

If that had been the end of it, that would have been bad enough. But for the rest of the time that I was a bus rider, I had a new nickname…Katerina cummy hair. The boys loved to call me that and retell the story and laugh.

Can you even imagine?

I don’t think it even occurred to me to tell someone. Who was I going to tell? The male (and extremely crabby) bus driver? The male principal? The male (and intimidating) dean? I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my parents…how was I going to tell someone in authority?

The worst part (Is that right? I don’t even know…was there a worst part? Was this really the worst part?) is that to those boys, this was supposed to be flattering. Like I was finally accepted by their group. It was no big deal to them. Clearly it was supposed to be no big deal to me.

Except that it was. The fact that I remember it so clearly over 20 years later proves that it was a big deal. The fact that I was embarrassed to recently share this story for the first time with Ryan, whom I have known for 20 years, and whom I have been married to for 16, proves that it was a huge, humiliating deal to me.

I shouldn’t have expected to be told that “boys will be boys.” That it was just words (plus a rather graphic and disgusting action). That it was a joke, that they didn’t mean anything by it, etc., etc., etc. And worst of all, this story is not unique to me. It happens, has happened, will happen, to countless girls of all ages, just like me. And it doesn’t matter how you try to twist it when it happens.

It was a big deal.

It is a big deal.

Those boys did it to make a spectacle of me in front of others, to humiliate me, to show their power over me. What other reason can there possibly be? Excuses won’t cut it, because this isn’t just teasing, and it’s not like someone can accidentally do something like this without knowing that it’s wrong, and without knowing in some way how it will make the other person feel.

They were the ones with the problem, not me. And they were just the tip of the iceberg. Because there have been others since. Men who have catcalled me, made rude remarks, even a teacher who made inappropriate comments to me.  The jerks on the internet who think that they can just send dick pics to me, and I’m what…supposed to appreciate them? Be flattered by them? And don’t even get me started on Pervy McGroperson who assaulted me in the dark of a movie theater while I was sitting next to my then-fiancé. Yes, these are all real, actual examples of things that have happened just to me. Think of how many similar and worse things are happening to women all over the world, every hour of every day. It doesn’t matter how many events have happened to me since that long-ago day in high school, or how many events happen in the future, because like I said last year:

I didn’t ask for it.

I didn’t deserve it.

It wasn’t my fault.

And the same is true for every woman, whether a famous actress or a relative nobody on a school bus, who has been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted.

You didn’t ask for it.

You didn’t deserve it.

It wasn’t your fault.

Sartorial Saturday–Ravenclaw

“‘Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;'” The Sorting Hat in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Bunny, the biggest fan of Harry Potter in our house, has been anxiously anticipating the release of Pinup Girl Clothing’s “House Harlequins” collection ever since I first told her about it…I don’t know, several months ago? And Turkey was also excited to hear that they were going to be releasing some men’s bowling shirts along with the various skirts, dresses, cardigans, and women’s tops that make up the collection.

Well, my two Ravenclaws are very happy to finally have their Blue House Harlequins! Bunny got another Little Jun skirt, which is the same style as her Lady Wrestlers skirt. I also got her a pair of cobalt hoop earrings to go with it, and she already had a Ravenclaw bracelet, which is the perfect accessory!

Trying to take pictures of the two of them is always interesting, and has been since they were toddlers. There was photobombing, hugging that looked more like strangling, sassing, and general goofing around. In short, they’re siblings, and have fun tormenting both each other and their mother, but at least they look stylish while they’re doing it!

2017-18 School Year–Week Nine

In an unusual twist for us, our school week started on Sunday. Since we were already in the city, we decided to stop at the St. Louis Science Center to see the Omnimax Theater Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs film. It was an excellent movie, and went perfectly with the King Tut exhibit we saw earlier in the school year, as well as what we’ve been studying in history. Of course, while we were there, we also checked out some of the other exhibits, too!

The fun continued on Monday, when we went to our first “Homeschool Day” of the year at the Missouri History Museum, and since Moose had the day off school, he got to come with us! We learned all about cameras, photography, and the importance of photography in modern history, and we got to tour the new Panoramas exhibit while we were there. When we were done at the History Museum, we went back to the Science Center to see the new star show we saw on the schedule when we were there on Sunday: Mission Mars. It was excellent, and we got to try out the new and very comfortable chairs in the planetarium!

After all that, the rest of the week seemed rather boring, I suppose, but we got a lot done. Turkey and Bunny have been reviewing perimeter in math, in preparation for discussing area next week. They also worked on figuring out the measure of multiple angles in a shape with different bisectors given a few beginning figures. Ladybug has entered into the exciting world of exponents. Chickadee is still working on counting by tens.

Ladybug learned about kangaroos and koalas in her study of marsupials…next week, she’ll be learning about animals like sugar gliders and possums. Turkey and Bunny had to create another biological key in science…this time, one focused on Kingdom Fungi. So far they’ve learned about the most recognizable members of that kingdom…mushrooms, puffballs, and shelf fungi.

Even though they’re reading different books, Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug all learned about the Shang dynasty in history. Ladybug also learned about rice farming and Chinese pictograms. In addition to the Shang dynasty, Turkey and Bunny also read about Hatshepsut, and Thutmosis I-III, which was great since we learned all about the Valley of the Kings at the Science Center on Sunday!

Turkey and Bunny finally finished the third fit of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Curiosity got the better of me, so I looked ahead to see how it ends. Don’t worry, I won’t let them know! We have reached the part in Ladybug’s study of Heidi where I really start hating the book (when Heidi is taken away from Grandfather), so I’m dreading next week’s lessons, but I guess we’ll survive. We’re also already almost done with Ramona and Her Father, and Chickadee is already looking forward to the next book.

I can’t believe we’ve finished nine weeks of the school year, and I haven’t schedule a fall break yet. This year is going really well, though, so we’ll keep at it for a while yet!