Why My Passion For Drag Queens Makes Me A Better Mother

Aggie dance floor devi by Kathy CrabbeAggie Dance Floor Devi” by Kathy Crabbe

Boas. Fake lashes. Heels. I even had a disco ball that spun from my ceiling. Loud, gorgeous clothes.

What I didn’t have was a future in the world of drag because I was already a girl, and I didn’t want to dress like a man. I wanted to dress like a Queen.

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“Molly Knew How To Play It”‘ by Kathy Crabbe

My brother, who is 15 years older than me, took me to Pride in San Francisco and I fell for those gorgeous ladies. I loved their attitudes and the way they moved. They did not apologize constantly the way women in my family did. They loved themselves.

I knew it could never be my reality, but that didn’t mean I didn’t practice with my boombox in the privacy of my room in my little hometown in Rainbow, CA. (Yep.)

When I got pregnant (25 years later) the first books for children I looked for were books about drag queens (I couldn’t find one — any suggestions?) and to see if they had Drag Queen Story Hour at the library in my city. They don’t.

I watched hours and hours of RuPaul’s Drag Race while on bed rest while pregnant… little did I know I was about to start my routine again.

Elro, my daughter, is fussy. Do I stress about it? Nope. Apologize for it? Nah. I want her to love herself. She digs music. When she’s so fussy she looks like Danny DeVito, I turn into the drag queen I have always been in my heart and lip sync the hell out of some Whitney Houston, Ida Maria, Megan Trainer…. everyone.

She loves it.

Once she had a total meltdown and I had to summon the power of Beyoncé. I was thankful for the gay bars I frequented during her “Single Ladies” debut. After the number was over, when Elro was smiling even though her face was still wet with tears, I felt powerful. I felt awesome — and I realized that that feeling was an important feeling to hang on to and cultivate. Because, as RuPaul asks again and again — if you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? And my little girl deserves lots and lots of love.

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“Tonite I Fly” by Kathy Crabbe

About the artist!

Kathy Crabbe is a Canadian born, self taught artist intuitively inspired by a shamanic exploration of the inner psyche.

Kathy is an intuitive guide, creator of the Lefty Oracle deck and a teacher at the Wise Woman University. She is the founder of the Temecula Artist’s Circle and co-founder of the Temecula Arts Mixer and the Writer’s Cafe.

Kathy lives with her architect husband, Mark and their two mutts, Abby & Djinn Djinn in homes they’ve built themselves surrounded by the desert and forest wilderness of Temecula, California and the 1000 Islands, Canada.

Find her work at KathyCrabbe.com!

The first image used is entitled “Gloria Simply Adored Herself”

Austen Inspired Tea Cup Rattle DIY

austenheroinesToday we had an ode to Jane Austen! (That’s why you have babies, right?)  I made Elro a gown (no sleeves — it’s too hot for that!) and a bonnet and took some pictures, then matched them up to some of Austen’s heroes. I also made a fabric tea cup for sound exploration — DIY below.

 

I wanted to build a tea cup that rang like a bell. But then I wanted one that crinkled. Then I wanted one that rattled…

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I finally decided to make more of a tea cup pocket with velcro so I can introduce Elro to any sound I wish!

1. I drew the shape of the tea cup, then folded it in half so when I cut it out it was even on both sides. This became my pattern. 2. I cut out four pieces of fabric from my pattern. Two were the outside print of the tea cup — the roses — and two were the inside prints — pink polkadots — of the tea cup. 3. I placed one rose print side and pink polkadot side, right sides together. I stitched them together along all sides except the shortest side. That’s where I turned it inside out. 4. I did the same thing with the other two pieces of fabric.  I then had two halves of my teacup.

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5. I put the two sides of the tea cup together with the outside print facing each other. I sewed on all sides except for the longest side, which is how I turned it inside out. 6. There are a million ways to make a handle, if you even want one. I’m not sure if my baby can hold onto it yet. I cut outside fabric — with right sides together) into a c sort of shape. I sewed it together, turned it inside out and stuffed it. 7. I hand stitched it on my cup. 8. Adding Velcro to the inside of the cup is the last step.

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The end result? Capital!

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Boho Bunny Hooded Towel

bunnyboho.JPGUsing one of the many online tutorials for a hooded towel, I measured my bunny. I ended up using one of my towels and then cutting off part of it for the hood instead of using a hand towel as many of the online tutorials suggested. She’s so little! She only needs a bitty towel.

I drew the ears, then cut out a contrasting fabric, placed it face down on the towel and sewed almost all the way around it, leaving an area open so I could turn it inside out. I thought I wanted BIG floppy ears so stuffed them, but they looked way too ridiculous for her face.

bunnyearsYikes! I hated the size!

I also realized I didn’t love the color. Instead of buying a new towel I dyed this towel coral with Ritz dye. I thought about embroidering a nose and eyes on the towel, but realized it was more important to me to have some flowers right by her forehead. (It reminded me of Ester Williams, what can I say.) I used some left over flowers from the head-band station at my baby shower.

I shortened the ears and then used the same technique as I had before, this time using a contrasting fabric that looked a bit vintage and had bunnies wearing clothes. (I got this fabric, which was a sheet, for less than a dollar at a thrift store and have made a ton of stuff from it!)

vintagediy.JPGI made a white pompom tail, sewed pom pom trim around the neck and arms and made some coral tassels for the back so that at every angle you could see something a little boho and fun. She went swimming for the first time at her aunt Debbi’s pool and I was very happy with how her bitty towel turned out!

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When Maternity Clothes Turn On You

babygardenI had an extremely bad case of spd/pgp and was on 20 mg on oxycodone a day to stay out of the hospital. The 20 mg of oxycodone didn’t even get rid of the pain, it just allowed me to sleep for a few hours and make it to the toilet. Chronic pain was not something I was familiar with, and add to that that I was pregnant so I could not truly adequately treat it? Yikes. I kept telling my husband, “I’m going to need therapy after this.” I’ve relearned how to walk and swallow from brain surgery, and THIS was way worse. So when the baby was finally born I lost an adorable 7.5 pounds but I still couldn’t fit into my usual clothes. But something about my maternity clothes upset me.

They looked sad. They looked mean. They made me want to cry.

I had never had an emotional response to clothing before, but I began to understand that those dresses were my uniform for that particular span of time in which I was in a lot of pain and a lot of stress.

I took all of my maternity clothes and anything that I wore during that time and put it in a pile. When I’m feeling a bit beat up by the day, when things are just not working out for me, I take a piece out and make either a toy or a dress for my baby.

Transforming the icky into something lovely helps me move on from those old feelings and fears.

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Transform Tough Moments Into Art

I have been writing letters to my daughter since my pregnancy. I recommend it because I would have loved to know what my mother’s thought process was during her journey. I write about the things I make for her and she’s starting to be old enough to enjoy them, which is an amazing feeling. The combination of the letters and the pictures of her with the things I make her will hopefully be able to capture my story for her so she can understand who I am, how I felt, and most importantly, how much I love her.

We had a tough day yesterday. She was having a fussy day, but I was digesting some information that was difficult to process. I took this picture while crying because I was interested in how we looked together. We look miserable! I explain it all in the letter…

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The next day was better! She felt better and she loved her new toy. And I love what her new toy represents — transforming sadness by creating beautiful things.arttransformation.JPG

10 Ways To Prepare For A Medicated Pregnancy

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  1. Start as early as possible. It took me almost ten months to get off certain medications and I expected the whole withdrawal process to last two months.
  2. Choose doctors you trust. This is a delicate journey you’re on and there may be times you second-guess every decision you’ve ever made. Don’t let one of those decisions be who your provider should be.
  3. Have your doctors be in contact with each other. My psychiatrist had my OBGYN’s info and vice versa. If unexpected situations arise, sometimes they need to problem solve with or even for you.
  4. Have back up plans for your back up plans. For example, I knew that if getting off drug A got me in trouble I could take drug B. I knew that if drug B gave me nasty side effects then we could use drug C. If drug C didn’t work out, going back on drug A was a better solution. It was better to be on drug A than nothing.
  5. Consider location. Both OBGYN and labor and delivery were a 15 minute drive, which was great because I had to go there for emergencies (unrelated to bipolar disorder) multiple times. My psychiatrist is 45 minutes away. If he was unable to respond to phone calls immediately then this distance would have been a nightmare because I ended up being on bed rest for seven months.
  6. Figure out whom you’re going to tell about your pregnancy or preparing for your pregnancy. I was so scared and nervous I told everyone – but that made me vulnerable to comments like “your books can be your kids, you don’t need to be a mom” or “my friend went off her meds to get pregnant and ended up in a psych ward” or “could you even live with yourself if your child ends up being crazy, too?” However! Realize you might not have a choice on who knows. At a mother’s day party for my mom I was on the floor rocking back and forth on the floor from stomach pain from klonopin withdrawal. I’m pretty sure everyone knew something was up.
  7. Take care of your mind and body. Work with a therapist. Eat clean. Take vitamins. Exercise. Meditate. Take walks in nature. Read. These are things you can control! And that’s a beautiful thing.
  8. Keep a journal. Write down your worries but also write affirmative affirmations. Write on really good days as well as the really bad days. This will help you remember this is a journey.
  9. Don’t confide with groups or pregnancy apps with people having “typical” pregnancies. They are not thinking about the same things you’re thinking about. If I asked if anyone else was taking Prozac, maybe one or two people would say yes. Most of the comments were about how I shouldn’t be taking anything or that if I’m someone who has to take Prozac, I shouldn’t have children. Even though I was on top of the research and working with great doctors, it still pained me and made me second guess myself when I would get these comments.
  10. Don’t try to make the goal ZERO medication during pregnancy. Some medications are safe during pregnancy. I was weaned off three medications and stayed on two medications – and then added another medication in my second trimester. Every single one of these medications has been researched and I was on a therapeutic but low dose. My baby girl was totally fine. When the benefits outweigh the risks, trust your doctors.

 

 

Jumbo Garden Caterpillar

diycaterpillars.jpgSearching for a giant plush caterpillar with a Jane Austen vibe?  Who isn’t? With feminine details, felt flowers and floral calico prints, this cat helps baby sit up and creates a cute little nook in the garden to read and play in. Make the caterpillar as large or as small as you want depending on the size of your space.

Put two right sides of fabric together and cut a circle. (I traced the biggest platter I own.)

Sew together both pieces of fabric at the edge.

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Cut a hole in the middle of one piece of fabric.

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Turn the pillow inside out through the hole.

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Stuff the pillow to your desired fullness. To give the illusion of a pleats, use strong thread (I used embroidery thread) to make big stitches in a circle — as if you are making a drawstring.

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Pull closed and knot.

Add something to the middle of this circle. A button might be a safety hazard, and I wanted a garden-y feel so I chose felt flowers.

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Caterpillars don’t really have this many feet! But…they also don’t have flowers on their backs, so cut out 2 feet in the shape of a “u” per pillow.

For the face, make another pillow, but three inches bigger and with the opening to stuff it full of cotton on the side, not the middle, so there will not be pleats. Add antenna by using two tubes of fabric or pipe cleaners. I embroidered the face, and I love a pair of sleepy eyes. Not sure if my dog agrees.

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To put Jane (yeah, I just named her Jane Austen) together I sewed the face onto the first pillow at a bit of an angle. I hand sewed each pillow together and hand sewed the feet. Then I put her out in the garden and see if she attracted any attention.

I matched the feet from one pillow to the previous pillow.

Jane has created a lot of silly and happy memories in our garden this year. I love that my dog seems to love it as much as the rest of us.

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