Hands-On Alabama History: The Conclusion.

From the beginning

1st-Day-of-school-2016s-3 I promise this was from the beginning of this school year. Ignore the wrong dates. I’m a qualified teacher really I am.

To the end.

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It was an absolute adventure.

And my most ambitious and longest school year yet is finally over.

Although we’d finished most subjects, we officially ended it all on May 24, toward the end of a two-day field trip to Huntsville when Ali and I mutually agreed that although we did not go to all the places in my giant Alabama History plan, we were both officially done. Two days later, after she finished her field trip reports on said trip, we were DONE done.

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We did a total of 36 field trips, some(crazy)how, over her fourth grade year. (Some were multiple trips on the same day, so it’s not quite as insane as it sounds.) The book she wrote about those visits…is substantial.

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It was a remarkable year – one that we all learned more than usual and we will all remember extraordinarily fondly, but also a busy year. And oh by the way, Ali grew just a bit.

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(Noah grew too and also Noah learned to read this year but poor kid – gets overshadowed by our giant history project. Someone clap for Noah! He can read! Hooray!!)

(Okay thank you. Now let’s continue.)

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I didn’t get all of our Alabama History adventures written about during the year, but Ali’s reports are so much better than mine, so I’ll just let her cover the ones I never got around to:

Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens: This was our least favorite trip – we went in December and it was really cold that day, so we didn’t enjoy the grounds. The admission price was high, and there wasn’t that much to see. The Christmas decorations were pretty, though, and the “A Christmas Carol” theme was fun. Ali and Noah made the best of it and slid down the very uneven floors in the Antebellum mansion. (The floors were uneven because plumbing was installed post-construction. Makes for a fun indoor slide.)

Arlington Small

Tuscaloosa – we went to the Bear Bryant Museum and the Children’s Hands-On Museum. The Hands-On Museum wasn’t exactly history related, but it was my favorite museum when I was a kid, and I wanted them to enjoy it again. As expected, Noah now asks me to take him back there at least every other day. This was our last field trip with Carla Jean, so it was a delightful, yet bittersweet, final opportunity to enjoy our perfect symbiosis of friendship and education.

Tuscaloosa Small

Southern Museum of Flight and the Birmingham Public Library Maps Exhibit: we took my Dad along to the Southern Museum of flight, which was fantastic, because he was able to teach the kids so much about the planes he’d worked on in the Air Force. Like their inappropriate nicknames and the fact that the switch that drops the missiles is called the “Pickle Switch.” Important information. The kids really enjoyed this museum – they had many planes to play in and several hands-on areas. The education director, Mr. Charlie, was a wealth of information and really fun to make and fly paper airplanes with.

Southern Museum of Flight and Maps Exhibit

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute: This was one of our most important visits, but also ended up being one of our most risky visits. It is definitely geared more toward teens and adults, yet I was brilliant that day and invited friends to come with us. Needless to say, our group of 11 kids ten years old and under were greeted at the front door by a museum curator with strict instructions on how to behave and respect the museum. They did well, considering, but I wished I had left Noah with someone and just taken Ali. It was a grave experience, and there’s so much Civil Rights history that happened right here in Birmingham to absorb. The videos are quite graphic, as are the exhibits. It’s both a vital and painful piece of understanding Alabama’s history.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

U.S. Space and Rocket Center: Alabama played an important part in the Space Race. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is a fantastic campus (it’s way more than a museum) to learn about and appreciate that impact. They have actual vessels that have been on the moon – that alone is worth the drive. The staff there was extremely helpful and voluntary with their loads of information. They made the kid’s visit so much more fun.

US Space and Rocket Center

The Double Helix Park, EarlyWorks, and The Huntsville Depot – We did a triple take for our last field trip day (maybe that’s why we were so done by the end of it) – we first walked The Double Helix Trail in Huntsville, which is a really excellent .8 mile walking trail in the shape of a double helix. Along the way, you learn about characteristics that are on each genome and how they affect our genetic makeup. They also have an app that you can download and turn the walk into a Scavenger Hunt, which we did and the kids adored.

EarlyWorks is a Children’s Museum in Huntsville that, instead of being a science-based hands-on museum like McWane in Birmingham, it’s a history-based hands-on museum, specifically focused on Alabama History. It was an excellent place to spend an afternoon – the kids loved playing Mercantile, running through the River Boat, and setting off dynamite. Oh and their pile of stuffed dogs is AMAZING.

The Huntsville Depot had a fantastic collection of train cars that could be played on, and even had working buttons and switches that made thrilling noises. They also had a museum of old cars and a train museum. We didn’t make it in time to go into the train museum, but the kids enjoyed the rest of it immensely.

Huntsville Field Trips

Interviews – we didn’t do nearly as many history interviews as I’d hoped to. The fact that all the interviews would be in the latter part of the project (nobody’s still alive from the prehistoric days, after all) contributed to my failure in that area. By the time we got to the end of the year, I was just trying to desperately finish the field trip part of our project. We did have one interview event, however, that was seriously tremendous. Our famous meteorologist James Spann came and spoke to us and a group of about 40 other people who have been participating in our Alabama History project, or that just wanted to come and hear him speak. It was very off-the-cuff, and he talked about all sorts of fantastic Alabama stuff (such as the route one would take if they wanted to turn the four hour trip to the beach into a four day trip, going through every little town and eating at every tiny bar-b-q dive along the way.) He took questions from the kids, as well, which was really fun and quite hilarious. We talked about tornadoes and racism and small-town Alabama and everything in between. He was the perfect person to single-handedly handle the interview portion of our project.

James Spann Interview

And that’s it. I’ll see you again in four years, Alabama History.

If anyone wants the last version of my spreadsheet, they can find it here. I do plan on doing a seminar later in the summer for anyone interested in the details of how we made this year work. I plan on having a curriculum guide written up and copies of my spreadsheet ready to go, so let me know if you’d like to be a part of that.

I mean, I plan to do all that, but it is summer. And it’s been a mighty long school year. So feel free to nag if you don’t hear from me. Until then, I’ll be making like Noah and taking a nice, long, nap.

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The Resurrection of Long Butt: Finding a Better Swimsuit.

When a fashion trend troubles me, I find myself studying it intensely, attempting to mentally work out a solution. How could we keep this look but ditch everything that makes it absolutely horrendous? These questions plague my mind in dark, subconscious corners until I concoct a solution. That’s how, in 2009, I found myself publishing the first of many posts about the terrible plague of Long Butt caused by the wrong blue jeans.

And, in many ways, those problems have been solved. (And in many ways the fashion industry is trying to convince us that Long Butt is back in style. But it’s not, y’all. IT IS NOT.)

However, there’s a new long butt in town. And it is seducing both moms and non-moms, convincing them that it can solve all their problems.

But they lie. To solve one problem, they create two more problems in their wake. Do not believe the lies.

Let me introduce you to the Dastardly New Long Butt, and then give my proposed solution to fixing it.

It is…The High Waisted Swimsuit Bottom.

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Oh sure.

It’s vintage.

It’s mod.

And most importantly, it tempts viciously with the promise to conceal our post-baby-having pooch (or our pre-baby-having pooch – I’ve had both.) Furthermore, those of us who suffered through all of our abdominal muscles and tendons being shoved and severed for our c-sections especially appreciate the value in having a pooch smoosher.

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However.

I just got back from several days at the beach and have seen many of these suits in person, and here’s what I’ve observed.

1. Even in front view, the bottom half of the woman in question always looks awkwardly larger than the top half, even when it is clear that the woman’s bottom half isn’t actually larger. The funhouse mirror optical illusion graciously provided by the super length (when a wearer hasn’t been airbrushed) is not delightful.

2. The butt. Oh, the butt. The problem is, you cannot fully tell in an unmoving picture what horrors the rear of this swimsuit does to ones backside. It’s when the backside is in motion that you can assess with wide-eyes, watching as the three-foot-long butt waggles back and forth. And, since it’s generally considered rude or at least a little weird to stare at another woman’s backside for a prolonged period of time, I’ve done all the staring for you. And no matter what the woman’s body shape, the butt is never flattered by the high waisted bottom. It’s not the lady’s booty’s fault – it’s the swimsuit.

In fact, most of the time you can’t even find an honest enough swimsuit company to show you the full view of their high waisted backsides – because even on the size zero model, that booty lengthens into a full-on Grandma-Butt. Even from this side view, though, you can see that they’ve taken her butt (which I’m sure is lovely) and stretched it long then pancaked it flat like they were rolling a pizza dough out of a full can of polka-dotted play-dough.

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Here’s one that showed the entire backside tragedy, only multiplied by the ever widening polka-dots:

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And here’s another that was even a bit more honest to the actual shape of an actual woman:IMG_7185 2This delightful lady’s butt deserves so much better, y’all.

Also, don’t fall for the high-waisted front gimmicks.

More Coverage! More distractions from your belly!

You know what this artsy little tie-waist becomes on a normal human? A pooch hammock.

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You know what this trendy vintage buttoned look becomes when it’s not on a perfect model? Mickey Mouse pants. And I know you do not want every toddler at the pool running up to you for autographs.

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And the ruched look, in real life, is a pooch beach ball. Play with the beach ball, don’t become it.

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So. What, you ask, is the solution to this obvious fashion conundrum? Can we have our high waists without the long butt and maximization optics?

Yes, I believe you can.

Note: I’m not willing to try these on myself and show you the comparisons on the same body as I did in my denim posts – blue jeans and bathing suit bottoms are two VERY different animals. So you’re just going to have to trust my intense staring at the women I’ve seen and my dedicated study of the products on the internet. (Unless one of you wants to volunteer your assets for the sake of this post – I’ll gladly photograph you in all the bathing suit bottoms. No? Okay then. Let’s continue.)

Here’s the solution: a wide waistband.

A big butt may be in style right now, but a long butt is not. Nor is a long butt a naturally occurring feature – it’s only a lie of clothing that creates the catastrophe of long buttedness. So give yourself a waist instead. Wide waistbands in all areas of clothing have long been known to minimize width, provide support, and give a defined separation of butt and waist, thereby eliminating the eternibutt that high waists can cause. There aren’t many high-waist-wide-waistband swimsuit bottoms on the market yet, but my prediction and hope is that this is where the trend will head – because it’s the perfect solution.

Here’s a great example. Even though the waistband is subtle in the back, look how flattering both the front and back are when there is clear separation of waist. Study her butt and see how it doesn’t elongate it at all – it just cinches her waistline and offers an hourglass figure.

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Note: white has to be the most dangerous swimsuit color for a myriad of reasons and I am not recommending the color, but there are other colors available – they just don’t show back views.

Let’s look at a couple side-by-sides and admire the ability of the wide waistband to limit the amount of butt perceived.

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Here’s another great example. It is admittedly cheekier than I’m willing to be, but the extra-extra wide waistband is such a nice look. Notice how it cinches and provides that visual separation that is so vital to the proper length of our backsides.

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How wide is wide enough?

This next one is not wide enough. A narrow waistband makes everything worse, giving the impression that your swimsuit is desperately trying to cinch your butt into a velvet satchel but can’t quite get it closed.

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 4.52.20 PMYou’ve got to go as wide as possible to get the benefit. Wider than yoga pants. Wider than palazzo pants. Wider than the English Channel.

If you have to sacrifice one or the other, I’d recommend trying a slightly lower waisted bottom that still has a wide waistband rather than a narrower waistband on a longer waist. Most of us have the pooch low enough that these would cover it, and it still gives a flattering look without any cinching or long butt hangover:

Option 1:

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Option 2 – the printed waistband offers an even more defined and lovely butt cutoff.

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…But don’t get craaaaaazy with your separation – this is not the bottom we’re looking for, ladies.

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So. Treat your butt nicely this summer. And gift it with a waist.


FAQs:

How about a swim skirt? I personally love a good swim skirt, and I do not think that they elongate the butt, if you find the right one. Of all the shapes of swim skirts I’ve tried, I prefer the fitted side scrunch cut. I recently purchased this one and love it:

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What about fitted swim shorts? These usually tend to cut off on the widest part of the hips, giving an unattractive hip line unless you are blessed with slender hips. Not recommended.

What if I pair my high waisted bottom with a tankini top? Will my butt still look endlessly long? No – as long as the bottom of your tankini comes to the top of your butt, it will work as a surrogate line of separation. If you’re going tankini, Land’s End has the most flattering ones out there, in my experience.


I receive no compensation or affiliate credits for any of the links provided in this post. All research is done out of my desire to advance the cause of flattering the already beautiful female form.

The Alabama Skimm

I’ve mentioned before how much I like The Skimm, and there’s been a lot going on here lately, so I decided to give you guys a bit of my own homestate Skimm.

Alabama’s been talked about a lot lately.

First, our Governor had a, well, a situation that ended up giving us a new Governor in the most fanfare sort of way.

Then the crazy popular S-Town podcast was released.

And finally, The Daily Show had Alabama Week.

 

So, since I assume that I’m your main news source for all true and on-the-ground reporting of Alabama (amIright?), Let’s do some bullet points.

 

  • You’ll be happy to know that we’re not letting our fame get to our heads. If anything, every time another news story goes national about Alabama, we’re more inclined to do a *headdesk*.
  • Because, apparently, just as “good girls don’t make history”, “normal Alabamians don’t make national news.”

So let’s get started.

  • Several of you asked for further details about The whole Guv sitch (read here for the rest of the deets.) I have a few for you – things that got edited out of my first overview because that thing was freaking long. I mean it had to be – it’s quite the saga. But here you go…

…The Governor had a habit of “running away” anytime he and The Sweetest Little Lady you Ever Did See got into an argument about New Girl. But the thing is, Governors aren’t supposed to just “take off.” You know, security and whatnot. His detail was constantly trying to be ready to chase after him when he left in a huff. One night, after a scramble to locate him, they had to report to their commanders, “Uh, we lost the governor.” It took a while for them to track him down by helicopter – turns out, he’d driven all the way to their beach house to have some “quiet time.” Another one of his leave-in-a-huffs, he left from their hometown of Tuscaloosa and forgot his wallet – had no money, ID, or anything. So naturally, he demanded that a state aircraft take off from Montgomery, pick up the wallet in Tuscaloosa, and deliver it to him at the beach.

Another jewel:

…After New Girl said this about The Sweetest First Lady,

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…she actually wrote a speech for The Sweetest First Lady to make when she finally decided to leave The Guv. It’s THE WORST.

“I am grateful to the kind and good-hearted people of Alabama for allowing me to serve as your First Lady for the last five years. It has been a joy and a privilege to serve you and to work together on issues close to my heart such as Domestic Violence Awareness and support for Alabama’s foster children. I want to thank you all for your continued prayers of support for me, for my family and for Robert. The erroneous and unsubstantiated media reports over the last few weeks have been very hurtful to our family and to (the Caldwell and Mason families) and (other families) as well. We ask for your continued prayers in the days and weeks to come. It has been an honor to serve this great state as your First Lady.”

Thankfully, The Sweetest Old Lady You Ever Did See taught us all what you do when your husband’s mistress/Kellyanne-Conway-Wanna-Be writes you a speech that attempts to exonerate your husband’s mistress: she gave some amazing side-eye and said “Girl. Bye.”

112910_WEB_B_Bentley_t1070_hc875ec9985c267cd83eced2dd63ab131d05bf676If I were a better photoshopper, I’d turn that quilt into The Mean Girl Speech.

…Before leaving him, The Sweetest First Lady employed some fantastic and devious tactics to attempt to undermine New Girl’s hold on her husband. Unbelievably heinous things like…taking pictures with her husband and posting them on social media.

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…”Did New Girl’s husband know? Why would he have been okay with it going on?” Those were questions I got asked the most. All indications and depositions imply that yes, he knew all along. As for why he was cool with all this… between their two government salaries, Rebekah’s later shady salary from the shady ACEGOV that the Guv put together, and their two consulting/ad agencies, New Girl and In-Cahoots Hub made well over a million dollars during the time in which New Girl was in the Governor’s employ. So draw your own conclusions.

…The most drama-filled day of the administration was the Governor’s second inauguration. By then, the Sweetest First Lady had secretly moved back to their hometown and was not residing at all in the Governor’s mansion (but still pre-divorce.) What was going on had not come out in the press yet, but the Sweetest First Lady had no desire for herself or her family to be subjected to the inauguration. The drama and planning that went down that day (as recorded in the First Lady’s Chief of Staff’s notes) is miniseries-worthy…Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 4.18.09 PM

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House of Cards ain’t got nothin’ on Alabama.

Moving on in The News From Alabama…

  • S-Town. I can’t decide how I feel about this podcast. Maybe it’s like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter sequel, The Cursed Child – I had to read it twice, back-to-back, to be able to enjoy it (the second time.) But I don’t feel like listening to S-Town again, so I guess I’ll have to stay confused about my feelings. Some brief thoughts, for those of you who have listened to it…(minor spoilers ahead for those who haven’t.)

…John B.’s house is 54 minutes from my house. I know this because you can type “S-Town Hedge Maze” into Google maps and see that magnificent creation. I have mutual friends on Facebook who are friends with some of the people in the show. These facts are mind-blowing to me, as that world seems three worlds away from my world.

…The first two episodes of this podcast personified why I have such high anxiety about Alabama being in the news. Despite every quadrant of this nation having backwards, close-minded small towns, Alabama (and Mississippi) seem to always get labeled by those places, and are never mentioned for all of our many finer qualities. Also, people become caricatures of themselves and of Alabama. As was shown in the later episodes, all of those people have more depth than what is initially portrayed (for better or worse, in some cases.)

…My overall frustration about the podcast is that I feel like John B. planned the whole thing to be his story. So as to not give it completely away, I believe the “twist” at the end of episode 2 was his plan all along. He wanted to be remembered in a literary fashion, and he was a most fascinating individual, but his methods were ultimately selfish and tragic.

What were your thoughts, if you’ve listened?

Moving on.

  • The Daily Show. It wasn’t at all what I expected – they covered issues that were surprisingly not at the top of the everyday radar – perhaps the fact that it was educational to me is proof that they didn’t exactly catch the overall feel of the state. Such as the Alabama forest conservationist whose actual goal is to protect Bigfoot (or Bigfeet, as he was pretty sure there were more than one.)

…The premise was that because Alabama is the state with the lowest amount of Daily Show viewers, they decided that they needed to get to know Alabama and figure out what they were doing wrong. So for four days, they did stories about Alabama.

…The show was less cringe-worthy and more heart-warming that I expected, which really is wise on their part as they’re trying to lure us, not offend us. Tuesday night’s episode was about “Alabama’s Biggest Problem”, prison overcrowding.

(I mean it’s a problem. For sure. But we have others. If you haven’t noticed.)

…On that same day that aired, the Alabama House of Representatives was voting on whether or not to decriminalize Midwifery (midwifery is so fun to say – midWHIFFery midWHIFFery…). That’s right – if you’re a midwife, you’ve been an outlaw in this state. We insist on either hospital childbirth or do-it-yourself at home with ABSOLUTELY NO HELP, got it??

The timing of these two things did not miss mine and Chris’ attention…and our mental image of overcrowded prisons immediately changed to one of prisons bursting at the seams with midwives. We could only assume that they smuggle in essential oils and practice deep breathing on the regular. Kombucha is the contraband of choice and they line their cells with photos of the babies that they criminally helped out into the world.

And what did they do to get put in those overcrowded prisons? The bustling underground midwifery operation, obviously. Which leads to questions such as how does one find a Midwifery dealer? And I bet that black market midwifery is so very unregulated – we MUST decriminalize so that we can regulate and tax it properly!

The Daily Show really missed a trick on the whole criminal midwifery angle. I mean, if you thought Orange is the New Black was fun, just wait until Orange is the New Midwife comes out!

Between Alabama House of Cards and Orange is the New Midwife, we don’t need no S-Town.