A girlfriend of mine recently started selling Origami Owl. It’s a neat concept. You purchase a “Living Locket” which you can fill up with charms. Between exclusively pumping for 16 months for my first son and nursing my second son, breastfeeding has played a significant role in my life the last 2.5 years. It’s near and dear to my heart. Alas, Origami Owl did not have a breastfeeding-themed charm.
A few months ago, I had run across Shapeways, a company that will 3D print your models for you, and I really wanted to try something out with them. This seemed like a first very easy project to learn Blender and 3D printing!
I still have so, so, so much to learn about 3D modeling, so this post isn’t a tutorial. Instead, I will be referring to other tutorials and tools that helped me out along the way:
I downloaded Blender for free from Blender.org. I watched a few tutorial videos to start to learn the software. The tutorial that applied most to what I wanted to do the most was “Modelling with Curves” by BlenderNerd.
I did what the “Modelling with Curves” illustrated. I made a 2D image of what I wanted and then set that as the background to my grid. My 2D image was based off the Public Domain International Breastfeeding Symbol by Matt Daigle. I had to make some modifications to connect the Mom’s head to her body.
The International Symbol for Breastfeeding
Then I was able to use Bezier Curves to build my object.
I extruded it to give it volume and voila– my breastfeeding charm!
Now, I specifically wanted to learn Blender and 3D modeling. If you do not, Shapeways has a 2D to 3D Print Creator to make the model for you.
I had the medium silver locket which is roughly the size of a nickel. I decided I wanted to keep my charm no larger than 17mm x 17mm. I was also going to aim to have it no more than 4mm deep. I decided to treat one Blender Unit as 1mm and I scaled my object appropriately.
Converting to a Mesh
When I was satisfied with my curve, I converted it to a mesh. The command was Object->Convert To->Mesh From Curve/Meta/Surf/Text.
3D Printing Toolbox
To help me achieve my end goal of 3D printing, I downloaded the 3D Printing Toolbox for Blender. This helped me out quite a bit by highlighting trouble spots in my model, specifically Non-Manifold Edges and where my walls were too thin.
Almost immediately, I found out that tons of my edges were non-manifold. I didn’t know what the hell that was, but I knew it was bad. I did some Googling. Non-manifold meant it was an edge that did not connect to two faces. But… but…but… looking at my model, all those edges looked like they were connecting to two faces.
Looks can be deceiving! It turns out, I had vertices over vertices. So those faces along the side of my curve, they weren’t connecting to my breastfeeding curve at all.
What I did to fix it was just delete the duplicate vertices (which deleted my side faces) and then created new faces with the correct vertices that were hidden below my bad faces.
A big hat tip to the “Fixing Non-Manifold Models” tutorial over at Shapeways. Specifically, the video under “Open objects: coincident edges” was an excellent illustration of what my models issue was.
I also had an issue with thin walls. The Shapeways Material Comparison Sheet tells you the different specifications for each type of material. Sterling silver, for example, requires walls that are 0.6mm apart. The plastics, which I wanted to print my initial model on because it was cheap, required 0.7mm. The hole that made up the baby’s head…. well, it was too close to the wall that outlined the baby’s body.
I did some rescaling of my object and moving of the baby’s head to fix the issue (which I got to learn the Border Select for).
Export to STL and Upload to Shapeways
Once I had my Non-Manifold Edges and my Thin Faces eradicated, following the “Preparing Blender Files for 3D Printing” tutorial from Shapeways, I rotated my model 90 degrees along the X-axis and exported it to STL file. The 3D Printing Toolbox in Blender was warning me about “Overhanging Faces”, but that did not hinder my model from being accepted by Shapeways.
Thanks to all the tutorials and research, my model file returned no errors on its initial upload. If I knew that, I may have named my model file something other than “breastfeeding-first-shapeways-submission”. :) I was expecting multiple iterations and a lot of trial and error.
I ordered a version in Hot Pink Strong & Flexible Plastic and a version in Alumide. Because my models were so small, they were very economical – just a couple of dollars! I expected once I saw my prototypes I would order one in the more expensive silver, but I have found myself satisfied with the plastic versions.
A few weeks later, I had my breastfeeding charms, which fit perfectly in my Origami Owl Living Locket! So now I have a breastfeeding charm in my Living Locket! :) My camera had a horrible mishap this winter, so behold my charm via my cellphone camera. It currently hangs out in my Living Locket with birthstones for my two sons.
If you happen to want the Living Locket version, you can order one for yourself at Shapeways. I have a prototype of a pendant version on order that I should see in a few weeks. If all looks good, I’ll make that one available as well. Also feel free to download the model for your own projects! Go Public Domain!
Last April, my old high school, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, hosted the largest high school hackathon ever. They were looking for volunteers to serve as mentors for the students as they embarked on 24 hours of programming, so my mother babysat and Ryan and I headed over to the high school to help!
I was very impressed at the size of the event. It took up my school’s whole gymnasium! I was also impressed with the students and the projects they took on. One kid who lost his team was still diligently pursuing a project on steganography. Teams were not intimidating by hooking into APIs, such as Google Maps. A couple of groups did games. Phone applications were popular as well.
I’d say a vast majority of the projects were in Java, which is a language I’m a little rusty on (My last Java project was an Android app I did for fun back in 2010). But Ryan and I still managed to be a good mentors. We found a team working that was working on a ranking algorithm based off the chess rating system. Their Java app version was coming along solidly, but they also wanted an HTML-front end to “up the difficulty level” to impress the judges.
“Did they teach you AJAX in class?” I asked.
“No,” the student said, “I googled it this morning and it looked like what I wanted to do.”
Alas, our team did not win, but I was super proud of them nonetheless.
Women in Technology
At the presentation/awards ceremony, there was something that stuck out at me. They showed a video entitled “Women in Technology”. It featured alumni of the high school and was intended to inspire the young women in the audience and show them how women can be in technical fields. I applaud the sentiment.
However, the women featured in the video were recent graduates from the high school and still pursuing their upper educations. As a result, when they talked about balancing a technical career and family, they were speculating and not speaking from concrete experience. I’m not sure how they recruited women for the video and it’s entirely possible email requests went unseen. If the video did feature some older graduates, my high school has quite a credential list. We have female TJ programmers working at MITRE, Xiocom, Google, Northrop Grumman, Microsoft, Symantec Corporation, CARFAX, IBM, etc.
BUT… hopefully me and my big ole pregnancy belly was a subtle reinforcement to the message of the video.
It’s constantly a work in progress… but you can be in a technical field and have a family as well. : )
I am not even three years into my journey as a parent, but my small glimpse into parenthood has me believe that going outside is incredibly important…at least in our little family. If we stay inside, sequestered around the TV, we all (Mommy, Daddy, Big Brother, and Little Brother), ALL go a little stir crazy. So we try to keep a steady stream of outings in the mix.
Polar vortexes sometimes make this challenging, but that’s what IKEA is for.
Two weekends ago, we bundled up and braved the cold with a short hike to Julie J. Metz Wetlands Bank. We were rewarded with the views of a frozen marsh and some fun times as well. Since everything was frozen, Ryan was able to give Sagan a quick introduction to “ice skating.”
Sagan “ice skates”
I’ve been continuing to take an ongoing collection of views while nursing my second son. One of my favorite subset of photos are what I refer to “Sacagawea-ing It”. Sacagawea was an interpreter and guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. She gave birth to her first child, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, and continued her travels with her infant son. Whenever we are out on the trails with infant Dyson, I think of Sacagawea hiking with her son.
We hiked with my older son as well, but we’ve been getting significantly more mileage in with our second. I think part of this is we know we aren’t going to break him. But another factor is the breastfeeding. You don’t have to bring along a cooler and bottles and you don’t have to time your hike between visits to the breast pump. I’ve been really enjoying how easy family hikes are and I certainly don’t mind feeding the youngest… particularly when he decide he’s hungry at a glorious overlook.
We’re still only 4.5 months into our breastfeeding journey, but here are some new “Views While Nursing…While Hiking.”
P.S. Instagram allows me to upload photos directly to Tumblr, so more Views While Nursing can be found at http://viewswhilenursing.tumblr.com.
It may be somewhat controversial for me to document that my husband and I co-sleep. It’s a practice that is definitely not for every family, but it works very well for us. We aren’t drinkers or recreational drug users and we already had a very Spartan sleeping arrangement before we had children (e.g. we slept on the floor), so we didn’t have the scary, fluffy adult bed to contend with.
An Anti-Co-Sleeping Ad by Milwaukee, WI
(Reference: A Response from a Co-Sleeping Parent)
P.S. Our “Bed” Looks *Nothing* Like This
Our experience has been extremely positive, but I would say it hasn’t been as ideal as described in the Good Nights: The Happy Parents’ Guide to the Family Bed (and a Peaceful Night’s Sleep!) book we read during our first pregnancy. Some of the jokes you see circulating around co-sleeping are jokes we can easily relate to.
Baby Sleeping Positions
(Credit: How To Be A Dad)
Perception vs. Reality
Also, I must have missed the section in Good Nights where they talked about how when your child has a stomach flu, the upheaval that accompanies changing the linens in the middle of the night applies to the *entire* family.
Stomach flu aside, we have had many, many positive moments. I think this one is my favorite:
Little Dyson is only 4.5 months old at the moment. Some nights, he starts to squirm and stir. I awake to him grunting, his eyes still closed, but clearly aggitated. Usually he is hungry, but sometimes… sometimes I just press my nose against his cheek or rest my forehead against his… and just instantly his limbs relax, his breath steadies, and he falls right back into a peaceful sleep.
I love that. He just wanted to know I was there, that he wasn’t alone.
And moments like that make even the stomach flu worth it.
My youngest son is right on schedule with his growth. Just a couple of days after he turned three months old, I noticed he was a little too snug in his 0-3 month sleepers. I decided daycare would probably prefer him to be able to stretch out his legs, so I went and got him a more appropriately sized outfit. As I zipped up those new pajamas, it suddenly dawned on me– I am likely never going to have a child wear 0-3 month sleepers again. My brain dwelled on that somber fact, perhaps a little too long. Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by input by my eyeballs.
Earth to Vicky. Earth to Vicky. Hellloooo! There is an infant smiling at you RIGHT NOW.
I focused on the baby below me and there he was, happily wiggling and cooing, his eyes crunched up into tiny little crescents.
Smile back, you jackass!
So I did and just like that, the moment of melancholy passed.
This year for his birthday, my husband requested a camping trip. With our two year old and our two month old accompanying us, that made it our very first family camping trip!
Keeping It Simple
Keeping in mind we had two kids with us now, we kept the outing simple. Our original plan was to camp at Sky Meadows State Park which is about an hour away from our home. Our campsite there was going to be a mile hike from the parking lot. However, when that park closed for a Search and Rescue operation, we had to revise our plan. We went to the even closer Prince William Forest National Park and the expedition was made even simpler as our car was parked right next to our site. Initially I was disappointed in the lack of a hike, but I did like being very liberal with my packing knowing the car was right there. I was particularly liberal with layers for the kids. : )
Our menu was insanely simple too. Hot dogs, campfire baked potatoes… and s’mores. We don’t really eat hot dogs at home, so it was a special treat for two year old Sagan. He ate 2 1/2 of them!
Beforehand, Ryan and I were strategizing how to most peacefully limit Sagan’s s’mores intake. That turned not to be an issue. He may have liked s’mores, but they paled in comparison to the hot dogs.
For our campfire baked potatoes, we wrapped them in tin foil, threw them in the fire Friday night, and let them do their thing. Saturday morning, we woke up and pulled them out of the ashes and devoured them for breakfast. Sagan’s reaction after his first bite:
That was my reaction too. Campire baked potatoes are a favorite of mine. No salt, no butter, or any kind of fixings. They are delicious as is.
For this outing, the act of camping and nature itself was entertainment enough for our two year old. He very much enjoyed helping with the normal camping chores such as setting up the tent, gathering wood, and starting a fire.
We were enjoying the campfire when Sagan suddenly requested, “Night night.”
“We’re going night night in the tent,” Ryan said.
Sagan looked over at the tent and said, “No Night Night Tent. Night Night Home.” : )
His hesitation was fleeting. Once we were all in the tent, Sagan was immediately at ease and went to sleep almost right away. We co-sleep and have done a fair amount of traveling. No matter where we’ve gone and what strange rooms and beds we’re in, Sagan has had two constants with bedtime– his mommy and his daddy.
It might also help that at home we sleep on the floor, so camping wasn’t a big leap.
Recent studies indicate that camping can help reset your circadian rhythms within a week. Well within a single night, we all feel asleep much earlier than usual.
I exclusively pumped with Sagan. We never camped when he was an infant, but we had talked about it enough that I had considered the logistics– getting batteries for the breastpump and enough ice for the cooler, packing enough bottles and cleaning wipes. It would have been do-able, but there would be effort involved.
With little Dyson, we are breastfeeding directly and I have to say, it’s liberating. To feed my child, there was only one thing I needed to pack– ME!
Plus I got to take in some pretty good views while nursing as well. : )
Sagan’s old MobyWrap continues to prove to be super useful with baby Dyson as well. Dyson rode in it while we gathered wood, did a moonlit walk around the campground, and just normal camping activities.
Parenting Cliché Fail
When Sagan woke up after his first night in the tent, he was really energetic and excited. As he played and explored the campsite and the woods, he expressed his giddiness verbally… and loudly. Aware that there were campers in nearby sites who were perhaps still trying to sleep, I found myself spewing out a common parent phrase:
“Use your inside voice!”
The only big downside of the trip was my own mind. At first, my sleep wasn’t the best because I kept worrying about little Dyson. I had him layered up, elevated off of the cold ground in his car seat, and right next to me, but I still fretted about waking up to find that he froze to death…silently, without making a peep. As a result, I kept waking up and poking him to check his body temperature. After the first time he woke up to nurse, however, I realized all was well and normal. I was able to sleep much better after that.
One thing I could have improved upon with Dyson is the layers I chose for him. His base layer was zip-up pajamas, so when I changed his diaper overnight, I had to expose his chest. (Narami, you mentioned this on Twitter, but the lesson didn’t fully sink in until I was changing diapers in the cold). Next time, I’ll make a more strategic choice.
Post Camping Hike
After a great night of camping, we decided to check out Carter’s Pond on the way out of the park. It was brief and beautiful and Sagan got to meet the Polythemus Moth. The moth is named after a cyclops because of the fake eyes it has on its wings. Ryan showed Sagan the moth’s fake eyes and its real eyes.
Our first camping trip was a great success. We may have been celebrating Ryan’s birthday, but it ended up being a gift for the entire family. I might have to steal the idea for my OWN birthday.