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Friday, May 30, 2008

Good Advice

BB continues to expand her vocabulary, and yesterday she learned a very important word: "vulva." I suppose this isn't surprising, given her interest in all things related to potty training.

It is fast becoming one of her favorite words, along with the usual suspects -- Mama, Da-Da, Bye-Bye. Lately, she's added her attempt at saying her brother's name, which comes out as a breathy double-'P' sound, "Puh-Puh." (Not sure why, since this doesn't sound much like his name, but it's clearly what she means.) Of course, most of the time when she tries this, I get all excited about it and praise her profusely. And BJ will immediately chime in with, "Don't say my name! I'm Blue!" Or whomever he is pretending to be at that time. I then go on my litany about how she's allowed to say his name, telling him it's okay, she's learning, etc. At which point he will say, grudgingly, "Okay. Please don't say my name!" Because, you know, saying please makes everything acceptable. Gotta love the logic of a preschooler.

Another one of BB's most favorite recent word aquisitions is "bonk." (S pointed out the other day that, given her interest in banging things around and giving head-butts, she's like the female equivalent of "Bam-Bam" from the Flintstones. He has a point.) She also knows that you are supposed to get or give a kiss after a "bonk" and will often follow her head-butts (which are pretty hard!) with a kiss. Yes, it is as charming as it sounds.

BB gets great joy out of finding new ways to use her favorite word, though she's not entirely clear on the concept -- yesterday, she was convinced that Nana J was "bonk"ing her head the whole time she was using the hair dryer. This was a topic of conversation several times during the day. As a result, Nana J received many kisses blown her way, because BB was quite concerned about Nana's "bonk" on the head.

But my favorite to date is the potty conversation we had yesterday afternoon. BB pointed to her genitals, shook her head no, and said "Bulba bonk!"

In other words, don't bonk your vulva.

Excellent advice for someone who likes to run around with her pants around her ankles, wouldn't you say?

(For the record, to my knowledge she has not actually bumped the area in question. Given how active she is, it may well be the only part of her body she hasn't "bonked." Yet.)

Friday Feature -- Macaroni and Glue

This week's featured Etsy artist is Macaroni and Glue. Her stationery and paper goods are classy and unique, with an elegant sense of style.

Be sure to check out her sale: buy three and get the fourth for free! Her shop announcement has all the details.

I especially like her Father's Day cards. "Father is a Verb" is my particular favorite!

Tell me two (or more!) interesting things about you.

1. In a former life, I was a working actor.
2. My husband and I lived for years with our Rottweiler on a 40' boat on Lake Union in Seattle. It was great - it's right in the heart of the city. But it was definitely close quarters. I was running a designer clothing resale business in those days and I literally had to keep my inventory in a 2 x 2 hanging locker and bins in the engine room.

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I primarily sell stationery - notecard sets, greeting cards, invitations and announcements. But I also enjoy decoupage and occasionally offer gifts as well.

To which Etsy Street Teams do you belong?

I love teams! I'm a member of FAM (Fabulous Artistic Moms of Etsy), EtsyGreetings, EtsyPaper, EtsyMom, and EtsyBloggers

What inspires your creations?

I love all things vintage - I'm constantly searching for beautiful imagery from vintage ephemera, historical drawings and children's books from the early 1900s. My 2-year-old daughter also influences my designs. I absolutely love illustrations of little girls and simple, feminine designs.

Tell me a bit about your creative process and/or how you learned to do what you do.

I'm completely self-taught and for years thought that I didn't have an artistic bone in my body. In fact, I was invited to a cardmaking party a few years ago and declined to participate in the sample project. I told the instructor I was "craft-impaired!" When I left my job to stay home full-time with my daughter, I started making handmade gifts for family birthdays and holidays in an effort to save money. I began trying out all kinds of crafting techniques and I absolutely fell in love with the idea of making something with my own hands. After making some personalized notecards and thank you cards as gifts for friends, I realized I'd kind of zeroed in on paper as my preferred material. Since I'm not really into the whole scrapbooking thing, I had no idea what kind of great stuff was available for paper projects! The more "gear" I acquired, the more ambitious I became with my designs. The more ambitious I became, the more I realized that I'd truly found a new passion.

What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?

I absolutely adore the "Kelly" invitation set. They're so simple and pretty - at once, earthy and elegant.

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

1. Driven
2. Meticulous
3. Nurturing

What do you like about Etsy?

I love the sense of community that Etsy provides. I opened my shop with some trepidation - it was the first time I'd put my work out there and announced to the world that I consider myself a stationery designer. Very scary. But I've been very warmly received and feel so supported. Every time I get a "heart" from someone whose work I admire myself, I feel completely validated. I'm just very proud to be part of such an amazing group of artists.

What makes your shop unique?

I think I have a unique and eclectic sense of style. I like to take vintage imagery and make it fresh. With my greeting cards, I try to offer non-traditional ways to express traditional messages. My work is simple and often understated; it's straightforward and poignant. And I feel like I truly offer something for everyone.

What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

For sellers, know what you want from your shop and tailor your shop-keeping activities accordingly. It's easy to get caught up in all the hoopla of promotions and social networking. Each time you're tempted to take something else on, ask yourself if what you're doing is consistent with your goals. For buyers, shop with abandon! Etsy is filled with great stuff and fabulous people. You're doing a good thing by shopping with us.

Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

You can find out more about my life, my politics, my business and my creative process on my blog at
I also have a gallery on

For more Mama's Magic Friday Features, click here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Acupuncture, Session 3

This morning, I had my third acupuncture session. I've been really pleased, so far, with the results. Granted, I'm still a little nervous about the needles -- especially since I'm still sporting a livid green bruise on my throat from last week -- but I'm also experiencing significant reductions in the pain and discomfort in my hip and leg. When I saw P today, he was extremely apologetic about the bruising, saying it's "very rare" but not anything to worry about.

For this third session, he changed his approach a bit. Previously, he'd been focusing on my belly and front and legs. Today, he applied needles to my back and spine. I'm feeling pretty good right now. During this past week, there have actually been times when I've paused and realized, "Hey, I'm not feeling any pain!" Later it will flare back up, bad as ever, but this seems like good progress to me.

CDM and Nana J's Visit

Yesterday, we had a great time at the Children's Discovery Museum with Nana J. It was her first visit, so we had fun showing her all the cool stuff. As usual, we started off in the Wonder Cabinet, which was as big a hit as ever. The water play area was also lots of fun, even though it was extremely crowded with older kids who were there on field trips. (To be expected towards the end of the school year.) There weren't enough smocks to go around, so the kids got soaked head to toe, but I'd brought a change of clothes so it wasn't a disaster.

After getting doused, we headed outside to the garden area. Nana and I hung out while the kids dripped dry a bit and "painted" with water on the concrete. It always amazes me how much fun can be had with this simple activity, but it never fails to amuse and entertain.

We stayed at the museum through lunchtime, and then everybody got excellent naps when we got home.

Then, Nana was kind enough to watch the kids while S and I went out for dinner. A bit of a belated celebration of our 11th anniversary. Hung out at Santana Row for a bit, ate at Maggiano's Little Italy (which was delicious). We got home to BJ having a minor meltdown -- apparently he'd broken down in the bathtub, sobbing about how much he missed his mommy and daddy. Break your heart! But even so, it was definitely a good day.


I had my MRI yesterday morning, which was a strange experience. Less horrible than I'd anticipated, but still surreal. I've never even had so much as an X-ray (knock wood) so I wasn't really sure what to expect.

Not surprisingly, the noise and confinement were challenging. The worst part was I'd closed my eyes when the technician slid me inside, and once inside I was torn between the urge to keep my eyes closed and the compulsion to see what it looked like inside. I worried that if I opened my eyes and felt too closed in, I'd panic. But after about five minutes, I peeked through my eyelashes and saw that it wasn't too bad. The "ceiling" was about four or five inches above my nose. Diffuse light, lots of white plastic. I found myself fighting the urge to twitch involuntarily in response to the thrumming and beeping. So it was difficult to stay still throughout the 20 minute procedure, but it was hardly the suffocating trauma I'd feared.

While inside the machine, I kept thinking of sci-fi images, particularly pods for space travel and cryogenic preservation. I was very grateful for the gently moving air inside the tube, which I'd imagine is a deliberate effect to help stave off claustrophobia.

The technician said it would take about 5 days to get back the results, so it will be a little while before we know anything more. It will be interesting to see if anything turns up.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


S was at a conference this weekend, so I was solo with the kids. On the whole, we did really well, I'm happy to say. We stayed busy enough to keep things interesting, relaxed enough to keep from being too stressed out.

Yesterday was rather trying, though, between BB's teething and BJ's contrariness. They were in full meltdown mode when S had to leave, which was no fun. But we recovered, survived the day, even got to spend a little time with the amazing Tia M in the evening. BB is still having a fair amount of stranger anxiety, so she didn't want much to do with company, but BJ was delighted to see her. He kept telling everybody that he'd piled up rocks on the porch especially so she could find the house.

Saturday night was bad, but I figured it would be, so whatchagonnado. It looks like BB is really and truly day-weaned; it's been more than a week since she's nursed during waking hours, and she's not nursing to sleep for naps or bedtime anymore. She is, however, still mostly nursing through the night. (Sigh.) Yes, we've done it totally bass-ackwards.

Again, whatchagonnado. It is what it is, and progress is being made -- she usually nurses about 11 pm or midnight, again around 2 or 3 a.m., and then again somewhere between 4 and 6 a.m., and depending on when that last one happens she'll want another snack just before she gets up between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. Considering that not too long ago she was (still!!!) nursing every 2 to 3 hours, and given that her bedtime these days is somewhere between 7:30 and 8 p.m., the long stretch in the first part of the evening is a huge leap forward. As is the fact that she no longer nurses to sleep. She goes down in her crib, usually without fuss. I have every reason to think that she'll continue to increase the time between her bedtime and that first nursing session, and as that happens she will drop some of the other feedings. Or that's the hope, anyway.

So, having survived the long day Saturday and the long night that followed, today was definitely a better day. We started off with a trip to the farmer's market with A and her daughter C, who is only a month younger than BB. I was nervous about going, since it was a return to the "scene of the crime" where BJ's farmer's market phobia began last year. We'd not been back since. But he had a great time, and so did BB. He was especially entertained by holding hands with C as the kids' strollers glided along side by side. C kept trying to get BB in on the fun, which was pretty stinkin' adorable, but BB didn't want much to do with it. It's an interesting contrast: BB is a much more physical child than her brother, in terms of always moving around and being so precocious with motor skill development, but BJ is easily more touchy-feely.

After the market, we headed over to a favorite park so that the kids could run around for a bit. (With the ongoing effects of the wildfire in the Santa Cruz mountains, we've been spending lots of time indoors. At times yesterday, it absolutely smelled like a campfire outdoors.) Stopped and got donuts on the way there, which was a nice little treat. Also a nice little revelation: BB is finally old enough now to kneel on a regular, adult-sized cafe chair and snack on donut pieces.... and, more importantly, old enough to stay put throughout, instead of constantly getting down and wanting to run around and explore. It was actually quite pleasant to sit with the two of them and have a little sweet treat. First time since BB was tiny (and still in the "potted plant" stage of infancy) that something like that has been mostly enjoyable instead of mostly stressful! I felt like I was getting a glimpse of what the future might hold. (And bonus points to BJ, who asked to go potty not once but twice while we were there -- and actually went! Not so much fun to have BB with us in a public restroom while he's doing his business, but that's to be expected.)

After the park, BB took a decent nap, and BJ and I rested together for 45 minutes or so. S is home now, having arrived just as we were finishing dinner. Good to have him back. He was only gone from Saturday morning to Sunday night, but that was plenty long enough.

God bless all those single parents out there -- I don't know how they do it. Things like fitting in a shower (which didn't happen), keeping the kids entertained while making meals, or finding a few private moments in the bathroom (which also didn't happen, but given the realities of potty training two kids at the same time, in a single bathroom house, I've long ago given up on that). I just shake my head in awe (and fear) at the thought of raising children without a partner. Two days and one night is long enough for me!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Forever. And Ever.

BJ continues to ask pointed and frequent questions about death and creation. "Who made us, Mommy?" This one has come up several times now, and each time I've answered something along the lines of: "Well, some people believe we were made by God. Some people say that you are made from your parents."

I wish somebody had warned me how quickly kids up the ante with these sorts of questions. Today, twice, he asked, "Mommy, will you stop loving me when you die?"

Of course, I said, "No. I will love you forever and ever and ever. Even after I die."

And of course that's what I hope is true. If anything should endure, it is love. Right?

It's times like these that I find myself envying folks with strong beliefs and a clear narrative about the afterlife. It would be so much easier to just say something about heaven and be done with it. But that would not be my truth.

So I'll stick to the story that a three-year-old can understand. It's hard, given the inclinations of my educated mind, to stop myself from getting into the complexities of it all with him. I keep reminding myself that we have time, lots of time, to delve deeper into these sorts of questions. (His father is a philosophy professor, after all; family conversation tends to be "deep" -- when it isn't focused on the quotidian details of childrearing.) Right now he doesn't need pontification or vacillation. When he asks these sorts of yes/no questions, he wants a definite answer.

He has the rest of his life to discover the finer points of spiritual/religious/philosophical questions. Right now, he needs to know that I love him. And always will. Forever and ever.

True enough for me.

Friday Feature -- AliciaMae

This week's featured Etsy artist is AliciaMae, who runs no less than three shops on Etsy. (Wow!) I particularly like her prints, especially the New England series. Brings back happy memories of camping in Vermont and Maine with my grandparents when I was a kid.

It also turns out that she's having a sale on many items, so you can find some really good deals in her shops! Enjoy!

What is your shop name?

My shop name is AliciaMae - Eclectic Design Gifts, though I also have AliciaMaePrints (Art and Photography by Alicia) and RandomSupplies All of my shops are linked through my website.

Tell me two (or more!) interesting things about you.

I'm actually a scientist and writer. I finished my PhD about a year and half ago, but went back to crafting because I couldn't find a job. Now I am looking for a teaching position and edit scientific manuscripts...when I'm not on Etsy! I also have several unfinished novels collecting dust.

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

Mainly handpainted and/or woodburned items. I incorporate paint into almost everything from trinket boxes to wall plaques to jewelry. But I also like to play with polymer clay and to cross stitch. I have an eclectic (and eccentric) taste in things and that is reflected in the variety of items that have stricken my fancy. I also love photography and to draw.

To which Etsy Street Teams do you belong (if any)?

NCEtsy (North Carolina, for now - I plan on moving soon) Etsy Eccentrics and I'm hoping that Mad Scientists of Etsy becomes a group!

What inspires your creations?

A lot of what's around me from nature, to people, to entertainment. Sometimes I'll see something in a supply shop/craft store and I'll come up with a dozen odd ideas of what could be done with it. I also like to try out colors and textures. Layering one color of acrylic paint over another often has interesting effects because of the optical interference that type of paint can produce, completely unlike oils or latex paints, and denser than watercolors.

Tell me a bit about your creative process and/or how you learned to do what you do.

I learned from my mother and grandmother mostly. Though there's also quite a bit of self-taught in there. I loved art class when I was younger and often spent time on the techniques myself. I had all sorts of jewelry making kits, pottery kits including the spinning wheel, and painting kits when I was growing up. Many members of my family are crafty and I had handmade costumes and other items when I was younger.

What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?

My absolutely favorite item was a celtic knot trinket box sold just before Valentine's Day.

It was a gift bought by this really nice guy for his girlfriend. The box was quite an accomplishment in regards to burning and then intricately painting. Though I used a template for the majority of the knotwork I had to draw in the center pieces myself and connect in all the lines while attempting to remain true to the original pattern. I was very very happy with how the box came out and hope to eventually attempt another project of similar magnitude for myself. If I was going to keep anything I made it would've been that one, but I really didn't have anywhere to keep it where it would do as much as it is now in a loving home.

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

weird, sensitive, and happy

What do you like about Etsy?

The mission to create a venue where handmade is priority. The original community atmosphere of being able to communicate about crafting and dealing with starting a business were all aspects I appreciated when I joined over a year ago. I had so many crafts I had made in my spare time that I was glad to find somewhere I could list them that was also a support network. I've learned a lot being here.

What makes your shop unique?

ME! :D lol
I don't follow trends or fads. I use colors I like, not what's "in". I make things I would give as gifts and I enjoy variety. Though others may have those characteristics, they are probably expressed differently in regards to style or presentation. I often give things a different twist that most would consider folk art.

What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

Patience and expansion. Be patient in regards to sales and learning the ropes. It takes time to become familiar with a venue and to have all your ducks in a row. It's been a year and I'm still figuring out exactly how to organize my items and write descriptions. And don't keep all your eggs in one basket. Though Etsy is currently the top handmade venue, there are other places to expand to. This is also important for advertising and promotion. When trying to get yourself out there you have to actually get out there.

Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

My blog at or my website.

You can also check out more pics from AliciaMae here at her flickr account. For more Mama's Magic Friday Feature interviews, click here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Talking About The Train

BB may not be using many words yet, but she sure doesn't have any trouble communicating with us. She has been having the following conversation with us -- or variations of it -- several times a day, ever since our trip to the Oakland Zoo:

BB: "Oooh-Woo!"
Me (or S): "You're thinking about the train at the zoo?"
BB: "Yah!"

BB then points to either herself, S, me, or BJ. If it's herself or S, she will shake her head. If it's me or BJ, she will nod. Sometimes she accompanies this with another "Oooh-Woo!" sound (which for her means "train"). Often she points to everybody in sequence, making the appropriate nod or head shake accordingly.

She's telling us that she and S did not ride the train, while BJ and I did. She gets great joy when either S or I say as much. It is so satisfying to her to be understood!

She also likes to wheel her hands, do the sign for "horse" (which in this case means "zebra") or wheel her hands and then say, "Ch!" (which means chair). She's telling us that she rode the merry-go-round. The first time she rode the zebra, and the other times she rode in the chair with S.

Sometimes all this turns into question and answer.

BB: "Oooh-Woo!"
"Did BB ride the train?"
BB: Emphatic shake of the head
"That's right! BB didn't ride the train. Did Mommy?"
BB: "Yah!"
"Did BJ?"
BB: "Yah!"
BB: Wheels hands.
"Did BB ride the merry-go-round?"
BB: "Yah!"


After a few rounds of this, BJ got in on the conversation. "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! She's talking about the train!"

BB especially likes to have this conversation in the highchair, during snacks and meals, but she'll try to start the conversation almost anywhere: potty time, in the car, in the middle of reading a book.....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Acupuncture, Session 2

Another helpful acupuncture session this morning, I'm delighted to report. As with last time, the acupuncturist worked only on my front, focusing on the belly, neck, and right leg. Unlike last time, I ended up with a definite bruise on my throat. (Someone who didn't know me would probably assume it was a hickey!) It didn't hurt at the time, but it has become more and more tender.

Still, so far it's well worth it. My hip is hardly hurting at all right now (knock wood!) and the leg is more of a nuisance than anything. Crossing fingers that this continues!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Cozy Life

"Cozy" has long been a favorite word of mine, so I had to smile when I learned that this month's fabulous featured Etsyblogger is "A Cozy Life." Cozy also writes a nifty blog.

Isn't this child's bandana darling? I wish BB would get past the point of ripping everything off her head as soon as I put it on.... this would be perfect for keeping her growing-out bangs out of her eyes!

Cozy is an amazingly active and helpful member of the Etsyblogger team -- and I think that the same warmth and personality comes through in her shop. As she says, "There is something here for everyone, all handmade, from the heart by people like me who don't know how to stop."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Oakland Zoo, Visit #2

We went back to the Oakland Zoo today, meeting up with Uncle M, Auntie J, and cousin M. A grand time was had by all!

Look, Ma -- I laid an egg! (Climbing on the egg and snake sculptures was definitely a highlight for all the kids.)

Figures the best composed shot of both kids in the same frame would be of their backs....

BB led the way climbing through the rocks at the entrance to the Children's Zoo. She was fearless!

BJ and cousin M had a good game of "Let's Chase Each Other In Circles!"

BB loved the frog sculptures. (No, she's not blowing a raspberry -- she's signing "frog.")

I think BB could have taken a bit of a nap there inside the turtle shell.... must have been cool in the shade!

BJ loved the bug house. He was especially interested in the millipedes (which were a good 10 inches long, at least!) and in the lock on the door, right next to where he is pointing.

M and BJ are really getting to be such big kids -- riding together and everything! Soon BB will be in the thick of it too, I'm sure.

Once again, the merry-go-round was a big hit for all. We all rode twice! Though by the second time around, it was clearly getting time for BB's nap... she only wanted to snuggle with Daddy on the bench as it went around.

Not sure when we'll be back, since our Happy Hollow Zoo membership expires at the end of the month, and it's that reciprocal membership that got us in. With the construction we won't be renewing right away.

But perhaps we'll become Oakland Zoo members instead! After dinner, BB was "telling" S all about the animals and the merry-go-round and the train, using a combination of signs and onomatopoeia to make her meaning clear and to convey her excitment about all the events of the day.

And of course BJ has talked nonstop about everything. The bats apparently made quite an impression with him; he was pretending to be "Pup-Kwuk" the bat, making himself a "cave" out of pillows and hanging upside down. Also insisting that S come be the zookeeper, which consisted of unlocking the cage and feeding him with play fruit. It's such fun to see his imaginative play these days!

So it was a hot day, but a fun one, and I'm really glad we were able to hang out with S's brother's family. We don't see them nearly enough, even though they are now only about 45 minutes away. Hopefully we'll have the pleasure of their company again very soon.




(Shirt courtesy of the amazing Tia M. Perfect slogan for a preschooler, dontchathink?)

First time I'd ever tried my hand at cutting hair. Not too bad, though I say it myself!

And for the record, his weirdo face is the result of his insisting on shouting "BowWow!!" as a replacement for "Cheese!" when his picture is taken.

Feelin' kinda thrifty about the whole experience. BJ was AMAZINGLY good through the whole haircut, not a single moment of fussing. The clippers cost a whopping $13 at Big Lots. Considering that we usually shell out $20 (including tip) for his haircuts, we're already to the good. And I'd definitely give it another go. So I can add "barber" to the list of items for the Motherhood Resume.

Though I probably won't be cutting BB's hair anytime soon. I think BJ has very forgiving hair, and going short with the trimmers is much less intimidating than trying to get stuff straight with a pair of scissors. So BB's bad hair year will just have to continue. Not that she seems to mind!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Eleven Years!

Not that we did anything especially exciting in honor of the day.... but I wanted to be sure to note for posterity that today is our eleventh wedding anniversary. I guess the good thing about still going strong after 11 years is that you can let the actual day pass without a big hoopla and still trust that it will all even out in the end!

I have to say that I found it very gratifying to read in the paper this morning that California State Supreme court approved same-sex marriage. A nice thing to see on one's own anniversary! About time. (Though of course I don't look forward to the inevitable squabbling that will result....)

So what did we do today? S took BB to the grocery store this morning while I cut BJ's hair. First time I'd ever attempted anything like that, and it didn't turn out too bad. In the afternoon, we all got to nap, and BJ and BB didn't get up until almost 4 pm -- the heat will do that! But as a result we had to scrap the original plan of going clothes shopping for the kids and instead just hung out in the backyard before dinner.

Unfortunately, the long naps have made bedtime pretty rough. S just came in and told me the kids are both still awake. Gotta go....

Friday, May 16, 2008

37,000 Diapers

This morning, I took the kids to help haul diapers for BB's playgroup's diaper drive. The drive collected more than 37,000 diapers to donate to the local family shelter -- enough to fill five minivans and SUVs!!! BB and BJ both wanted to help load up the minivan, though once it was full BJ immediately decided he did NOT want the diapers there. (Good thing we were on our way to be rid of them by then!)

It was a hot and sweaty task to load and unload everything, but I was glad to help and happy to have the opportunity to do a little family-friendly community service. Of course BB didn't have a clue, but BJ understood a bit about what we were doing and during the course of the day he mentioned several times the other kids who would be using all those diapers.

We personally contributed 161 diapers. The drive came at an excellent time for us, because we had a bunch of diapers hanging around that were not going to get used now that we've switched both BB and BJ to pull-ups and/or underwear. I was worried that BJ might have issues about giving them away, but he was fine. Whew.

In other diapering and potty news, BJ earned his big potty prize this afternoon, FINALLY finishing the 10th star for #2. He was extremely proud and tickled to be able to play with his IKEA dragon, at long last!

Friday Feature -- Little Elephant Company

This week's featured Etsy artist is fellow EtsyKids member, Little Elephant Company. I'm a huge fan of her adorable children's decor -- we have her growth charts, quilt clips, and (my personal favorite) an adorable ladybug hair pretty holder! You can visit her Etsy shop or her website.

Tell me two (or more!) interesting things about you.

1. I have 3 boys and a husband into power tools - gives me flashbacks of watching Home Improvement as a kid and reruns of it at night. My husband is much more careful than the toolman, thankfully!
2. My current hobby is managing our vacation home in Branson, and my past (and hopefully to resume soon) hobbies are your average ones: reading good novels and scrapbooking.
3. I have been working on writing a historical romance novel based on my family coming to the US from Germany. It's been off and on for the past 9 years, and I have it about 1/3 completed. I hope to make into a series of 3 to 5 books eventually (long term goal).
4. Was a USA Karate Federation National Champion in sparring (fighting) when I was 16 years old.
5. Also am a professional bead stringer for the local jewelry store.

What do you sell in your Etsy shop? Children's room decor. Began with creating the idea of quilt clips and then added on and created a whole line of room decor. Many items came about from customers' special requests.

What inspires your creations? Baby bedding

Tell me a bit about your creative process and/or how you learned to do what you do. Ummm...I usually procrastinate and start painting...However, the more I do, and the longer I create, the faster the ideas come to mind!

What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite? The custom letters

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself? Bright, creative, and quiet

What do you like about Etsy? It's cheerful, even though there are many "dark" items.

What makes your shop unique? My quilt clips that I created.

What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy? Sellers: Put passion into your items, take great pictures and edit them to better reflect the item, write a concise description, and list! Buyers: If you have a question, don't hesitate to ask!

Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations? My story is on my "About Me" page on my website:
For more Mama's Magic Friday Feature interviews, click here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I'm happy to report that yesterday's acupuncture treatment -- my first ever -- seems to have had a positive effect. I was fairly nervous and a little skeptical about the process, but I may well be a convert now. (We'll see how the next three weekly sessions go.)

I really liked the acupuncturist, P. He was well over 6 feet tall, but his presence had the sort of grace and serenity that one usually associates with more diminuitive folks (and, often, women). I found it especially interesting that he immediately focused on the c-section scars as a probable contributing factor. None of the other doctors -- all of them women -- have had anything to say about that. I said as much to him, and he gave a little laugh and replied, "Yeah, well acupuncturists tend to see things a little differently."

He applied 10 needles in all, and surprisingly none of them were in my back. The first was actually on my throat, on the right side; he was very gentle as he put it in, apologizing that the very first needle I ever had applied would be in my neck! Two needles in each of my arms, one in my belly just to the right of my belly button, two in my right leg, and two on my right foot. The ones on the foot were applied on the small toes and were easily the most painful (and the only ones that bled upon removal, though not much).

After the needles had been adjusted, he focused a heat lamp on my feet and told me to try to relax for the 20 minute treatment. It was all rather strange, and it's hard to know how much of it was simply power of suggestion, but I did feel definite sensation in the area of my scars. And, most promisingly, the pain in my back and leg began to subside. It didn't entirely disappear, and today it is still present, but the intensity is significantly less.

And, for the first time in almost a year, yesterday and today I've been getting twinges in my c-section scars. P had suggested that this might happen. I also had some vertigo yesterday, which might or might not have been related. But all in all, I'm looking forward to the next session. Didn't figure I'd actually want to be stuck with a bunch of needles, but there ya go!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another Early Reader?

The sign for "Stop" is rapidly becoming one of BB's favorites. As I mentioned, she frequently uses it to ask us to read Trashy Town. S was the one who got the brilliant idea to use the book (which was already beloved) to teach her the sign, since "STOP!" is repeated as a refrain. As he read aloud to her, he would point out the word and use the sign; I started doing it too, and in no time at all, she was following suit. Unlike most of her signing, for "stop" she usually makes the sign and tries to say the word at the same time.

Which brings me to this morning. We were leaving the park, and BB started emphatically signing and saying, "Dop! Dop!" When it was clear that she did not, in fact, want me to actually stop walking, I looked around for another explanation.

Right in front of us was a STOP sign.

I pointed to the sign. "Stop?" I asked. "Is that the word STOP?"

"Yah!" BB replied, making the sign with an outstretched open palm. Obviously excited that I'd understood, she repeated for emphasis: "Dop!!"

To my knowledge (and S has confirmed this) nobody had previously made the "stop" and STOP sign connection to her before. I'm convinced she was reading the word on the sign.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I had a very nice Mother's Day -- not exactly a day at the spa, but I appreciated it nevertheless. S took the kids to run errands this morning so I could have some time to myself at the house, and I spent most of it working on jewelry. In the afternoon, I was mostly in the kitchen, making enchilada casserole, lemon bars, and black bean salad. My good friend A had her baby girl last week, and we're bringing over dinner for the family tomorrow, so I didn't want to have to worry about getting it made in time tomorrow morning.
I know many moms wouldn't think of lots of cooking as an enjoyable way to spend the day, but S was very good about keeping the kids out from underfoot.... and leisurely culinary time is an entirely different experience from trying to cook while entertaining and/or tripping over the kids.

The uninterrupted beading time was really nice too. I've had a decent number of Mother's Day sales for my Baby Friendly Beads, many of them custom birthstone necklaces. I discovered that if you google "birthstone nursing necklace" my Etsy shop is right up there! So business is decent, and I definitely had work to do. (And yes, that is a nursing necklace on BJ in the pic. He'd asked for one some time ago, and lately he's taken to wearing it. He picked out the rainbow design himself!)

All in all, a lovely day. I hope all you mothers out there can say the same!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

TV is Not Evil

For all my anti-TV sentiments, I do occasionally use it to keep the kids occupied for a bit of time here and there. We don't have cable and really limit screen time around here, especially with BB. Even BJ rarely gets an hour a day, and most days he gets none at all. And when we do watch, I try to watch it with them and interact.

But if a Baby Einstein can buy me 20 minutes to cook dinner without any fussing? Totally worth it. And if I'm tapped out and need a half hour that the kids can reliably spend together without fussing at each other? Sounds good to me!

And when I peek in on them and see this:

Even I have to admit that TV is Not Evil.

You Were A C-Section Baby

Since becoming a mom, I've dreaded the eventual talk with my kids about how they were born. I don't mean the "Where Do Babies Come From" talk. While I'm sure that one will have its challenges, I don't get a sick knot in my belly when I think about it.

No, it's anticipating the "You Were A C-Section Baby" talk that was bothering me. Of course I love my children utterly, absolutely, and I'm much more at peace now with the way things turned out at their births. But I still grieve in my heart about the way my babies were born.

What worried me was how to say they were a surgical birth, how to do so in a way that did not traumatize them. How to avoid passing on my own lingering issues with my birth experiences. I never wanted to be the kind of mom who saddles her kids with bad feelings about the way that they entered the world.

I have no intentions of lying about reality, even by omission (in this, as in everything else). But there's honesty, and then there's brutal honesty. And while there might be brutal aspects to their birth stories (particularly BJ's) I don't think they need the burden of that knowledge. Certainly not while they are children.

So I anticipated a difficult conversation, balancing my emotional baggage while relating the facts of the story. What I didn't expect was that I'd start having that conversation today with my three-year-old.

Considering his recent, repeated questions about death, it's perhaps fitting (and reassuring) that he'd also be interested in birth. For some time now, he's enjoyed playing at being pregnant by putting a stuffed animal under his shirt. (Or mine. "Be pregnant, Mommy! Be pregnant with my kitty!") About 15 seconds later, the "baby" would be "born" as he yanked it from beneath his clothes. (Or mine.) He's played at versions of this ever since I was pregnant with BB.

Recently, especially as so many mommies in our playgroup have become pregnant and had their second children, he's wanted more details about pregnancy. Who's pregnant? Who isn't? When are the babies going to come? Which babies have already arrived?

Today, he was looking through the photo albums with S, and for the first time he really noticed the first pictures in BB's album. The ones of her birth. He was very intrigued by how "messy" the baby was, by the vernix on her skin, by the umbilical cord. All day he asked questions about this. So I shouldn't have been so surprised when, at dinner, he came out with, "Mommy, when you were pregnant did they have to cut the baby out?"

To my knowledge, he's not previously had any specific information about how babies are born or about his own birth. I'm actually pretty proud of how calm I remained. My heart hit the floor, but I don't think BJ could tell. (S could, of course. But he had his hands full with BB, who was not at her best today.) As we talked further, I realized that BJ seemed to think that all babies were born by being cut out of their mothers' bellies.

I assured him that indeed this happened with some babies, and that indeed he and his sister had been born that way. Then, just as I started to tell him that most babies were born "normally," I paused because I didn't want him thinking his birth wasn't normal. (Even though I feel profoundly that it wasn't.) But I also didn't want him thinking that surgical interventions in the birthing process were normal, either -- I've read my feminist midwife accounts; I know firsthand that the medical model of childbirth is not the ideal; I shudder to see further increases in the percentages of c-section births and the reduction of VBAC options. So this is where there's honesty, and then there's the brutal honesty of overwrought thinking about a painful subject.....

Plus, there's the fact that the kid is only 3 years old. KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. I took a deep breath, tried to stop overanalyzing things, reminded myself that in no way shape or form did he intend his questions to be hurtful.

I told him some babies were born by c-section, like him, because that needed to happen. I told him that in those cases the doctor took a special knife, called a scalpel, and carefully cut open the mommy's belly so that the baby could come out, and then carefully closed it again so the mommy would heal up. But most babies are born through a mommy's vagina, which is sort of like the door to their womb, and it opens when a baby is ready to be born. (He knows what a womb is, kind of, because he's wanted to distinguish between my stomach, where food goes, and where he and his sister lived inside my belly.) This seemed to satisfy him. He was very interested in the closing up part, and he wanted to know if this is how my belly "went back to being a circle again" after being so big with the babies. Guess my weight loss hasn't gone unnoticed by him, which is kinda nice.

And I managed to keep my cool when he then got all excited about "playing Doctor," getting the scalpel from his pretend doctor kit and using it on his stuffed kitten so she could have a baby. Even when he wanted me to be the doctor and to do the cutting. I could have refused or gotten all wigged out. I didn't. I played with him. I didn't have the most joyous time, but I stayed in the moment. I did what he wanted me to do, and he was quite happy with that. And, as kids often do, he very quickly abandoned that game for another, running off for another encounter with his beloved alphabet, coconut tree, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Perhaps this one of the ways to tell that you're learning how to be a good mother. When you need to -- when your children need you to -- you find the strength to push aside the weight of your wounds and reach another place, a place of lightness and calm, a place beyond the scars, a place that perhaps did not exist even a moment ago. A place where your child's present matters more than your own past.

And that's a nice place to be on the night before Mother's Day.


I love it when a good bargain coincides with a good time. We swung by the local thrift store this afternoon on our way home from our walk to mail Mother's Day cards, and I scored a HUGE paint set: new in box, six colors of washable tempera paint, six paintbrushes, six paint cups with lids, a roller, and a sponge brush.

For a whoppping $2.50!

Gotta love the Goodwill.

Even though it was a solo evening for me, and even though dinnertime was approaching, I flung caution aside and set the kids up for a painting session in the back yard. We painted for about half an hour, and they were so caught up in the fun, I even had time to take some pictures and video!



By the time we were done they were such a mess that I decided to make a radical (though successful) deviation from the usual nighttime routine and gave them their baths before dinner. Then I allowed them a brief video while I made dinner. Golly, did I feel smart -- everybody ended up happy.

Friday, May 9, 2008

BB's First Sentence

BB signed her first full sentence yesterday: Where, Bird, Swing.

This actually made perfect sense. When we were at the farmer's market on Wednesday, BJ wanted to get something from the balloon man, and he chose "the bird on a swing." BB was asking about the location of her brother's balloon animal. (It was in the next room.)

Recently she has added "music" and "stop" to her signing vocabulary. "Stop" has two meanings: the obvious one, and also the children's book Trashy Town, which is one of BB's favorites. It uses "STOP!" as a refrain. Last night, I thought she was asking me to stop doing something, when in fact she was asking me to find that book and read it to her. It's so gratifying to figure these things out!

Friday Feature -- Craftabulous

This week's featured Etsy artist is a fellow Etsymom, Shaimaa of Craftabulous. She is from Ontario, and she encourages folks to contact her for custom work. She's able to do lots of crafty things, including jewelry, crocheted items, and paper goods!

Tell me two (or more!) interesting things about you.

Well there is something quite interesting I did a couple months after I gave birth to my baby, some even find it funny ;) I had a doctor's appointment so my hubby drove me there and had to leave for an important meeting. He was supposed to pick me up, but he didn't think it was going to last that long, so I called him after I finished. He said he'll be a while. So I decided to walk a bit.

The weather was amazing, and walking in good weather is one of my favorite things to do, so I took a chance to do that, since the baby was tiny and sleeping. I kept walking and walking and I ended up at my hubby's place which was 3km away! So when he called to tell me sorry he was late and that he was coming to get us now, I told him, "No worries, Hun, I'm here! Haha!" He said, "What? No way you walked all that!!!"

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I sell jewelry, accessories, cards, purses, pins and brooches, keychains... anything I can make with my hands and design I love!

What inspires your creations?

Well almost everything and anything... The other day, I was eating strawberries and spraying whipped cream on it and that inspired me, sometimes also when I see someone's work it gives me ideas that translate into a chain of ideas and ends up something totally different than how it began.

Tell me a bit about your creative process and/or how you learned to do what you do.

I mostly taught myself, but sometimes I need a tip from somebody who has experience with the stuff I work on.

What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?

I love them all, of course, but my favorite two are:

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

passionate, romantic, creative

What do you like about Etsy?

Everything! It's amazing. I love how it made handmade a great thing people will appreciate.

What makes your shop unique?

A couple of reasons, one of them is that in some of my work I use Egyptian cotton and last but not least my work is all designed and hand made by me, even if you find similar it's never the same because handmade can never be the same.

What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

Love and care for each other, that's what makes a good community.

Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

For now, I only have a flickr and may be in the future I'll have a blog or website too, but after my baby grows a little so I can find time for all that.