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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bump In The Night

Tonight's bedtime has been a doozy. I was on my own, since S had to head to campus early for his film series, and it's been more than 2 hours since we started bedtime routine stuff. Both kids have been having trouble, which is really unusual. I'm used to BB's bedtime challenges, but BJ usually does great. She's finally out, and has been for an hour or so, but he still isn't asleep. I think -- I hope! -- he's finally headed that way.

BB has been cranky all day -- a combination of teething woes and the shots at her 15 month checkup this morning. (The doctor's visit went well, other than the fact that she wanted nothing to do with the tape to measure her head circumference; all vitals are good.) The grouchies continued through bath and bedtime, with it taking more than 45 minutes to get her to finally fall asleep.

BJ was very patient through all her crying and fussing, but not 10 minutes after she finally drifted off he was wailing himself. I ran in to see what was the matter and found him in near hysterics. This is so unlike him, I thought he must have hurt himself somehow. But no, he was scared. (This too is very unlike him.) In between sobs, he asked, "What is that 'mmm, mmm' noise, Mommy?!?" It was the clothes washer, which I explained as I calmed him down. He was so upset, poor boo. As I was comforting him, he pressed a teary face into my hand, which was clutched in his own. "Mommy, you're with me, you're with me." The repetition was clearly a comfort. Then he said, with utter sincerity and a deep sigh, "Mommy, you're such a community helper."

I bit my tongue for all I was worth and continued shushing and soothing him. Not exactly the best moment to burst into laughter. His compliment isn't as strange as it sounds, actually; some time ago, we'd borrowed a book from the library titled "Community Helpers from A to Z" or something like that. It was all about people who are helpers, and he was clearly trying to let me know that I was helping him. Definitely one of those phrases I'll be remembering for quite some time.

The typical house rule is no getting up out of bed once bedtime is official, but tonight I made an exception when he asked specifically to see the washing machine and to help me move the clothes to the dryer. This seemed to help reassure him about the noise, and he was much calmer after we'd read "Hop on Pop" at his request. Unfortunately, once he'd returned to bed he got upset about the bumping of the dryer balls in the dryer. I think he's finally asleep, thank goodness. May things stay that way.

And I'm enormously grateful that BB didn't wake up for any of this (knock wood). S doesn't get home tonight until well after 11 pm, so I still have several hours on my own, and while I've kept my cool quite well so far, I don't know how much patience I have left for bedtime antics. I think I'll go take out the dryer balls, so there are no more things going bump in the night.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Graffiti of the Soul

Two new things were on BJ's mind today. He informed me, at least a dozen times, "Mommy, somebody wrote 'Chewy' on a bench."

This is, actually, entirely accurate. When we were at the park this morning, he noticed grafitti on the park bench. Some jerk had inked in the word "Chewy." A nickname, I'm guessing. But it turns out that it is rather complicated to explain the idea of graffiti to a 3 year old. And, unfortunately, our neighborhood is experiencing a definite uptick in grafitti incidents, so now that BJ knows about it he is seeing it everywhere. It seems that every time he notices it, he must mention "Chewy" too.

As if that wasn't distressing enough, to have him pointing out every incident and asking about it constantly, he has also been inquiring about death. He will ask, "Mommy, are you going to die?" Of course I am honest with him, and I try to only answer the question that he is asking -- but that's a heckuva question. He's asked that one a few times previously, but it came up (out of the blue) many times today. And then it was followed by the real doozy: "Am I going to die, Mommy?" Sigh.

Given the characteristically short attention span of a toddler, all this has led to some rather surreal conversations today. He'll go straight from, "I don't want to die, Mommy," to "Somebody wrote 'Chewy' on a bench, Mommy! Somebody will have to wipe that up, Mommy. I don't want us to die, Mommy."

I know it's normal developmental stuff, but it is disturbing to witness. (It would be funny, the particularly odd combination, if it wasn't so depressing!) This is definitely one of the more challenging motherhood moments so far. I feel as though his pristine, innocent soul has been sprayed with the graffiti of mortality. If only I could wipe it clean again.

In His Own Little (Numerical/Alphabetical) World

Today after lunch, BJ spent 45 minutes playing with the felt board, totally content. He was re-creating Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3, page by page. This is not an unusual activity for him; using props (often the felt board or puzzle) to tell his favorite stories is definitely one of his favorite entertainments. I love eavesdropping on him when he's absorbed in play like this, and I've wanted to get some on video. Finally got a chance to this afternoon while BB was napping:

video

He does exactly the same sort of thing with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and several other titles. This felt board and the felt playsets have been one of the best toys to date, no doubt about it -- portable, creative, kinesthetic, no batteries required! So long as he's not interrupted (and heaven help you if you have to rush him along) he will be happily absorbed for long stretches of time.

He reminds me so much of myself in his need for completion. It seems truly painful to him to be forced to stop in the middle of the story. And I absolutely sympathize with his earnest attempts to be faithful to the original narrative, his desire to recreate exactly the images from the illustrations. It has to be just so, and you have to see it through to the end, or it isn't worth doing.

Bedtime Books

It's been such fun to see BB taking more of an interest in books in general, and bedtime books in particular. Before nap and bedtime, she has great fun running around, making the sign for "book." As I mentioned recently, she has been especially interested in the "10 Little Ladybugs" book, and today she again wanted it in the crib with her at naptime.

I went in to peek on her after she'd fallen asleep, and I couldn't resist taking a picture. She is apparently reading herself to sleep, quite contentedly:


(So what if the book is upside down!)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mother's Day Sale!

I'm happy to announce that my Baby Friendly Beads are on sale for Mother's Day! Some items are discounted especially, including my popular custom birthstone nursing necklaces:



Or perhaps you're looking for a matched set of a nursing necklace and reminder bracelet? The Blue Heart set might be perfect for you!
I'll be adding more sale items throughout the week. Mention "Mama's Magic Mother's Day Sale" in the notes to seller and receive an additional 10% off your order (excluding shipping costs) refunded to your Paypal account.

The sale ends on Saturday, May 3rd, so don't miss out!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Synchronize Your Watches....

It was a busy, busy day:
  • In the morning, I went to my friend J's baby shower. S stayed home with the kids, and I got a bit of a break -- though, it being a baby shower, much of the talk was about kids, babies, and motherhood. I only knew a few of the women there, but it was a friendly gathering. Yummy tea and scones, too.

  • In the afternoon, I took BJ to My Gym for a toddler birthday party for his friend G. It was his first experience at a place like that, and all told he had a really good time once he decided things were okay. S stayed home with BB while she napped. Nice to have some "special Mommy & BJ time." The ball pit was definitely the high point for BJ.

  • After the birthday party, I rushed home so that S and I could head to campus for an event he had organized. We had a quick bite to eat with some students, and then we attended a minuet lesson. S had planned a Jane Austen film festival along with some of his other student dorm assistants.... even if our schedule had allowed it, there's no way we could justify a day spent watching a bunch of movies. (Much as we are fans of Austen adaptations, and much as we might have liked to!) But we figured that the dance lesson would be worth the babysitter's fee. It was fun, but it turns out I am REALLY BAD at the minuet. The sciatica issues I'm having with my hip didn't help, of course, but the main problem was the footwork. I just couldn't get the hang of it. S is making noises about doing this as an annual activity, so perhaps after a few yearly lessons I'll do a bit better.

I'm amazed that the day went as smoothly as it did, with all that stuff going on. Busy, but fun. And we came home to find both kids fast asleep. (I love our babysitters!!!) Even though BB didn't nurse to sleep, she's been snoozing soundly for the past three hours. Can't ask for better than that!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Poo?

Wouldn't it just be too much if my 15 month old daughter potty trained before her 3 year old brother?

As I mentioned, she thinks sitting on the little potty is great fun, and yesterday peed there for the first time. Well, today she did #2. Surprise, surprise!

We've been making a fuss about BJ making poo-poo in the potty -- which he used to do, but now refuses. Part of the process, I'm sure. But I guess BB is listening more than I thought, because as I was cajoling BJ to try to get him to go, she made it clear that she wanted to be stripped down so she could sit on the potty. Since he wasn't having any of it, I let her.

She sat down, pushed, and then got a bit upset to see what she'd done in the potty. It was actually kind of funny, though I was careful not to laugh aloud. I praised her, she calmed down, and BJ got all excited. We'd just put together a star chart for BJ to reward his doings in the potty, and he insisted that she now needed one too.

So we now have two star charts. BJ is working towards a nifty stuffed dragon that we got at IKEA today. (BB is just getting stars, which is fine by her.) He's very excited about it, and if he earns 10 stars for pee and 10 for poo, and agrees to wear underwear, he will be able to play with it. We'll see how well this works. I'm not sure which way the "Monkey See, Monkey Poo" will go -- him following her, or her imitating him.... but the reinforcement is entertaining to watch. (Entertaining for our household at any rate. I assure you, Dear Reader, that I don't expect you to be all that interested in the bowel movements of my children!)

Tonight, his has four stars for pee, hers has one for poo. I never would have guessed. Nor would I have predicted I'd be blogging publicly about poo and pee, but heck, that's a mom's life for ya. Very little makes me blush anymore.

Everybody says girls are easier to train than boys, and I'd chalked that up to gender stereotyped nonsense, but maybe there's something to it after all!

Etsyblogger Carnival -- Poetry!

What a pleasant surprise to see that the Etsybloggers team is hosting a carnival this week about poetry! For those readers who might not know, I'm a poet. Even published.... granted, it's in obscure journals that only other poets might have heard about, but I'm still proud of the fact.

If I had the time, I could go on and on about this topic. But I'm on mommy time, squeezing in a post while BB naps and BJ is working on a jigsaw puzzle. (He says he can do it by himself, but I'm having to pause quite often to help out. That's a mommy's life!) Bear with me as I make do with some scattered thoughts.

Poetry is magic, the truest magic I know. The best poems cast spells and continue to work their incantations for years. It is magical to find precisely the right word -- combining sound and sense in such a way that the line resonates and rings true. I often think of Elizabeth Bishop, one of my very favorite poets, who was said to leave unfinished lines incomplete for years, like puzzles in process, blanks in the line where the words would someday go, when meaning and music matched up exactly the way that knobs and curves meet up to complete a jigsaw.

Personally, I'm drawn to formal poems. The first "real" poems I ever wrote were sonnets, and I had a long affair with sestinas some years ago. I had a fling with the pantoum most recently. I often revisit these forms, but I also enjoy free verse -- in spite of my respect for Robert Frost's sensibilities as a writer, rather than finding free verse to be like "playing tennis with the net down," to me it seems like playing an entirely different game. And sometimes you feel like tennis, sometimes you don't, ya know? (Not that I've ever been much of an athlete, in all honesty!)

These days it is difficult to carve out the space and clarity necessary for Poems to come. Most of my writing is blogging or ideas for children's books. But I have volumes of poems from those B.C. years (Before Children) and I trust the muse enough to hope that someday I'll be writing poetry regularly again.

I've posted a few old poems here and there (you can search the tag "poetry" to find them). For this carnival, I thought I'd dig up an old poem that my friend M asked me to find.

At Alum Rock Park

We were on one of our weekly hikes,
descending a familiar, dusty trail,
and you were telling me how the love
of your life was making you miserable
how every time you ascended into the thin air
of joy's clear altitude, you stumbled back down,
sick and dizzy, falling into sorrow
and the humid depths of fear.
You were describing the distance
between you and your love;
you were asking me, "How do you know
if your love is enough?"

And I didn't know how to reply --
didn't know how to say there's no one way
to measure how far apart two hearts can get
and yet remain together --
so instead I pointed out a blur,
a pair of Calliope hummingbirds
speeding by us and into the brush.

At first it seemed one had abandoned the other
ascending straight up, higher and higher,
a speck against the sky that disappeared
into the sun. I'd seen their dance before,
so I said, "Wait. Watch." We looked up,
squinting, shielding our eyes against the glare --
he was so impossibly small -- but then we saw him
surrendering to gravity, as though he'd been hit
by some hummingbird hunter, a sharpshooter
as sure as Cupid, and more deadly.
We watched the glint of his green body
falling horribly fast and directly down.
It seemed he would surely crash into her
killing them both. But then he swooped up
at the last possible second, not a heartbeat too late,
and hovered for an instant beside her
as though he were pausing just long enough
to say, "I was gone, but I'm back. Impressed?"
And then he darted off again to repeat the strange,
instinctive dance, going up and up and up,
knowing precisely how high he should go,
trusting she would always wait for his return.

Friday Feature -- SassyStitches

This week's featured Etsy artist is fellow Etsymom Sassy Stitches . Given her green sensibilities, it seemed especially appropriate to feature her this week, during Earth Day week.


Her totes and bags are really snazzy, many made of recycled materials. Her sense of style is indeed "sassy" -- I especially like her kid's aprons. Aren't they adorable? (And anybody who dotes on librarians is good in my book!)



Enjoy the interview!

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


I am a La Leche League Leader; Retired math teacher, retired to be a SAHM once we had kids, and retired because I don't ever want to go back to that again; I LOVE ice cream, even though almost all of the ice cream stands close from Columbus Day until Memorial Day in RI; I am a Library nerd, meaning I am not ashamed to dote over the Librarians with baked goods (someone needs to show them some appreciation); I love to cook and plan out the menu for my future fictional restaurant; I have 3 kids: 7, 4.5, and 19 months; I am part of a pre-school home school co-op.

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I sell mostly bags: totes, purses. I also have a few kid's things like aprons and doll slings. The bags are mostly made from materials that I have salvaged from a local recycling center.

What inspires your creations?

I love bags and totes. And it seems like any time that I would buy one, I would think "I can make that, and make it better." So I started making my own. Then I found the recycling center. It really gets my wheels turning!!
I also love to make things for my kids, and again, most store-bought, mass-produced items are not very durable and of low quality. And my kids love the things that I make; what more inspiration could you need?

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

My mom taught me to hand sew when I was probably 5 or 6, and then to machine sew when I got older. She gave me her old portable machine after I got married. I was never that interested in sewing until about the past 5 years.

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

The 1984 Tote bag just because of all of the materials used in it. I used upcycled red metal earrings for the trim of the tote. It is more of a novelty item, but still very durable.



What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

Sassy, of course; intelligent; experimental


What do you like about Etsy?

I love the community of all the other etsyians. Everyone is so helpful. And the fact that it is handmade. I can find a gift for anyone at Etsy. I never have to buy a gift from a chain retailer again!!

What makes your shop unique?

Because of the upcycled materials I use. And all of the things that I make are one of a kind. I won't duplicate anything. There will always be some variation.

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

Go to the forums and ask questions. Everyone is so helpful, and you can learn so much. And remember how good you are being to yourself, the artist and the recipient when you buy handmade

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

I just started a blog.


For more Mama's Magic Friday Feature interviews, click here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What It Is Not

BJ is in a big "opposites" phase, trying to define things by figuring out what they are not. Which leads to some interesting conversations:

While we were sitting together at the window watching the finches at the birdfeeder yesterday, he turned to me and said, "Mommy, birds have big strong wings." I nodded. "Mommy, what doesn't have big strong wings?"

I was desperately searching the memory bank for a decent answer -- what's the name of a flightless bird? -- when he nodded slightly and said, "Yaks, Mommy. Yaks do not have big strong wings."

Indeed they do not.

15 months

Today BB is 15 months old, and it was a day for many firsts:
  • blowing kisses to S as he left for work
  • playing hide and seek with me and BJ (kinda; she mostly just ran around giggling with a blanket over her head)
  • trying to sing the alphabet song
  • peeing in the potty (!!!)

As for the last item, at first I didn't even realize she'd done it. On Thursday nights, I bathe both the kids together since S has to work late and I'm on my own for the bedtime routine. For some time now, BB has taken great joy in sitting on the little potty whenever she can, particularly before bathtime. Quite often she will pee on the floor next to the potty as soon as she is undressed, and tonight was no exception. As I cleaned up, she proceeded to plunk herself down on the training potty and grin at me while I mopped the floor.

I didn't think much of it, but when BJ went to sit on the potty as he does every night before bath, he exclaimed, "Mommy! There's pee-pee in the potty!!!" Sure enough there was -- and I know that it wasn't there before BB sat down. No wonder she was so pleased with herself!

She's getting to be quite independent these days, wanting to do as many things for herself as she can. Today, she wanted to clean herself up after snack, and she was so happy when I gave her the wet washcloth and let her wipe her own hands.

She also has tons to communicate, though she's still not saying many words. Lots of signs, and she's extremely persistent about making sure we understand what she's trying to tell us. Which can lead to some extreme frustration. At naptime, she fussed for almost 45 minutes until I finally figured out she wanted to have her "10 Little Ladybugs" book in the crib. When at last I put together that she was signing "bug" and "book" over and over, I grabbed the book from the other room and showed it to her. She clutched it to her chest with great relief and slumped to sleep almost immediately.

I was torn between feeling proud for figuring it out and terrible that it had taken so long!

Thankfully, there are also pleasant moments of satisfaction when I puzzle out what she's thinking. She discovered the star pattern on her feeding spoon during snack today, and she sure was happy when I made it clear that I understood her sign for "star" had to do with the utensil on her tray -- so much so that she kept doing the sign over and over, just so I could say to her, "Yes! I know! There are stars on your spoon!"

I keep meaning to jot down a list of the signs she is using. This is probably incomplete, but here are the ones that come to mind, in no particular order:

  • more
  • eat
  • drink (she's just recently introduced this as a different sign, and for her it looks like the sign we've been using for "Daddy." Not sure why!)
  • milk/nursing
  • watermelon
  • all done
  • bath (which also means "bathroom")
  • go/turn/wheel/merry-go-round (turning hands like "wheels on the bus")
  • hat
  • bunny
  • frog
  • gorilla/monkey
  • cat
  • dog
  • fish
  • dinosaur
  • book
  • sleep/bedtime
  • toothbrush/brushing teeth
  • wind
  • rain
  • swing
  • bug
  • moon
  • stars
  • flower
  • bird (used for all sorts of different birds, from ducks in books to finches at our feeder)
  • chicken
  • airplane
  • pig (which to her also means "cow")
  • ball
  • shoes

She's saying: mama, dada, bye-bye (adding in the "i" sound very clearly this week; until then, it had been more "buh-buh"). "Ch!" means chair and "brrrr" means car. A particular screech means "cat" (especially when done with the sign). "Da" for yes. "Ssss" can mean snake or please or cheese, depending on the context. She'll combine the sign for bug with a buzzing sound to say "bee" -- and she is very interested in the bees who visit our lavender, so this is something that she says often. Occasionally she will say "nana" for banana.

I think she's trying to say her brother's name -- though with his ever-changing identity, it won't be surprising if that one takes a while. (Especially since when she does try to say it, and I encourage her by repeating it, he inevitably replies with, "No! I'm ____!" Filling in the blank with whomever or whatever he is that day. Today it was "Blue" from Blues Clues.)

And boy has she perfected shaking her head for "NO!"

She's changed so much in the year since these pics were taken.

At 3 months, she was in her "fingers are fabulous!" stage


Of course BJ wanted in on the photo shoot:


Here she is holding S's hand. She's definitely sweet on her Daddy, perhaps even more so now.

Happy 15th month, BB -- you are amazing!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Our Earth Day was a busy one this year, I'm happy to report. In the morning, we hosted a seed planting playdate for BJ's playgroup. I'd bought miniature sunflowers and sweet peas for us to plant, and one of the other moms had put together a craft activity -- painting coffee filters with liquid watercolors to make spring flowers.





The planting was fun, but the painting was definitely the highlight for BJ. I think he made half a dozen flowers. Even BB had fun with it, though she was more interested in painting the rocks that we were using as paper weights to keep the filters from blowing away in the breeze.

It is such fun to see them starting to do things together. When I was pregnant with BB, everybody said that the first year would be the hardest, and I'm beginning to believe them. Wonderful as it was to have another baby, it was no easy task to manage both BJ and BB while she was an infant. Babies just need so much time and energy, and a toddler doesn't really understand that.

Now that BB is no longer a baby, is truly a little kid, she and her brother are (hallelujah!) starting to play together. Today she was pushing him in the toy car, much to his delight.

In the afternoon, we did some errands, heading over to the library and the grocery store. These things are SO much easier with S around. Tuesdays are one of our most productive days, since he's usually home from campus during the day. (And Tuesday evenings are usually my most productive time, since once the kids are in bed I'm on my own and waiting up for him until 11 pm or later; he runs a movie series on campus on Tuesday nights.)

Of course, it being Earth Day and all, I was careful to remember to bring our reusable bags to the grocery store. I do my best to use these but sometimes it's just too much to remember -- all I can do to get me and the kids and all their stuff out the door. When we got home, BB insisted on "helping" with the groceries. Mostly, she wanted to play with the bags.

Turns out they make an interesting fashion accessory!

Even the cat got in on the fun.


On a related Earth Day note, check out this post on the Motherwear Blog -- we all know that Breast is Best for baby. Turns out it's also best for the planet!

Happy Earth Day, everybody!

(Or, as BJ has been saying all day, "Happy Birthday!" Followed immediately and repeatedly with his question, "Mommy, whose birthday is it?" To which I replied, truthfully: "Your Grandma C's." So Happy Birthday to her, too!)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tender Cactus

Years ago, when we were living in Tucson, S took to calling me a "tender cactus." We'd come across a jar of the stuff in the ethnic food aisle at the local Safeway, and he was quite amused by the label.

I have to admit, grudgingly, that it is an apt moniker. I definitely have a tendency to bristle with spines, even while being quite sensitive. (He would say, too sensitive.) Considering that S is more of a sunflower type, it can be difficult for us to share a garden at times.

Especially lately, since "tender cactus" has been less of a tendency and more of a mode of existence for me. I can come up with a lengthy list of reasons, including sleep deprivation and being in constant pain from the sciatica issues. (BB's canines are coming in, with tooth #13 emerging -- finally!!! -- so her sleep is a mess.) But it's tiresome to complain, especially when it's the same stuff over and over, so I won't go on and on about that.

I so look forward to when BB sleeps through the night. I know that in the scheme of things this time is short, but it's been years since I've been able to rely consistently on sleeping well, and it's definitely taking a toll. A good night's rest will be as welcome as rain in the desert. I have every hope that it will bring this tender cactus into bloom, and even blunt the prickles in the process.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Colors

One of the neatest things about being a parent to small children is discovering the new things that your kids are learning. Almost daily, they come up with new stuff to surprise me.

Today, we witnessed that BB knows some of her colors. S asked her to bring a box to him. "Bring the blue box" -- and she did. Likewise with yellow and (after a bit of hesitation) green. Yay, BB!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Feature -- Oh Sew Fresh

This week's featured Etsy artist is Rachel from Oh Sew Fresh . She also has a brandy-new little shop for little ones, Oh Sew Fresh Baby Boutique !


Aren't these mini diaper bags just too nifty? They even come with a matching changing pad. Very stylish!



Tell me two (or more!) interesting things about you. (Hobbies, achievements, favorite something-or-other, family situation, jobs, etc…)

Well… obviously I love to sew! I especially like the designing side of sewing. I have so many ideas that pop into my head that I can’t possibly keep up with them so all I really have time for is putting them into a sketchbook and working on them one (or two) at a time. I don’t really have any other hobbies except reading travelogues. I love to travel and hopefully some day we will be able to travel regularly.

I am a stay at home mom to a beautiful two year old girl! I love being able to pursue my dreams and be a mom too! A few interesting facts about me: I lived in Kuwait for 2 ½ years when I was 10, I was homeschooled for half of my schooling, I finished one year of college in nursing and Army ROTC before I got married.

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I sell mostly handbags, totes, and accessories right now, but I switch things up a lot and I get bored of doing the same thing over and over. Currently I am working on a baby line! I am making adorable boutique quality baby quilts, and boppy covers, and a couple dresses for toddlers, etc… . (Note from Jen: these are now available in her Oh Sew Fresh Baby Boutique!)



What inspires your creations?

Nature definitely inspires me, but art also has a big impact. Inspiration flows when I look at paintings and artwork, particularly from more contemporary artists. I don’t really know how my ideas evolve from a beautiful picture, but I enjoy the process! Vintage style is another huge inspiration for me. I love making the old new again by “modernizing” the vintage. Making an item look fresh and new but also have the nostalgia and charm of vintage is my goal.

To which Etsy Street Teams do you belong? CAST – Christian Artist’s Street Team, EtsyMoms, ETC – Etsy Texas Crafters

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

I can’t remember when I started sewing and designing, but I must have been really young because I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t sewing or crafting or drawing. I started out with those cute little cross stitch and embroidery kits you can get at the fabric store and moved on to more and more difficult things until I am where I am today. (And I’m still learning!) My mother really helped me along the way and taught me how to use a sewing machine. I have never been formally educated in the fiber arts, but I am so glad I learned it the way I did, because I have really been able to develop my own style at my own pace.


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

Right now I am in love with the baby items I am developing, but I will have say that my “Blue Patchwork Tote” is my favorite. The deepness and variety of the blues really complements the rustic naturalness of the linen. I love contrast and it really shows in this bag. Here I played on taking a vintage item (a star quilt top) and modernized it by giving you just a peek of the quilt and making it pop right out at you with the help of a neutral background. I don’t have any for sale right now, but I am working on making up a couple more. If you would like to reserve one for yourself, just contact me! Here is my sold listing.


What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
Quiet, creative, feminine

What do you like about Etsy?

I love being part of an amazing community of creative crafters just like myself. They almost feel like family!

What makes your shop unique?

Everything! You can’t find any other handbags or purses that look like mine.


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

For the sellers: Don’t give up! It takes time for people to find you. And never ever change your style because you think you will sell more. You will lose your heart for what you do. Trust me.

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

I also have a flickr account! http://flickr.com/photos/dowdfamily/

You can also check out Rachel's new blog at http://ohsewfresh.blogspot.com/

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

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Traction

Had another Physical Therapy appointment this morning, still trying to get this sciatica into a manageable place. I did my second traction treatment, and it's surprising how good it felt to have 70 pounds of force pulling against my spine.

Unfortunately, after more than six weeks of going to appointments and doing exercises at home, it doesn't seem like I've made much progress. Still having almost constant hip pain, still having numbness and pain in my leg. The traction helped last time, and seems to have provided some relief this time as well, but no lasting changes. So they've put in a referral for me to see a spine specialist. The saga continues.

BB's First Painting

video

And an artist emerges....

(Alas, I fell into the trap of what we've taken to calling the "Uncle R Digital Filming Technique" by giving in to the temptation of turning the digital camera on its side -- forgetting that it doesn't quite work for video. Apologies!)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Boppi-Dop

Yesterday at lunchtime, BJ announced that he wanted to eat "Boppi-Dop."


"What is Boppi-Dop?" I asked. S and I exchanged a look that said, Where does he get this stuff?


BJ sat down on the kitchen floor and seemed to consider for a moment. "It's something," he said, "something people usually don't eat."


When we were done laughing about this, BJ quite seriously insisted that I produce "Boppi-Dop" for lunch. When he agreed that a "Boppi-Dop" sandwich would be acceptable, I ended up making a honey and peanut butter sandwich (now that he's three years old, he's ok to eat peanuts and has been doing fine -- yay!) and for the special "something people usually don't eat" touch, I sprinkled wheat germ on top of the peanut butter.


"Look," I told him with a great show of enthusiasm. "You're eating germs! Good germs!!" I explained a bit about grains -- I doubt much of it sunk in. He was too interested in where it said GERM on the bottle. Though intrigued by the idea, he balked at the actual prospect of consuming it. Instead, he took apart the sandwich, ate the honey half, and attempted to bite off only the bread part of the peanut butter side. A big mess. But definitely memorable.


And now we know what "Boppi-Dop" is. I'll have to remember to tell his babysitters, just in case he wants it again someday.

Derek and Uxey -- A Teachable Moment

Today we visited a favorite haunt, Happy Hollow Zoo. We joined our neighbors L and J, and another playgroup pal, L and her daughter A. A very nice morning, though exhausting. Going anywhere with BJ and BB these days is a challenge, but it's usually worthwhile.


Much of the park was closed, thanks to the construction that has begun. BB was hugely disappointed that the merry-go-round wasn't running, She kept circling the closed ride, alternating between the sign for "more" and a multipurpose sign which in this case clearly meant "merry-go-round." (She wheels her hands in a roundabout way, exactly the way you'd do the hand motions for the song "The Wheels on the Bus." It means many things to her -- wheel, go, around, turn, merry-go-round....) It took quite a while to get her to understand it was "all done" for the day. Just about broke my heart.

BJ wanted to ride the Danny the Dragon train, mostly because of a recent library book we've been reading about Blue (from Blues Clues) and Blue's Bad Dream. In the dream, Blue meets Ralph the dragon. At first, Ralph is fierce. Later, it turns out to be a friendly dragon. Since BJ has been pretending to be Blue on a regular basis, naturally I'm "Ralph." Many times a day, I'm asked, "Mom, are you a dragon? Do you have claws and fire? Are you a nice dragon?" Of course I answer yes.


Alas, the dragon train was not running either. But BJ took it mostly in stride, and as usual the visit to the petting zoo was the highlight of the trip. Both kids just LOVE the goats. We had fun feeding them and touching their wiry coats. After, as he always does, BJ asked to go visit the boa constrictor, whose terrarium is right by the goat pen.

When we went over, my heart immediately sank. Posted on the glass was a sign with the information that Derek, the boa constrictor, had recently passed away due to age related illness. He was 30 years old.

Of course, BJ wanted to know why the snake wasn't in its cage. At first, I told him the snake was gone and maybe next time we came to visit there would be a snake. This hardly satisfied him. Keeping in mind that BJ can now read, and not wanting to be evasive, I decided to take the teachable moment. I explained that the snake's name was Derek and that Derek had died. (We'd not known the name before, and given BJ's attachment to language and names, I thought -- correctly -- that having a name would be useful.) We've been talking a bit about death in the context of the cats, and BJ clearly doesn't "get" it entirely, but that's to be expected. For the rest of the walk back to the car, he kept asking me if Derek would be there the next time we came to the zoo. I kept telling him, gently, no.

On the ride home, BJ started to tell me that he has three snakes. Up until that moment, he'd had just one -- Stuxey, the rubber snake. Now, he told me, he has Stuxey, Derek, and Uxey. (Uxey being the direct influence of Richard Wilbur's children's book, The Disappearing Alphabet; when S goes missing, snake becomes "nake" and serpent becomes "erpent" and snakes cannot hiss.) "My Derek will be alive for ever and ever," he told me. As would the other two snakes.

I love to see his toddler mind at work like this. It makes me nostalgic for that time when the imagination could cure (or at least make more tolerable) a world of problems. It truly is magical, and he utterly believed in the spell he was casting with his words. If only things were so easy, huh?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

CDM (Again!)

This morning we joined the 2007 playgroup in a field trip to the Children's Discovery Museum. As always, we had a really good time. S didn't have to teach, so he was able to come, which made the whole outing much easier. Also made pictures possible!




For the first time, we explored the water room. Both kids loved getting soaked!

A particular favorite was the exhibit that allowed you to simulate a rainstorm in varying intensities from drizzle to downpour. BB was especially impressed.


Getting a picture where they both look good is nearly impossible.


I asked him to say, "Cheese."

"Bow-wow!" he replied




As usual, BB has places to go and things to do. She thought the wagon was cool for a few moments, though.


And we made it out without a meltdown! Success!

So Far, So Good

Welcome to the Motherwear Blog's breastfeeding carnival readers! Thanks so much for stopping by here at Mama's Magic.

The carnival topic is "Thrush and mastitis and blebs, oh my!" And as I contemplate entering the 15th month of breastfeeding my daughter, I find myself feeling quite lucky that we've not really encountered any nursing complications this time around. (Knocking wood! Hard!) While breastfeeding BB has its challenges, it's been very different from nursing my son, BJ. With BJ, the rough part was the beginning, but he weaned very easily. With BB, we got off to a great start, and I have a feeling that weaning will prove to be our biggest challenge.

Looking back through the palimpsest of motherhood's narrative, I can see that breastfeeding BJ was hugely important, even more so than I'd thought it would be when I was outlining chapter 1 of How I Thought Things Should Be With A New Baby (Before I Became a Mom). Every expectant mom writes this book inside her head, and baby is more ruthless than any editor in requiring immediate revisions.

For me, it felt that breastfeeding was the only "natural" part left, after a birth experience that was nothing like what I'd hoped for. (An emergency C-section, the culmination of 50+ hours of labor. Mostly unmedicated. On pitocin. Yes, it was that bad -- especially since I'd hoped for a natural, vaginal childbirth.) In my hospital bed, stunned and amazed by my son's arrival, I clung fiercely to my desire to breastfeed. When complications led to the pediatrician insisting that we supplement with formula, we ended up compromising by using an SNS (supplemental nursing system) for the first week or so of my son's life.

Learning to breastfeed around a c-section scar is bad enough; worse still to do so while S fumbled with a flimsy tube attached to a syringe of baby formula. We had to get BJ latched on and sucking, and then S would attempt to work the tiny tube into the corner of BJ's mouth so that he could slowly squirt in the required amount of formula. This was absolutely horrible: tubes, syringes, and formula were the opposite of those soft-focus images of baby peacefully at the breast, sucking happily. I resented the whole setup, but of course I wanted to do the best by my baby so that he would thrive. They said my milk wasn't in yet, and who was I to argue? What a relief it was when I'd "proven" that my milk was enough; as soon as BJ was gaining weight, we were able to ditch the whole setup.

Even without the hassle of the SNS apparatus, breastfeeding after a c-section was painful and complicated. Because putting any sort of pressure on the incision was excruciating, I had to hold my son in a football clutch, with his little legs dangling off the back of the rocking chair's armrest. This went on for almost two weeks. Writing that now, it sounds like nothing, but then I remind myself that BJ, like so many new babies, sometimes nursed every hour. That's a lot of awkward nursing sessions. I well remember my dad taking this photo, which was the first time I was able to hold BJ in a "normal" position while breastfeeding. He was 12 days old.

Yes, those are tears in my eyes. It felt like such an enormous accomplishment, to be able to nurse "normally" like that. I think now that it was a major step in my emotional healing from the trauma of BJ's birth.

After those rough first weeks, breastfeeding BJ became much easier. We managed to keep nursing in spite of a persistently blocked duct. It was painful, and I had constant worries about mastitis, but it never got infected. By that time, I was getting savvy enough about breastfeeding to realize how many great resources there are out there. I discovered my favorite website for breastfeeding questions: kellymom. Part of the treatment for the blocked duct involved massaging the side of my breast with a wide-toothed comb to help drain the blocked duct. (Yes, it sounds strange, but the lactation consultant swore by it, and when she was backed up by kellymom, I decided to give it a try.) While "combing my breast" seemed to help a bit, the problem kept coming back.

I finally figured out that one particular nursing tank top was pressing on the side of my breast and causing the plugged duct. Once I stopped wearing the top, and instead wore a nursing bra, the problem was solved. This is why when I'm asked for breastfeeding advice, I usually start by recommening getting fitted for a nursing bra and avoiding any constrictive clothing around the breasts. For moms in the South Bay, I recommend Maternal Connections at El Camino Hospital.

I just had to take a break from writing this to nurse BB -- she's only been asleep for three hours, and already she woke up wailing for a snack. With her, my main frustration so far is definitely the night nursing. She still wants to breastfeed several times throughout the night. Every time I decide it's time to cut her off and night wean, something happens. (Most recently: roseola and refusal of solids. We were just getting over that, and now she has all four canines coming in at once. The nursing is such an obvious source of comfort and relief for her; I try to cut back, but I can't bring myself to play the heavy and deny her outright.)

So while the nursing and sleeping issues have definitely been worse with BB than they were with BJ (that, or the gentle haze of Mommy Memory merely makes it seem so), the breastfeeding stuff in general with BB has been pretty good so far. She started out with a good latch, and I had an ample supply of colostrum -- after all, the pump was pretty primed, since I'd breastfed BJ until he weaned himself at 14 months. (Turned out I was pregnant; that won't be happening this time around!) We've had the typical annoyances, of course. Biting? Yep. Flashing in public, thanks to little hands plucking at (and lifting) my clothes? Been there. Less of a problem when wearing my Baby Friendly Beads and nursing tops, but even with these items in place if I'm nursing in public I must keep one hand at the ready to preserve my modesty.

Truth be told, though, I've just about given up on being discreet about nursing this little girl. If she is fully awake, she is absolutely unable to lie still during a feeding. Lately, she seems determined to practice her climbing abilities at all times -- even while my nipple is in her mouth, she will attempt to twist herself around and work her feet up towards the arm of the rocking chair, down towards the floor, or (my personal favorite) over my shoulder. If I try to hold her still, she'll either bite or yank the nipple. (More than once, I've been heard yelping, "Good lord, child, I'm not a straw!") I've tried to get S to take a picture of this behavior for the express purpose of posting it here, but it's been impossible to get a shot of her in action that doesn't also show more skin than I want the world to see. So much for quietly nursing in the corner while in public. We're our own little acrobatic act, and I'm sure it's entertaining to see.

Subtlety is not exactly her strong point, either, now that she knows how to sign for "milk." If she wants to nurse, she will sign at me, beat at my chest, and/or grab my hand and drag me towards to the rocking chair. She knows I know what she wants, and she won't be denied. When I ask her, "Do you want to nurse?" she nods and does the most adorable head-bobbing dance of delight. You can practically see the thought bubble above her little head: "Oooh! Mommy milk! Mommy milk! Mommy milk!!!"

Even with as weary as I am sometimes with nursing, in spite of all the times I've half-jokingly announced, "Ok! I'm done! No more boob for you, babe!" -- I have to admit that I still melt when she does her little happy-dance. The girl loves to nurse, and in truth I wouldn't have it any other way. I know enough about how hard it can be to breastfeed to recognize that we are very blessed.

Here are the other folks participating in this month's carnival (updated throughout the day). There are some excellent posts, talking about overcoming challenges and sharing resources and solutions.

Thanks again to Tanya at the Motherwear Blog for hosting such a thoughtful and helpful carnival. Her post shares another mother's story about tongue ties and breastfeeding.

Half Pint Pixie writes about oversupply, blebs, plugged ducts, and mastitis.
Speech Act writes about plugged ducts and blebs.
Tales of Life with a Girl on the Go writes about milk supply and the mini-pill.
Nurturing Notes writes about thrush and thrush treatment.
Breastfeeding Mums writes about sore nipples, engorgement, and taking medications while breastfeeding.
Blessed Nest Perch writes about sore nipples, mastitis, and low milk supply.
Hobo Mama writes about supplementing with a finger feeder during the first week.
Breastfeeding 1-2-3 writes about using Gentian Violet and grapefruit seed extract as thrush remedies.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hat Girl

It's been a busy month for my 2005 playgroup, what with playdates and birthdays and luncheons and all. This past weekend, we had a moms-only tea, which was a lot of fun and an excellent excuse to wear a big floppy hat. (Always a good thing!) Plus I got to wear my new dress again, which was nice.

I wasn't always a wearer of hats. I became one, back when I was headed off to graduate school. (Heavens, was that really almost 14 years ago now?) It was thanks to a conversation with S, a conversation that I still think about with some regularity.

Because I went to college in my hometown, my move to Tulsa for grad school was the first major move I'd ever made. (In fact, my folks still live in the same house in which I was raised, in Newark, Delaware.) S, in contrast, had moved around a lot during his childhood -- his dad was in the military. I was anxious about the move, for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which was the prospect of our relationship becoming a long distance thing, as he headed to Arizona. Obviously, it all turned out okay. But there was much heartache along the way, and at the time I wasn't at all sure about the outcome. Uprooting myself from my hometown (for Oklahoma, of all places) was making me heartsick from the moment I decided to go.

So, in an attempt to console me and to find a positive spin, S kept trying to come up with something good about moving. He reminded me that moving and meeting new people could be a chance to re-create myself. When you live in the same place all your life, people expect you to be a certain way, to look a certain way, to stay the same. Change can be difficult, particularly when you're still pretty close to your adolescent years.


I remember S looking around my room and noticing the hats that decorated the walls. I'd collected many but rarely wore them outside the house. I'd told him more than once, "I'm just not a hat girl." That's when he told me I should become one.

I took his advice to heart, and when I arrived in Tulsa, I thought of S every time I wore a hat. Back then, I took great pride in putting together elaborate outfits -- I wore a hat and vintage gloves more than once to my job as a writing instructor. And in the intervening years, I even learned how to make my own millinery designs.

I'm not so much into the elaborate outfits these days; having kids has changed that, as it has changed so many things. Becoming a mother has a way of making you more flexible, even as it solidly cements you into the Motherhood role. As a mom, I'm more likely to wear sweats than heels and hose. I still wear hats, though. Mostly sunhats, more for function than for fashion. But I always think of S when I do and remember his bit of advice. For all my teasing, I really do admire his perspective on life, his wisdom. Thanks, S, for that. (As for so many things!)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Farmer's Market

I'm absolutely delighted to note that BJ's farmer's market phobia seems to have (finally!) subsided. We met up with A and her delightful daughter C at the market this morning, and while it was definitely a challenge to be there with both kids (particularly because BB did NOT want to stay in the stroller) it was a pleasant outing.

We bought tamales, strawberries and shortcake, mandarin oranges, and mushrooms. The oranges have been a little dry, but everything else is delicious so far. So nice to be able to go and not have BJ start screaming as soon as he sees the white tents! Plus it just feels better to buy locally and to do some outdoor shopping. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, a little taste of summer.

Friday Feature -- Bemi Designs

This week's featured Etsy artist is Christie of Bemi Designs , who says "Sorry, but there isn't a good story behind where the name came from :)" She has lovely paper goods -- as a bookmark collector, I thought these were especially charming. I particularly like the stitching details.

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

I have a deep love of paper and all things having to do with paper (cards, letterpress, textures, colors, patterns, etc...) but other than that I've really been enjoying living in the beautiful city of San Francisco. I've only been here a couple years but I'm loving living in a city were I can just walk down the street to a corner cafe (which is actually where I am as I write this)

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

Cards, and other paper goods. Currently I have a lot that are made from different patterned papers, most with stitching involved. I also have some make with a print gocco as well as some letterpress.

What inspires your creations?

Colors and patterns, as well as nature. I really love bold, geometric patterns, so I try to combine that with my love of the outdoors.

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

It comes from a variety of growing up with a mom who encouraged creativity as well as going to graphic design school. I'm really into details and am a slight perfectionist. I taught myself to use the print gocco (with the help of some online tutorials) and learned how to letterpress at the San Francisco Center for the Book .

To which Etsy Street Teams do you belong? CASTteam, SFetsy, EtsyGreetings

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

As a letterpress lover I'd say my letterpress cards




but for my other cards, I love the paper quilt thank you cards



What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

creative (I think I'd go crazy if I couldn't be creative)
detailed ("God is in the details" :) )
inquisitive (I love learning new skills and facts)

What do you like about Etsy?

I love that we, as creative people, have a place to get together, and share what we love to do with the world. I think it's really given crafters/artists a way to make a living off of what they love to do, and what's better then that? I'd much rather buy from someone who is doing what they love and there is so much love and care put into what your purchase, then buying from a large company.

What makes your shop unique?

I believe my cards are unique in the way I combine patterns and color and apply them to greeting cards. If nothing else, everyone has their own unique style, and everything they make reflects that.

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

Have fun, and do it because you love doing it. Stay positive and realize that everyone has their own style and tastes. So if someone doesn't like your items, that's totally normal, but there will be some people out there that love what you do.

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

Just my etsy page for now and my profile.
Hopefully in the future I will have my own site, but for now, I love being part of etsy.

For more Friday Feature interviews here at Mama's Magic, click here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Stuff for BB, BJ's 3 Year Checkup

This morning, BJ and I went to Kaiser for his 3 yr checkup. He's 35.2 pounds (82 percentile for weight) and 38 inches tall (56 percentile for height). They don't measure head circumference as a matter of course after 18 months, apparently, but I asked them to measure anyway, and he's at 54.8 cm (still off the charts). Even so, the handy-dandy Kaiser printout reassures me, "His growth and development are normal." So that's all good.

One of the things I like best about our pediatrician is that she gives the kids a book every time they come in for an annual well care visit. BJ floored her by reading several sentences from "Red Riding Hood," a book and story that until this morning was entirely new to him. When I told her he'd been reading for a while now, she said that this was the first time she'd encountered a child reading before age 3. Language, letters, and literacy have all come so naturally and easily to him that I sometimes forget just how unusual it is.

We talked a bit about how he's still a little slow in the motor skills -- still has difficulty jumping and absolutely no interest in doing things like riding a tricycle -- and agreed that he's just been putting his energies elsewhere.

After the doctor visit, we went over to Babies R Us (he informed me, as he always does, that the R was "funny looking") and picked up some potty training supplies for him and a booster seat for BB. She's taken against her high chair recently, and he's made it clear he's not done with his booster yet, so rather than have that fight with him we decided to buy a second one.

She LOVES it. Did her little "Ch! Ch!" sound for "chair" as soon as I put it on, and insisted on climbing up immediately. Not that she suddenly ate worlds better while sitting in it, alas, still mostly banana, cheese, and watermelon. But she did seem to eat a little more than usual, so that's something.


I ended up getting the Fisher Price Healthy Care seat, which comes in a garish orange and green color combination. Not exactly my style. But I've long ago given up on the idea that my house will look like anything other than A House Where Kids Live. And it seems like this seat will be easy to use and clean, easier than the one we got for BJ (a brown plastic thing that is a horrible crumb pit) so that's what really matters anyway.

BB also got some new hair clippies in the mail today -- I went a little Etsy-crazy this week. I'm particularly charmed with the ones by LiliBug Boutique. And it looks like BB might even leave them in!


She continues to be a drooly mess, teething at least two (possibly four) canines at the same time. Some days she goes through three or more shirts, and she refuses to wear a drool bib. She'd much rather do without clothing at all, and given how wet and clammy she usually is, I really can't blame her. It's obviously affecting her sleep, too. She was up at least 6 times last night. We will be SO glad when these teeth pop through!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Metaphor

When we first moved into our house, in 2002, before I became a mother, I had a bookcase full of poetry books. Five shelves full, in lovely order from Kim Addonizio and Margaret Atwood to Richard Wilbur and Yeats.

Back then, I had an office to myself. But we always planned that "my" room would be used as the nursery, and when I got pregnant it was only a little bittersweet to give up the space and move the computer into our breakfast nook. I knew that motherhood would mean many such sacrifices.

Of course, unless/until you've become a parent, you don't really know just how much kids take over when they arrive. Suddenly there is this small living presence who occupies So Much Space -- in your home, in your life, and in your heart. It's astonishing.

When BJ got mobile and discovered the joy of dumping books off of the shelves, we moved our entire library around -- ours is a house full of books, so basically, our bedroom had to become our library with shelves on every wall and in every place possible. For those bookshelves that had to stay in the areas accessible to the baby, which included the poetry, I shifted things so that the lowest shelf would no longer be a temptation.

Then BJ started pulling up and cruising, and his baby stuff seemed to be breeding behind our backs. (It's worse than rabbits, I swear.) More books were moved, and the lowest two shelves were given over to storage: three crammed shelves of poetry books up top, two crowded shelves of toys and children's books below.

One of the things that makes childproofing challenging is the pesky fact that the kids keep growing taller. The items that used to be out of reach are, suddenly, right at eye level. One must either keep moving stuff up, or allow the child access.

For a while we did that, which ended up with BJ exclaiming: "Mommy! We have a book about D and W!" (He remains fascinated by the D and W characters from the TMBG Here Come the ABC's video.) When I came to see what he meant, I realized he was looking at the Selected Poems of W.D. Snodgrass. Not exactly the sort of stuff I want him paging through, now that he is officially reading. (The Fuhrer stuff especially.)

So that, combined with the recent influx of birthday gifts, prompted another book shuffling. Now there are three shelves of kids' stuff and two very full shelves of poetry, with stacks of poetry books haphazardly piled atop the bookshelf itself. Not pretty. Nor is it the most earthquake-safe situation. But what bothers me most about it is the obvious metaphor.

I just hope that it doesn't end up with me giving up entirely, boxing up the whole poetry collection and having done with it. (Even though we really could use the storage space!) Someday, I'll have time and space for the luxury of reading. I do intend to write again, someday. Poetry, even -- not just rhymed verse for short people. Someday.

Rhyme Time

For some time now, BJ has delighted in rhyming games of one sort and another. Usually, it's just listing words that rhyme. But this week, he added a humorous twist, all on his own. We were driving in the van (already, so many of our memorable interactions happen while driving!) and here's how the conversation went:

BJ: "Cat rhymes with mat!"
me: "And sat!"
BJ: "Bat! Rat!"
me: "Pitta-pat! Tit for Tat!"
BJ: (laughing) "Shat!"
me: (chuckling and wondering if I should say anything about his inadvertent cursing... just as I'm deciding to let it slide, BJ interrupts with: "TACO!")

He knew he was being funny, and it was so totally unexpected -- on top of the humor in his accidental profanity -- that I just about peed myself laughing. "That doesn't rhyme!" I said

He then went on: "Socks-O!" (The name of our cat, modified.)

Impressed, I replied, "Box-O!"

He started giggling. "Butchie-O!" (The name of our other cat, modified.) "That doesn't rhyme!" he then informed me as he brayed with laughter. (He still has echoes of his early, donkey-bray laugh sometimes. Usually when he's most tickled by something. Naturally, I find it hugely endearing.)

So for the past few days, he's been wanting to replay this joke. Out of nowhere, he'll shout out, "Butchie-O!" Or "Taco!"

And I'm supposed to say, with mock-exasperation, "That doesn't rhyme!"

BB's First Pigtails and First Art

My little girl's hair is finally long enough for pigtails!

It took about 20 minutes of baby wrangling to get them in (and she's able to get them out in less than 2 seconds). But I did manage to get a few pics taken of Her Cuteness before she undid everything.


It helped that she was distracted by climbing on the play kitchen and taking everything out of the cabinets.



And while we're talking about firsts, this week she started showing interest in the art cabinet. BJ was making a birthday card for my sister, and BB insisted on doing one as well. I should have taken a pic of the card, but I forgot! So here's what she made today. Stickers are a definite favorite, as are markers -- though she is convinced she should be able to color with the lids to the pens.