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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Synesthesia, Shoe Shopping

BB was a lot of fun today. She started off the morning making all sorts of different sounds (mostly variations on a raspberry buzz) and announcing, "Dat a red sound. Dat a green sound. Dat a brown sound." She was enormously pleased with herself and her synesthetic explorations. (Do we have a poet in the making?)

While BJ was at preschool, I took BB to the shoe store. I needed to hit DSW -- my feet haven't ever returned fully to my pre-pregnancy size, so very few of my old pairs fit anymore, and one can only wear flip-flops and loose clogs for so long -- but I was not looking forward to this errand at all. Bringing a toddler to a place where every single item in sight tempts her to pull it off the shelves and take it out of the box? And this is BB we're talking about; you can't leave a pair of shoes on the floor for five seconds without her trying them on. Add in wide aisles, perfect for running amok or running away? Um, yeah, sign me up for that.


But I took a deep breath, reminded myself of the "easier with one kid than with two" parenting rule, and headed into the store. Whodathunk that we'd have a fabulous time?


I started at the clearance racks, of course, and as soon as I found a pair to try on, she immediately took off her own shoes and pulled down a wonderfully tacky pair of pink heeled thongs. "I too! I too!" she exclaimed. She was absolutely delighted.


As she paraded around, giggling, I was able to peruse the shelves with some level of focus. (Shocking!) I paused now and then to put away what she'd taken out, but much of the time she put it away herself before I could get to it. (Even more shocking!) "Time for another aisle!" I'd say when I needed her to move on.
Soon she was echoing me on that, too. "Time anodder aisle, Mommy!" And off she'd go, clomping about in another shiny pair of shoes, often leaving one of them behind in the process. (Cinderella ain't in it, I'm tempted to say, simply for the sake of S recognizing the obscure literary reference. Know thy audience, indeed.)

Then, glory of glories, she discovered the little padded benches that are scattered around the store so that you can sit down to change your shoes with some level of comfort. Turns out those angled mirrors on each side of the bench are perfect for a toddler's innate narcissism. Plus the bench makes a great "horse." She'd clamber up, grinning, and ask me, "What BB didding?" (What am I doing?) Then, before I could answer, she'd give her best "giddyap" hand gesture (the same one she's been using as a sign for "horse" since she was very small). "Neeigh! Neeigh!" she cried. Scramble down, scamper over to the next padded bench, repeat.

I ended up finding a cute pair of green suede clogs, but I'm not sure if I'll keep them. Upon examining them at home, they don't seem quite as "neutral" as I'd convinced myself they'd be. Right now, my wardrobe (and the family budget) simply doesn't have the resources for a pair of shoes that need to match with an outfit. So I'll probably be taking them back.

Not that BB will mind returning to the shoe store; I think she would have been perfectly content to stay there all day. The only trouble we ran into was when I told her it was time to put on her own shoes and socks so we could leave. She refused and started to wail. After unsuccessful pleading and cajoling, I picked her up, put on the offending footwear, and bundled her towards the cash register. She was FURIOUS -- howling, crying, kicking, the works! (Yes, she's approaching two. Whatchagonnado.)

After I hustled her to the car and strapped her in her carseat, I left the van door open while I hurried to put away the stroller in the back of the car. By the time I'd finished and returned to try to calm her (less than a minute or two later), she had taken off both sneakers and tossed them. Out of the car, into the parking lot, a good six feet from the car.

Think "No shoes, no service" applies to a child under two? Because when I go back to return the shoes and look for a different pair, I'm considering just bringing her barefoot!

No Tears!

BJ's ninth day at preschool was today, and he had a GREAT day, the best preschool day yet. This morning, he started to get a bit anxious about leaving -- "I don't want to be by myself without Mommy and Daddy!" -- but I reminded him he'd get to see his friend M (which cheered him up immediately).

Then I asked him, "What do you think you'll do when Daddy drops you off?"
"I'll tell him, I'll see you after lunch! I'm going to have a great great GREAT day!"

And it seems he did exactly that! It seems that it has really helped to model and roleplay alternatives to crying when he's dropped off. He really likes planning out what he's going to do and say when he starts his preschool day. I'm so proud of him!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another Treasury (Sometimes a whim pays off!)

A big thank you to DanburyLane for including my Baby Friendly Beads reminder bracelet in this treasury!

I just listed the bracelet this afternoon -- to be honest, I'd been putting off listing it because I couldn't come up with a good name. Then, on a whim, I decided to call it "Dorothy" because the red and blue combination put me in mind of said heroine from The Wizard of Oz. And apparently that was enough to get it noticed! Gotta love synchronicities like that.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Friends

As part of the ongoing effort to help BJ adjust to preschool, this morning we got together at a local park for a playdate with one of his classmates. M is also new to the preschool, and like BJ she tends to be shy. I don't think BJ had played much with her before today, but at the open house the other night I got to talking with M's mom and we hit it off. She suggested a playdate, and I immediately agreed to the plan.

Today at the park, the kids took a little while to warm up to one another, but by the end they were going down the slide together and laughing. As we left, BJ said he was excited to go to preschool on Tuesday so that he could see her again. Fingers crossed, but that was exactly the idea!

Custom Order

This weekend, I've been working on two custom orders for my dear friend M. (Also known as the amazing Tia M.) She asked me to make a pair of earrings and a bracelet: Fraternal Earrings with a spade and an acorn, and a gardening theme bracelet.



Other than those broad guidelines, she left the design, stone choices, and color schemes entirely up to me. It was a lot of fun to have such creative freedom -- but also a little more challenging than it would have been if she just said, "Make the earrings green and the bracelet blue." I went through a few different versions before settling on tigers' eye for the earrings and a multicolored palette for the bracelet.



I like how the tigers' eye evokes earthy colors and textures, bringing to mind the dirt in which the acorn would be planted. For the bracelet, I had originally intended to use several large charms, but when I tried that design it was all too heavy and bulky. The bracelet kept getting tangled up with itself. So I ended up using only the watering can (which was my favorite of the gardening charms I'd ordered) and making several flower dangles from flower shaped beads. I also made leaf dangles to add to the gardening theme. In addition to various glass, sterling silver, and silver plated beads, the bracelet includes many semiprecious stones: amethyst, blue agate, yellow agate, and peridot.



In the end, I was very pleased with how they turned out. Both are intended as gifts (for different folks) so I hope both M and the recipients are happy with the results!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Recipe for a Nearly Perfect Saturday

Combine the following:


  • One visit to the Children's Discovery Museum, something the kids always enjoy.

  • Generous helping of good company -- we met our good friends, A & J and their kids E and T. E and BJ are in the same playgroup, and they have been friends for a long time. (This is the same E that BJ said he was going to marry.) They always have a blast together. This time, BB was jumping right in there too.

  • A splash of beautiful weather, just right for a picnic and for letting the kids run around before heading home.

  • Heaping cups of exercise, enough that the kids were exhausted when we left the museum. BB got a great nap and though BJ refused to sleep, he had a good "rest time" on the futon and absolutely crashed at bedtime.




We got there just as the museum opened, and we all but had the place to ourselves. BJ especially is happiest when there isn't a crowd. We visit the CDM quite often, and the kids certainly have their favorite spots that we have to return to over and over.


For example: the water area!





But every time we go to the museum, they seem to find something different to do, something new to see. This time, BJ loved building with the blocks and managed to make a tower taller than himself. He was soooo proud!



Both kids were interested in the sand table this time. It's serious work, all that measuring and funnelling.

BB found the nature table area in the art room and was intrigued. (Yet again, I found myself wishing we had the room to set up a nature table here at the house!)


BJ was absolutely tickled to be spending time with his buddy E. We don't see them nearly enough.


It will be great fun once little T is older and able to join in. But until then, BB seems perfectly happy to hang out with the bigger boys.



Final ingredient for the recipe: a pinch of quality time for S and me in the evening, made possible because the kids were so zonked from the day. It's the kind of dish that you have to enjoy fully at the time, because it can never be replicated exactly. And enjoy it we did.

By Definition

Part of tonight's dinner conversation:

BJ: Mommy, I'm curious.
J: That's right -- you are. You want to know how things work.
BJ: Why, Mommy? Why am I curious?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Feature -- Pumpkins Boutique

This week's featured Etsy artist is Pumpkins Boutique. I admire her diverse crafting interests -- she says "There is no craft I won't try!" And of course with my interest in promoting breastfeeding, I'm loving her nursing covers!

And wouldn't these cute hairbows be perfect with a Halloween outfit?





Tell me two (or more!) interesting things about you. Well, I've been married almost 6 years to the most wonderful man ever. We have an 18 month old daughter and another due any day. I grew up in Oregon and moved to Texas about 8 years ago. I used to work in finance and IT but now stay home. I have more hobbies than I'm sure any normal person needs, haha. I scrapbook, stamp, make cards, alter things, crochet, cross stitch, mosaic, sew and of course make bows! If its crafty, I've probably done it!


What do you sell in your Etsy shop? Children's acessories - bows and other hair accessories, lovies, nursing covers, beaded socks, name frames, bow holders and adding new ideas all the time!


To which Etsy Street Teams do you belong? Etsy Kids, Etsy Texas Crafters & Ribbon Rebels


What inspires your creations? I see ideas every where I go! In a magazine ad, in a piece of fabric, in a pile of ribbon.


Tell me a bit about your creative process and/or how you learned to do what you do. My mom had me doing all kinds of crafts from a young age to keep me busy! So I blame my addiction, er, love of crafting on her. There is no craft I won't try. I see something interesting and I set out to teach myself or find someone to show me how to do it!


What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite? Well, that's a hard question!! I also do lots of customs so those aren't pictured in my shop. But of those that are, I'm going to say this one.


I just loved the colors, they were so springy and fun!


What 3 words would you use to describe yourself? Fun, outgoing, crafty


What do you like about Etsy? I love how easy it is to have a shop, for people to find it and all the traffic it gets! I'm so glad there is a site just for us crafters!


What makes your shop unique? I try to really keep up with the trends in kids clothing and match my stuff to it!


What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy? List lots of things, list often and promote everywhere!!


Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations? I also have a webpage http://www.pumpkinsboutique.com/ where I don't sell anything but have more pictures and stuff about me!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good Stuff

Feeling pretty good in general at the moment. Today BJ had a good morning at preschool -- he came home and declared, "Mommy, today we made playdough!" While he was there, BB and I attended a playdate for her playgroup. It's fun to see her with her peers, and I enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with some other cool moms. She splashed in the water table, played the toy piano, and had great fun tossing leaves over a little fence into the water fountain/pond at the home where the playdate was held. When we came home, she washed her hands "All by myself!" Good times.

This evening, I went to the parent meeting for BJ's preschool, and while I felt good going in, I felt even better when I left. I like his teacher, Ms. F, more and more. She is so down to earth, so thoughtful about her work with the kids -- without being cerebral about it. I ended up volunteering to be the library mom for the class, which means I get to check out 16 books a month focused on weekly themes. (Another excuse to think about children's books? Anybody who knows me well would understand why I'm excited about this.) She spoke a lot about her curriculum and how her main focus is social and emotional skills, with the overall goal of teaching and modeling compassion and kindness. I knew this, but hearing her articulate it was quite affirming.

I was also reassured by talking to some of the other parents in his class. One mom in particular, M's mom, said that she usually comes in shortly after we drop of BJ in the morning, and she's always seen him happy and playing and engaged. Hearing this did much to bring my shoulders down a notch or two from being up around my ears anxious about how things might be going for him. (Because even though I feel good about it, I still worry about him. Of course I do. It's my job!) But in general, I really like the vibe, the attitude, the community of his school.... I think it is exactly where BJ needs to be, and I feel comfortable leaving him there. And that makes such a difference as we deal with those few tears that remain, those anxieties that linger.

Plus we got home this evening to the babysitter's report that the kids had been angels. (S had to be on campus tonight, and the preschool meeting was mandatory for one parent at least, so we had to have a sitter here.) She's a new sitter, K, and I really like her. BB can't quite say her name, but she calls her "nice people!" Easiest sitting gig she'd had in a long time, she said.

Here's hoping the good stuff continues -- in spite of all the bad news these days. Housing woes, failing banks, impotent attempts at governmental bailout..... I was never an economist, but sheesh, even I can tell that this is NOT GOOD. Thank heavens S has tenure.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

BB and the Alphabet

It's official: BB is learning the alphabet, following close on her brother's heels. The original Alphabet Boy isn't entirely happy about this -- he's taken to hollering, "I want to sing the alphabet song BY MYSELF!" -- but he's also enjoying helping her learn. She now sings the song quite well and even recognizes several of the letters: W, A, and P in particular. She's counting, too, though she has a tendency to omit the number 5.

In general, her verbal skills have made a huge leap in the past few weeks. During the two weeks that my folks were here, she started speaking consistently in sentences, usually 4 and 5 word sentences. Some favorites:

  • "I don't like ____" (And she fills in the blank with any number of items. "I don't like merry-go-round. I don't like ice cream. I don't like trains. I don't like blue pants." Often this just means that she's done with whatever is in question -- especially if it's food related, since usually a moment ago she was scarfing it down quite happily.)
  • "Whozat name?" (Who is that name? Meaning, What is that, or what is it called?)
  • "I want dat one." (or dat book, or dat crayon, or dat placemat.... often, whatever BJ is using)
  • "Dat a bad idea!" (Usually when she's doing something she knows she shouldn't, though sometimes she'll say this to police BJ.)
  • "I want a time-out!" (Often said after "Dat a bad idea" above. Yes, she gives herself time-outs, goes over and gets the chair and everything.)
  • "I love you too!" (often accompanied by a hug)
  • "I climbing!" or "I running!" or "I dancing!"

She gets great joy out of narrating her activities, especially when they are particularly active. I suppose this is just in case we didn't notice her running away from us through the aisles of Target..... It is also interesting to note that she seems to have skipped the "you" verbal phase which BJ was stuck in for so long -- where "you" actually means the first person. She's gone straight into using "I" properly.

She's getting to be more fun every day. I love being able to talk to my kids -- even when it's just helping them negotiate whose turn it is to sing the alphabet song! Parenting is so much easier when they can communicate.

Lucky 7?

Today was BJ's seventh day at preschool, and I'm happy to say that he's doing really well. This morning, while we were getting ready to go, he started to get a little weepy. I was taking him to preschool, and I was a little short on patience, so S took him aside and talked with him for a bit. Bless S. He very wisely offered other ways for BJ to react to the situation. They agreed that it was OK for BJ to feel sad, but they also thought of other ways to respond. What if he did something else, instead of crying when it was time for Mommy to leave? What if BJ were to say, "I'll see you after lunch, Mommy!" Or, "Have a good day!" Would that make him feel better? BJ agreed that it was worth a try.

And, remarkably, that's exactly what he did. We arrived and did our usual ritual of reading a book of his choice together. He chose Alphabet Adventure, a longtime favorite. Soon almost all the other kids were gathered around, listening. I asked him if he was okay with that, and he said yes.

Then when I told him it was time for me to leave, he said, "Have a good day, Mommy! I'll see you after lunch!" And then, excited, he announced that he was going to read Alphabet Adventure to all his friends. By this point, most of the other kids were engrossed in other activities, having left us as soon as our book was over -- so I doubt he had the active attention of his peers in the way that he'd imagined -- but it was such a relief to see him engaged and energetic, instead of weepy and upset. As I left, he was walking around the room, holding the book open and asking who wanted to hear it.

When I picked him up this afternoon, he said that teacher J ended up reading it with him, and he seemed fine with that. His lead teacher, Ms. F, said that BJ had had a really good day, just a very few tears. BJ seemed to agree. He was all excited about the fact that they'd been on a walk and played a hula hoop game outside. At bedtime, he asked if his preschool friends missed him and said that he missed his friends.

It's heartening to see him making friends -- since, after all, that sort of social experience is a primary reason for having him at the preschool -- and I have to say that I think our easy departure this morning had much to do with the fact that we arrived just as his friend J was walking up with her mom and little brother. This is the same J who saw BJ at the museum a few weeks ago and said hello. Ever since, BJ has been smitten. It's painfully adorable: several times a day he asks me to "tell the story of when we saw J at the museum," or asks, "What is the name of my first friend from preschool?" When I tell him, he grins, contorts his entire body, and hides his face in excitement.

Lately he's been asking if J is going to be at the BBQ potluck that is coming up next month, so it was really nice not only to be able to meet J's mom, but also to ask if they will be at the BBQ. (Yes, they will.)

I think all this is a Very Good Sign. We are going to wait a bit longer before trying the all-day schedule, and of course it is still a day at a time, but I feel really good about lucky day number 7. May that trend continue!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn

Happy Fall Equinox to all y'all -- hard to believe Autumn is here already. Fittingly enough, "Autumn" is one of the choices for the Etsybloggers carnival this time around. I thought I'd dust off a poem for the occasion. This is one that I always enjoyed reading at the open mic during this time of year, way back when.


Autumn


Autumn is the girl without an overcoat
who blows into her hands while she waits for the bus.
The weather waits for her to leave. For weeks
she’s overstayed her welcome, and finally her knapsack
full of jeans and socks and sweaters is no longer enough
to keep her warm. The sky is low and grey;
it smells like snow, clean and metallic,
a smell like a sharp knife of knowledge against her skin.

The driver helps her hoist her bag beneath the bus
and grunts a greeting in reply to her hello. It seems he’s lived
forever, and will never die. She knows his name
and he knows hers, but they rarely say more than hi
and goodbye. Cold coins jingle as she pays her fare.

The floor is sticky from somebody’s spilled soda pop,
and the air inside the bus smells the way that honeysuckle tastes —
a too-sweet bead of summer on her tongue. Two giggling girls
are in the back seat. They look like sisters.
The younger one wears a yellow hooded raincoat,
and the older one is making clover chains. They look up
and stop laughing for a moment. The only other passenger
is a man in a corduroy coat. Autumn smiles at him,
smiles the way she smiled at Randy Lazarus, a lifetime ago,
in a high school gymnasium in Providence, Rhode Island,
because Randy was that cute for a sophomore.

Well, Randy wasn’t that cute for a sophomore,
but when the trees themselves are naked, sometimes a girl will take
whatever warmth she can get, shivering in the backseat
of a Pontiac. The dark boughs of winter
wagged their fingers in the wind as she started to walk home.

That was the first time Joe insisted on picking her up.
She’d tried to hitch a ride for hours, but there’s no traffic
on a dirt road in the boonies. Joe never explained
why he’d taken a detour that night — it was as though
he knew where she would be. He stopped the bus,
refused the fare because she was too young to pay,
because she had a yellow maple leaf in her hair,
stuck behind her ear like a hyacinth blossom.

Autumn settles into her seat, ignoring the giggling girls
at the back of the bus. In a few hours, they’ll
all be braiding each other’s hair and begging Joe
to stop for snacks, but at the moment she’s
about as sociable as a skittish stray kitten,
and as energetic as a yellowed field of grass.

She closes her eyes for a moment, but she never sleeps.
Don’t bother warning the man in the corduroy coat;
he’s already in love with her, but this is his stop, it’s where
he gets off, every time. He has to leave her in order to stay.
She opens her eyes as he stands up, and her level gaze says
everything. Even as the bus sings Christmas carols in the rain,
even as the windshield wipers beat the pulse
of time’s own heart, Joe watches in the rear view mirror,
as the man in the corduroy coat puts on his gloves
and picks up his suitcase. The doors close with a sigh,
and as the bus pulls away, he stands beside the road,
beneath the blessed dome of his own umbrella cathedral,
turning up the collar on his coat and watching
as Autumn waves her handkerchief out the window,
smiling like a woman who knows she will always be alone.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

And the September Featured Etsyblogger Is...

I'm absolutely delighted to share the news that this month's featured Etsyblogger is JoeyandAleethea. She's the fearless leader of the Etsyblogger team, full of energy and enthusiasm -- and her shop is jam packed with amazing kids' stuff, like this monster tee. I just love her sense of style and whimsy.

And of course, being an Etsyblogger, she has a super-cool blog!

Quiet

It's been quiet over here in Mama's Magic Studio -- quiet in the virtual sense, that is. Real life has been loud and lively.

My folks left yesterday after a lovely two week visit. It's always so good to have them here. Does tend to squash the urge to blog, though, since a primary reason for doing so is to keep them in the loop from afar. Now that they are back in Delaware, I'll have one more reason to keep this updated more regularly. We miss them already!

This morning we were able to fit in a Skype call, which is something I plan to do more frequently now that (A) the kids are old enough to appreciate it, and (B) our upgraded Internet connection makes it less of a hassle and a frustration. For those of you who aren't familiar with Skype, it's a good (FREE!) way to do webcam calls over the Internet. Did I mention it's free?

Tomorrow S starts the fall quarter, with all that entails. It's been a hectic summer, but the beginning of the school year is sure to be even busier. Anything but quiet, that's for sure.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Feature -- Upsiedoodle

This week's featured Etsy artist is Becky from Upsiedoodle. Her baby stuff is absolutely adorable, like this cupcake bib. And isn't this black cat hair clippie just perfect for Halloween?



Enjoy the interview!

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

I live in Austin, TX with my husband and 3 children – ages 4, 5, and 7.
I was crazy enough to run a marathon when I was pregnant.
I love playing the drums on Rock Band (Xbox 360) with my husband. It makes me feel like a real rock star. :-)

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I sell baby bibs, burp cloths, blankets, and hair clips.



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

I belong to 3 great teams: Etsykids, Etsybaby, and Etsy Texas Crafters.

What inspires your creations?

It seems like most people answer this question with “my children.” As much as I enjoy my children, I would have to say that I am most inspired by beautiful fabric. I feel very lucky to live in a time when sewing is very popular and there are so many talented designers producing fabrics that I just can’t wait to sew with.

I am also “inspired” by practicality. I make things that I would want to use myself. For example, I hated the baby bibs that fasten with Velcro because they stuck all over my laundry (and my baby could pull them off). So I make my bibs fasten with metal snaps instead.

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

My mother taught me to sew when I was in elementary school. I remember sewing a blouse and wearing it to school when I was in the fourth grade. When I got married, I became very interested in quilting, but after I had my first son, I needed projects that I could start and finish in one sitting. I also needed baby bibs for my son, and I remembered a quilted one that my grandma had made for me when I was a baby. I decided to try making a bib like hers. I drew out a pattern, and after several prototypes, I came up with the exact quilted bib that I am making and selling today.

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

I think my favorite item is my Funky Floral Initial Bib. It seems to be a customer favorite too, because I have definitely sold more of that bib than any other.

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself? Outgoing, energetic, creative

What do you like about Etsy?

My favorite thing about Etsy is that everything is handmade. I love looking at things other people have made almost as much as I enjoy creating myself. I could get lost just browsing on Etsy for hours (but then my kids get hungry and I have to feed them J). I also like how the Etsy community is very helpful, friendly, and supportive.


What makes your shop unique?

Well, there are lots of wonderful handmade baby items out there. However, I think that my bibs, in particular, are unique because they are quilted and reversible. They are really little tiny quilts – they just get softer the more you wash them, and, like a quilt, they will last a very long time.

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

Use high quality materials, do your best work, take great photos, and list often. And always treat others the way you would like to be treated.
Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

I just launched my own website on August 2. It is http://www.upsiedoodle.com/. I also have a blog at http://www.upsiedoodle.com/blog.

Monday, September 15, 2008

100 Baby Friendly Beads Sales!

Made my 100th sale in my Baby Friendly Beads Etsy shop today! And it was a necklace & bracelet set, too, so isn't that more like 101?

Either way, it's pretty exciting. It's going to Alaska, and I'm nearly certain that's my first Alaskan sale. I should make a map up with all the places I've sold to, just for grins. (In my spare time. Yeah right.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

At the Boardwalk

Had a lovely time today at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with my folks. BB and BJ rode a bunch of rides -- BB especially liked the "Bulgy" whale ride, and BJ's favorite was the little rollercoaster, which he rode with his Giki. We left home right after lunch, in the hopes that naps would happen in the car, with the plan to hang out at the Boardwalk and maybe have dinner at the Crow's Nest.

Ha. This is not the first time such a plan has been thwarted by overly alert children who refuse to sleep until about 20 minutes before we arrive at our destination. And of course traffic was smooth and quick, so it was a shorter trip than usual. We ended up staying a little more than 3 hours and coming back home for dinner.

Even though BB was tired, she stayed in pretty good spirits; BJ was pretty worn out, too, by the time it was done, but he had a great time. Except for the "cave train" ride. BB is in a little negativity phase -- "I don't like trains! I don't like merry-go-round! -- so she stayed behind while he did the ride with S. Apparently it was dark and "scary," and BJ was still talking about this at bedtime tonight. BB was very sweet, trying to comfort him with kisses.

Knock wood, but they are both in a good place with one another right now, being remarkably considerate and kind. (When they aren't being typical kids, both fighting over the same toy. That happens, too.) BJ has been offering to share things pretty consistently, and more than once BB has permitted him to play with her new doll and toy stroller -- a big hit of a new toy, courtesy of Pop-pop and Giki. It does this mama good to see them like this, makes me think maybe we're doing something right with these two great kids of ours.

My dad has been taking all the pictures -- doing a fantastic job, as usual --but we've yet to get them on this computer, so I'll have to update with pics later on.

It's so nice to have my folks here. And not just because they are so generous in treating us to outings like this, toys for the kids, and delicious meals. (Not to mention all the laundry and dishes that my mom insists on doing!) It just makes my heart happy to have their company and to see them with BJ and BB. I will miss them sorely when they leave.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Prescient

I've been reading Leonard Marcus's Minders of Make-Believe -- a very interesting history of children's literature in America, full of fascinating detail. Among other things, there was this uncanny quote, from E. B. White's "Here is New York," talking about the city in a post-nuclear, early Cold War moment in history:

The subtlest change in New York is something people don't speak much about but that is in everyone's mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly turn end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition.


That was written in 1948. Of course it made me think of September 11th, 2001, seven years ago yesterday. The same, only more so, and hardly subtle in the changing (and something everybody talked about). But I was really struck by the passage. (Meant to post this yesterday, but forgot.)

Certainly shows something about the cycling of history. Are those cycles just giving us more and more extreme versions of the same old story? This would be the Oscilloscope of History theory, I suppose -- not, "The more things change, the more they stay the same," but "The more things change, the faster and louder they get."

But really, was there ever a slow time of quiet, a time of calm and peace? And can we ever turn down the frequency, decrease the amplitude enough to return to such a state? For the sake of BJ and BB, I certainly hope so.

Friday Feature -- Three Cs Custom Designs

This week's featured Etsy artist is a fellow Etsykids member, Three Cs Custom Designs. Her designs are adorable -- and truly custom!
For example, this charming "My First Trick or Treat" onesie can be made to order exactly as you'd like it, with different fabrics or different text. You can even have baby's name added to the rear of the onesie, for free!

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

1. I am a stay at home mom of three little boys - Cale (4 1/2), Camden (2 1/2) and Colson (7 months)

2. My oldest son has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, so it adds some challenges but we are thankful that he is high functioning & ultimately Autism is something you can live with! The little shop income I do have helps pay for all of his therapies!

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I do custom applique and embroidery - mostly on children's clothing - onesies, tshirts, dresses, burp cloths, bibs, ETC. I focus on t's and onesies.


What inspires your creations?

My kids!!! I have many two year old inspired tee's as my two year old has quite the personality! Watch out, he'll be turning 3 in Oct - I'll have to come up with some new things!

My customers also bring their ideas. Since 98% of my sales are one of a kind and they are all custom created after you order - they may ask for ideas to go with a birthday theme or they may want an item I haven't yet created and together we come up with the perfect tshirt/onesie for them. It is fun to take their ideas and run with them!

I also have to really 'listen' to what mothers of girls want. Sure - I am a girl myself, however I am in such boy mode - planes, trains, and anything with wheels that I am often clueless to what the little girl wants these days. I try to pay attention to what the little girls in my family or daughters of friends are wearing!

I also have a stylish friend, who started out as a random customer with adorable twin girls - so I often give her options and she lets me know what little girls are into these days!

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

I have always been into art, drawing and painting. In H.S. art was my favorite class - and of course it helped my best friend was in there & I loved my teacher! Once I got married - had a job and then settled in with the kids and was at home, I never really found time to use my creative side other then the little kid stuff.
A dear friend of my mothers since I was young (so she was like an aunt to me...she sadly lost her battle with cancer in May of this year) was into embroidery, quilting, and sewing. Before children, I had to travel to Dallas near where she lived for work about once a month. I would stay with her and her family instead of a hotel. We would stay up late at night and visit in her sewing room. Once, as a joke I wanted to make a tshirt for my husband & a friend of ours for this baseball team they were on. I used her machine while I was there and was facinated with all you could do! So I had always wanted a machine of my own since then.

With my last pregnancy, we were looking for a sewing machine just for minimal use and I opened my mouth and asked about an embroidery machine & was sold on it. So off I went making loads of things for my guys and now for my customers! It is a wonderful outlet for me - a stress reliever - it keeps my mind fresh and is a nice break from all the mommy stuff I do. It's something just for me!!
What is your favorite item in your shop? Why is it your favorite?

Oh I don't know if I could come up with a favorite...that's a tough one. I really like the humorous t's - as mentioned inspired by my son. One being "I'm 2, what's your excuse" which I added the applique into for a more stylish and exciting look.


Then there is this dumptruck applique for your little one's birthday that they can continue to wear throughout the year. I've even had it ordered for a little girl, so we had a pink dumptruck!


And these are not a big seller - but they are important to me. My 2 1/2 year old (here I go again with him...I do love my other children :) has severe food allergies. Right now he's mostly with me, so I dont' have to worry too much. But thinking of public areas, picnics, weddings, birthday parties, ETC when anyone may think it's harmless to offer him a snack - I love that he can wear something that will scream don't feed me. It can be made funny & cute - but often with the world so accessorized, people don't pay as much attention to braclets and such.


What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

Quiet, shy, sarcastic.

SO the sarcastic was the only true one there! I'll add friendly (a nicer way of saying I'm chatty..) and helpful.
What do you like about Etsy?

The communities - the street teams - everyone is so helpful and willing to help others with their shops. It's not as big as a 'competition' as it could be. Everyone likes to see other shops succeed!
What makes your shop unique?

98% of my items are one of a kind. Even if you get a shirt someone else has, it likely will have a different fabric or font or will be on antoher colored tshirt, etc. I am extremely open to custom orders - it's really all I do. I don't make a tee I'm selling until you order it. So you get to play a hand in designing the shirt and it will be exaclty what you want. There's no settling for what you see - make it your own!

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

Sellers, just be patient. I used to check my email so much wondering what I was doing wrong. Once you get those first few sales, one person tells another and that person tells another, and off you go! Also, I think listing new items often helps. The older the listing, the further into searches people will have to go to find it.

Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
My blog -- that I neglect. I always update my fabrics & try to update my projects often.

And a customer (no, I did not know her as my sister asked!) just did a review on my shop.
Hope you enjoyed the interview! For more Friday Features, click here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Preschool, Second Week

BJ had a really good day at preschool today, according to Ms. F. It was his fourth day at preschool, and for the first time he really interacted with the other kids. Not surprisingly, he still cried when S left, but the teacher said he did well shortly thereafter. He was also crying when S came to pick him up, but the teacher said that he'd only started a few minutes earlier, when he saw another girl getting picked up and wondered when he'd be leaving. That's one of the hardest things about preschool -- since kids can be such unreliable narrators, we have to rely on someone else to know how things have gone! Happily, BJ is also telling us that he had fun and played with the other kids (including "the first shark," which has become his nickname for J, the little girl we saw at the museum).

I keep reminding myself that even though he's finishing up his second week, he's only gone four times. And only about 3 hours at a time, so his total time of solo preschool experience thus far is about 12 hours. That's not even two full days! All told, I think he's doing fine. We're hoping that in a few weeks he'll be ready to try staying through the afternoon, but we're in no rush.

What has been rushing by, though, is the visit with my folks. We're keeping busy and having lots of fun. Today I had an acupuncture appointment in the morning and a class this afternoon (learning how to use Excel) so I was very grateful for their help with watching the kids. It's so wonderful to have them here. S and I even got a date night last night, after we went to orientation for BJ's preschool! We went out to dinner (Thai) and then did a little thrift shopping (Savers). Lovely!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

100 Etsy Sales!

Yesterday was a busy day here at Mama's Magic Studio -- I sold two pairs of Fraternal Earrings in my new Etsy shop and two necklaces in my Baby Friendly Beads shop.
This brings my grand total of Etsy sales to over 100! Most of those are in my Baby Friendly Beads shop, which is sitting at 98 sales. To celebrate, I decided I would offer a special surprise gift to the lucky person who is my 100th sale in the Baby Friendly Beads shop. Happy Shopping!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My First "Real" Fair

Yesterday was the Birth & Baby Fair, my first "real" fair in the sense that it was the first time I'd actually paid for a table. I was there with my Baby Friendly Beads, and the results were decent -- I sold enough to pay for the table, gas & parking, and somewhat beyond. I also gave out tons of cards.

Most of the folks were first-time mommies, with no breastfeeding experience yet, so they don't realize the challenges they might encounter. I didn't want to scare anybody, but I did find myself talking a lot about all the unpleasant habits nursing babies can develop.
In a fit of inspiration, expecting this sort of situation, I'd put together a little display including this clever Baby Blues cartoon. "Never breast-feed with your hands full," says the caption, and the pictures show Wanda being pulled on in all sorts of ways. My little card said, "If only Wanda had a Baby Friendly Beads nursing necklace!"
It was nice to be able to point to something from a fairly "mainstream" source that illustrated why my Baby Friendly Beads can work so well. (And I was careful to credit the source!) So hopefully when all those as-yet-unborn babies are about 6 months old and pulling hair, my business cards will be found and will lead to sales. We'll see!

I am happy to say that I was generally pleased with the table setup -- I've lots yet to learn, but it's a huge improvement over previous events (all two of them).
I had more visual interest by far, and the display I made worked well. This was the project I mentioned that I've been working on: I'd turned a wooden tray and stool, found at Goodwill, into a display that I could break down for storage and transport.
I figured out how to attach them together, painted everything, and put in a bunch of cup hooks. Not too bad for a thrift store find!
It was a gorgeous day in San Francisco -- which was perhaps why the traffic at the fair was lighter than it has been at previous ones, or so the other vendors said. Sunny and high 80s, just lovely. This was the view from behind my table.
So I understand why folks might have wanted to be outdoors doing other things.

It will be a relief to have a break from beading so much. I've been working a good deal on inventory and I ended up having more than 70 necklaces and 16 bracelets made to bring to the show. I have plenty of new items left that didn't sell (alas!) -- now I can work on photos to get some new stuff in the shop!

Happy Grandparents Day!

What a treat to have Giki and Pop-pop here with us for Grandparents Day (nice, too, to celebrate a holiday that originated at the grassroots level, instead of being foisted upon us by Hallmark et al). They arrived on Friday afternoon. Happy Day to them, Nana J., and Grandma C & Grandpa D!

This morning, as his "gift" to Pop-Pop and Giki, BJ decided that he wanted to read them two books: an alphabet book (Alphabet Under Construction) and a number book (1-2-3 A Child's First Counting Book). Actually, it was more of a performance, since he insisted on showing them the books while doing one of his favorite activities, which consists of taking out the letters and numbers from his wooden puzzles and putting them on each page as was appropriate.

This afternoon, while S was on campus, we headed over to the Children's Discovery Museum for some fun. It was the first time my folks have joined us, so that was neat. Spent some time in the bubble room, the Wonder Cabinet, and the water play area. And as we were leaving, we added another story to the family narrative: we bumped into J, who attends BJ's preschool. She recognized him, said hello, and played a bit with him and BB in the fire truck area.

J was the first kid to befriend BJ when we first visited the preschool. We met her when I went with BJ and stayed during the morning to help him get used to things. BJ and I were reading in the corner, and she came to read with us. She's a very sweet girl -- when we left, she walked us to the door to say goodbye and asked if she could give him a hug; BJ nodded, and she did. Alas, alack, all this was before the classes had shifted. When we met J, it was during her last week with BJ's teacher. She has now moved up to the next age group.

We were only with her for about five minutes at the museum today, if that, but the impact on BJ was huge. He talked about it the whole way home and all evening long. It really brought out just how conflicted he is about preschool: thoroughly excited and honestly scared, one moment grinning and giggling, the next tearful and anxious. He wanted to know when he'd see J again and if they'd ever play at the museum together again. I told him that even though she wouldn't be in his classroom, they'd see each other on the playground when it was time for everybody to do outdoor play.

He's already planned how he will approach J on the playground and ask her if she wants to go to the museum together sometime. "And if she nods her head, then I will say to talk to our mommies!" He's planning playdates at the house, wondering what toys she'd like, asking if she's ever played Candyland. Then, ten minutes later as we were getting ready for bed, he blurted out, "Does J miss me?"

How I wish she would be there in his classroom to welcome him on Tuesday!

Thank heavens that my dad brought his camera to the museum today -- not that I would have expected him to do otherwise, of course, but still -- he happened to get pictures of the kids on the firetruck, including ones with J in the background. BJ has asked to see these several times already, and I predict that almost first thing tomorrow he will ask about them. Fingers crossed that the intensity of all this works to the good and doesn't backfire on us something fierce. I can't help but imagine little J on the playground, oblivious, and BJ running up to her with the words tumbling out of his mouth incomprehensibly. I have a feeling that a call to J's mom is in my near future.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Feature -- Kuddle Bugz Threadz

This week's featured Etsy artist is Toni from KuddleBugz Threadz. She is a fellow Etsykids member, and I love the sense of whimsy she brings to children's items, like this Diaper Buddy -- the colors and patterns really pop!

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


I have competed in both a body building competition and a marathon. I love fitness and being active. I am the mother of beautiful 2 year old twin daughters and am expecting another bundle of joy September 7th!


(Note from Jen: TJ was born on August 28th. Congratulations to all, and welcome to the new little one!)

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?


I started out selling fleece infant car seat covers. From there I have expanded to baby booties, bibs and burp cloths, and diaper bags.

To which Etsy Street Teams do you belong?
Etsy Kids, Team Alaska, Cafe Mom Etsy Team

What inspires your creations?
Other mothers! I try to listen to them and see what their needs are and fill the void!

Tell me a bit about your creative process and/or how you learned to do what you do.
I am self-taught. I have gotten alot of tips from my mother-in-law. I love to piece different patterns of fabric together and see the completed product.

What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?
Currently my favorite item for sale is the Orange Floral Diaper Bag--Messenger Style I love the way the color combination turned out and can't wait to make someone happy with such a great bag!


What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
Creative, caring, crazy busy!

What do you like about Etsy?
The community, which always is willing to help out a fellow Etsy member!

What makes your shop unique?
The attention to detail that I give each item. I love to make custom orders for customers!

What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?
For those selling, be patient! Things will fall in to place! For those buying...thank you for supporting those who are striving to make it working from home!

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