Subscribe

RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Favorite Favorite

Both the kids have been into the idea of "favorites" lately as they determine their (ever shifting) likes and dislikes. I was particularly tickled by this recent conversation with BB during Nana J's visit:

S: "Am I your favorite Daddy?"
BB (shaking head): "No."
S: "I'm not? Then who is your favorite Daddy?!?"
BB (pointing): "Mommy!"

At this point, Nana jumps in, asking, "Am I your favorite Grandma?"
BB: "No."
Nana: "Really!?! Well who is your favorite Grandma? Is it Giki?"
BB: "No...."
Nana: "No? Then who is your favorite Grandma?"
BB: "Pop-pop! He is my favorite favorite!"

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Feature -- Storybeader

This week's Friday Feature is Storybeader. And if my regular readers have a bit of deja-vu right now, there's a reason: Deb of Storybeader fame is also the Etsyblogger of the Month for November, and a few weeks ago I posted with a little peek into her shop. Deb was kind enough to follow up with an interview, so it's my pleasure to present a more in-depth look. Enjoy!


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

Let's see what's interesting:
I'm a museum curator, archivist, and librarian. My board now wants to make me the City Historian!
I am currently a wife, but have been married and divorced only once (that's a riddle)
I love books, beads, dogs, turtles, and, of course, my family
Oh, and Storybeader became a full-fledged business in Jan 2008 - think I have enough things going on?

To which Etsy Street Teams do you belong?

I belong to the Etsybloggers, where I'm most active. Also, the OKETSY (Oklahoma Etsy team), the BBEST (Boomers), and Etsy Artist Lounge. I wish I had more time to participate in the other teams, but my blog and work take up most of my time.

What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I sell one-of-a-kind (OOAK) jewelry and some other fun things that involve beading: bookmarks, suncatchers, keychains ...


What inspires your creations?

If we are talking about MY creations, then I'm inspired mainly by color and story. I get excited when the individual beads speak to me, and things fall into place. I can't create if I'm not in the mood.

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

I hate to say this, but I know stringing beads doesn't take a lot of talent. I see some other metalwork and beadweaving jewelry, and I feel inconsequential. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, and I'm always looking for that extra personal connection. I usually start with a focal piece that I find attractive, and try to blend colors and textures. Maybe because I make jewelry that I like, that's why they're not flying off the shelves! LOL I always write a haiku to go along with my necklaces - the poem can come to me at various times of the creative process.

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

If anybody knows me, they know I usually pick a treasure necklace. But I love the necklace I used for my new business cards, made with amazonite and turquoise birdies. It's so soothing and beautiful, in my eyes. I had it at an art show, and a woman walked straight up to it, picked it up, and said "I'll take this." We must've been long lost sisters...


What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

compassionate, honest, orderly (don't I sound like a great gal?)

What do you like about Etsy?

It has to be the cameraderie. Now I'm not really a club person, but I LOVE all my etsybloggers and certain people (you know who you are) have really gone the extra mile when I needed help and moral support.

What makes your shop unique?

Well, all the pieces are OOAKs ! But I think the poems that go with the necklaces are a novel idea...

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

One word - and it’s not plastics! LOL It’s marketing! And that’s directed at all the sellers out there. Being in the business world, I’ve started looking around at how to create a little more exposure for my work. Like I said, I’m not that outgoing, but it’s very important to market yourself if you want to get noticed. Step outside you’re usual box: Join a team on etsy or flickr, start a blog or website. And if you’re a buyer, buy handmade! Get something a little more unusual, and get noticed! Etsy management had a great idea!

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

My blog tells about me, what I’m doing, where I’m going...
I also have a flickr account
and have recently become a member of the Artisan Shoppe
In my 8-5 life, I’m at the Museum of the Great Plains
That’s me in the archives, in the “Research” box.

Storybeader is also participating in the Etsybloggers Holiday Sale this weekend, so through 12/1 she is offering 10% off all items in her shop, plus free U.S. shipping! Happy Shopping!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Grateful

Bountiful blessings this year. So many things to be thankful for. For me, it mostly comes down to home and family these days -- and that's more than enough.

Our Thanksgiving Bowl (which I posted about here) was a mixed success. We didn't get to it in the morning, because Nana J was involved with the kids in a craft activity, getting them to glue together some Christmas themed door hanger projects that she'd brought with her. Let's just say the gluing was a bit much for little hands. So it had to be squeezed in between naptime and leaving for dinner at Aunt S and Uncle J's. But we managed it.

BB was clueless about the whole thing, which isn't surprising. Especially since she was still a little cranky and groggy from her nap as I was trying to explain everything. But BJ loved the idea. He immediately sat down with me to draw a picture of what he was thankful for, and while I drew a (very crude) picture of our house and our family, he got right down to work with a blue crayon. I talked with him about what I was drawing, and when I asked him about his picture, he said it was a picture of his toy snake Stuxey and Stuxey's house. So perhaps he's a little unclear on the whole thing as well.

But I was happy to start the tradition -- these things have to begin somewhere, right? -- and I think it has potential. A nice simple ritual but potentially deep with meaning. I put in my picture, a business card from Mama's Magic Studio, a pen, and family photographs. S put in some more photographs, a magnet of a building on his campus (to represent his job, for which we are both profoundly grateful) and a little toy cheetah to represent the cats. Nana J drew a picture and put it in the bowl.

And then we rushed out the door to head over the hill for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm happy to say that the kids were extremely well behaved, and we had a lovely time. Dinner was yummy, company was very nice. As I said, bountiful blessings this year. I hope you can say the same.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

12 Days of Etsykids Christmas


I'm happy to share the news that Baby Friendly Beads will be taking part in the 12 Days of Etsykids Christmas! November 28th – December 10th, join EtsyKids for 12 days of fabulous, festive fun and dreamy holiday prizes.



Here’s how to play:




Each day the EtsyKids blog will contain a post showing an image that’s hidden in an item listing on a few different EtsyKids team members’ shops, along with a clue on how to find it.




When a contestant finds just one of the hidden images, they send an Etsy conversation to the day’s entry collector with a link to the listing where they found it.





Once their conversation is received, they’ll be entered into a drawing for an amazing EtsyKids prize. Those who find images for all 12 days are entered into the grand prize drawing!






Participants may use one of two methods to find the images:
1. Begin by looking at each of the 7,000+ EtsyKids listings, or
2. Decipher the clue to the keyword to narrow down the listings to under 100.
The clues are word association to the keyword. After you think you have the keyword, enter that word and "etsykids team" into Etsy's search, and start looking!
Example: Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus...........nativity
Thus, you would enter "nativity etsykids team" to narrow down the listings to hunt through. The clues start out easy, and they get harder!



Please do not post the answers anywhere - all answers will be revealed at the end of the game.


If you don't jump into the game until after it's started, no problem! You can still enter that day's drawing, as well as the remaining days, then go back and find the previous days to enter the grand prize drawing.The Etsykids blog will also let contestants know who to contact to enter, as well as the prize(s) that will be awarded that day. The number of prizes will increase each day and the winners will be selected at random.






***Contestants can enter once each day.Within 24 hours of winning, the lucky winners will be contacted via Etsy Conversation, and MUST contact (via Etsy Conversation) the prize donor with their mailing address within 2 days of being contacted. If they fail to contact the prize donor within the given time, a new winner will be selected.






Thanks to planetpudge.etsy.com & thecleverkitty.etsy.com & littleelephantco.etsy.com for their hard work and for writing up the contest description and rules!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sleepover

Last night, BB asked if she could have BJ join her in her big girl bed. She's asked this before, and the one time we tried it she kicked him out less than five minutes later, which he found pretty upsetting. The kids were both pretty bushed, so we weren't going to go for it this time. But she insisted, and then he got all enthusiastic about it, so we decided to let them give it a try.

After much negotiating and wiggling, mostly on BB's part, they finally ended up in an arrangement with BJ's head at the head of the bed and BB's head at the foot of the bed. It took about 20 minutes, but they did indeed fall asleep like this. And stayed asleep long enough for us to sneak in and take a picture about half an hour later:




Socks was quite pleased with this scenario, since it left BJ's bed wide open. In no time at all, he was curled up and content.


I'd predicted that BB would soon tire of having her brother in her space, but they both slept soundly until 1 a.m. at which point BB woke and started crying out that she wanted BJ out. S scooped up BJ and eased him into his own bed while I settled BB. BJ hardly stirred, bless his heart.

I'd wondered if they'd ask for another sleepover tonight, but they didn't. BJ fell almost immediately asleep -- he was pretty tuckered out. BB took almost an hour to get to sleep, since her naps had been thrown out of whack by the shopping trip this morning. (She fell asleep in the car while Nana and I were on the way to the mall, and the half hour of morning nap combined with a later than usual afternoon nap really messed up her schedule. But we scored a bunch of cute kids' clothes, so it was worth it.) But she showed no inclination to share her bed with anybody, including Socks. So we'll see if the sibling bed develops into a trend. Sure glad we got the pic when we had the chance!

Monday, November 24, 2008

22 months!

BB turns 22 months old today. Hard to believe, but when BJ turned 22 months, BB was only a week old! And in 8 short weeks she'll be 2 years old. Good golly, where does the time go?

It's really sweet to see how well she and her brother are getting along these days. They are really learning how to play together. This morning, she got the idea to climb into the basket where we keep all the soft blocks, and he decided to pile the blocks on top of her. Much to her delight -- she liked it so much that she hung out there for quite some time!

The two of them have also decided that they like to hold hands when we're out and about walking. I have missed many a kodak moment in the past few days, but I'm determined to get a pic of this soon. (Santa, if you're listening, I would LOVE to get a smaller digital camera, one that takes decent pictures but would fit easily in the diaper bag and fanny pack!)

In other family news, Nana J arrives this afternoon and is stayin with us through Friday. So I'm sure it will be a fun, full week.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Etsybloggers Holiday Sale Coming Soon!

Here's a PSA for the holiday shopping season:



The EtsyBloggers HOLIDAY S*A*L*E* is going on from Black Friday thru Cyber Monday!! That's Friday 11/28 thru Monday 12/1!!See a list of the 50+ shops having a SALE at http://etsybloggers.etsy.com/

And of course, I'm participating with both my shops while the sale is going on:

Mama's Magic Studio will be offering Free U.S. Shipping on purchases of $20 or more.

Baby Friendly Beads will be offering Free U.S. Shipping on purchases of $40 or more.


Happy Shopping!

Friday, November 21, 2008

BBC

I felt like quite the competent caregiver this morning -- I babysat for C while her mom, A, went to a doctor's appointment. BB, BJ, and C get along great (which led to A dubbing them the "BBC") and really it was no trouble at all. The only slightly bumpy part was some stranger anxiety that C displayed with S; he was in the shower when they arrived, and C hasn't seen him nearly as often as she's seen me, so she was a little uncertain.
But we had lots of fun. The girls were especially interested in the tea set, playing tea party. This is a very serious and civilized undertaking, as you can see.

The girls also discovered the markers, and they did a very good job of sharing the whiteboard. The blue is BB's and the purple is C's.

BJ was part of things, too, especially when they all decided to play with the igloo tent. (Gotta love IKEA!)

BB and BJ were sad when it was time for C to leave, and so was I! Such a sweet little girl. BB doesn't have as many peers as BJ did at her age, which I sometimes feel badly about, but she's got one really good friend in C. (Plus her mom makes amazing gingerbread! Are we lucky or what?)

Big Day

BJ had a fantastic, full day on Thursday. I was a little anxious about how it would go, since there was so much on the calendar. Started off at preschool, where he apparently did very well, playing with the other kids and not fussing at all when S dropped him off. (In spite of the fact that when he woke up he immediately started whining, "I don't want to go to preschool today!") Then we ran errands in the afternoon, and we had time to swing by the pet store before we went to Trader Joe's. The kids always love visiting the pet store -- I think it's almost as good as a trip to the zoo, in their book. Animals to see, squeaky toys to play with, what's not to like?

Whenever we go to the pet store, BJ makes a beeline for the reptile area so that he can visit the snakes. This time, several employees were hanging around the terrariums, chatting about the animals and taking some of them out of the cages to look at. They noticed BJ and his enthusiasm for the ball python, and one of the men asked if BJ would like to pet the snake. BJ's eyes got enormous, whether with fear or joy I couldn't tell. I hesitated, the man asked again, and BJ made it clear that YES he would very much like to pet the snake!

While BJ told us all about Stuxey, his snake friend at home (a rubber toy snake who is an integral part of BJ's imaginative life) the man rustled the snake out of its glass home. The snakes were very active that day, all three of them, and the man commented laughingly to his peers as he tried to catch one: "See those little ones? Trying to strike! They're mean 'uns."

Oh Lord, please don't let my boy get bitten, I'm thinking, ready to call the whole thing off. BB had made it clear she wanted nothing to do with the prospect of touching a snake, and in all honesty neither did I. She was hiding behind my legs as the man finally brought the snake out. He kept the head pointed away from BJ, I was happy to see; BJ immediately darted out a finger to make contact with the snake's scaly skin. He touched it a half dozen times, first very quickly, then actually stroking it a bit. "It's bumpy!" he told us.

Of course we were hearing about him petting the snake for the rest of the day, and it has continued to be a significant topic of conversation. I just hope he doesn't now expect me to produce a snake for petting every time we go to the pet store!

In the evening, we met up with S on campus to go as a family to the preschool's annual Holiday Feast. Catered by the campus food service, the dinner was fairly yummy, though the kids didn't eat much at all. BJ saw his beloved J, the "older girl" on whom he has a crush, so he was thoroughly excited. At one point she got underneath his chair, which made him nearly explode with excitement. "Why was J underneath my chair, Mommy? Why?!?" (She was playing hide and seek with friends from her class.) While BJ colored on the paper tablecloth and BB played with her applesauce, we scarfed down some food and chatted with other families from his school. Very nice to get to talk with some of the other parents -- the more experience I have with the school, the happier I am with our choice.

Turns out that as part of the evening's entertainment, each class had put together a little performance. I'd been hearing about this ever since BJ got home from preschool: "I don't want to sing, Mommy! I'm not going to sing!" S and I decided we weren't going to push, though I felt a little sad that my boy wasn't more enthusiastic; many of the other kids (especially the girls) were already up on stage, practicing and preening.

As it began to dawn on BJ that all the kids would be performing -- including his dearest J -- he made noises about changing his mind. Then, with great firmness, he declared, "I'm going to yell!" Ok, I thought, not realizing what he meant. "That's great, honey! I can't wait to see you," I said.

When it was their turn, he joined his classmates up on stage without hesitation. A lump rose in my throat as I tried to hold the camera steady (And how I wished I'd brought our "real" video camera! Just not thinking things through, alas.) He seemed so grown up, standing there alongside all those other kids. Here they are -- BJ is in the middle, wearing the yellow shirt.

video

Just in case you didn't catch it, that was BJ shrieking, right on cue. At the beginning Ms. F said that the kids usually act out this song. But this time they were going to sing it. "We'll spare your ears with the screaming," she explains while introducing the song.

That's right, my little schemer had apparently been coached by his teacher not to yell. And knew this perfectly well when he told me that he planned to yell. I had no idea he was capable of such antics! Maybe my shy little guy is not quite as innocent as I'd like to think, huh? His performance definitely got the biggest laugh of the night. What a great ending to a great day!

Friday Feature -- TiLT Creations

This week's featured Etsy artist is Theresa of TiLT creations. I love her handbags! She has a great sense of style. Also, for the month of November, she is donating 10% of proceeds to the March of Dimes in memory of her son, Cullen. The story behind that generosity can be read here. (Be warned, though, it's very sad!)
Tell me two (or more!) interesting things about you. Um…huh…let's see…achievements: I think my two boys are my biggest & best ones. And the second one (who is now 3 ½) was a heck of one…6 months of bedrest with early labor starting around 24 weeks. Take it from me, on again off again contractions from week 24 to 38 – not fun.

I originally went to college for art history with art on the side, but quickly switched when I realize that I love it more than I am good at it…and job market, not so hot. So I got my BS in Biology – not any better market wise, but I love science. And being a glutton for punishment…I kept going to school.
To which Etsy Street Teams do you belong? Etsybloggers, etsymoms, micetsy (Michigan indie crafters of etsy)

What do you sell in your Etsy shop? Handbags mostly- purses, totes, and clutches. Also zippered pouches (cosmetic bags, whatever you want to call them), key fobs and bookmark. I plan to start bring in journal covers, stuffies, aprons, and maybe some clothing…not necessarily in that order.

What inspires your creations? Pretty much everything. It can be the shape of something or the texture or even the color. I try not to go trendy and just follow what I like. Although I have made patterned bags and some fashioned from current trends for friends and family.

Tell me a bit about your creative process and/or how you learned to do what you do.
I took a home-ec class in middle school and sewed a little here and there for about 10 years. I didn't start sewing regularly until 10 years ago when I needed a Robin Hood costume for my son. I started with clothes – which was fun (still is). But then I wanted to do more. Making Christmas gifts for family last year started the handbag making. I first went from patterns to learn how they get constructed. Then I started sketching out my own…and didn't stop. I have no idea how to properly draft a pattern, but the way I do it works for me. Sketch – measure – scale – draw out pieces – cut & sew. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. I have about 40 sketches and 15 or so drafts…have made about 10 so far.

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

Green Ann Twist: I really like how it turned out with the disproportionate circular handle – it is almost larger than the handbag itself. Als0 – it was the first tiny style purse I successfully made

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself? Number 1 is always "mom", silly, creative

What do you like about Etsy? The teams. I used to be a tad skeptical about the whole finding friends online idea…until I joined some etsy teams. We may never (well, rarely) meet in person, but it really feels like we know each other – like a true community.

What makes your shop unique? My bags are all different from each other. There are very few styles I make more than one of. And even when I do, it is never with the same materials.

What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy? Make yourself known as a seller. Join teams, participate in the forums and check out the labs. As a buyer – give yourself lots of time to just browse around. You do it in brick & mortar shops – do it here too. There are so many interesting things to find. And don't get discouraged by photos (as a seller or buyer). Remember – it is not the photo that is for sale, but the item. Unless you are looking for photos & prints!

Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
I have 2 blogs, 1 is a mixed bag my life, etsy related articles, and more (http://tiltcreations.blogspot.com) and another where I feature other artists (http://tilttreasures.blogspot.com). I have a photostream on flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tilcreations), which has more than just my bags. I also have a website, but it is not updated as regularly (http://www.tiltcreations.webs.com).
Hope you enjoyed the interview! For more Mama's Magic Friday Features, click here. And if you're an Etsy seller who is interested in being featured here at Mama's Magic, please let me know!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Thanksgiving Bowl

I've been thinking a lot about holiday traditions, so it was fun to see one of the topics for this round of the Etsybloggers carnival: "What is your favorite tradition for the Thanksgiving holiday?"

Like many families, mine has always made a point of expressing our gratitude before gorging ourselves on all the delicious food. While the dishes steamed on the table and delectable aromas filled the air, we would clasp hands, say grace, and take turns saying what we were most thankful for that year. I remember being a little kid and somewhat impatient with this ritual -- there was yummy food to eat, inches away! Why not eat first and give thanks after, I wondered.

But as I've grown, I've come to like this tradition more and more, and I definitely plan to continue it in some form with my kids. (I confess that the tradition of caloric indulgence is one that I'm quite fond of as well, and of course we'll keep that one going too! Though this year, the kids might not be so into it -- I've done some trial runs with stuffing and sweet potatoes recently, and neither BB nor BJ wanted anything to do with them. So we'll see how it goes.) Recently, I've been brainstorming ways that I could make it more meaningful for the little ones, and I think I've settled on something: the Thanksgiving Bowl.

(And no, this has nothing to do with football -- gazing slack-jawed at a sporting event has very little role in the holiday traditions in this family, which is FINE by me. To each his (or her) own, but we're neither big TV watchers nor sports fans around here.)

On Thansksgiving, I plan to put a big bowl out on the table and to fill it with emblems of our gratitude. This could be a picture, an actual object, something written on paper -- anything that is somehow related to things we are thankful for. Once everbody has put something in, we'll sit down together and talk about the things in the bowl.

I think this is a concept that even little BB can understand, or start to at least. Since we'll be having dinner with S's aunt and uncle, I thought we'd fill up the bowl in the morning (or perhaps even in the days leading up to the holiday) and talk about everything before we headed over for dinner.

I'm still working through the details, so if anybody has any suggestions about how to make this work best with a 22 month old and a 3 1/2 year old, by all means let me know! And I'll be sure to let y'all know how it works out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Move It Move It

As I've mentioned, we really try to keep the kids clear of all the pop-culture crapola that gets produced in the neverending efforts to make children into consumers. I know it's a bit snobbish of me, but I feel very strongly about this; I'm downright repulsed by so much of the plastic, disposable junk that masquerades as kids' toys and kids' entertainment. (I could step up onto my Buy Handmade soapbox at this point, but I won't. For some of my thoughts on that, see this post.)

We don't watch TV. (Though we allow a few selected videos, used sparingly, such as Blues Clues, Winnie the Pooh, the occasional Sesame Street, and recently we've introduced the Peanuts' Thanksgiving video, to much delight.) We avoid the Disney junk. (Though we use Huggies diapers and pull-ups, so the kids have learned about many of the characters during diaper changes; I wasn't thrilled about this, but part of me found it fitting that the introduction to the pervasive presence of these images came about because they are used to decorate the repositories of my childrens' excrement.) I make every attempt not to own clothes, toys, or books that are emblazoned with mass-market children's characters -- no Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer, or their compatriots in this house, thank you very much. (Though I will let the kids check out Blues Clues books from the library, and when BB found a denim jacket decorated with Tigger and Pooh at the thrift store for $3, I gave in and got it for her. She loves it!) We have yet to bring the kids to a movie. (I don't count the Diaper Days flicks that I watched with BJ when he was a babe in arms; pacing the aisles with him asleep in the Baby Bjorn while I tried to pay attention to Pride & Predjudice isn't the same thing at all.) I am very fortunate that, for the most part, family and friends have respected our wishes about all of this. (And I sure hope that trend continues with this holiday's gift giving!)

I know I can't keep my kids in this bubble forever, and I don't intend to -- but for now, I'm happy that they are such innocents. I've fortified the household against the marketing machines, and I will continue to be vigilant against their insidious influence. Every once in a while, though, something gets in through a chink in the defences.

Most recently, as S was surfing the web with BB in his lap, she saw an animated advertisement for Madagascar 2 and insisted, in no uncertain terms, that he click on it to see what it was all about. Ever since, we've had daily demands to visit the website advertising the movie. "I want to watch Move it Move it!" she will declare, climbing up into the computer chair.

She has definite favorites: the video preview (click on Video and this is #1 in the list) and the music video, "I Like to Move it Move it!" (fourth down the list). She refers to the latter as the "grandma dancing video" and just adores it. "Again, again!" she'll ask. Yes, it's screen time, and yes, I do find all the emphasis on animals' wiggling their booties a little disturbing, but there are worse things, right? At least it gives me some time to cook dinner without her underfoot; the computer nook is directly off the kitchen, so she's right there with me, perfectly content.

And even though it does go a bit against the grain for me, running counter to many of my parenting philosophies, it's all quite amusing. When I'm not taking it so seriously, I have to laugh. Night before last, as she was going to sleep, she sat up out of complete relaxed silence and called out, "I like to party party!" (one of the lines from the song) -- except it sounded for all the world like, "I like to potty potty!" I could barely contain myself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blue Blanket + Imagination = ....

We have a big, fuzzy blue blanket, made of tied off fleece, solid blue on one side and blue with snowflakes on the other. Grandma C was kind enough to make this for us, several years back, and it has become an essential part of the kids' imaginitive play. Most often, the blue side becomes water or sky; the reverse becomes snow or a frozen lake.
This week, the blanket has been out almost every day, alternating between being "The Sea" and being "The Pond." Here it is in full pond mode -- the pillows are lily pads for Mickey Doodle (BJ's purple frog). Note the small fish placed strategically as frog food.

To date, these elaborate setups have been BJ's idea, but BB likes to play along too. All goes well, so long as she plays by his rules. (In other words, there's a fair amount of scuffling and negotiating.) But they are learning, and often they have great fun together in these imaginary worlds.

In this instance, BJ wanted to be sure we all understood that we were permitted entry into the water and encouraged to splash around. (This is not always the case; sometimes, the "water" is off limits.) Just in case there was any doubt, he made a sign to remind us:

"People Allowed In The Pond." He needed help spelling out the first two words, but after that he took over. Love the ransom note style, huh? (Yes, he's not yet four and already "writing" out words -- has been doing this for some time, actually.)

Wonder what the blanket will be next!

Monday, November 17, 2008

10 Hours

BB and BJ slept from 8 pm to 6 am last night. Hallelujah! We all needed it.

So perhaps she's getting the idea about this whole big girl bed thing. I'm having to sit at her bedside when it's time to go to sleep, and it's taking anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour. (And now BJ is making noises about "needing" me there with him while he falls asleep; one of the many drawbacks of their sharing a bedroom.) But if that's what it takes to keep her in bed, and if she then stays there all night long, that's time well spent in my book.

Fingers crossed that it continues!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Feature -- storybeader, the November Etsyblogger of the Month!

This week, instead of my usual Friday Feature interview, I decided to do something a little different. I'm delighted to introduce you to storybeader, the featured Etsyblogger for the month of November! Deb is a talented and gracious Etsyblogger team member, and her shop is full of gorgeous jewelry and other fun stuff like keychains and bookmarks.

Deb says, "I'm a frustrated writer who likes to put words and colors together to make wearable art. How do you wear words, you ask? I suppose my haiki poems can float around in your brain as you sashay down the lane, wearing one of my necklaces."


Poems, you ask? Each necklace includes a haiku that Deb has written especially for that piece. What a nifty concept!


Of all the gorgeous items in her shop, I like the treasure necklaces best. This Lapis treasure necklace is my favorite. I love the various colors and textures, how all the assorted elements play off each other and create lots of visual interest. Here's the haiku that goes with it:

She walked through the door

With the bright star reflecting

In her deep blue eyes.

- storybeader



You'll find free US shipping on all items in storybeader's shop, and she welcomes custom orders. Trust me, she's super friendly, so don't hesitate to drop her a line if you have any questions about her beautiful creations! And of course, being an Etsyblogger, she has a fantastic blog.



Congratulations, storybeader! Hope you have a wonderful month in the spotlight!

Who Needs Sleep?



Who Needs Sleep? - Barenaked Ladies


"Who needs sleep? Well you're never gonna get it. Who needs sleep? Tell me what's that for...."

That's what's been running through my head all week. Last night especially. Definitely feeling like I've been awake since the Second World War. Part of it is the return of my old crazymaking companion insomnia; part of it is the conspiracy of the children. BB has been popping in and out of bed like a caffienated jumping bean -- totally expected, since she's not even been in her new toddler bed for a week, but frustrating nonetheless.


Last night, her antics were made all the more excruciating because BJ had an extended sob fest following a nightmare. After about two hours of hysterical tears that kept subsiding and returning -- and much incoherent wailing about dust motes (don't ask me) -- I finally brought him to bed with us. At which point he crashed hard, snoring up a storm. Glad he got some rest, but it made it almost impossible for me to get back to sleep.


So today I was working on maybe 3 hours of sleep, on top of the debt accumulated this week. Needless to say, I've been a wee bit cranky, and this would also explain the minimal posts this week. (Sorry about that!) I plan to hit the sack early tonight, and I'm just praying that the weekend brings a new soundtrack with it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Big Girl

As if I needed any more reminders of how fast my little BB is growing up -- on Saturday, we got her a "big girl" bed. She'd been trying to climb into her crib, and we knew it was just a matter of time before she started trying to climb out. She really likes it, and she spent much of Saturday afternoon pretending to "sleep":

Saturday night, bedtime was as easy as kiss my hand. Our dear friend Auntie L had come over after dinner, and she was impressed with how well BB did. No fussing, no resisting, just straight to sleep.


Sunday night and every night since, though, we've had a bit of struggle. Jack-in-the-box mode is very much in effect, with BB popping in and out of bed. Figures. Feels kind of like the tease she pulled by sleeping through the night when she was, what, three months old??? And then pretty much not again until just very recently!


But good 'ol Socks has been helpful; she decided one night that she very much wanted him to sleep with her, and he obliged.



Tonight, S was on campus at bedtime, and BJ fell straight to snoring as usual, so I decided to sit with BB for a bit to keep her in bed. It took about 15 minutes of my being very boring, just repeating "Shh. Time for sleep. All done. Time for bed. Shhh..." but she finally gave up trying to talk with me and zonked out.


It was hard not to chat with her, though, becuase she's such fun to talk with right now! Full of questions and observations, using complete sentences and grammatical constructions that just blow me away. Like the other night: "I would like a ice cube from your drink, please, Daddy?" Or, a comment on Charlie Brown from Peanuts, whom she inexplicably and repeatedly refers to as "Mister Brown" -- "Sometimes, Mister Brown is happy! And sometimes, Mister Brown is sad."


Other big-girl signs: hair long enough for pigtails (though she still rarely leaves them in).


And a very strong interest in coloring, stickers, and "art" activities. She's really funny with the stickers -- she's convinced that they should be stuck one on top of the other. This is especially true of the thick foam stickers, which make a great sticker tower. Like so:

Golly but I love my little girl!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Feature -- Miss Millificent's World and Groovin' Pop!

This week's featured Etsy artist is the amazing Athena, the talent behind Miss Millificent's World and Groovin' Pop! The two shops are very different, but I love them both. Such a whimsical, original, intelligent sensibility links the two! (And of course the English major in me just LOVES this Raven and Lenore print.) Enjoy the interview!



Why did you decide to open up two shops on Etsy?

I opened Miss Millificent's World first to showcase my art and relevant photography. I also had some domino loteria necklaces for sale that did really well. When I started really getting into making retro and kitschy jewelry, and putting up more ttv and pop photography, I realized the two styles didn't mesh, so that's how Groovin' Pop! came about.



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



Well, I've been with my husband for over nineteen years now -- we got married young, and I'm happy to say that we've bucked the odds, so to speak. Our older daughter's in college studying French now, and our younger is a viola virtuoso (do I brag much?). I think peanut butter and chocolate is the ultimate food of the gods, I'm a blue ribbon junkie (meaning, I enter WAY too much stuff in the state fair), and I used to be a horror and dark fantasy writer.

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

Team Trunkt, Photographers of Etsy, and Etsybloggers Street Team.

What do you sell in your Etsy shops?

My artwork: original pencil and ink drawings; pencil drawings with digital coloring, and mixed media canvases. Different kinds of photography: ttv, altered, and digital. And a bunch of different kinds of pop and kitschy jewelry and magnets.

What inspires your creations?

Oh, wow! My toys inspire a lot of my photography, and then how I guess things will look through a viewfinder. And as far as artwork goes, these days I try to concentrate on theme -- they really get my juices going. I did a "Family Portraits and Snapshots" series, and now I'm working on Christmas illustrations. Every single character I do, though, comes from Miss Millificent's World, a little girl with a big head that I originally sketched in 2000. She lives in a weird little world.

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

I started drawing when I was two -- ballerinas, mostly. I guess I wanted to dance! I've had one high school art class in which the teacher and I weren't on very friendly terms (she was a bit of a jerk -- I'm sure she felt the same way about me) -- the rest I learned from just drawing and drawing and drawing, and studying other artists' work. Talking with other artists helps, too.

My creative process is pretty simple: settle on a theme, and then get started. It all starts with my No. 2 pencil, Bristol board or 80# watercolor paper, and a Uniball pen.

As far as photography goes, I'm a complete dunce when it comes to manual photography, so it really started up when I got my first digital camera. Then I discovered the ttv group at Flickr, and voila! I was hooked.

What is your favorite item in each of your shops (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it a favorite?

From Groovin' Pop!, it would be my "The End of Friendship" TTV photograph. This was one of my first ttvs, and people just seem to love it. They feature three of my Halfsies toys, and the look on the cat's face --which I hadn't even considered when I took the picture -- is priceless. You got caught, buddy!

From Miss Millificent's World, it's "Momma Loves 'Maters". I did this originally for the 2008 Tomato Art Fest, but the poor thing didn't sell. I was really concentrating on colors and patterns, and just love the way it turned out. By the way, it was really hard to pick a favorite -- I'm proud of a lot of my artwork!

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

Moody, fastidious, and sarcastic. That doesn't sound very good, does it? Can I add one more? I'm nice!



What do you like about Etsy?

It gives people like me, who don't have the money to pay the exorbitant fees on ebay, a cheaper way to sell my things. It also opens a wider audience to my work -- much more than a website or a gallery.

What makes your shops unique?

No one else runs them but me, heh. The subjects of my art and photography.

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

Get out there and network on the forums after you open your shop so people will know you're there. Join a team or two -- it does up your exposure if you're actively involved.

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

My websites: Miss Millificent's World , Groovin' Pop!

My blog: http://athenaworkman.blogspot.com/



For more Mama's Magic Friday Feature interviews, click here. And if you're an Etsy artist yourself who is interested in being featured, please feel free to convo me through one of my shops -- I'd love to chat with you!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mixed

BJ's having a bit of a mixed bag at preschool these days. He'd been doing quite well, and then the week off when he was sick really set things back in terms of his adjustment. Alas. Every morning, he asks, "Is this a preschool day?" When we say yes, he tells us (often with tears) that he doesn't want to go. (And when we say no, he says, "I don't want to go to preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I want to stay home with you.") It's clearly on his mind a lot, and it's pretty heartbreaking to witness.

When pressed, he'll explain that he doesn't like to be "alone" -- meaning, without me or S. There don't seem to be any issues with other kids or with the teachers or with the school itself. (Thank goodness.) It's clear to me that this is mostly simple separation anxiety, which isn't surprising given that this is his first extended experience with a caregiver beyond the family. Also, I think it's exhausting for my little introvert to be around the other kids without the safe, secure base of Mom or Dad. But this is something he'll need to learn... I know from my own hard experience how difficult that can be, and I have faith that this particular preschool (and this particular teacher) is about as good a place as we could ask for to help him through this process.

Still, it's painful and difficult to see him struggle with all this. I have such mixed emotions about it. After all, he doesn't have to be there. I'm still home full-time, and motherhood is still my full-time job. So I feel a little guilty for sending him off when he's not all that enthusiastic about it. When I do get tempted to give in to his tears, I remind myself that the lesson he'd learn if we did keep him home is not necessarily the one we'd want to teach: cry enough and you get what you want. At the same time, though, I don't want to ignore his tears or teach him that his feelings are invalid.

Not to mention how lovely it is to have the one-on-one time with my BB! That would be hard to give up. I do believe that this will be good for all of us, in the long run, as upsetting as it can be in the moment.

From all reports, it seems that once he's there and we're gone he does okay. Other parents have said they've seen him playing, and the teacher tells us that he does well most days. Today was a good day, she said, which was nice to hear.

Especially nice because we don't tend to get much input from him about the day. He rarely wants to talk much when we pick him up. Today when I asked him what he did, he told me outright that he didn't want to talk. "I'm tired, Mommy," was all he'd say.

"Can I ask you one thing, then?" I asked while I gave him a hug. He nodded. "Did you have a sad day or a happy day?"

"A happy-ish sad day," he said. As a happy-ish sad person myself, I could totally relate. And I guess that's about as good as we could ask for right now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Personal, Political

Very bittersweet to be taking down the yard signs today, especially given the heartbreaking fact that Proposition 8 passed. How that's possible, how folks can support it -- let alone a majority, let alone in California -- is something I'm utterly unable to comprehend. What gets more personal than whom you love? Yes, the personal is political -- but why politicize that?

I'm definitely feeling lighter today, though, more hopeful, and so relieved that at long last the election is over. The New Yorker cover that arrived today pretty much nailed it: the blue light at the end of the very long red tunnel.

Another bit of happy news: I won for the third time in a row with a little poem that I submitted to this week's Creative Construction contest. The prompt was "Hands," and I ended up jotting down my response on scraps of paper while chasing around BB and worrying about the election. Here it is:

Hands (The Personal is Political)

Tap the keyboard,
Knead the bread,
Paint the canvas,
Make the bed,

Knit the sweater,
Wrap the gift,
Braid the tresses,
Mend the rift,

Wield the hammer,
Sweep the rug,
Tend the bruises,
Squeeze the hug,

Push the stroller,
Mold the clay,
Burp the baby,
Show the way,

Cast the ballot,
Skip the rope,
Thread the needle,
Pray for hope.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes We Can

And yes, I wept. I've been crying a bit all day, tears of anxiety and anticipation, and both S and I were choked up when it became clear that Obama will be this nation's 44th president. We cried throughout his sweeping, solemn speech tonight. My heart is so full it hurts.

(And I'm a white woman. I can only imagine how much all this must mean to folks of color.)

As I heard Obama speak tonight, I kept thinking -- It will be so lovely to actually look forward to hearing what the President has to say. (To not cringe at the prospect, to not feel physically ill at the sight of his face, the tenor of his voice!) To feel inspired by and proud of the leader of my country. That alone is a most welcome change.

As we watched the returns, S mentioned that he's surprised I'm not more exuberant. I am, too. (Part of it is being on edge about Proposition 8. And as a married heterosexual; again, I can only imagine how other folks must be feeling about this. With our house being just 2 doors away from the polling station, we had folks out on the sidewalk for much of the day with "No on 8" signs and handouts, trying for that last-ditch pitch before the polls. Fingers crossed.)

So, for all the joy I'm feeling -- jubilant I am not. Hugely relieved, I am. Grateful. Hopeful. Very much aware that the road ahead from here is indeed steep and long. After Obama's speech, S said, "I just hope he lives up to all that." My anguished reply: "I just hope he lives." I hate it that I keep thinking like this, but I'm terrified by what historical precedent suggests, by the bright beacons of hope snuffed out too soon. I'm not one for outright appeals to the divine, but God, please protect this brave, beautiful man and his family. For his sake and for all of ours.

Spitting Distance

This is the view from my front yard today:



Yes, that white sign in the background says "VOTE HERE." Our polling place is two doors down in our neighbor's garage, just spitting distance away. So absolutely no excuse for us not to vote!!!

We walked down as a family about 8 a.m., and there were only 2 or 3 people in front of us. BJ sat at my feet while I voted, and BB hung out with S. As I was filling out my ballot, BJ asked, "Mommy, where is Obama?"

I laughed, as did a few other folks around us. "He's not here, honey," I said. "But maybe you'll see him on the television tonight."

"Mama, is Obama real?" was his reply.

Oh yes, very much so. And (touching wood) it looks like we're in spitting distance to the change we so desparately need in this country..... (well, close to the results that will begin that long process, at any rate. After the election, the real work will start.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hoping for Change

For the sake of posterity -- to make it easier, someday, to share these with my own kids -- and for anybody who (heaven knows how) hasn't seen these already....

Signs of Hope and Change


Yes We Can -- Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am's music video


Ye Gods I hope that tomorrow brings the change we need, restores hope. For all the rhetoric, it is true.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Grand Total

It's been an amazing month, full to brimming with goodwill and good wishes from my fellow Etsybloggers. Thank you so much for the honor of being Etsyblogger of the Month! It has been a wonderful, heartwarming experience. I think the world of you folks after all of this -- and I was already quite fond of y'all to begin with!!!

Here's the grand totals from the month, since a few folks have asked:

32 new hearts in my Baby Friendly Beads shop
15 new hearts in my Mama's Magic Studio shop
2 sales (both from Baby Friendly Beads)
and, most amazing of all, 102 posts about me and my stuff!

Plus I got to explore a bunch of new blogs and new shops as I got to read all these nice posts about lil' ol' me, which was tons of fun. Fellow Etsybloggers, thank you a thousand times over. When October began, I was feeling kinda low and discouraged about my Etsy enterprises. But (even if the sales weren't all that great) -- to hear the praises of other artists who are themselves so amazingly creative has done wonders for my outlook. Y'all really do rock!!!

Etsymom Giveaways

All through November, the Etsymom team will be giving away amazing free stuff! Check the Etsymom blog for details, and I'll also be posting about it here. So far there are two giveaways going on, one for charming Christmas cards from Cinnamonspice, and one for an adorable dishtowel totebag gift pack from VeryPrettyThings. Gotta love those giveaways!

Trick or Treat!



Mr. Friendly Vampire Bat and Ms. Ladybug had a lovely time trick-or-treating last night. Much to our relief, BB actually wore her costume! (Though she was mistaken by at least one person for a slice of watermelon; her antennae are key to the costume and they didn't stay up very well, alas.)


When it came time to leave for trick-or-treating, both kids were so excited they could barely sit still. I was really happy to see their enthusiasm, considering that earlier that morning BJ had pitched a fit about the prospect of going to preschool for their Halloween parade. Even though we reassured him that we wouldn't be leaving him, even though we tried to explain that we'd be staying with him (and BB too) he would have none of it. It wasn't a Tuesday or Thursday, so we were NOT going to preschool. Period. So we stayed home -- I just was not in the mood to cajole him into something, and I still had my doubts that BB was going to want to wear her costume at all.



The kids' costumes turned out pretty cute, though I say it myself! (Thanks Giki and Pop-Pop for your help and contributions!)



Here they are, waiting for S to join us so that we can all head out. I was so glad the rain held off for a bit!
video

This year, both S and I dressed up as well. He was a total rock star (as far as the kids were concerned) as Steve from Blues Clues. The "handy dandy notebook was made by yours truly.


I took the much simpler route. What can I say -- BB helped decide what I would dress up as. It was a cat, a farmer, or a boat. We settled on cat.


We visited the immediate neighbors first, all four of us, then S headed up the street with the kids while I stayed home and handed out candy.


We had our usual deluge, easily over 100 trick or treaters in spite of the rain which appeared as the night wore on. They were more polite this year, for the most part -- fewer mute approaches to the door, with open (enormous) bag thrust forth for the requisite candy deposit. Fewer uncostumed parents demanding their share. More thank you's too, which was nice.

Our kids were just thrilled to have their "sweet treats."




Got to bed late, of course, but with Daylight Savings looming, that's not such a terrible thing. All in all, a very fun night! Hope yours was the same!