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Saturday, January 31, 2009


My sister and her family arrived this afternoon for a week's visit, coming all the way from the East Coast to sunny California. (And it was sunny! A gorgeous 60 degree afternoon!) We haven't seen little B, BB and BJ's cousin, since last December. She's 15 months old now, so she has changed a huge amount since we last saw her: she's gone from being an adorable little peanut to a walking and talking person! Such a cutie!

BB and BJ were totally excited at the prospect of seeing little B (as well as her parents) and this morning they had a ball "helping" to get things ready for the arrival of our company. I pulled out the pack and play which they were going to borrow for little B, in order to vacuum it out and wash the sheet, and as soon as it was set up BB started filling it with stuffed animals. When asked what she was doing, she asserted that her cousin would need toys. With great enthusiasm, she was making sure that little B would have plenty, including many of BB's favorites.

BJ's approach was a little more abstract: he set about making an "aquarium" for everybody to "visit" when little B arrived. He assembled all three of our fish-themed puzzles, set up a blue blanket with fish toys in the living room, and explained at great length how he would hold little B's hand " so she would be brave and not get scared in the dark room." (One of his aquarium "tanks" was in the "dark room" of the aquarium, just like at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Or at least that was his explanation.) He also informed me that he had made a gift shop, so that her parents could buy her something if they wanted to.

It was a lovely afternoon together. We headed over to our favorite park for a while, and when we got home the dads played in the yard with the kids while my sister and I got to hang out for a bit in the kitchen making dinner. Really nice to see my sis; I miss her so much! And I'm happy to say that so far the kids are getting along famously. At bathtime, BJ really wanted to help out with little B: "Come on, little cutie," he said, as he led her to the bathroom. He especially wanted to help get her undressed, and his uncle R was very patient with BJ's attempts at assistance.

Little B was such a trouper, dealing with the time change and staying up way past her bedtime. She only started to fuss as my kids were heading to bed, so at that point they packed everything up and headed over to the hotel. They'll be in our neck of the woods for a little more than a week. Such a treat to have them here!

Even Better CPSIA News

I've read a bit more about the CPSC stay and while is certainly a step in the right direction, it seems it isn't as wonderful as one might have hoped. It does not actually change the law -- folks still have to comply with the lead and phthalate regulations as written. As I understand it, the stay merely means that the CPSC isn't going to be immediately demanding the testing certification required by the law. Essentially, for the next year it puts all of us in the same boat as the thrift stores and resellers: we are still legally responsible for complying with the law, we just aren't being forced to prove our compliance by running all those expensive tests . Not yet.

What is really needed, still, is amendment to the law.

Happily, Senator Jim De Mint has proposed exactly the kind of amendments that are needed. You can read about his suggestions here. It's heartening to see that someone actually GETS IT in terms of how problematic the CPSIA actually is -- and to see that he's proposing exactly the kinds of changes that should have been part of the law to begin with!

Some folks have been wondering what all this means for Baby Friendly Beads. For now, I'm sad to say, my Baby Friendly Beads shop will remain closed. While I am confident that my breastfeeding jewelry is safe and always was -- I use high quality materials, sterling silver, semiprecious stones, and glass, making every effort to avoid materials that may be hazardous -- I have not yet been able to obtain any written certification from my suppliers verifing that the components in question would meet the CPSIA requirements.

As I understand it, without those written certifications, my legal standing is on somewhat shaky ground after February 10th if I were to resume making and selling my breastfeeding jewelry. Right now, it seems that my suppliers have no compelling reason to provide that certification; they have repeatedly assured me that their products are safe, and because they are all highly reputable businesses I believe them (otherwise I wouldn't buy from them). But their attitude is basically, "Our products are not children's products, so why should we have to provide evidence of our testing compliance?"

I surely don't buy enough inventory to provide much in the way of pressure, and it seems that there aren't enough other folks making items for children (and being vocal about it) to provide the necessary incentive for the companies to change their practices. Much as I love making my Baby Friendly Beads, until the actual law is changed or until I have written assurances from my suppliers, I simply can't afford to run the risk.

Which is why I will continue to fight for changes to the CPSIA, continue to ask my suppliers to change their practices, and be thankful for proposals like those being suggested by Mr. De Mint. The fight ain't over until it's over!

Update 2/3/2009: Etsy is also asking folks to call their representatives and support Senator De Mint's amendments. See more here. I called Senator Boxer and Senator Feinstein today.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Breaking News about the CPSIA

Looks like we can all breathe a little easier for a year: the CPSC has voted to grant a 1 year stay on the testing and certification requirements that were causing such heartache and headache. You can read about it here:

As the Etsy folks point out, the fight is NOT over. We must still speak up to be sure that the decisions they make in the coming year are sensible and sensitive to the needs of ALL manufacturers of children's goods, both large and small. I found it heartening that their press release actually mentions handcrafters by name! Keep up the good work, keep fighting the good fight, folks -- seems we're making a difference!

"Children's fiction can change the world"

This was posted to the SCBWI group today, from an interview with Neil Gaiman published online today by Shelf Awareness, and I loved it so much that I wanted to pass it along here:

"So what do you think about children's books?

They're terrible; they should be banned. What kind of question is that? I think they're wonderful. When I was a kid, I was a kid with a book. As far as I was concerned, had you asked me at the age of seven what the most important things in the world are, I'd probably say the first six Narnia books, the first three Mary Poppins books. . . . Had I discovered The Hobbit yet? Not yet. The books that took pride of place on my shelves were Stig of the Dumpby Clive King, Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green. I was the kind of kid who, during my summer holidays, would persuade my parents to drop me off at the library in the morning, and I'd spend my day there. Sometimes I'd pack a lunch. At 6:30 when they closed, I'd walk home.

Children's fiction, for me back then, was the most important thing there is. It has a holy place and position that adult fiction doesn't have. Adult fiction is a wonderful thing and enriching to the soul and mind, and it takes you to great places. But children's fiction can change the world and give you a refuge from the intolerable. It can give you a place of safety and show you the world is not bounded by the world you live in--there's more than that."

Isn't that lovely? (Also, one more reason to be sure those children's libraries stay open and well-stocked!!!)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Take The Kids to the Library (While You Still Can!)

It boggles the mind: here we are less than 2 weeks away from the February 10th implementation of the CPSIA, and libraries still don't know whether or not they will be able to continue serving children 12 and under. Common sense (and the interpretation of the ALA) concludes that children's books should not be subject to the testing requirements of the CPSIA.

Surely the folks who put together this legislation didn't intend to shut down children's libraries, right? Too bad they wrote the law in such a sweeping manner that it may do exactly that.

I've always been a fan of libraries. I'm a book lover, so it goes almost without saying! Now that I have kids, I am even more passionate about the public library system. Every time I go in with the kids and come out with an armload of books -- for free! -- I am filled with gratitude. (OK, except for that one time that BB ended up wrenching her elbow in the library parking lot because I was carrying too many books while trying to hold hands with both kids; driving to the ER with a wailing child, I have to say I wasn't feeling all that grateful for the public library system. But I digress.) The mere existence of our public libraries says something wonderful about our country and our culture. And their focus on kids and families is truly extraordinary: the children's areas in the local libraries are just lovely. It makes a mama proud.

And makes me furious to think that legislators would be careless enough to put all this in jeopardy. If they had been careful and thoughtful when they wrote the CPSIA in the first place, so much heartache could have been prevented (don't even get me started on the effects it might have on handmade goods or thrift stores!) but NO. Now it's up to the CPSC to deal with this mess.

Thankfully, librarians are a pretty tough crowd and have the organizational power to fight back. The ALA has been marshalling its forces, protesting the law through the official channels, and calling for congressional support. Just yesterday Congressman Chris Lee from New York called for a meeting with the CPSC to try to get this all taken care of.

But as of now, as far as I know, nothing has officially changed. The CPSC says they hope to have a ruling next week (golly, just a week before the law goes into effect!) and they are currently telling libraries to take a "wait and see" approach. But that ruling has not yet been made.

"Under the current opinion issued by the General Counsel of the CPSC, the law would apply to books for children under the age of 12; therefore, public, school, academic and museum libraries would be required to either remove all their children’s books or ban all children under 12 from visiting the facilities as of February 10." (Quoted from the ALA District Dispatch.)

So I'm taking the kids to the library while I still can -- and praying that the lobbying of the ALA will have enough of an effect (and soon enough) to avert this disaster. I just can't imagine having to explain to my kids that they aren't allowed to go to the library, aren't allowed to check out any more of their beloved books.

What can we do about this? Right now, the ALA suggests: Please call the Acting Commissioner, Nancy Nord, at (301) 504-7901. When you call this number, wait for the automated directory to give you directions to reach Nancy Nord’s office. Explain to the Commission that it is simply impossible for libraries to remove all children’s books from the shelves and/or ban children under 12 from the library and still provide the level of service that is needed.

And while you're at it, you can tell her the law shouldn't apply to handmade goods, either!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Trunk Show Treasury!

Many thanks to Peacox Creations for including my "Knit the Knot Known" fraternal earrings in this treasury!
(Still can't figure out how to get a screen shot record that captures the whole treasury at once -- ah well!)

Etsyblogger TRUNK SHOW! You Are Invited!

Please join Mama's Magic Studio and many other talented Etsy artists for a LIVE virtual TRUNK SHOW this Friday night!! This will be my first time doing something like this, so I would love to see familiar faces in the audience!

On Friday Jan. 30th @ 9PM EST (note to self: that's 6 PM on the West Coast!) twenty-six wonderful Etsyblogger members from all over the world will be showcasing a select few of their items ONLINE in the GALLERY of the EtsyLabs -- Sales and special offers will apply only to the EtsyBloggers TRUNK SHOW attendees.

Everyone is welcome to attend, so come and join the fun here on Friday Jan. 30th @ 9:PM EST.

Please note that you need to log in with your Etsy account to attend the Trunk Show. If you don't have an account, don't worry; it's easy and free to set one up!

In addition, the below 26 participating shops are having a SALE in their shops on Friday night in honor of the EtsyBloggers TRUNK SHOW!
Specials for trunk show - 10% off
20% off Valentines Section 1/30/09 ~ mention "Trunk Show" to receive discount Handcrafted soaps, toiletries and crochet bath accessories
One of a kind handmade lampwork beads
Free US Shipping
Handmade handbags and accessories
10% discount and free USA shipping on any item $50 and up Handmade Women's Jewelry
Free US shipping
one-of-a-kind jewelry and original haiku with each necklace
15% Off, valid 1/30/09
Mention "Trunk Show" in note to seller for discount Messenger Bags and Accessories
Visual, wearable and practical art
10% off all prints, valid 1/30 only
handmade felted bags, bowls and other goodies!
For free US Shipping and surprise gift! Just quote "trunk show" on 1/30 only.
10 % off everything in my shop!
Memories for Life Scrapbooks-Scrapbooks and More
10% OFF before shipping
Eclectic accessories and vintage goods
Free shipping on orders of $40 or more
Cards, prints and one of a kind gifts from Becky Kazana!
15% off every item in shop, and with purchase, you will receive a coupon for 10% off next purchase. Buyer please put "TRUNK SHOW" in notes to seller.
10% Off and Free U.S. Shipping
"Fraternal Earrings" and other beautiful beadwork
10% OFF with code "trunk show", valid 1/30 only Hand-crafted jewelry, decor & more. Many OOAK.
10% off
Digital Art, Photography and Note Cards
10% off
Doll Clothes and ACEOs
I will be offering Free gift with purchase - when mentioning "Trunk Show" in note to seller.
Two free apple scrubbies with any order!
Free shipping worldwide on any item from 1/29/09 through 2/1/09 Put TRUNK SHOW in the message to the seller to get the free shipping.
Free Priority Shipping Upgrade & Valentine's Gift Wrapping..... Upon Request Please!
Mention Trunk Show in customer comment box.
Free US shipping, and I'm offering 10% off on Jan. 30th one-of-a-kind jewelry and original haiku with each necklace
free shipping with code "trunk show", valid 1/30 only
free shipping with code "trunk show", valid 1/30 only
free shipping with " trunk show" code in order

The CPSIA Will Affect YOU!!! (And NOT In A Good Way!)

Today, I'm proud to be joining hundreds of other bloggers taking part in the CPSIA Blog-In.
Concerned folks throughout the blogosphere are trying to spread the word about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act by all posting about this issue, trying to explain why EVERYBODY should be worried about this legislation.

My regular readers are familiar, by now, with the disastrous implications of the CPSIA. But even if you've been paying attention to this issue, please read on: you might be surprised by how wide-ranging the effects will be.

Please feel free to join the CPSIA Blog-In! Repost, email, pass it along -- the more folks hear about this, the better our chances of getting this changed!

Thanks to Etsy sellers Winklepots and Chichiboulie for proposing this and writing up this excellent summary of why the CPSIA should matter to EVERYONE.

***The CPSIA Will Affect YOU!!! (And NOT In A Good Way!)***

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students: Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader: Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.Article from the American Library Association

To the Lover of All Things Handmade: Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist: Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper: Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur: Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector: Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy: Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy: Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses. If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

(For more Mama's Magic posts about the CPSIA, including ways that you can help, see here.)

UPDATE: Was nice to see a link to this post prominently displayed on my personal Yahoo! page -- things like that make me think that the word is, indeed, getting out about all this!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Sitting at the stoplight, BB announces from the back of the minivan, "Mickey Mouse is trying to sell you something!"

It was all I could do not to blurt out, "That's right! That's my smart girl!!!" With fist pumped in the air.

For the record, she was not parroting back something she's been told. This is a deduction she made all by herself, based on the following:

  • we were sitting at an intersection that has a very visible billboard, showing Minnie Mouse and the words "Free On Your Birthday."
  • this intersection is right by our house, and the kids have often asked what the billboard says
  • when told what the billboard says, they inevitably ask, "Why?"
  • when we explain that one usually must pay to visit Disneyland -- pay a LOT -- they ask, "Why?"
  • at which point we say something about companies needing to make money and/or billboards being used for advertising
  • at which point the kids usually ask something like: "What's advertising?" or, more simply, "Why?"

And from that, BB concluded: "Mickey Mouse is trying to sell you something!"

On a related note, BB recently got a Peanuts cartoon collection (as a birthday gift) that includes the ones where Marcie joins Linus in believing in The Great Pumpkin. I think Marcie is BB's newest favorite Peanuts character, BTW. She's been asking us to read this particular section of the book quite often, especially the part where Marcie recounts her belief in the 'Great Grape' until her family intervenes. As Marcie explains to Peppermint Patty, "Have you ever been 'deprogrammed,' Sir? It's terrible! My family has been yelling at me all night... Apparently it's all right to believe in Santa Claus but it's wrong to believe in the 'Great Grape.'"

So while there hasn't been any yelling, I admit that we've been "deprogramming" the kids about Disney et al. And I don't think that's a bad thing, either! So many folks still view Disney as simply innocent fun....

It's funny the things that you end up explaining to your kids. Like "deprogramming" -- now that he's been hearing us read this to BB, BJ has asked, several times, what "deprogramming" means. What do you say to that? I mean, really. Where does one start?

It reminds me of the time that S tried to explain the Big Bang to the kids. (In response to BJ's question: "Does the world have an end?") Or the conversation I overheard when S apparently decided the kids were a little too enthusiastic about the TMBG song "The 7 Days of the Week" (also known around here as "No No I Never Go To Work!"

It's a great, catchy tune, and I personally love the subtext -- more important to practice trumpet than have a soul-sucking job! But I think S was worried that it was instilling something other than a serious work ethic, because I heard him trying earnestly to explain that work was actually quite valuable, that it was very important to have a career that you enjoy. Would that be him deprogramming the TMBG deprogramming? Or what?

I do it too, of course, just with different issues. I've been biting my tongue lately about all sorts of gender stuff with BB, things like the princess castle play tent we picked up at the thrift store or the "powder puff" that was part of the toy purse we got her for her birthday. (When deciding whether or not to buy the toy, I didn't catch that it was, indeed, a pretend makeup compact. Not being one to use makeup myself.) I don't think we're in much danger of forcing her into a girly-girl box -- not given her athleticism, my sensibilities, and her love of her brother's hand me downs! -- but I'm excruciatingly aware of the negative potential of gender stereotyping (both for her and for BJ). So I'm really trying to keep things balanced, trying not to overreact by forbidding overtly feminine things, just as I wouldn't dream of telling her she couldn't play with a truck because it was a "boy's" toy. Interesting to note that the girly stuff pushes my buttons, though. Still thinking that one through.

In the meantime, I just keep reminding myself: no need for deprogramming if the program isn't running in the first place. Right?

Mama's Magic Handmade Knitting Needles

I'm having great fun with my latest project: handmade knitting needles!

I'd been thinking about this project for quite a while, and it's been really wonderful to finally have the studio time to devote to making these. Each pair is shaped and sanded by hand, decorated, then oiled and waxed for a perfectly smooth finish. I'll be listing them in my Etsy shop all week, with special introductory pricing.
These are the very first ones I made, the ones I'm keeping for myself (along with the scarf that I'm currently using them to knit) -- I've definitely been in a purple and green phase lately!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

CPSIA and the Local Libraries; CPSIA Blog-In; Typos

Finally our local newspaper, The Mercury News, is starting to pay attention to the problems with the CPSIA. Yesterday they ran a good article about the possible impact on the public libraries. Close down children's libraries? Ban all children 12 and under from the library? How is this a good idea??? And yet, thanks to this legislation, it may come to that.

On a more positive note, I'm happy to announce that this Wednesday (Jan 28th) is being organized as a Blog-In about the CPSIA. This is the brainchild of two great Etsy sellers, and all bloggers are invited to join in this effort to get out the word about this overblown law. You can see this forum thread for more information and to sign up.

UPDATE 1/26: This morning I see the Merc printed my letter to the editor (the shorter version), but put a typo in it! Yay for publicity, but BOO for poor grammar!

They took out my comma and the word "it" and instead put in "that" -- my sentence as submitted read: "Unfortunately, because the CPSIA was written in such a sweeping manner, it may also mean the end of handmade children’s goods." Oops! Now do I need to start ranting about journalism and grammar?!? Don't get this ex-English teacher started..... I have quite enough to rant about these days, thankyouverymuch!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Two Years Old!

Amazing as it seems, BB turns two years old today!

The cliches about time are all too true; seems like just yesterday that she was this itty bitty baby:

And yet at the same time, so much time has passed, so very much has happened since she turned one year old.

And now she's this wonderful little girl! Just astonishing.

So much fun to see her understand what all this birthday stuff is about, and very neat to see BJ getting excited on her behalf. He was a very good older brother today, very good about letting her do those special birthday things without fussing or feeling excluded. For example, when she went to open the gift he had given her -- a neat ring toss set -- she couldn't quite figure out how to get the package open. He let her try, and then as soon as she asked him to help, he was happy to oblige!

I confess that this morning I had second thoughts about my plan to make two different kinds of cupcakes, from scratch. But I'm happy I did. When asked, BB had told me some time ago that she wanted to have the "Welcome Winter" (aka Happy Birthday Jesus) cake for her birthday. Since the only part of that cake to hold her interest was the fluffy white frosting, I figured I could get away with doing yellow cupcakes with the same frosting. Unfortunately, that frosting doesn't set up well in humid weather -- and it rained all day today. So while they tasted fine, the frosting was a gooey mess.

All the more reason to be glad I'd decided to make the second type of cupcakes: chocolate with cream cheese filling and chocolate cream cheese frosting. Those were pretty yummy.

And wouldn't you know it, but after all that fussing about the "right" kind of frosting that BB wanted, she ended up choosing a chocolate cupcake when the time came!

Funny story about singing Happy Birthday for her: several days ago, out of the blue, BJ announced that he didn't want to sing happy birthday to his sister. "Instead, I'm going to drum Happy Birthday!" I'd forgotten about this, but as soon as he saw us getting ready to light her candle and sing, he leaped from his chair and shouted, "Wait! Oh, wait until I get my drum!"

To celebrate, we had a small, casual pizza and cupcake party this evening. Really nice to hang out with family and a few good friends. (And thankfully everybody was very patient with our tight quarters!) At first BB was very shy, uncharacteristically so. She hung out with S in the computer nook for the first hour or so, but finally she warmed up and came out to play.

By the end of the evening, she was whooping it up with the other kids and clearly wasn't ready for the festivities to end. When the first folks had to leave, she turned to our other guests and asked them one by one: "Are you going to stay a little while?"

Happy Birthday, BB! May your next year be blessed with wonder and joy. You certainly are a wonder and a joy to us, my dear.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rose Works Jewelry -- Featured Etsyblogger for January 2009

Big congratulations to Rose Works Jewelry, who is the first featured Etsyblogger for 2009! Her beaded jewelry is fun and affordable, and she offers a free prize to every fifth customer. How cool is that?

I really like the weaving and color combinaton in the Amelia bracelet ($25):

And of course as a fan of Firefly (one of the few recent TV shows S actually got me to watch and enjoy!) I just have to admire Saffron's Firebird necklace ($40). Gorgeous, isn't it?

But I think my very favorite item in her shop is Rosita's Coffeehouse Necklace ($20). Those are real coffee beans in the pendant! Neat, huh?

And of course, being an Etsyblogger, Rose Works Jewelry also has a great blog. Check it out!

First Family Meeting

We had our first "family meeting" last night -- trying to find some solutions to the bedtime struggles that have been growing worse. It's frequently taking an hour or more to get the kids to sleep. (That's once they are in their beds, not counting the bedtime routine stuff. That's another hour, most nights, but at least there isn't much of a struggle in that part of the evening.) Wiggling around, refusing to be quiet, getting into all sorts of shenanigans with blankets and bedtime companions (the stuffed kind) and bed hopping between BJ and BB's beds. Not to mention getting up out of bed. It's ridiculous.

Just a few weeks ago, I was saying how well BJ does going to sleep. Well, I shoulda touched wood, or something. He's picking up all sorts of bad habits from her, and they are feeding off each other something fierce. Oh, how I wish we had a third bedroom! (Not for the first time, nor the last!)

So, since threats and cajoling clearly have lost whatever efficacy they ever had, we sat down the kids and asked for their help in solving this problem. First item in the brainstorming (from BJ): "BB be quiet!" Sigh. We also talked about how he could help show her how to be quiet, which seems to have helped a little bit.

Most promisingly, we got the kids to give up most of the cherished stuffed animals who were crowding them out of bed and providing WAY too much stimulation. But up until this point, they'd insisted that each of their "friends" was very important. BJ had 18 stuffed animals in his bed; BB had 21! When I said he'd have to move some of them, he wailed, "But I love them all!"

We negotiated down to 6, after I got the inspired notion to turn the train table into a big bed for the rest of the animals. BB loved piling up all her "friends" on top of the table, and BJ soon followed suit.

It's not a cure-all, and the problem won't be solved overnight, but bedtime did go more easily this evening. BJ at least was really trying to be quiet. We'll see how it goes from here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sign of the Times

Folks replaced Bush St. signs with Obama last night in honor of the new Prez. Gotta love San Francisco! (Funny, too, that the ONE WAY is headed left, dontchathink?)
And on a more serious note, I wanted to record a link to "Air and Simple Gifts" from yesterday's festivities. Definitely one of my favorite moments of the day! (Which makes me realize -- I haven't used a "music" tag in my blog up until now??? Golly! I really need to get better at this tagging stuff...)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day!

It was quite a day -- I can only imagine how things must have been in D.C. I'm amazed that I was actually able to watch President Obama's inaugural address in real time, for the most part. (BB's potty training interrupted a few minutes towards the end; that's a mom's life.) Was also able to witness some of the other celebratory moments and a bit of the parade. I had some notions of being able to watch the events as a family, and S delayed a bit with bringing BJ to preschool, but BJ wasn't all that interested and so we decided to go on with the morning. They left just as Aretha Franklin was singing. It will be interesting to see if either kid has any memory of the day once they are older.

For me, like for so many, it was a day full of emotion. I choked up again and again, trying to answer the kids' questions about everything, trying to explain how wonderful and important this morning truly was, and I wept openly during the singing of the national anthem, standing there with BB in the living room, singing through my own tears and laughing to see BB trying to sing along. A lovely moment in a momentous day.

Quite impressive to be part of the technological convergence, too. Since we only get TV via antenna, we were limited to PBS for TV coverage. Which was fine for the big moments, but I witnessed the smaller moments through CNN's partnership with Facebook. Quite amazing. Among other things, I learned about these pics of the crowd on the mall in Washington (sorry but I think my layout crops them; check out the original of this fascinating set of satellite images here):

Impressive, isn't it?!? It would have been wonderful to be there, part of history. But I'm content -- at last, at long last, we have a president to be proud of!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy MLK Day!

While we didn't do anything formally to mark Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, we did put out our American flag today. And I plan to put it out again tomorrow morning.

Such a lovely, inspiring combination, MLK day followed by Obama's inauguration tomorrow. I sure hope I get to watch some of it. Even I will relax the usual screen time restrictions for this occasion!!!

Tis (Still) the Season

The Christmas tree came down weeks ago and the decorations are all packed away (except for the random pile on top of the built in cabinet, which is waiting for a box of its own) -- but BB hasn't quite let go of Christmas just yet. (Or as she says, 'Tit-mas!")

She still asks to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas video almost every day, and she still wants to hear the Vince Guaraldi music almost every time we go somewhere in the car. She also keeps asking me to sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." In her lingo, this is: "Har da anel andels, Mommy!

She usually asks for this at night, as I'm trying to get her to sleep, and I usually sing it for her, because it makes her so happy (and has some chance of calming her down a wee bit). I've been doing this for more than a month now, and she often tries to sing along. But it wasn't until this week that I realized she's not just singing along; she's providing a commentary. Here's how it goes:

I sing: "Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king."
And she interjects, "Like the Lion King!"

I think she's been saying this for quite some time now, but I didn't catch it because I would just go on singing the next verse. I was utterly confused at first, when I realized what she was saying, but then I remembered that while she's not seen the entire movie (Disney does Hamlet for the grasslands before she's even two years old?!? I don't think so!) she has been shown the opening song, culminating in Simba being introduced to the animals. In her mind, apparently, Simba is "the newborn king."

Makes me wonder just what, exactly, she made of all the talk about Christmas being a celebration of the baby Jesus' birthday. I confess I hadn't expected my daughter to think that Christ was a baby lion -- but then again, if you think about it, there's all sorts of interesting collective unconscious interpretations that one could make about her mistake. At any rate, C.S. Lewis would approve!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Too Cute (Though I Say it Myself)

After all these CPSIA posts, it's high time for a serious dose of the kids. And since this is my 500th post (!!) it seems only appropriate that it should focus on family. Here are some recent highlights.

On Thursday, BJ's preschool had a "Peace Party" in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. He came home with a crown that he had decorated, and on the crown his teacher had written a quote from BJ: "Peace is helping Mommy in the garden."

Ok, all together now, "Awwwww....."

This morning, as I was putting on my shoes, BJ came over and scrutinized my new pink socks. "Mommy, are those flamingo socks?" he asked.

I suppose they are, at that!

BB loves to run around the house with a blanket over her head, hooting like a ghost. She usually does this with a bright pink flowered blanket. I've yet to get a pic, alas.

BB has also discovered underwear. A few days ago, she took it upon herself to root around in BJ's drawer, find his Elmo underpants, and then put them on over her pajama pants. (Again, no pic! sorry!) Thursday we bought her some panties of her own, and she enjoyed choosing them for herself, but so far she has absolutely refused to wear them. So much for having her potty trained before age 2! She still uses the toilet with impressive regularity, often asking unprompted to go, but in truth she's far from being able to wear undewear. Will be interesting to see how much longer it takes. Maybe we should just let her wear her brother's!

BJ has added a new verbal tic: when he's excited or trying to get your attention, he adds a very enthusiastic, high pitched "Hey!" to the beginning of each sentence. He'll do this for several sentences in a row as he does his typical rapid-fire, play-by-play narration. As in, "Hey! Do you want to go on my safari? Hey! Did you know I have an elephant? Hey! Did you know that if an elephant is scared it goes Brrrt!?!"

BB's vocabulary is growing enormously, and she's settling into some consistent mispronunciations which I've been wanting to record for some time: "bobbum" for bottom, "Tiddur" for Tigger, "emmamame" for edamame, "vee-oh" for video, "Anna" for our friend A, "Buh-ah" for her own name, and her attempt at her brother's name sounds like "Budgie" (yes, as in the bird). There are many more but those are the ones that come to mind.

BJ, followed often by BB, has become quite the little streaker in the past week. We have a hysterical video of him running around the house buck naked, shrieking and cackling wildly. BB chases close behind him, giggling. In the interest of possibly having some sort of relationship with my children when they are teenagers, I am NOT going to post said video.

BB is really starting to role play with her toys, making them talk to one another. A few days ago, she had two crab toys, one in each hand, and gave them the following exchange:

1st crab: "Hello! You are a crab!"

2nd crab: "Hello! You are a mommy!"

1st: "Yes!" while maneuvering towards the other crab and making a kissing sound.

BB then spent several minutes making kissing noises and trying to manipulate the two crabs so that their "mouths" would touch -- which is harder than you might imagine. Those danged claws kept getting in the way.

The other night, in the bathtub, BJ asked S: "Daddy, does the world have an end?" S replied, enthusiastically, "That's a very philosophical question!" (S is a philosopher, after all.) And then S went on to try to explain the Big Bang to a three (almost four) year old. That's my boys.

Friday, January 16, 2009

THANK YOU Walter Olson, Thank you Forbes!

For an excellent, articulate, reasoned account of why the CPSIA is such horrible legislation, read this recent Forbes article:

Proud To Be a Mommy Blogger TYVM

Feeling pretty fired up at the moment and hoping that this cartoon doesn't come to represent reality. But not real hopeful about that right now.

Why? At least in part due to this extremely frustrating interview with a CPSC spokeswoman who, while chastizing Mommy bloggers for "misinformation," doublespeaks and refuses to directly answer questions about the law and its ramifications.

Save Kids Resale has a good breakdown of the interview here:
And here's the raw video:

And Mom Dot Com's reaction had me nodding along and saying, "yup, yup, yup, you go girl!"

Like so many others, I am a "mommy blogger" who has proudly been working her butt off to try to figure this out and to help spread Information. And will continue to do so. Thank You Very Much. (Yep, I'm ticked. Can ya tell?)

Funny thing is, I'd seen all this right after getting off the phone with Senator Feinstein's office. (I'd hopped on Etsy's forums while I was on hold and come across the link; that's the life of a mommy blogger, always multitasking.) I finally received a form letter reply to my emails and letter yesterday, and her reply had encouraged me to call her Washington office if I had further comments. So I did. I only spoke with one of her underlings who was working the phones, and I tried to be polite but forceful. I hate being on the phone for those sorts of things. (But let me encourage folks to call their reps -- first time I'd done something like that, and frankly I was scared to, but it wasn't a big deal. They heard what I had to say, asked for my zip code, and said thanks for calling. Over and done in less than 5 minutes.) Even though it was brief, my heart is still racing from the encounter.

To then watch that video and the fallout from it -- sheesh. It's a good thing I can't measure my blood pressure right now. And probably a good thing I didn't watch the video BEFORE I called my senator!

More CPSIA News

Perhaps the exemption for secondhand items isn't as good as we thought:

Impacts on Children's Books (banning kids under 12 from the library?!?)

The Christian Science Monitor is now paying attention:

So is the Wall Street Journal:

And, happily, the proposal at made it into the final 10! All those votes added up!!! It will now be presented to the Obama administration with the other 9 ideas for change.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Last Day to Vote!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Park Time

One of the perks of being a parent is having a reason to get acquainted with the local parks. And having the excuse to visit them often! With the beautiful weather we've been having, we've been spending more time at the park than we usually might in January.

Today we checked out a new park and had a lovely morning. The weather was gorgeous -- mid 70s and sunny! Gotta love California.

BJ had brought along a set of play keys, which he had dubbed his "magic keys." Both kids had lots of fun playing with these; at lunch time, while BJ and I finished our picnic, BB hung out under the picnic table seeing what she might be able to "unlock."

There were neat slides, fun sand accessories, and great rocks. BJ particularly enjoyed climbing around on the chain bridge, which he called his spider web: "But don't worry, Mommy. I'm a friendly spider."

BB especially liked the rocks (reminding me of her Uncle M!) That's my climbin' kid!

I'm really enjoying having the new camera tucked away in my pocket on these outings. Got this one today as we headed up the path for our picnic:

And a few days ago, when we headed over as a family to our "usual" neighborhood park, I snapped these.

Playing hide and seek, giving BJ a kiss while we were hiding together behind a tree:

S and BB: "Found you!"

BB on the slide:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mama's Magic Goals

This round of the Etsyblogger carnival had two topic choices: goals for your shop/blog, or taxes. I chose the former, though I look forward to learning from my fellow Etsybloggers; since I turned my crafting hobby into an official business this year, I'll be dealing with all the tax stuff for the first time....

It's frustrating to think about goals for the year, though, because my main shop (Baby Friendly Beads) is still up in the air and will be until all the CPSIA crud is clarified. And if the testing requirements aren't resolved in a way that is accommodating to small operations like mine, it will have to close for good. Most of my business thinking and planning to date has been related to that shop: making connections with folks who plan baby fairs, researching possible brick & mortar shops to carry my nursing necklaces and reminder bracelets, coming up with new design ideas.... Sigh. It doesn't quite work to have a goal of: "Hope the Government Gets Its Sh*t Together!" Because really, in spite of all the letters, petitions, networking, and broadcasting that I'm doing about this, it is out of my hands. It's just so depressing.

So let me focus instead on the positive and present my business and blog goals for 2009. Happily, I'm feeling pretty good about where the blog is right now, so I'll be content if I can keep things going at about the same pace. For Mama's Magic Studio, I'm hoping to do the following:

  • Get my website ( up and running! Of course that means either learning enough to do it myself or finding somebody to do it for me, both of which are daunting to say the least. But it's been sitting "under construction" since July, when I purchased the domain. Ridiculous.
  • Figure out shipping options beyond priority mail. Right now, I ship everything priority because: 1. I can get free boxes, and 2. my stuff is so light that it all costs the same minimum amount to ship, so there's nothing to figure out. But I have been getting inquiries about first class shipping, and for some time now I've thought it would be in my interest to offer cheaper shipping options, so it's time to get a scale and quit copping out. Along with this, I'm hoping to start offering international shipping.
  • List at least one new item per week.
  • Expand my offerings. I have tons of ideas; it's just a matter of finding the time, energy, and focus to turn them into reality.
  • Continue learning about promotion. Just this week, I plunged into Facebook, so I've already taken another step down this path. But I have a looooong way to go!

I'll update as these goals become reality. Wish me luck!

Be sure to check out the other posts in the carnival here. Thanks to Storybeader for hosting!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Stuff in the Shop! New Pics! and Networking! (Oh My!!!)

At loooong last I've been able to start making good on my promise to get up some more listings in Mama's Magic Studio. Felt really good to have some focused work time today. (Thank you, S!) It had been far too long.

I listed some new Fraternal Earrings:

A Woman Needs A Man... (nice to have feminist themed stuff in my shop again...) These feature moonstone chips, which were a challenge to photograph. Pics still aren't my strong point. Sigh.

Lunacy (inspired by last night's amazing moon -- sometimes you just gotta howl!) These combine the same moonstone chips with wee blue star beads.

I also took new photos for all the items in my shop to get rid of the multiplicity of too-vivid green backgrounds. I'd started out using green as a background to help the white items show up, particularly Luna.

But once I had several listings with that green, I decided it was getting to be too much. There's eye candy, and then there's eyestrain, and I was getting too close to the latter! I left up the green background for the dragonflies, but now everything else is a shade of white.

Here's a before, for the Knit the Knot Known Fraternal Earrings in Fuschia:

Now it looks like this:

I like it much better. Hope you do too!

In other Mama's Magic Studio news, I've entered the wild world of Social Networking by starting up a Facebook page and profile. Talk about surreal! But in a good way. I've already reconnected with some great folks, and I've only been on the site for a few days. Will be interesting to see where this leads!

The platform is counterintuitive for me, so everything is still very much a work in progress, but I'm learning. If you're on Facebook, take a look... and if you like what you see, become a fan! Right now it's kinda lonely over there!

Friday, January 9, 2009


The kids were getting antsy this afternoon, so I decided to surprise S on campus. I knew he would be participating in an outdoor event for the dorm that he directs, and I was fairly certain where the event would be taking place, so we went on an adventure.

We found him, and he was very happy to see us:

The kids were delighted to be able to play on "The Hill" on campus -- this is becoming quite a significant spot for them. Isn't much more than a bump in the landscaping by the library, but they love to run up and down on it. Or, in BJ's case today, the most fun to be had was in rolling up the hill.

BB wasn't too pleased with all the noise from the crowd of students, so I ended up hanging out with her on said hill. She just loved wiggling around on the grass.

Nice to hang out with her for a bit while S and BJ did their thing. Good vantage point for watching the moonrise, too, as it climbed through the sky over the dormitories.I'm always a little nervous about doing these sorts of impromptu outings with the kids, but it worked out well this time. Felt really good to see S's face light up when he noticed us headed his way -- the two of us have been in a bit of a rocky place recently, so I was especially glad to have been able to add some brightness to his day. I should do that sort of thing more often, for both our sakes.

Happy Birthday, Giki!

It's my mom's birthday today, and I'm missing her even more than I usually do. Many happy returns of the day to you! Wish I could be there to celebrate with you!!!

I'm Such a Sap

You'd think that after nearly four years of motherhood, I would have worked through some of my sentimentality about kids and parents and family. But no. This morning, at the local library storytime with the kids, I found myself all choked up, yet again.

It was unexpectedly busy -- more than 30 caretakers and their children (yes, I did count them). Guess many folks made New Year's resolutions to get out more with the kids or something! I overheard several folks saying they were there for the first time (as were we).

We'd met up with our good friends A & C, and of course it was great to see them. But there was something more going on, something about being in that crowded community room, something beyond just being part of a crowd. As we sang those silly circle time songs, and I tried to keep my two wiggly kids in my lap, I had to swallow back tears.

This isn't the first time that something like this has happened, but every time it catches me unprepared, and I feel like a bit of a fool. Often, it occurs when I'm singing children's songs in a group: something about that taps into a very deep well of emotion for me. Is it an awareness of all the love and goodwill in the room, all these folks trying to do their best by their kids? Is it noticing and being amazed by the inherent vulnerability and innocence of children? Is it wonder (and not a little disbelief) that I have been blessed by motherhood?

It's all these things, but it's something else as well, something I can't quite pin down. If I didn't know better, I'd be tempted to blame it on hormones. (Though that feels like a copout.) It certainly happened more with both of my pregnancies; however, I can say with absolute certainty that I am NOT pregnant. (In spite of the fact that I have been compelled to start re-reading the Aubrey-Maturin books. Yes, again.) No other cyclical explanations, either, unless you count the full moon tomorrow.

Perhaps I should start charting my sentimentality against the phases of the moon. (Like I have the time for that kind of project. Ahem.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Some Sense from the CPSIA!

While the status of handcrafted items is still in question, I am VERY relieved to share one bit of good news about the CPSIA from the CPSC:

Apparently resellers (like Goodwill) are NOT going to have to test used items, nor are they going to have to dump all their existing inventory into the landfill, as had been initially feared.

Specifically, "The new law requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify that children’s products made after February 10 meet all the new safety standards and the lead ban. Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.

The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold."

They are still (technically) responsible for not selling recalled items and obvious hazards, as one would hope. But this is very good news for those of us, like me, who buy a large chunk of their children's clothes, toys, and books secondhand. For the entire press release, see here:

New Toys

We finished up the last of our holiday gift exchanges last weekend, concluding with a fun visit from the wonderful Tia M. She drove two hours each way just to hang out with us for a few hours! How lucky we are!

BB has been having a great time with the megablocks wagon from Tia. She lugs it all over the house and constructs random art installations with the blocks. Here she is showing me two different "robots" that she made:

BJ has been having fun with the wagon, too -- when BB goes down for nap, he appropriates it to his own purposes. A few days ago, he dragged it into the play tent (which was "in the woods") and declared that it was a refrigerator. Because every tent needs one, of course. He then proceeded to fill it up with all the play food in the house. Happily, BB was willing to play along when she woke up!

He's also been enjoying the set of nesting blocks from Tia. They are based on a poem about redwood trees -- we already had the book, from Pop-Pop and Giki, so he recognized it immediately. He likes to build the tree and then create an entire forest environment around it. Often, the animals will then climb the tree. Here he is helping out an intrepid ant:

Thanks so much, Tia M! (I love my stuff too, BTW, especially the bell for my bike!)
I have another new toy as well, thanks to the Christmas generosity of S: a new camera! It's a Kodak Easy Share, very slim and sleek. I guess he was listening when I kept wishing for a camera small enough to slip in my pocket! I like our old camera very much, but it is very big and bulky, rather a pain to bring along with us. It's been lots of fun tinkering around with the new one. Here's my favorite picture taken so far with it:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In Daddy's Shoes

Well, in his slippers at any rate. Both BB and BJ have been having fun wearing S's big slippers. S is a bit of a slipper snob, insisting that where animal-themed slippers are concerned one must be the animal. It is unacceptable to wear the entire animal's body. Hence the bearclaw slippers.

As part of his ongoing habitat construction games, BJ was creating "woods" yesterday. In this pic, he was also acting out the part of the bear, complete with growling. He simply would NOT look at the camera; apparently the growling had a very important directional component. Who knew?

Note that the bear is brandishing a remote control. BJ has been learning to use the remote for the CD player, so that he can repeat the songs "Triops Has Three Eyes" and "Seven" on our new TMBG album, Here Come the 1, 2, 3s. You can just see his eyes glitter with the sense of newfound power!

Hirsute slippers and remote control usage: if I was one prone to gender stereotyping, I'd be tempted to observe that my boy is well on his way to becoming a man....

Yogurt Girl

We think BB is in (another!) growth spurt. But with the teething, she's getting picky about what she wants to eat. Yogurt is a big favorite right now.

If you're looking for investment tips, buy stock in YoKids squeeze yogurt from Stonyfield Farm. Today BB ate six of these squeeze tubes. Time for another run to Trader Joe's!

New Year, New Do

Advice for 2010: unless my hair styling skills improve dramatically in the next year, do not -- repeat, do NOT -- decide that it will be a good idea to cut the kids' hair yourself on the first day of the New Year.

A sudden short buzz of a haircut works out fine in July, but it's a bit harsh for January! I cut a good two inches off BJ's wiry mop.

It didn't help things that BB was very interested in the trimmers, and having decided to do the haircuts while S was at work, I just had to deal with her attempts to grab the trimmer cord and be part of the process. Her yanking on the trimmers is primarily responsible for shearing BJ much more closely than I'd intended. (Or at least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!)



I also got fed up with BB's unruly mane and cut her some bangs. I'd been trying to stick with the original plan of growing everything out at once, but she had developed enough wispies that she basically had bangs anyway. Really ratty, yucky bangs. I was fed up with trying to get her to keep hair pretties in just so her hair wouldn't get stuck in her snotty nose.

Before (from a few days before the cut; I thought I'd taken one of her right before, but apparently not):


When we were finished, BJ asked if we could put the hair outside for the birds to make their nests. He also wanted me to take a picture of this. Too funny.

This is just one small clump; there was quite a bit! Some bird is going to be very cozy!