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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Girl Time

It had been a while since I treated myself to an outing with my little girl -- Mama's been so busy lately! -- so this morning I was determined to do something special, just the two of us, while BJ was in preschool. We ended up heading over to the Children's Discovery Museum, which is a favorite excursion. Had a great time!She wanted to start with the new Curious George exhibit, which she had last visited when S took her to the museum a few weeks ago. She wanted to sit next to George, give him a hug, and then smile just like him.
The golf game interested her for a while, though she didn't quite get what she was supposed to do.

They had this interesting conveyor belt/shape sorter part to the exhibit that was intriguing, in spite of the images of child labor that it invoked. Acutally, in all seriousness, it was pretty well designed and got the kids working cooperatively together quite effectively. (Not sure exactly what it has to do with Curious George, though I confess I'm not as well versed in the oeuvre as some parents ....)
Did you know that the Reys, authors of Curious George, escaped from the Nazis with the manuscript? One of the many interesting details in the exhibit. (I'm glad it wasn't more prominently displayed, though, since I didn't quite feel up to explaining that bit of history to a 2 year old.)

Next, we went to play with bubbles, which is always a hit, and from there we went up to the Wonder Cabinet.

Here she is dressing up for a tea party with another kid:

Art was particularly interesting to BB this time around, especially the watercolor drip painting.
Of course the big blocks are always fun.

We had fun exploring the circles exhibit, where BB played in the circle boat (which she clearly remembered from her last visit) and experimented with the mirrors that made circular reflections.
We finished up with another new exhibit, which seemed focused on the natural world. I didn't catch the name of the exhibit -- by then we were pretty tired and headed for the door. But BB was enchanted by the whirlwind, where she could toss in leaves and watch them spiral up. A fitting metaphor for toddler energy, wouldn't you say?

I finally managed to get a picture of the sculpture at the entrance: a mama bear nursing her twin cubs. I love this little bit of public art, not the least for its pro-breastfeeding beauty!

What a nice bit of girl time we had. My little BB is getting to be such excellent company! And as always, being out with "just" one kid feels so easy. It's funny now to think back on how hard I thought it was when only BJ was around!

Instead of Blogging

It's been another week with very little on the blog -- mostly because I've been spending my time doing lots of stuff instead of blogging! Much of it is ongoing preparations for the Renegade Craft Fair, now less than a month away. I've been making stuff as much as possible, and I've been thinking about how I want to set up my table.

Inventory is finally feeling more under control (though I'm far from finished!) so I think I'm more stressed about the table setup at this point. I've been scouring the thrift shops and discount stores for display options. One of the stumpers was how best to show off my bird's nest pendants. I'd picked up a decorative bird and nest with the idea of using them as a visual cue for the display, but I wasn't sure how I wanted to do that. I was very excited to come across this little metal "tree" at the Salvation Army last weekend:

It used to be a candle holder. The bird and nest fit perfectly where the candle would have gone! I bent out the "branches" so that I could dangle some pendants from them. There's room for many more ; I just didn't take the time to hang them all for the picture. Not bad for a dollar fifty, eh?

For earring display, I purchased earring card adapters from a fellow Etsy seller In the Clear. These little plastic clips allow me to turn a business card into a hanging earring card. At the same thrift store, I came across this CD rack, which repurposes nicely for hanging the cards! And a steal at a buck fifty.
At Ross this week, I discovered another black metal who-knows-what which will work perfectly as an earring rack. It had no label, no price, and had been broken --the break marks in the soldered metal weren't horribly obvious, but something had clearly snapped off of the top. I have no idea what, but at $1.99 I'm pleased! (I asked the clerk how much it would cost and talked her down from $3.)

Each "rack" will hold a dozen pairs of earrings, so of course I've been busy making earrings to go fill them up. One will be for my "Knit the Knot Known" pairs, in various colors, and the second will be for my other pairs of fraternal earrings. I have several new designs, including "Time is Money," which is on the left in the picture above.

But the biggest task of the last two weeks has been finishing up 15 pairs of knitting needles.

Because making the needles is a multi-step process, this is quite an accomplishment!
Making each pair involves:
  • measuring off and cutting the wood to the right length
  • shaping the wood by hand, being sure the point is neither too dull nor too sharp
  • sanding the wood, using three different types of sand paper (very rough to very fine)
  • checking the smoothness of the wood to be sure it will not snag the yarn
  • designing the decorative topper
  • attaching the decorative topper, using jeweler's epoxy and nails (to be doubly sure it is affixed well)
  • allowing the glue to dry for at least 24 hours
  • making a final check to be sure the topper is secure and the wood surface is smooth
  • finishing the wood surface with mineral oil and wax
Now I need to decide how best to display the needles! I like how pretty they are arranged in a vase, but I don't think this is a good choice for selling them. I need to keep them in pairs and be sure they are secure -- in a vase, they are too tippy and difficult to keep straight. I'm thinking of using a large basket with a foam block like what they use for arranging flowers, with balls of yarn covering the foam block. We'll see!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day & Happy Solstice!

Kinda cool that Father's Day falls on the Summer Solstice this year -- I'm tempted to wax poetical about the father Sun God and patriarchal traditions. But nah.

We had a very nice day, and S seemed to enjoy himself. I took the kids to the grocery store in the morning so he could have some relaxed time around the house. The kids decided we needed to make Dad a cake, so we got the necessary stuff at the store and made it in the afternoon. Vanilla with chocolate frosting was their pick; luckily S seemed to like it. (I don't think it would have been his first choice!)

During the afternoon, he took some time to do bargain/used DVD shopping, one of his favorite pasttimes. Scored Whisper of the Heart, the prequel to The Cat Returns, which made him happy.

Then for dinner, he'd asked that we do make your own mini-pizzas with a spinach and fruit salad. Yum! The kids enjoyed it, too. (I think that was his thinking, wanting to do something the kids would find fun when I asked him his preference for a Father's Day dinner. Is he a good dad or what?)

We didn't do much for the Solstice, which is typical for seasonal celebrations at the moment. Did talk about it a bit with the kids. Next year I want to do some sort of sun craft project. Too bad I didn't have it together to do this year, with as much as BJ has been into all things astronomical. Oh well.

Happy Father's Day to all you amazing Dads out there -- including my own fantastic father!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Featured Estyblogger for June -- Lazy T Crochet

Congratulations to Lazy T Crochet, this month's featured Etsyblogger! It's kind of hard to think about sweaters and scarves here on a June day in California, but it was nevertheless fun to explore her shop.

This coral wrap/stole is just gorgeous, isn't it? I can imagine tossing it around my shoulders on a chilly evening up in San Francisco. (Not that I get many of those these days, LOL! But once upon a time.... and it would have been perfect during my night away earlier this month.)

This cowl is another one one of my favorites from her shop. Love the color combinations!

Don't forget to check out her summer sale! And naturally, being an Etsyblogger, she's got a great blog. You can read more here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Heavenly Body

Over the weekend, S and my dad took BJ to his first planetarium, a visit that has only increased his already intense interest in all nine planets. Ever since Sunday, we've been pretending to be astronauts, setting up an imaginary rocket ship, and talking about the universe.

BJ has also had a return of an earlier (rather irritating) habit. He's got this thing about skin-to-skin contact, and he's been really bad about boundaries. As in, lifting up Mom's shirt (or skirt) in public. I thought it was just with me, but S reported that today BJ kept trying to get up under his shirt while they were running errands.

Combine these two elements, and you get the following while standing in line at Office Depot:

BJ (ducking his head under S's shirt) "Daddy! Your belly looks like Jupiter!"

To S's credit, he actually reported this to me, knowing full well the laughter that would follow. What I don't think he was prepared for was this conversation, immediately after:

J: "Why do you think Daddy's belly looks like Jupiter?"
BJ: "Because it's big! And round!"
Guffaws ensue.
BJ: "And it doesn't have any rings!"
More laughter.
BJ (loving this now -- I swear the kid waited for the punchline) "And it's a Gas Giant!"

Neither S nor I could contain ourselves at that point. Then, tonight during lullabies, S started chuckling again, which got me started up. Hard to sing and laugh at the same time!

S is very good about laughter at his own expense. And he gave his permission for me to post this. (Even contributed the post title!) But I guess I giggled a little too much -- he seems to have reached a limit. He's now threatening to plant in BJ's mind an unfortunate comparison between myself and the seventh planet from the sun.

So I'll be nice.

(I love you, my G.G. You and your heavenly body.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


To borrow my own mom's lingo for a moment -- I'm feeling puny. Not godawful (that was yesterday) but definitely puny. I'm a sniffly, snorky mess and my head feels like it's made of glass. It's also full of snot. Considering how I actually look at the moment, the gross factor of that analogy is actually quite apt.

So that's why it's been quiet around here (on the blog anyway -- my house has been noisy as usual). Saturday I started feeling crummy and it continued Sunday, but I kept trying to convince myself (and everybody else) that it was just a bad attack of seasonal allergies while we went on with our weekend plans. But by Monday morning, it was clear that I was indeed down for the count and contagious, hit hard with a bad cold.

Thank goodness my parents were willing to take up the slack on Monday. When they offered to hang out with the kids and let me go back to bed, it literally felt as though a switch had been thrown. You mean I don't have to be in Mom Mode? I can Actually Stay In Bed? So they entertained BB and BJ, and I spent much of the day unconscious. I can't remember the last time that happened!

My mom and dad left early early this morning, so we said our goodbyes last night. And of course the inevitable weepies that go along with our goodbyes were made worse by my snorkalicious state. S stayed home from campus today, so I was able to rest up some more. I'm definitely feeling healthier this evening than I was yesterday.

But I'm still pretty puny. So it's back to bed for me. Here's hoping I'm another order of magnitude better tomorrow. And praying that nobody else catches this! It's yucky!

Friday, June 12, 2009

37 - 85 - 4 - 5 - 104 - 80 - 170 - 24 -21 - 1

It's been a busy couple of days, with some significant stats, so let's play some catchup counting:

Of course, there was my birthday! At 37 years old, I'm now significantly closer to 40 than to 30. And yes, I insisted on putting all 37 candles on the cake!

I had a very nice birthday on Wednesday, in spite of angst about my age. We headed over to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, and it was a full day. We had a very sandy, windy picnic on the beach.

No, that's not snow. It's blowing sand!

Later in the afternoon, the sun came out. We rode a bunch of rides, including the carousel, which BB was brave enough to do, again!

The kids had a blast on all the kiddie rides, of course. Bulgy the Whale was once again very popular with BB.

She's still too short for many of the kids' rides, though. Here she is with Pop-pop, watching Giki and BJ ride the kids' rollercoaster.

This time around I finally got to ride the 85 year old Giant Dipper roller coaster with my mom, which was definitely a highlight of my birthday!
Every other time we've been at the boardwalk together when she's been out to visit, I've either been pregnant or recuperating from issues with my herniated disc. Technically, I'm still recuperating, since it will never be 100% better, but I decided the joy of sharing one of my mother's favorite activities was worth the slight risk -- riding a coaster while looking at the ocean was actually something on her Life List of things she wanted to do, and even though our ride together was a repeat for her, it was great fun to do that together.

All told, it was a great birthday. And such a special treat to have my parents in town.

Yesterday, after BJ got home from preschool, S and I got ready to leave for our night away in San Francisco. It was our first time away together for an entire night since BJ was born more than 4 years ago. We'd bought tickets to Wicked and made a reservation at our favorite hotel in the city, the Westin St. Francis. To say that we were looking forward to it is an enormous understatement.

So when, 5 minutes before we were supposed to leave, I gave BB a goodbye hug and discovered that she was burning up with fever, I nearly burst into tears. 104 degrees. It had come on very suddenly -- when she went down for nap, she was totally fine! Every mom-instinct insisted that I should stay home, in spite of two $80 non-refundable tickets to the show (not to mention the non-refundable hotel reservation of nearly $170) but my parents insisted we should go. It was likely that BB had the same virus that BJ was dealing with last weekend, it was likely that it would just be a matter of nursing her and staying on top of the doses of ibuprofen, and it was very likely that she'd be all but better within 24 hours.

So, feeling heartsick, taking my parents at their word that they would call our cell if things changed for the worse, I agreed that we should go ahead with our plans. Of course I worried about my girl the whole time we were gone. (On a happier note, it seems BJ dealt with our departure and absence with almost no trouble at all!) I know that if it had been anybody other than my own dear folks taking care of her, I would not have been able to bring myself to leave. But I totally trust their parenting instincts, and I knew they'd be able to handle everything just fine. Including, it turns out, poor BB throwing up in bed....

As a result, it turned out that we were only gone for 21 hours, instead of taking more of today to relax up in the city. But we got to see our show -- which was FANTASTIC. Thanks everybody for such enthusiastic recommendations!

And S and I got to have some much-needed time together as a couple. We enjoyed a nice dinner without having to monitor the short folks. (I scarcely knew what to do with myself, not hearing myself say things like, "Forks are for your food.... That's not food... Please sit down.... Inside voices!")

We slept an entire night without having to wake up! (Shocking!) We had a yummy relaxed breakfast, walked around the city hand in hand, and then just before we left this morning we bought little souvenirs for the kids (a salmon pink silk kimono for BB and chiming cloisonne balls for BJ). We were back home again in time for lunch.

Sure enough, BB was feeling much better this evening. Still a slight fever, but her spirits are greatly revived. I predict (touching wood) that she'll be completely well in the morning. Now that it's clear that her fever wasn't anything more serious, I'm really glad we went. I'm so grateful to my parents for making that possible -- in the first place, for initially agreeing to watch the kids for us, and then for insisting that all would be well when BB fell ill. Thanks a thousand times, Mom and Dad, for being such wonderful folks and grandparents. We are so very lucky!

And I have to note this as well: it seems that I got a little bit of a visit from the karma fairy for leaving behind a sick kid. I now either have a cold myself or bad allergies, and I'm sporting 1 bruise on my right eye. The shiner happened literally the moment I walked through my front door when we returned -- or, rather, into my front door. I'd heard BJ running to open the door, so I was in the process of bending down with the intention of hugging my boy as soon as the door opened. Only to have him run full-bore into the door itself, smacking the metal circle of the lock directly into my eye. Turns out it was my dad opening the door and BJ was trying to beat him to it. So our return was dramatic, to say the least!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We Have a Winner!

And the winner is..... (with thanks to Belinda M.! I have emailed her to notify her and she now has 3 days to respond. If I've not heard back from her by Saturday, I'll choose another winner. So Belinda, please check your email and get back to me ASAP!

It was such fun doing this giveaway! What a great way to celebrate my 1 Year Etsy Anniversary -- not to mention my birthday. (And a very fine birthday it was. Today was full of sun, sand, rollercoaster-screaming, sugar, and sweetness. More details coming soon!) Anyway, thanks a bunch to everybody who took the time to enter my contest. I really enjoyed reading your kind comments about my shop. I wish I could send you all a little something as a mark of my gratitude!

But as the next best thing, I'm happy to announce that for the rest of the month of June I will be offering 20% off all orders of $20 or more. Just mention the code "20/20 Etsy-versary!" when you check out, and I'll refund your discount to Paypal. (Fine print: discount does not apply to shipping costs, $20 total does not include shipping costs, and discount cannot be combined with other offers. Code valid through 6/30/2009.)

It's My Birthday!

It's going to be a good day. I'm turning 37 years young, S gets to stay home from campus for the day to hang out with us, we have plans to spend the day at the beach -- and perhaps best of all, my parents arrived yesterday for a week-long visit. Yaaaay!

Thanks to everybody for the well-wishes and thanks also to everybody who entered my giveaway. I'll draw a random number later on today and announce the winner -- for now, I've got hungry kids to feed and coffee to make!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

$25 Giveaway Ends Today!

Just a reminder that today is the last day to enter to win a $25 gift certificate to Mama's Magic Studio! The contest ends at midnight tonight (PST). See this post for details. Good luck!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Magic Bee

On Friday afternoon, I took the kids to campus for some end of the year fun. S's department was having a BBQ and the dorm with which S works had arranged to have water slides, like last year. BJ was thrilled at the prospect. (Yes, he remembered going to the same event, an entire year ago. Kid has an elephantine memory!) So, even though it was only in the 70s and a little cloudy, we headed over.

I'd brought water gear for both kids, but not even the idea of wearing her swim suit (her favorite outfit) was enough to tempt BB. (It was danged cold -- can't say I blamed her!) But BJ had a great time. Their babysitter, K, was also there, and she was very kind about doing the slides with BJ.

BB was perfectly content to play "balance beam" and run around with her balloon. Ever since S showed the kids the balloon stash at the dorm, they associate those long balloons with campus.

So now, every time they come to campus to see S, they ask for one of those balloons. Which can lead to some unfortunate pictures, alas.

But it was all good, clean fun. And I'm not going to succumb to the old wives' tale about a chill leading to a fever -- yes, BJ's teeth were chattering, and yes, he ended up with a 104 temperature the next day. But even the Kaiser advice nurse said that it was unlikely to have been caused by the water slide play, unless it was the mouthfuls of water that he gulped down when S accidentally dunked him at one point.

After the water slides, we headed over to the BBQ. I had the dubious distinction of being asked if I was one of the students as I was running around after the kids. S is so glad that I'm finally getting a few grey hairs to echo his own. Hey, at least it's been a while since somebody asked if I was his daughter. Right? As one of his students said a few years back, looking at side to side pictures of us at our wedding and us with baby BJ, "Kids really will age ya, won't they?" Good golly. S and I are the same age, folks, give or take a few months. Sheesh. The annoying thing is that it was one of the professors, S's colleagues, who assumed I was a student. The 18-year-olds I can excuse for not knowing any better about making assumptions about a person's age....

Anyway. Enough about that. (It's a bit of a sore subject, can ya tell?) It was a handful to keep the kids content as bedtime descended upon us, but on the whole we all had a good time. It was especially gratifying to see how comfortable BJ was with the crowd. It was mostly college students with a few older folks (professors and their spouses) and BJ was totally comfortable. No shyness at all! Almost immediately he launched into sharing his imagination with as many people as he could. He started telling them about The Magic Bee.

"At our house," he said (repeatedly), "at the end of our garden, we have a Magic Bee. And if you find a grey pebble and put it under your pillow, you can ask the Magic Bee to turn you into something else. And when you wake up in the morning, you will turn into something else!"

(I'll point out that this story is obviously inspired by two of his favorite books: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse.)

And as he told (and re-told) this story, he proceeded to go about gathering bits of grey gravel and distributing the little rocks to all and sundry. Most folks were extremely good natured about this and very entertained. When BJ asked, they would tell him what they hoped to turn into: a scorpion, a kitten, a college graduate... Apparently, today on campus, several of S's students made a point of stopping him to say that they had indeed kept their grey pebbles under their pillows. Too sweet, isn't it?

BJ informed everybody who would listen that he was going to turn into a viper. And when we got home from campus, the first thing he wanted to do was visit the garden and tell this to the Magic Bee. I apparently warranted not one but two bits of gravel, but I was never asked what I'd want to become. Good thing, since I didn't really have a ready answer and still don't. I should probably come up with one, though, since the game will likely recur -- both BJ and BB still have rocks in their beds, last I checked, and once they remember they are there I'm sure I'll hear about it.

For now, I'm keeping my magic rocks in the same basket as those precious stones from the visit S and I made to Rehoboth Beach all those years ago. (Same trip as the one from this post, but not to be confused with the seashells we saved -- the story of the stones is one for another post entirely.) If you ask me, it's good to have a collection of magic rocks. Doesn't everybody?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

40 Years

My parents celebrate 40 years of marriage today. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. Your love for each other has enriched my life in ways beyond number. I wish you both all the joy in the world -- and many more happy years together!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Treasury Feature! Feminism & Veganism

A big thank you to ContinuumDesigns for featuring my "A Woman Needs a Man..." earrings in this fabulous Feminism & Veganism treasury!
I'm making more of these earrings this week... any requests for special color themes? And don't forget you could win a $25 gift certificate to my shop... and buy them for yourself if you like!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


It seems the usual crazy-busy mode of life with a 2 year old and a 4 year old was neither busy nor crazy enough to suit the mood of the moment: for the past few weeks, we've had a lot more going on around here. S is entering the most hectic time of the year for his job, in the thick of grading and finishing out the academic year. I am crafting and creating with every spare moment to get ready for the Renegade fair. The kids are their usual intense and attention-loving selves -- most days, aside from about a 45 minute downtime when BB is napping and BJ is "resting," I scarcely get 5 uninterrupted minutes in a row.

So it's busy as usual, and on top of that we've had an assortment of workmen around the house for the past two weeks:

  • getting the house exterior painted (only about 5 years after we really started needing to)

  • putting up gutters (finally!)

  • having electrical work done (ceiling fan in living room, exhaust fan in bath, new outdoor light fixture)

  • getting quotes on other urgent repair work (cellar door, deteriorating fence, front walkway...)

Naturally, S decided in the midst of all this that it would be a good idea to invite his entire class over for pizza and a movie. It's his favorite class to teach, Love and Relationships in Classical Antiquity, and he only teaches it occasionally. In years past (i.e. before we had kids) we'd have the students over every time he taught the class, developing a bit of a tradition: dinner and Before Sunrise, followed by discussion.

At the best of times, this would be a bit stressful because we don't really have enough room for a big crowd of folks, but we'd managed to make it work in the past. But as I said, right now we seem to be all about adding more to an already full plate -- so after much discussion, we decided to go ahead and do it anyway this year, in spite of all the current chaos.

In fact, having decided to have the whole party outdoors, we managed to make it fairly inviting. Amazing what can be done when one piles bunches of stuff out of sight on the back porch -- much like the "cram it all in the closet" method of cleaning, simply applied outdoors.

The students enjoyed themselves, S was very happy to have been hospitable, the kids had a blast running around the yard (and watching TMBG on the projector screen.... they obviously saw this as an inspired choice for S to "test" to make sure the equipment was working properly).

And once the kids were in bed (only an hour later than their usual bedtime) I had a very nice time snuggled up with S as we sat on the back porch steps watching one of our favorite films.

So that's what we've been up to over here. As I've mentioned, my blogging is having to take a back seat to crafting for the moment, since I have so much inventory to make right now. But I'm taking notes for future posts when I have the time -- so stay tuned!

And don't forget to check out my $25 gift certificate giveaway to Mama's Magic Studio! Details can be found here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

$25 Mama's Magic Studio Giveaway!

To celebrate my one year Etsy Anniversary, I am giving away one $25 Mama's Magic Studio gift certificate to a lucky winner!

To enter the giveaway, simply visit my Mama's Magic Studio Etsy Shop and take a look around -- then come back here and leave a comment on this post that includes information about your favorite item(s) from the shop.

You can also earn additional entries by doing one or more of the following:
  • post about this giveaway at your own blog, including the button above and a link to this post
  • "heart" my Etsy shop (mark it as a favorite) and/or "heart" the item (or items) you like best in my shop
  • become a "follower" of this blog or subscribe to the RSS feed (see sidebars)
  • become a fan of my Facebook Page
  • post about this giveaway on your own Facebook Page
  • follow me on Twitter
  • tweet about this giveaway, including a link to this post

If you would like to include any of these additional entries, just leave an additional comment for each additional entry, with the relevant details.

Don't forget that your first entry needs to mention which item(s) you like best from my Etsy shop! And the winner will be notified by email, so if your profile does not link through to an email address, be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment(s).

The winner will have 3 days to reply to their notification. If no reply is received, I will choose another winner.

The winner will be chosen on June 10th -- my birthday! So all entries must be received by midnight PST on June 9th. Good luck!

P.S. This contest is void where prohibited. Must be 18 years old to enter. It is available to entrants worldwide. $25 total gift certificate value cannot be combined with other discounts or offers. Winner pays shipping (which can be valued as part of the gift certificate).

P.P.S. I have moderated comments on this blog, so don't worry that your comment won't show up right away. I review them several times a day and will get them posted ASAP! Thanks!