RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Monday, August 31, 2009


Just as her brother did at about this age, BB is currently changing identities on a frequent basis. While he reveled in a plethora of imaginary personas, including characters from children's literature, letters (D, W, little i), and even numbers (especially 10), she has mostly stuck to and rotated among a few insistent choices:
  • Various characters from the Peanuts comics -- especially Frieda, the girl with naturally curly hair, and most recently Ruby, a little girl so ancillary to the narrative that she doesn't even make the extensive Wikipedia list! Ruby shows up for about 6 strips total, as best I can tell. I'm still baffled by BB's fascination with all things Charles Schulz. Lemme tell you -- if you want a challenge, try reading Peanuts comics to a 2 year old. And yet she loves it and will ask for them time and again! Sometimes she's Linus, or Lucy, or even Schroeder. Interestingly, she's never chosen to be Charlie Brown. (Though she loves to talk about him as a character. For quite some time, she referred to him simply as "Mister Brown.")
  • Plastic, the exuberant character from the charming chapter book Toys Go Out. (Spoiler alert! Plastic is, as we discover, a rubber ball.) BB being "Plastic" really came into its own when we were making plans to go camping and visit the beach and the boardwalk -- at one key point in the book, Plastic gets to go to the beach, and it goes around exclaiming, "BEACH! BEACH! BEACH!!!" BB did a frequent and vehement imitation throughout our little getaway.
  • Recently, all this has morphed to combine both of the above. Yes, both at once. She'll frequently demand that she be addressed as "Ruby and Plastic." Woe to you if you forget!
  • "The New Cate" made her appearance on Saturday evening after we'd spent the afternoon at the pool party for BJ's preschool friends and families. BB insists that she met a little girl named Cate at this party -- "Not the old Cate!" (one of her closest friends) "She's the new Cate!" None of us can figure out who this might have been. I'm tempted to say she imagined it, but BB has a whole story to tell about playing with "The New Cate" in the bounce house water slide, and she's vehement that it actually happened. "She's a very nice girl! And she played with me!" So strong an impression did this little girl make that BB has been pretending to be "The New Cate" almost constantly for the last two days. (And I confess that every time she says, "I"m the New Cate!" I have a disconcerting flashback to the ads for New Coke. Yes I am dating myself by admitting as much.)

I think that witnessing the quirks and intricacies of pretend play has easily been one of my favorite parts of parenting so far. It's just so much fun! Even if it is a little hard to keep track of at times. One of the most gratifying things to see about the way BJ and BB get along right now is how easily they adapt to each others' changing personas. On occasion, they have even chosen characters that complement one another, with BJ as Pido and BB as Trilby (from the Raggs television show).

Most of the time these days, when BJ is pretending, he's being Pajama Sam. BB just takes this in stride, and likewise he calls her by whatever name she prefers at the moment. They rarely need reminding to keep track, and they will even remind me of what persona the other one has taken on for the day (hour)! It's very sweet.

And for posterity, while we're on this topic, I have to record the following incident: file it under Most Embarassing Parenting Moment At Target To Date. (And I've had a few.)

It happened several weeks ago, after a few days in which the vintage Dick and Jane stories were quite popular and in heavy rotation for reading requests. As we were driving to run errands, BB announced that she was pretending to be Dick. Not Jane. Dick. When we arrived at Target, she commenced her usual round of the ever-popular Runaway Game. Which led to me saying, in ever sterner tones, as I hustled my way from aisle to aisle with a giggling BJ in tow: "Come back here! Right now! This is not the park, not a good place for running.... I mean it!" While my daughter kept running and laughing.

Then this devolved into my simply calling out her name repeatedly as I sped up and eventually abandoned the shopping cart.

How can a kid with legs that short run so damned fast? That's what I want to know. Finally I realized, with a flush, that she simply wasn't going to respond to her own name. After all, she'd told me as much in the car on the way over. She was pretending to be someone else. Which led to my hollering through gritted teeth, in the middle of Target, "Dick, you get back here! RIGHT NOW, DICK!"


Amazingly, nobody reported me as the crazy lady on aisle 8. I regained some slight measure of composure, grabbed both my giggling kids, located the cart, and completed my shopping in record time. The kids continued laughing throughout, so they couldn't have been too traumatized.

Much as I'm all for supporting my kids' creativity, much as I believe in breaking down gender stereotypes wherever they rear their ugly noggins, I hope I never have to call my own daughter "Dick" again. In public or in private.

Weekend Roundup: Suburban Saturday, Historical Sunday

We had another fun, full weekend, in spite of some complications and some beastly hot weather. S's back has been giving him trouble (a situtation new to him but one for which I have only too much sympathy!) so he's been a bit out of the loop. I've set him up with some visits to the chiropractor that I saw many years ago, the first time I had serious back trouble, and I'm hopeful that he'll be feeling better soon.

On Saturday, S was feeling well enough to join us to spend several hours at a "graduation" party hosted by the family of one of BJ's preschool classmates. There was a huge yard packed with all sorts of things to keep the kids' occupied: a big pool, a blow up water slide, a playhouse, a slip and slide, a play structure, toys.... we spent most of the time in the pool and water slide -- very nice to cool off in the water and a good opportunity to put some of the stuff from swimming lessons into practice. Felt very suburban!

BJ and his peers will be moving up from their current classroom in the coming week, and the party was put together as a little celebration of that milestone. Hard to believe BJ is finishing up his first full year of preschool! Certainly has come a long way from those first anxious days when everything was new. He's looking forward to being in the room with the "big kids" (it's the oldest group in the school) and I hope the transition will go smoothly for him. Fingers crossed.

On Sunday, S stayed home and rested while I drove up to Ardenwood Park, a place I've long wanted to visit with the kids. It's only a short drive over to Fremont, and I'd heard lovely things about it, but it wasn't until Tia M invited us to meet her there that I was finally able to get things together for a visit. It houses an operating historic farm, lots of farm animals, a blacksmith's shop, and interesting antique farm equipment and other sundries -- including this awesome antique bike!

When we visited, it was time to feed some of the animals, and they were letting the kids help. We fed hay to sheep, goats, and kids, much to the delight of BB and BJ.

We also got to see some wildlife: this fox came to visit the picnic area while we were sitting down for a snack. Poor thing is obviously used to stealing scraps.

We collected peacock feathers, checked out the interpretive signs, tested the antique pump, and generally ran around having fun. Thanks so much for inviting us to meet you here, Tia M!

I think that Ardenwood the kind of place my folks would enjoy, and I plan to visit again next time they are in town. My dad has very fond memories of time spent on the family farm in Iowa, and I have a feeling that he'd like this place very much. I especially want to show my mom the blacksmith equipment -- he was using an antique blower device that looked very much like one that my grandfather had for years in their backyard! Of course it was more or less yard art at that point, but I remember being fascinated by this thing when I was a kid, and it was very cool to see it in use.

What do you think, Mom? Look familiar?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Feature -- RosaleenDhu Designs

This week's featured Etsy artist is fellow CCCOE team member, RosaleenDhu Designs. Her shop is so much fun, full of whimsical animal scarves like this adorable black kitty cat. It reminds me of my beloved Chance kitty -- she had those same wide yellow eyes!

(And if you'd like a chuckle and don't mind something on the racy and bawdy side -- and not really "safe for work" -- you can check out this scarf! Definitely another piece of evidence to prove my "you can get ANYTHING on Etsy" theory. I have to say, it tickles me to see that in between the other cute critter creations. )

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

Mostly, I make animal scarves out of fleece. I learned to sew from watching my mother when I was a child, and then from trying to do things myself. Most of what I know now, I learned from experimenting on my own, though I do read craft books for tips and ideas.

Most of my creative process involves getting an idea and seeing if I still remember it a month later. I can be a total slacker about creating new designs, but by the time I sit down to do them, I usually have a pretty solid plan for getting the effects I want.

2. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I'd known about Etsy for a couple years before I got an account. Some of my friends are huge fans of window-shopping on the internet, so they'd send me links to things they thought I'd like. After I sold my scarves at a few anime conventions, I had some leftovers, and I remembered Etsy. I took forever to get my shop set up, since I wanted to make sure I understood everything about the process. I think I really over thought things, but that's just my style.

3. What inspires your creations?

I'm really fascinated by Japanese street fashions. I think lolita stuff is adorable, and I love their take on the goth style. I'm also a huge anime fan, so a lot of my first designs and color choices came from those sources. Now I think I'm most inspired by my customers and my huge fabric collection.

4. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

Balance! There are some days where I get so caught up in sewing, I totally forget to log onto Etsy unless I get an email notice to remind me. There are other days where I get so involved in the forums that I don't get any sewing done.

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

My favorite item changes daily, but right now it's the frog scarf. I put a lot of thought into the design, and I'm really proud of how it turned out.

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

Read all the FAQs! There are so many awesome features on Etsy for buyers and sellers. The FAQs help you find all of them and teach you some tricks for using them.

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

RosaleenDhu Designs is my job right now. It's really awesome being my own boss, and I'm putting myself through graduate school on my income from it. I'm working on my Masters of Library and Information Science. I figure if I'm having this much fun with my studies, I'm meant to be a librarian.

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




Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dance With Me

Today was BB's first dance class, a combined tap and ballet class for 2 -3 year-olds. Anybody who knows my daughter knows that she loves to dance, and BB's "best friend" C has been wanting to take a dance class for months, so naturally I said "Yes!" when her mom A asked me if I thought it would be a good idea for the girls to take a class together.

No brainer, right? Neat new shoes, time for dancing, time with her best friend. And things started off fine, while we were waiting for class to begin. The girls put on their tap shoes, A and I talked a bit with the teacher, and we watched C and BB stomping around gleefully.

BB was so cute (and moving so fast!) I just had to get a little video!


But (and you knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you?) as soon as it was time for class to begin, BB started wailing. "Noooooo! Nooooo! I don't want to! I want you to dance with me, Mommy!"

So we went into the little lobby area and sat where we could watch the class through the open doors while I tried to calm her down. Every attempt I made to coax BB into going in with the other girls was met with refusal or another bout of tears.

Frustrating? Absolutely. Surprising? Hardly.

BB is still very new to the idea of classes or lessons -- her swim lessons are the only ones she's had, and they are "Mommy and Me" style. Plus she's only been to 5 of those (though she's come a long way, I'm glad to say). So this would be BB's first experience in a class without Mommy right there.

When I'd explained this, a week ago, she started getting anxious. All week long, I've been hearing, "Mommy, I want you to dance with me!" I'd reassure her, tell her I'd be right there, explain that this was a special class just for kids. (The parents watch from the doorway, the lobby, or even through a one-way mirror.) BB never came right out and said she didn't want to go, but she made it clear that she didn't want to do it by herself.

I'd hoped that being with C (who did wonderfully) would make the difference. But no. BB and I ended up watching the entire class. It was only when the girls were coming out that BB changed her mind: "I want to try it, Mommy! I do!"

Predictable, ain't it? I'd anticipated as much, so I'd spent the entire half-hour trying to head it off by reminding her that This Is Your Chance And If You Don't Do It Now, You Will Miss Your Chance. (A refrain that is not new for her.) When she realized that she had truly missed out, she headed full-bore towards a meltdown born of disappointment and anxiety. She really did want to do the class, I could tell. She also really did NOT want to be away from me. She couldn't have both.

So we headed to the car, where I calmed her down a bit. The teacher had mentioned, over BB's wails, that she would be fine with BB watching for a few classes (at no charge) if that's what we wanted to do. Armed with that knowledge, I asked BB what she wanted to do. "We can't do the class this time. That's over," I explained. "But maybe we can try again next week. Do you want to try again next week?"

BB nodded through her tears. "Do you want to ask the teacher if we can do that?" I asked. She nodded again. So back to the classroom we went, and BB asked shyly if she could come next week and try again. The teacher, thankfully, was very kind about it, saying of course she could. She didn't make a big deal about it, and she let me know (without overemphasizing) that BB could watch as long as was necessary, until she felt comfortable, and whenever she was ready to join in, we could start paying for classes at that point. (We'd come to this class today for a "free trial," and she was even willing to hold off on our free trial class until BB actually participated. Truly, it's in their interest to be this flexible, but I was glad to see that they would allow this.) So it turned out better than it might have.

And while I didn't earn an A+ for my reaction when she started crying, I feel OK about how I handled it. It can be so hard to react in the moment to these sorts of situations. What's it about, really? An lesson in consequences -- if you don't do it when you have the chance, you don't get to do it at all? Or an opportunity to help her overcome anxiety and fear -- if we work our way into this gently, you can eventually be comfortable and have a good time!

Of course, I choose the latter. But my first impulse was the former, I admit. I had to really work at suppressing my frustration with her (why can't my kid just get up and dance like all the other kids???) and instead tap into compassion for how torn she must have been feeling: wanting so badly to be in there with the kids but feeling so anxious about leaving my side. (This from the girl who has no hesitation running away from me in the grocery store... or parking lot.... but I digress.) It's hard to be a little kid sometimes. The more often I can remember that, the better I become at this motherhood thing.

So much of parenting seems like a dance. And while some of the steps come easily, even gracefully, so many of them must be improvised or learned only after great effort. Sometimes the dance feels more like falling down the stairs. The tempo changes constantly. Sometimes you have a partner, sometimes your partner is your spouse, and sometimes it's a little kid standing on your feet -- sometimes it's you and your partner trying to dance while the kids barge in between your legs, and it's the best you can do just to avoid stepping hard on somebody's toes! But it's music and movement and working together -- even when that working together means helping your child dance by herself, as she must eventually do.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see how next week goes. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Tissue Fairy

Yesterday, after running around the house with a wad of Kleenex in his hand, BJ informed me that we would be getting a visit from the Tissue Fairy. Here's what happens: you put a crumpled tissue under your pillow, go to sleep, and when you're sleeping the Tissue Fairy comes and takes the tissue and leaves you a present!

And no, we've not been making a big deal about the Tooth Fairy! I'm sure that's where he got the idea, of course (that or he's got one heckuva connection to the collective unconscious) but he must have heard about it at preschool or something. Boy, was he in earnest about it.

So S and I were faced with a dilemma after the kids went to bed. Should we enact the visit from said Tissue Fairy? What if BJ then decides the Tissue Fairy should visit every night? And if we did decide to make good, what "present" should we leave?

Not wanting to pass up a chance at a little childhood magic, of course I decided to make little heart shaped notes that said, "Thank you for the tissue! The Tissue Fairy Loves You!" I figured this can be replicated without too much trouble. And I was glad to see this morning that apparently they met BJ's exacting standards. He was totally excited about his note and wanted to wake up BB to see if she had one too. (Of course this was the one morning that he got up at 6:30 am and she got up an hour later!) Pretty endearing to see his enthusiasm when he helped BB find hers.

I did drop the ball a little bit though -- by not realizing he'd also put tissues underneath my pillow and S's pillow. He wanted to know where our notes were! I passed it off with a hasty explanation that perhaps the Tissue Fairy had run out of notes: "That happens sometimes, you know. And when that happens, she always wants to make sure the kids get notes first. Which is why you kids got ones but Mommy and Daddy didn't." He bought it, after a moment's hesitation. But apparently I will now need to be checking beneath the household pillows, including my own, to see if the Tissue Fairy will be coming for a visit. I've told him that she won't always come, just in case I miss something, but I figure it will be fun to make this little bit of magic real for him. It's even got me thinking about buying a fairy door. Perhaps this one!

Visit to Nana's

As promised, here are some pics from our weekend visit to Nana J. On Friday evening, we attended the Antelope Valley Fair and Alfalfa Festival. Ah, the fun of carnie rides, 4-H exhibits, and greasy food! Actually, the food was better than it might have been, but still not entirely kid-friendly -- we'd planned to eat dinner there, and BB didn't want much to do with any of it. She also didn't care too much for the farm animals, after being startled to the point of tears by an inquisitive sheep's very loud "Baaaa!" (She's still talking about being "surprised by what the sheep said. And I cried!" Yes, my dear, you did.)

But in spite of those challenges and being up past bedtime, we had a nice time. BJ especially enjoyed it. (Then again, he also wolfed down an ear of BBQ corn and much of the smoked turkey leg that I was sharing with him. Oh, the difference of being well-fed!) When we arrived, he announced that he wanted to ride a space ride. Lo and behold, there was a kiddie rocket ship roller coaster: The Little Dipper! He told me he wanted to ride by himself, clambered up to the first car, and started his countdown.

Giki would be so proud: as soon as the ride started, he flung his hands in the air and started whooping with joy! Here's a bit I was able to get on video:


That's my boy!

BJ also had great fun at the pony ride (which is a good thing, at $7 a ride for about 5 minutes). BB didn't want anything to do with that, either, preferring to watch from the safety of Dad's embrace.

Since returning home, she has declared that next year she will want to ride the horses. "When I'm much, much older, Mommy!" (The idea of "when I'm older" is a big one for her right now.) But lest you think my girl didn't have any fun, let me assure you that she greatly enjoyed both the pink elephants and the honeybees (which were essentially the same ride with different creatures carrying you around and up and down).

BJ was an excellent older brother, taking over the driving and being sure that she felt OK.

It wouldn't be a fair without the animals, though I have to say I was surprised to see a camel and a zebra in the petting zoo!

Both BB and BJ really got a kick out of this mama goat, who had twin kids two days old.
On Saturday, we visited the L.A. Zoo. It was fun, in spite of the heat and multitudes of yellowjacket wasps. It was my first trip to that zoo. It's huge! Really made me appreciate the Oakland Zoo, which is much more kid-friendly in my opinion. Between swatting away wasps and keeping up with the kids, I didn't manage to get many pictures (and those I did get weren't very good) but I wanted at least to post this one:
On the drive down to Nana's, BB had made a big deal about telling us her stuffed kitty's new name: Dragon. She then got it in her head that Dragon should go with us to the zoo so he could see all the animals. She was pretty cute, dragging him all over the place. First time she's attached to a toy like that. What's especially interesting to me is that when we got home, she insisted that her teddy bear (who had stayed home) was also named Dragon. I have no idea why; it's not like we've been talking about dragons!

So we now have BJ and the legion of snake toys named Stuxey (OK, just two, but it's still funny) alongside BB's Dragon duo. Will be interesting to see if any other animals get named Dragon. (Or Stuxey, for that matter!)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tuckered Out

We're back home again, after a 4 day visit down to southern CA to visit Nana J (S's mom) -- left on Thursday afternoon when S got home from work, got back tonight. Was a lot of fun and a very full trip: county fair on Friday, Los Angeles Zoo on Saturday. And while we made excellent time for our trip down ("only" 5 hours, which is good for traveling with the kids!) it took over 6 hours for the ride home. All that time in the car in such a short span really takes it out of all of us, I have to say.

And it didn't help things that the van started "singing" about two hours into today's drive. A small corner of the part of the car that attaches the passenger side mirror to the door began to vibrate whenever the wind got going. Let's just say it was pretty gusty on highway 5.... and perhaps that's why neither BB nor BJ got to catch up on some much-needed sleep.

So I'm pretty tuckered out. And judging by how easily the kids went down to bed, they are too. I think I'll be close behind them for bedtime. (S is swamped with work and stressed about that, so while I think he's as tired as the rest of us, he'll be up for quite some time, alas.) Too tired to even download all the pictures we took! So stay tuned for pics soon, with fun stories to go along with them. And maybe even a video of BJ's first solo ride on a rollercoaster! We'll have to see how it turned out.

For now, nighty-night!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Feature -- Handmade By Sandi and Sandi's Stash

This week's featured Etsy artist is Sandi, a fellow Etsyblogger who runs two shops: Sandi's Stash and Handmade by Sandi. As someone who used to run two Etsy shops (before I closed down Baby Friendly Beads) I fully appreciate how challenging this can be! Hats off to Sandi!

I'm a confessed tote bag junkie, so I especially liked this painted tote bag from her Handmade shop:

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

Sandi's Stash has fabric and blank tee shirts - in children's sizes w/way more fabric to add. Handmade by Sandi includes my crocheting - which I love to do and am trying to organize my time to make more, earrings, and things that I sew.

I've been sewing for many years - made clothes for my children when they were growing up (at least 30 + years ago) My mom taught me to crochet and I got hooked - have made crocheted stuffed animals for babies - years ago, and love crocheted hats and scarves, etc. Made my own crocheted hats for when I was going thru chemo - to keep my hair warm.

Creative process? I look around for crochet patterns that I haven't tried yet, and give it a go!

2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong? EtsyBloggers Street Team & Etsy Twitter Team

3. How did you get involved with Etsy?
Wanted another avenue for talking about my website, as well as getting to know people.

4. What inspires your creations? - I make what I enjoy wearing, and hope that others will love it too!

5. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop? Having the right conditions to take good photos! I can get a number of items done to list, but getting the images right is a challenge.

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

My new favorite item, is my felted bowl!

Why is it my favorite - because I've never attempted anything like it before. I can't wear wool - because I break out, but I wanted to see if I would have the same problem just working w/wool - and I didn't, and I love it! I have some more already crocheted - just need to get the old washing machine going and see what happens!

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

For sellers, good images and good short descriptions are a must. Most of all be patient! There are a lot of sellers out there and it takes awhile to get seen. Also try to list something frequently.

For buyers, there is a wealth of handmade items out there - a lot of talent just waiting for you to look at and buy.

8. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

I'm married to a wonderful guy, I'm a cancer survivor, as well as retired from the Federal Government. We have 6 children and 10 grandchildren. And in my spare time, I love to read!

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

My blog is

My website is

I'm on twitter

I also have a fan page on Facebook -

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blast Off!

BJ's fascination with rockets, astronomy, and all things planetary has continued to be quite strong, which has been lots of fun. (And I confess that it has finally given me incentive to learn the order of all the planets in the solar system -- it was learn 'em or be put to shame by my 4 year old!) Yesterday, he wanted to make a rocket, complete with flame decorations, so we put something together with construction paper and a paper towel tube. Ah, the joy of kids' arts and crafts!

Today at his second swim class, he was especially excited to do "blast-offs," which he'd heard about when BB reported on her own swim class yesterday. (Which went very well, I'm pleased to say.) The swim coach had the kids hang on to the poolside with their hands, get into a crouch with their feet against the wall, then do a count down to "blast off" by pushing off the wall while Mom swirled them around the pool. BB wasn't all that pleased by the activity -- until the moment when she realized, and announced, that her brother would love this! And as soon as I confirmed that to be the case, she loved it too. So interesting to see that dynamic in action.

As one might expect, BJ has been taking his rocket to visit all the planets (in order, naturally) and he's clearly been influenced by the planetarium show that he went to with S and my dad several months ago. According to S's report, in that show the plot line seemed to be "Oh, here's a neat planet! Oh, we better leave because it is too dangerous/too hot/too cold... Oh, here's another neat planet! Whoops, gotta get outta here, because it's too dangerous/too hot/too cold...."

So as a result, I get to hear BJ's narrative several times a day, going something like this: "Here we are at Mercury! Oops, better go, it's too hot! Here we are at Venus! Now we have to go, it's too cloudy...." Earth is apparently fine (thank goodness) but since there are other planets to see, we head out of there quickly as well. Mars is too dusty, Jupiter too stormy, Saturn too ring-y, Uranus too sideways. And then my favorite: "Here we are at Neptune! But we have to go, because it's too beautiful!"

From there, we visit Pluto (too far away, or too small, depending) and then back to Earth. Watching BJ play, one would deduce that it's great fun to blast off, again and again, but it's always good to get back home. Not a bad life lesson, that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Today BB announced, with the wonderstruck tone of voice particular to two-year-olds, "Mommy! Guess what! You don't have to be a chicken to do the chicken dance!"

Not that she's been letting such technicalities get in the way of her dancing, chicken or otherwise. Bonus points for dancing with playsilks, as shown in these pics taken earlier this month:

Yes, the scarf around the calf was her own idea.

I found myself thinking of the character from the Steve Martin movie, LA Story (I think she was the one played by Marilou Henner?) who asserted that her fashion "secret" was to look in a mirror, turn around really fast, and then whatever accessory caught her eye just had to go. Except my daughter, following such advice with this outfit, would likely end up in only a diaper.

Monday, August 17, 2009

In the News!

I'm over the moon this afternoon -- I just opened up the mail to discover that my Blueberry Quartz knitting needles are featured in Interweave Knits Magazine!

The Fall 2009 issue isn't online yet, and my scanner is on the fritz, so I took a picture to share. I'm sooooo excited! The editor had contacted me months ago about the possibility, but I didn't want to say anything until it was reality. And now it is!

Friday, August 14, 2009

On Balance, Business, and Blogging

Remember the family pics that I needed last week? Well, the interview has been posted -- Mama's Magic Studio has been honored as the August Featured shop at the Etsymom blog!

It's always fun to talk about my little handcraft business, and I greatly appreciate anybody who takes a moment to ask me about it. One of my favorite things about Etsy and etsy teams is how supportive we can be of each other's business ventures. But succinct I ain't, most of the time. Let's just say that the lovely boodybabies, fellow Etsymom who conducted the interview, had a lot of material to work with. She was very kind in choosing my shop to feature and in taking the time to write up my interview.

One of her questions really got me going. She asked about balance, and I gave her 5 paragraphs when she probably expected a few sentences. Which could well be considered Exhibit A in the "out of balance" argument....

I had fun thinking about this, though I suspect it's not entirely original, because I think part of this was sparked by something I read some time ago about how the idea of balance is problematic for mothers. (I have another post brewing about motherhood and mathematics, zero-sums and marriage. But I'm getting ahead of myself.) But I like it anyway. And isn't part of the fun of blogging being able to indulge oneself in posting such musings? So here it is!

"How are you able to balance it all?"

I'm not! After struggling with this for years, I've decided that the idea of balance is overrated. It always makes me think of either a juggler trying to keep all the balls in the air, or a tightrope walker navigating that narrow line above the crowd. (Or, if I'm feeling really overwhelmed and somebody asks me about balance, I find myself imagining a juggling tightrope walker!) I'm a creative woman, not a circus act. So I'm consciously trying to put down those balls, step off the high wire, and decide not to "balance it all."

I don't always succeed -- the idea of being able somehow to keep everything "in balance" is a tempting one. (As alluring and elusive as the image of SuperMom. Of course, they are related; SuperMom is always in balance, isn't she?) For me, such pernicious ideals only keep me "out of balance," keep me feeling badly that I'm not measuring up to some impossible standard. The truth is, in my house far from everything gets done. (If I were a juggler or tightrope walker, I'd be dropping balls constantly, and I'd need one heck of a safety net.) The floor gets sticky and stays that way. Laundry forever needs washing. I suspect that some other Etsymoms would sympathize!

So instead of balancing "it all," I focus on doing enough. Sometimes barely enough! Stuff needs to get done, no question. I'm a big believer in to-do lists and prioritizing. I'm careful about what makes it onto the list, and I really try to focus more on what's being done at the moment than on what else is on the list. Doing that definitely helps stave off the crazy juggler image. I dream big but keep expectations rooted firmly in reality. I would love to go full-time with Mama's Magic Studio, but I know that isn't possible right now. Prioritizing is key to maintaining sanity: if I have an order to make, the dirty dishes can wait! But the immediate needs of the kids always come first right now. I also do my best to keep the long view in mind; the kids won't always need me as much as they do now! Remembering that helps me feel more grounded and less frustrated when it takes me longer than I'd like to get to all of the important things on my list.

I also try to remember that sometimes it's really important to do "nothing" -- to just hang out with my son and daughter! And really, how often does "hang out with the kids" get put on the to-do list? Some days, sometimes for many days in a row, I don't get a single thing done for Mama's Magic Studio, whether that's because the kids are sick or the mountains of laundry are threatening to lurch down the hallway. Other days, the most important thing is finding creative time for myself, no matter what, laundry be damned. I remind myself that priorities change from day to day and respect my own need to recharge. For me, the only way to have any success at all right now is to remain flexible.

I recently started practicing yoga again, and of course yoga is all about flexibility. Many of the poses also incorporate balance in important ways. These days, I'm trying to think about balance and all the stuff in my life more in terms of yoga than in terms of a spangled circus performance. Instead of juggling balls, instead of being up on the high wire, ready to fall, feeling frantic about everything that I'm not getting done and all the balls getting dropped -- I'm staying in the moment, focusing on stretching myself as far as I can go, acknowledging that some things will remain out of reach (just like my toes in certain yoga poses!) and being okay with that for now. And when that fails, I remind myself to keep breathing. Namaste!

Friday Feature -- Memories for Life Scrapbooks

This week's featured Etsy artist is also the featured Etsyblogger for the month of August -- Memories for Life Scrapbooks! Her scrapbooks are really unique and fun. The flip-flop scrapbooks especially caught my eye, in particular these Wedding Guest Book flip flops!

Now wouldn't that be perfect for a casual beach wedding? I have to say, this is further evidence to support my claim that one can buy ANYTHING on Etsy. Such nifty, creative stuff!

Enjoy the interview!

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

EtsyBloggers and the Iowa Etsy Team

2. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

I make all things paper crafting related...scrapbooks, mini albums, custom full-size albums, Custom Name and Word albums, flip flop albums. I also make greeting cards and wedding invitations that I sell at craft shows.

I owe my start in paper crafting to my aunt and 4-H. My aunt was our club leader and we had a different project each month. The month we made hand-stamped greeting cards...I knew I'd met my dream hobby! Scrapbooking came shortly after :) That was over 12 years ago!

3. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I'd seen it mentioned several times in magazines and went to check it out. I was instantly in love!

4. What inspires your creations?

Inpiration comes from all around just have to know where to look. I get color combos from clothing/fabrics, billboards, junk name it! I also love looking through scrapbook magazines and taking bits and pieces from different projects to make them my own. I also love advertisements for design ideas for layouts.

5. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

TIME! Time to create, time to promote, time to blog, time to stock inventory, time to photograph new items and list them...I need more hours in the day!

6. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite? My Custom Name and Word Albums are my favorite item in my shop:

And apparently they are everyone else's too...they are by far my most popular item.

I love creating something different and unique for each customer. I want them to know that their album was made just for them :)

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

Have fun with it and don't expect to sell something your first day (or week or month) after you open shop. It takes time to get your presence known. Enjoy the process and everything else will fall into place :)

8. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

*I have been with my boyfriend for 9.5 years! No wedding baby plans...and we love every minute of it :)

*My first car was a 1963 Rambler Stationwagon...and I still drive it to this day :)

*I have been fortunate this year to give back to the 4-H club by teaching a group of girls how to make handmade greeting cards and by being a judge at the county fair...such a good feeling to give back to the organization that started it all for me :)

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





Thursday, August 13, 2009

Second Annual Family Camping Trip

Looks like our family camping trip to the redwoods is becoming a tradition! We had a great time, and even got to relax a little bit -- a very different experience than last year, which was fun but hardly relaxing.
We spent two nights at our tent cabin site, which felt like the perfect amount of time. We headed "over the hill" after S was done teaching, set up camp, and had a yummy dinner of BBQ sandwiches (for S and me) and mac and cheese (the kids' favorite). Before long, the kids seemed right at home and were suitably filthy.
BB had fun setting up her toys in the dirt, and BJ enjoyed figuring out ways to modify the campsite in order to play his current favorite game, "Pajama Sam -- Thunder and Lightning Aren't So Frightening." (It's a video game that has proved to be very inspirational for his imagination, and he loves to play versions of the game wherever we go, fixing the weather machines and revising the narrative as necessary.)

We were delighted to have some company this year -- our dear family friend, Tia M, was able to join us! Her girlfriend, P, also came along for the first night, which was a nice treat. It really meant a lot to us that they were willing to drive down to spend some time with us. I've known M since 2002, and she was one of the first real heart-friends that I made after moving to California with S.

I met M at a local women's open mic that she founded and hosted for many years, so we first grew to know one another through poetry and performance. Soon we were hiking together on a regular basis. Even back then, we talked about doing some camping, but we didn't manage to make it happen until this trip. I don't see her nearly as much as I'd like, now that she's moved and now that my life is so full of kids and family and everything that comes with that. But she's a great friend and a great Tia for BJ and BB.

BJ especially enjoyed the little hike that he took with Tia, down to "salmon creek" on Wednesday. Here they are returning to the campsite. He had such fun, he insisted on taking the rest of us there the next day!

BJ really wanted us to see the "cave" at "salmon creek." "Look Ma, there it is!" (Yes, he has started calling me "Ma." I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this.)For BB, the highlight of the trip was visiting the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. She'd been asking to ride "the killer whales" for weeks.
She also wanted to see "the haunted house," though she was adamant that she only wanted to watch other people get onto the ride.
She is still very content with the kiddie rides. The whales, the boats, and the cars are her favorites.

BB is big enough to ride the kid's rollercoaster now, but she still doesn't want to. I got to go for the first time with BJ -- very fun! BJ still likes the little rides too, but at 42 inches (barely!) he's now tall enough to go on some of the bigger rides. And he loved them! He and S rode "the Tornado" for the first time. (Which was of great interest to BJ, given his current fascination with all things weather related. Thank you Pajama Sam!)
They also did the log flume! BB and I stayed by the smaller rides while the boys had their fun.
After the boardwalk, we all walked along the beach for a little bit. BB really wanted to get her feet wet, unlike her brother who was nervous about the waves and wanted all of us to get away from them. He's sitting here, watching me type this, reading over my shoulder and telling me, "And I did not like the waves! I am not going to the waves ever again!"
We'll see. He was so brave about the big kid rides, which scared BJ, but hated the water. An interesting study in contrasts!

BB totally zonked when we got back to the campsite and took a 3 hour nap!
Actually, both kids slept remarkably well this time. The night time was easily the most challenging time of the trip last time around. This time, BJ went right to sleep both nights! And BB wasn't too long after. Very little night waking, too! YAY!

Other highlights from the trip: BJ eating his first s'more!
BB collecting sticks:
I discovered that cargo pants are a perfect Mom accessory for hiking -- the knee-high pockets were perfect for BB to squirrel away her treasures! (Which are now in our nature basket! Did I feel like I'd planned that one well, or what?)

It was so dear to look down and see her little hands busy with the snaps of my pocket. Though it did slow things down a bit on our family hike.

Things sped up a bit when the kids got tired of walking.... Thanks to Tia for taking this shot!
One disappointment: even though we were timed perfectly for the Perseids, with clear skies and everything, the tree canopy kept us from being able to see anything at all. And the kids are still too young to be up late enough, so BJ wasn't able to look through the telescope at all. His enthusiasm for all things planetary continues (here we are, at his insistence, pretending to be "Uranus -- which is sideways!") so hopefully next year we'll be able to get in some stargazing.

All told, though, the trip was quite a success! It always renews my spirit to be among the trees -- especially such grand trees as the redwoods -- and I'm looking forward to continuing this family tradition!