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Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Feature -- Belle + Bee

This week's featured Etsy artist is a fellow EtsyMom: Becky of Belle + Bee. Her shop is simply adorable! I'm in love with this jellyfish onesie (too bad it's too small for my own wee ones!) and I really appreciate that she includes stuff for boys and unisex items like these pants. It can be so hard to find neat clothes for my boy!

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?

My Etsy shop has hand-made clothing and gifts for children. I started sewing with my grandma as a small child (my first creation was a Barbie doll skirt) and until I had children most of my crafting time was spent quilting. After my girls were born I moved into sewing clothing and toys for them. My shop offers mainly clothing, but I also have some keepsake gifts, toys, and even cards that pop up from time to time. The creative process for my designs is pretty straight-forward. I keep a sketchbook with me at all times and draw up whatever comes to mind. I also frequent fabric stores in person and online to try to find unusual mixes of fabrics that you don't see every day. 99% of my work is done after 8pm when my girls go to bed. It's the only time I can think, let alone get any work done.

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

I recently tried to complete my first triathlon, but an untimely thunderstorm cancelled the swim portion. So, I've had to sign up for another race in September so I can say I have actually finished one.

I'm very outdoorsy. My husband and I love to hike, canoe, kayak, fish etc.

3. What inspires your creations?

MY GIRLS! Everything that I make is designed originally for one of my children or to give to one of their friends. You can usually tell what colors are the favorites in our house by what new items I'm listing, because my oldest helps me pick out fabric. You can also tell what creatures/animals/designs are fascinating us, and what is lacking in our closets. You also see a lot of sister sets that coordinate, but don't match...that's just our thing:)


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

I only have girls, so it is a struggle for me to come up with unique creations for boys that are cute, but still a little rugged...I'm working on it though:)

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



I think the fall coyote tee in my shop is probably my favorite. I love it because my oldest daughter, "Belle," currently has a bit of a coyote obsession. She's typically only interested in princesses, so I am really enjoying this new fascination. I designed the t-shirt for her, at her request. She even selected the fabrics, so right now...it's my fave. But ask me again next week and I'll probably have a different answer:)

6. If you had a gift certificate to Etsy for any one item you wanted, what would you buy?


I almost never buy or make anything for myself, so if I could pick any item I would love to have this skirt! It makes me giggle just to think about owning it.

7. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

I'm working on my photography skills. I've had a lot of experience with landscape and take some pretty decent shots of the natural world, but right now I'm working on capturing life in motion...it's NOT easy, but I'm having a lot of fun.

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

I have a blog that I update with the latest creations from our house. It's part sewing, part kid-crafting, part inspirations for new projects.

I also have a Facebook page for the Etsy shop.






Thursday, July 29, 2010

Meet The Mama Behind The Magic -- Tomorrow Night at MOCFA!

I'm super excited to let you know that I'll be part of the Etsy Success Panel Discussion tomorrow night! Local folks, here's your chance to meet the Mama behind the Magic!

In my capacity as the SF Etsy team leader, I've been asked to field questions related to the local Etsy scene, the SF Etsy team, and community organizing. It's a great opportunity, and I'm honored to have been invited to be part of this.

All Etsians and Etsy lovers in the Bay Area are welcome to attend the Meet Up and Etsy Success Panel Discussion on Friday, July 30, 7 - 9 p.m. PT at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. If San Francisco is too far for ya, you can check out the oline preview at 5 p.m. PT in Etsy's Virtual Labs!

Etsy Admin says, "Join us for a discussion of indie business stories and success with Lisa Congdon from Rare Device, Yueh-Wen from Sora Designs, Danielle Maveal, Etsy's Seller Education Coordinator, and other special guests, followed by a meet-and-greet with fellow Etsy friends and fans."

As one of the "special guests," I hope you will come by and say hello! For more info, check out this post at the Storque.

Where:
Museum of Craft and Folk Art
51 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA 94103
(@ Mission between Third & Fourth)
415-227-4888

RSVP here please. Leave me a comment if you plan to be there so I'll keep an eye out for ya!

Little Scientists

It's been one of those weeks that have been so full that I haven't had time to record things here at Mama's Magic! Whew. Among other things, we've been dealing with the sale of our house, getting BB adjusted to preschool (which is going pretty well, though there were tears this morning for the first time), filing my sales taxes for the business, cleaning house, riding bikes, having playdates....

And, in truth, I've been spending my evenings (my most usual time for blogging) re-reading Middlemarch. Sometimes a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do.But it's past time for an update, which brings me to one of our more entertaining activities recently: we've been doing a lot of science!

Our explorations into chemistry were prompted by a gift from my parents, and the kids were fascinated.


My folks sent the kids a really nifty Glow Chemistry set by Amazing Toys (this one is the individual kit like we have) and we had a great time making glowing slime and glowing worms!
I mean, what kid wouldn't want to make "Atomic Worms" that glow under a blacklight?



It's a polymer chemistry experiment that is pretty danged cool, non-toxic, and the kit includes explanations of the science that are understandable but not over simplified. This ex-biotech major thoroughly approves. Plus, it was tons of fun!


Here's some video of the kids and their Atomic Worms:

video

As you see in the video, BB has also been having her own little scientific art project -- when we were in Delaware, my parents got her a flower press. Here she is, showing off her dried blossoms.

They turned out well, don't you think? My parents are such good grandparents to give such thoughtful, educational, entertaining gifts! Thanks, Pop-Pop and Giki!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Feature -- Aimee Diane Designs

This week's featured Etsy artist is fellow SF Etsy member Aimee Diane Designs. I had the pleasure of meeting Aimee at our recent SF Etsy sampler, and it was fun to see her work in person. Her jewelry is beautiful, and as a box collector myself her teeny boxes caught my eye in particular. Isn't this matchbox lovely?

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?

I primarily make jewelry now, but I also have a few decoupage matchboxes in my shop. I've always liked miniatures (my dad made me a dollhouse when I was a kid!) so I started out making little scenes in matchboxes with beads, sequins, milagros, pieces of postcards, etc.
I enjoyed working with beads, so I figured why not try making jewelry? I took lessons in local bead shops, at Michael's, and then made a connection with a silversmith who was willing to give me private lessons in her workshop. Now I've taken a few formal classes at the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco. I think I'm just in love with making jewelry. I love the creative process from beginning (idea) to middle (working with my hands) to end (holding the finished piece in my hands and/ or wearing it!).

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

I have a very supportive husband and a lively 2-year-old daughter.
I have a part time day job that has nothing to do with jewelry and I love it. I am a school psychologist for a local school district.
I love to bake desserts- cookies, brownies, pies, cakes, cupcakes, etc. I am a chocoholic so that usually makes its way into my baked creations. Someday I might have to become a pastry chef.


3. How did you get involved with Etsy?


A friend of mine from high school told me about it several years ago when she saw that I was making jewelry. Her shop is Marshmelonsquirter.

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


Figuring out all the business-related stuff (marketing, finances, etc) while still having time and energy for actually making jewelry.



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


I hope one day to be knowledgeable enough to give good advice to others about selling on Etsy. The only thing I have so far is- Don't Stop! Don't Give Up! Keep Trying! (and that's a song from a Yo Gabba Gabba episode that my daughter loves)

6. Give us some insight on how you personally, or your shop, gives back to your community.


I recently became involved with the organization Baking GALS. We bake and ship goodies to military men and women who are deployed in a war zone. I found out about it through an awesome friend of mine who finds time to work full time, finish her college degree, raise a toddler, and rescue pit bulls. I figure if she can also find time to bake for the troops on top of all that, I can too. Plus it's something my daughter and I can do together while doing something nice for someone else.

7. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
http://www.aimeedianedesigns.blogspot.com/
Facebook page- Aimee Diane Designs










Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Big Girl Has A Bike!

Yesterday was BB's second day by herself at preschool, and she's doing very well. A few tears, but nothing inordinate. Some time ago, when we got BJ his first bicycle, she'd asked when she could get her own bike to replace the tricycle. We'd told her that when she was a big enough girl to go to preschool by herself, she could have a bike.

Guess who remembered that promise? Yup -- and over the weekend, we made good on it. Here's my Big Girl on her first Big Girl Bike!
As you can see, she's doing pretty well! Makes this mama proud.

video

Sniffle -- such a big, big girl!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Third Annual Family Camping Trip

Last week, we had our annual trip to the tent cabins in Big Basin. Both kids were really looking forward to the trip, and we had a great time. Hard to believe this was our third year doing this trip! Thankfully, each year it has gotten easier. This time, it was quite relaxing at times! It is always good for my spirit to be among those majestic trees.

Wouldn't be camping without a campfire, in my book. And what's a campfire without roasted marshmallows?

This year, we let the kids help pick out the special camping food to bring. Guess who has discovered the joy of Doritos (with accompanying orange fingers and face)....
It turned out that our campsite was very popular with at least one of the local residents. This stripey guy visited us several times, prompting a "You Silly Racoon" song from the kids. (They were still singing it today, in fact.)
So much of the success or failure of family trips depends on how well everybody manages to sleep! Happily, the kids have gotten worlds better about sleeping away from home. Now if S and I could just figure out how to be a bit more comfortable...
As is now the tradition, we spent our second day of the trip at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. The kids definitely have their favorite rides -- good 'ol Bulgy the Whale is still BB's #1 choice!

BJ will ride it too, obviously, but he now prefers more excitement, like the Tornado ride which he loves to do with S.
The little boats are still popular with both the kids...
but they are both definitely moving beyond the wee rides. BB finally figured out how to make the dragons fly --

And once she'd figured that out, she decided they were a new favorite. The planes were popular, too.

BJ decided to brave the ferris wheel. And Loved It. Here he is with S (in the red car, of course).

He loved it so much he really wanted to do it again. With me. I hemmed. He insisted. Sometimes being a mom means doing your best not to pass on your fears to your kids. Which means deciding that something you thought would be scary can be fun. Or at least deciding to grin and bear it. Fake it till you make it, right? Here we are at the top -- thanks to the stretched-arm-mom-cam!
I was still anxious, but the view was gorgeous:

And guess who isn't afraid of the carousel anymore?

She even wanted to ride twice, the second time on the outside, and the ride operator even gave her a few brass rings to try to fling into the clown's mouth! She Loved It.

For the first time, instead of just buying a bunch of ride tickets, we got the kids unlimited ride wristbands, which turned out to be a financially sound decision. In years past, they've only been good for about two hours of fun, but this time we stayed for more than four hours! Even made it to the far end of the boardwalk, where we'd never gone with the kids before, and they discovered the Speedway, a new favorite.
It's such a joy to see them having such fun together!

On our third and final day of camping, we went on a little family hike down to the stream by the campground. I found this pic to be very symbolic of how I'm feeling these days:

The two of them, going on ahead, BJ in the lead, thinking they are ready for anything.... but not getting too far ahead, mind you.

When we got to the bridge over the stream, S took a pic of us wandering down the path alongside. This is symbolic, too, I suppose. A kid's hand in each hand, and all of us smiling. Life is pretty good.
Kids With Sticks was, as always, a nearly constant camping activity.
This year, BB decided she would make a ladybug house in the dirt. Complete with necklaces for decoration.

I think she brought the necklaces from home expressly for this purpose. That's my gal.

Family tradition: a pic on the steps of the tent cabin!



And in 2009:

And in 2008:


Good times!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Good Week

Things have sure been hoppin' around here -- but in really good ways. (Ya know it's busy when I don't even find time to blog!) BB had her first solo day at preschool yesterday, and I'm delighted to say that it went Really Well. She was there from 9:30 to noon by herself, and she did great. So proud of my not-so-little-anymore girl!

Yesterday was also spent with some very nice family time, since Grandpa D and Grandma C were here for a day's visit. This weekend, we'll have a family reunion with S's side of the family. Will be fun to see folks, and I'm looking forward to getting the kids some more good cousin time.

What else this week? Well, we had our annual camping trip Monday through Wednesday to start off the week, three lovely days and two chilly nights in a tent cabin in Big Basin. A separate post on that will be coming soon, as soon as I can get the pics off of the camera. Lots of fun, and even somewhat relaxing (!!!) in spite of the fact that we were four hours late in our departure.

The original plan had been to go to gym class on Monday morning, tucker out the kids, grab a quick lunch, then head over the hill about 12:30. We had a great time in gym class -- I was a little worried, since we'd taken a break all last month due to our travels, and when we returned they no longer had space for us on Fridays with our regular teachers. New (to us) teachers have been a problem in the past, especially for BB, but both the kids really enjoyed themselves , and I had many a smiling moment watching them run around.

We didn't end up leaving for the camping trip until about 4:30 p.m. but in spite of afternoon traffic those four hours were very well spent, because they were the result of our waiting around to be able to finalize paperwork to accept an offer on our house! Knock wood and all that, but things are now under contract and hopefully the 30 days of escrow will go smoothly. We loved our little bungalow, but it will be very, very good to be done with The Stress Of Selling A House!

I promise lots of cute, grubby kid pics and other fun stories soon. (Did I mention that we've reached the Knock Knock Joke stage of childhood humor? Ah, yes. Interrupting Cow and all.) But for now, this quick update will have to do. Dear Readers, I hope you've had a Good Week, too!

Friday Feature -- Sykin

This week's featured Etsy artist is Sykin, the Etsyblogger of the Month for July! This creative seller has not one but two shops -- Sykin's One Stop Twilight Shop and Sykin's NW Wonders. Enjoy the interview!



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

In Sykin's One Stop Twilight Shop, I make all things Twilight inspired. You'll find mostly jewelry that reminds me of something in the series - be it a person or a paragraph in the book. I try to stay away from movie likenesses to avoid copyright issues, but I have done them as a custom order request before.

Sykin's NW Wonders is all about everything else I make. Everything that is not Twilight inspired. Right now, there's mostly photography listed, which is something I am growing to love more and more each time I take my camera out of my bag. I'm about 90% self taught on everything I create. I'll look up tutorials but once I learned the basics of making jewelry, making paper crafts, etc, I have been teaching myself new techniques and then fine-tuning it when I realize there's an easier way to do what I've been doing. haha! I did take a photography class in college as a required class, but that was over 10 years ago (*gasp* already??) and I'm not using a dark room to develop my film, so I've had to learn to mess with my camera settings to get the looks that I want. *phew* That was a long answer!

2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

EtsyBloggers, EtsyMom, EtsyRAIN, and Fabulous Artistic Moms

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

I'm a dedicated fangirl. I collect everything Twilight, Harry Potter, and Hanson. I still buy CDs and DVDs relating to those fandoms. I also have an irrational fear of holes. Drains, manhole covers, grates, holes in the bottom of toilets. I haven't the foggiest idea where the fear came from but it started when I was in high school. Weird, I know :)

4. What inspires your creations?

First and foremost, Twilight, for obvious reasons :) I am also inspired by just about everything I see around me. I'm big on shapes and I love to look at what others are wearing as far as jewelry. It gives me good ideas of what people like to wear and want to purchase.



5. How did you get involved with Etsy?

A friend of mine (Platipuses) first told me about Etsy when she moved over from Ebay. I checked out her shop and a couple months later, set up my own. I had never created anything before other than drawing and painting so it gave me a new creative outlet.


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

That's a tough question! I don't think I really have any challenges. I have a great customer base, I work in advertising so that helps with getting the word out, and I've met some really great people so if I ever need advice or help, I know I can count on them.


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



Ooooh, that's a tough one. I would have to go with the Oceanside Blues and Greens print in NW
Wonders. I love the colors on this print! When I took the photo, all I saw was wet rocks and some moss - I just loved the green moss on the rocks. When I got home and looked at my photos, the reflection from the ocean turned the wet rock into this fantastic blue color. It's so vibrant! But to be honest, my favorite changes just about every time I list something new. haha


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

Advertise and list often. Ask questions. Take good photos of your items. Find a group of people you trust and stick by their side.


9. If you had a gift certificate to Etsy for any one item you wanted, what would you buy?

Not that I need it, but this wedding dress:


It's been one of my favorites since I started at etsy! I would definitely be willing to have a second wedding if I could wear that dress!


10. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

Painting and drawing. I have such an active imagination but I have a hard time portraying it on paper.

11. What has been your biggest success and/or proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop?

I consign in a Twilight store in Saint Helens, Oregon where they filmed the first Twilight movie. I never thought about selling my crafts in a store before so it took me completely off guard when they asked if I'd be willing to!

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

Everything is listed on one website: http://www.sykin.net. There you can find the facebook links for both shops, items listed from both shops, my twitter, my blog, and my email address. I will also post special discounts and sales there when I have one going on.

13. Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about your shop or your work?

For those wondering, my shop name is pronounced "See-kin". It's a nickname I was given as a child and I found out after spelling it the way I do that on urbandictionary.com, it's listed as meaning psych but spelled different (because who wants to use the real spelling for things??). I promise you, that's not where the name came from! :)


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mama's Magic in the Storque!




Photo by: Sarah Beth Goncarova, a.k.a. goncarova.
SF Etsy Sampler table display by
KendraRenee.


I'm delighted to share the news that I've published an article in The Storque, Etsy's blog! Click here or read on for Ten Tips for a Terrific Trunk Show, SF Etsy Style!

Shopping and selling on Etsy rocks, but I think a good trunk show is even better. When the SF Etsy Street Team decided to hold its first team trunk show, I was delighted. 

The trunk show model of showing select wares to select customers fits beautifully with the artisan and handmade approach. Etsy Teams, especially those with a local focus, are ideal to present team members' work to the surrounding community. While online trunk shows are possible, traditional trunk shows are held in the “real world” and require significant planning. We learned a lot as we organized the SF Etsy Sampler, and we’d like to share ten tips to help you plan your own terrific trunk shows.

1. What to Show

You can have a great show with one artist or with many. For both individual and group shows, think about how various items will work together. Perhaps you want to focus on jewelry and only include jewelry designers. A vintage trunk show could be great fun. If custom options are available, be sure to have an order process in place. Like us, you could embrace all handcrafted work. What you show has an impact on your marketing and planning, so choose thoughtfully.

Setting up for the SF Etsy Sampler. From right to left, work by Mama’s Magic Studio, CraftyGirl05 and Monkey and Seal. Rick and Eve of Monkey and Seal smile in the background. Photo by Sarah Beth Goncarova, a.k.a. goncarova.


In our case, we knew we wanted to include as many SF Etsians as possible. We decided to squeeze in 20 vendors. This was pretty tight in our space, and next time we will make it less crowded. Whether or not you want an official application process for group shows depends on your situation. In our case, the gallery owner juried our applicants.

2. When to Show

Time your show carefully. Work with your venue and participants to schedule something that works well for everyone. Consider the time of day and weekdays versus weekends, since you’ll have different traffic accordingly. Be sure you don’t conflict with other important local events that might interest your guest list. Give yourself ample time for planning, marketing, and creating work for the show. I’d suggest at least two months to plan a group show. Consider seasons and shopping habits as well. A holiday trunk show will have different results from one held in the middle of the summer. Ours was timed well for Father’s Day and graduation gifts.

3. Theme It

As you decide what and when to show, consider a themed event. Themes are a great tool for marketing and sparking creativity. Since we would offer a sampling of the talent in the SF Etsy team, we worked with the theme of “The Sampler” (like a chocolate sampler) and played with that idea in our advertising.

Poster design by Akiyo of My Dear Darling


We carried that through to the show itself by offering a variety of chocolates at the refreshment table. Have fun with your theme and choose something memorable.

4. Location, Location, Location


Where you hold your trunk show can make or break it. For us, the location prompted the entire event.

San Francisco map created by Gooseberry Press

SF Etsian Kendra Renee, a.k.a. KendraRenee, sells her beautiful jewelry at the Artist Xchange Gallery, and gallery owner Scott Mitchell was looking to hold more events at the space. He asked Kendra if she could help, she mentioned SF Etsy, and a trunk show was born!

 Consider galleries, restaurants, coffee houses, boutiques, or even private homes for your show. Ideally, you can find a place with good foot traffic, easy parking and/or public transportation. It's also important to have a friendly atmosphere, adequate room for vendors, their wares, and their customers. Keep cost in mind, of course. Some places might require a fee, others might be happy with increased business. You can approach locally-owned independent businesses to inquire about their interest in hosting an event or ask other local artists where they have held shows in the past.

5. Chalk It Up to Creative Marketing

Photo by Jen of Mama's Magic Studio

Marketing doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and Etsy shop announcements can be quite effective. If you have a specific guest list, send postcards or invite people electronically via Facebook, Evite or email.

If you’re not limited to an exclusive guest list, post on Craigslist and at relevant calendars. Guerrilla chalk art makes for cheap, fun signage.

Consider traditional marketing tools like newspaper advertisements. Our ad was prominently placed in the centerfold of the Arts section, reaching a circulation of 125,000 people and leading to our recognition as one of the Fashionable Events of the Week by The San Francisco Examiner.

6. Feed ‘Em!

A refreshments table is a nice touch for any trunk show and the perfect place for promotional materials. Don’t forget a sign-up for your mailing list.

7. Get Help

Don’t be shy about asking for help. Etsy Teams can apply for an Etsy Team Grant. Etsy generously supported The Sampler with funds for advertising and supplies. Charge a table fee if you need financial help to achieve your goals for a group show. Get team members or show participants to pitch in. Recruit family and friends. Always communicate clearly and kindly about what help you need and be sure to...

8. Say Thanks

Send thank you notes to everybody who helped – email is great, but even better is a handwritten note. Bonus points for using handmade cards!

Embroidered thank you card by CrookedSister

9. Get Feedback

While you’re thanking folks, ask them for some feedback about the show. What worked? What didn’t? Google forms is a free online tool for obtaining and organizing such information.

10. Beyond the Single Show

Promoting the event itself is hugely important, but don’t forget that a single show presents a great marketing opportunity in larger terms. We knew that The Sampler would be getting good press, and we wanted to capitalize on that to benefit SF Etsy as a whole. All online marketing linked to our team blog, where I set up a static page for The Sampler. I hoped that once people were there they’d want to see more, so I also set up another static page – a shopping guide for SF Etsy (an easy and ingenious idea borrowed from other team blogs). 

After the event, team member Akiyo, a.k.a. MyDearDarling, posted a podcast in which she interviewed all the Sampler participants. Long after the show is done, this podcast will be a fantastic resource for learning more about SF Etsy artists and getting unique insights into the SF Etsy community.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Being in July

Quote from BB:

"You don't be in July.
You sit down and watch the things go by!"

(I think she means you don't be in a parade -- but pretty cute nevertheless.)

There hasn't been a lot to report from the Mama's Magic household this week. We're still sad about our sweet Socks kitty. BB especially will talk several times a day about how much she misses him. Our vet sent us a kind condolence card, along with an ink print from one of his front paw prints. I just bawled when I saw that. So thoughtful.

BB has now been to three days of preschool. I've stayed with her so far, hanging out through the morning play and circle time and lunch. We've been going home after lunch for nap. Next week we hope to try having her there by herself. So far she's been enjoying herself, playing and making friends, but she's still spending a fair amount of time on my lap, watching. BJ has been very sweet, coming to greet us on the playground whenever his class comes out to play.

Yesterday, BB was having great fun finding "treasures." (These are simply bits of shaped glitter confetti -- hearts, stars, clovers, etc -- that the teachers like to scatter about in celebration of the holidays. They will tell you all about fine motor skills and observation, and they'd be right, but mostly I think the kids like the magic of it all.) Recent holiday or no, there's always a good number of sparkly bits to be found in the sandbox, mulch, and grassy areas, and you would have thought BB was uncovering diamonds for all her delight. BJ took it upon himself to help -- and he was actually helpful, and generous, and kind! He even continued looking on her behalf in the afternoon, after we'd gone home. When he got home from preschool, he had about a dozen more "treasures" that he'd brought home to give to BB. So very sweet.

Other news: we've listed our house (finally!) and the apartment is truly feeling like home. We've started hanging pictures on the wall (finally!). The building is mostly empty much of the time, since the students are home for the summer, so it's pretty quiet. Not doing much beyond the usual daily stuff. Just feeling especially blessed with our situation these days, just enjoying "being in July." Even if that mostly means watching things go by. It's all good.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day


"Don't cover your faces, kids -- Mommy is trying to take your picture!"

We didn't manage any fireworks this year, but we did enjoy the neighborhood parade. It just keeps getting better and better! For me, July 4th is all about parades, community spirit, and the type of small-town virtues that they embody. We had a lovely spot in the shade, and it took a good hour for the parade to pass by.

My favorite: The Little Shasta Book Club, dressed up in vintage clothing to celebrate 90 years since women got the vote! Made this Women's Studies major very proud....


This guy and his calliope started the parade.... too bad they had a rock band right behind, drowning him out! (The band was pretty good, though.)
What's a parade without lots of old cars?
And VIPs? Here's Chuck Reed, mayor of San Jose:


And Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren:
Lots of motorcycles this year.... loved the getup on this guy:

Look closely: Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy are going for a ride on the back of these bikes!

I loved this old fashioned bike:


Speaking of bikes.... there was, as usual, a good showing from the KOBC (Kids on Bikes Contingent) and this kid in particular took the occasion Very Seriously. (That, or his mom made him wear the outfit.)



And every good parade has a fire engine, right? But not every one has an engine decorated like a shark! Only in San Jose!


This guy got BJ's attention, for sure. He'd decked out his cart to look like the Space Shuttle!

Admittedly, not all the parade participants were equally excited about the experience. This guy just strolled down the street, reading the parade program.


Another Silicon Valley moment -- how many other parades have a bunch of folks riding Segways?
This year Elvis even made an appearance. I told ya the parade keeps getting better!

My second favorite parade group -- the Roller Derby Girls. Woo!


Even Danny the Dragon showed up, much to the kids' delight:



Here's a cool crafty detail -- they were handing out free Statue of Liberty hats. Cut out of white paper plates! BB wore hers for a while before passing it on to me. Pretty nifty, huh?


Hope everybody had a happy and safe Fourth of July. God Bless America!