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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Maker Faire 2011

As I mentioned, last weekend I went to Maker Faire for the first time. I knew it was going to be amazing, but WOW! I had no idea what I was missing all these years!!!

It was one big conjunciton of creativity, craft, technology, and crazy inspiration. Robots! Legos! Steampunk! Kids on Stilts! Bazaar Bizarre! Cupcake Cars!

I was there to volunteer at the Etsy booth, where they had an interactive "Whack A Treasury" game, complete with sparkly vinyl golden hammer. Like I said, crazy inspiration!

I had a great time hanging out with the Etsy folks and talking it up about the SF Etsy team and I Heart Art: San Francisco, the new community initiative for which I'm on the leadership council.

Before I did my volunteer hours, we were able to check out the event as a family. S's favorite moment was introducing BB to John Kovaloc, the artist who (among other things) does the drawings for Munchkin. Since BB and S both love this game, S was thrilled to introduce his daughter to the artist. Maybe his youngest fan! John asked BB what cards she liked best in Munchkin, and she said, "The Glenda ones!" (Meaning the Fairy Dust cards.) And John he was kind enough to draw her a little fairy of her own.

How cool is that?

BB also really enjoyed the Klutz booth, where we made an entire bouquet of paper flowers while S and BJ were checking out the Chabot portable planetarium.

BJ thought it was super cool to get to "meet" the R2-D2 droids.

A few hours was definitely not enough to check out everything -- I now understand why people get weekend passes! And it was certainly a challenge to be there with the kids. Hard to go past Neat Thing after Neat Thing and not be able to give it full attention. BB especially was pretty intimidated by the huge crowds. But as the kids get older, it will get easier. I'm already looking forward to next year!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Feature -- Kaelen Rose Paper Works

This week's featured Etsy artist is Kaelen Rose Paper Works, where you'll find amazingly crafty and funny sewn cards. I heart the combination of sewing and paper! Add in a generous dose of whimsy and wit, and you get results like this Banana Phone card:

Enjoy the interview!

1. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?
SF Etsy and Hella Crafty

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?

My shop sells greeting cards that I make using fabric and paper and sewing the designs onto the front of each card. In the past, I was never been a big fan of greeting cards because most of the ones available in stores seemed so lame, so I started making them for my friends and family for birthdays and holidays. I always try to make cards that I wish existed. Everyone always loved the cards - many of the recipients told me that they had kept each card that they received from me - so I thought I'd try selling them and see how it went. To make a card, usually I have an idea for a card, like a theme (birthday cake, for example) or a phrase that I think is funny or would make a good card. Next, I make a prototype card to work out any problems and check the layout. Finally, I make a series of cards - anywhere from 5 to 15 at a time.

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

In addition to my greeting cards, I also sew clothing (I'm currently working on my wedding dress), and I paint colorful, abstract paintings.

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

I would have to say that my biggest success has been my Zombie Appreciation Day card. I was really happy when I sold out of them and had to hustle to make more.

5. If you had to be an animal for one week, which animal would you choose to be? And what would you do?

I would be a regular house cat; all I'd do is lie in the sun and be lazy. I love that cats are so relaxed, they don't get bored or sad or stressed out. I'm generally a high-strung person, so the cat's life seems like it would be a fabulous break from my normal super tense ways.

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

My website links to my Etsy shop and also has a lot of information about my paintings.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

BJ's Last Kindergarten Field Trip

Yesterday, after being home from school for two days, BJ woke up and exclaimed, "I Feel Great!"

Granted, he had seemed to be improving throughout Tuesday, and his appetite was back for dinner on Tuesday evening. But I have a feeling that his declaration also had something to do with the fact that yesterday was his final field trip of the year, and he really didn't want to miss out.

It was a special field trip, the invitation to which included the entire family. So of course BB wanted to go too. They were headed over to a local park which has a really neat water play feature. Of course the high for the day was predicted in the 60s, with rain possible. It Was Chilly.

Not that this kept most of the kids from having a good time and insisting on getting wet... here's BB with some of the kinder girls, having a great time as she leads the way down the slide.

Thankfully, BJ didn't seem all that interested in the water play. (Good thing, because I would have been very tempted to nix it in favor of good health.) He was happy to run around in the playground areas, all bundled up. Made for kind of a funny juxtaposition when his sister came over to say hello:

And even though he stayed warm and dry, I have a suspicion that he picked up something yesterday, because at 5 AM today he had a fever of 101 degrees. Luckily none of the vomiting and yuckiness that accompanied things earlier in the week, but he stayed home again today.

Here's hoping we're all healthy again very soon!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First Harvest

This year, I'm giving it a go with those intriguing upside-down hanging planters. We have two of them, one with a tomato plant only, and the other with a tomato and several other plants of thyme and strawberries in the side holes. Today, we harvested our first strawberry!

The kids had had their eye on this one berry, which would clearly be the first to ripen, and they were thrilled to point out to me that it had turned a luscious red.

Apologies for the fuzzy pic!

Split three ways it was hardly a feast, but the taste of summer was delicious!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


BJ's science class continues to be a lot of fun for him. Recently, he was sent home with a painted lady chrysalis -- time to break out the butterfly home we got for Christmas!

The kids checked on the chrysalis several times a day, eager to see what it might do. When it finally came out in its full butterfly beauty, we noticed about 15 minutes or so after it had emerged.

The plan had been to release it the same day as it emerged, once we'd given it a chance for its wings to harden. But it was stormy and cold and very windy for the next several days, so we kept it in the butterfly home, feeding it sugar water and small slices of orange.

Finally, the weather turned and we were able to let it go.

The video I took was a little too long for Blogger's auto-upload, so I figured I'd try something new -- my first upload directly to You Tube! Here it is, us saying "bye-bye" to the butterfly:

Now, of course, both the kids are eager to see the process from the beginning, so it looks like soon we'll be ordering some caterpillars. Fun!

Monday, May 23, 2011

In Sickness And In Health

It's been a bit of a rough stretch over here in the Mama's Magic household... leading up to our anniversary S was under the weather with horrible seasonal allergies that turned into a sinus infection. Last week, BB stayed home from preschool all week with a cold and cough. Even had to skip gym class!

Then on Thursday last week, after our date night (celebrating those years of marriage two days late isn't such a big deal when it's 14 years we're talking about!) S was sick as a dog with what we first thought was food poisoning (new restaurant for said date night) including a 103 fever on Friday. I've not seen him that sick in a looooong time.

S got well enough just in time for the family to go to Maker Faire yesterday (which was amazing and will merit its own post!) but then yesterday evening, BJ got sick, tossing his cookies several times. Slight fever today and feeling really yucky, no appetite to speak of. He obviously stayed home from kindergarten and it's likely he'll be home again tomorrow as well.

So it seems S had the flu and has passed it on to at least one of us. He's I am praying that BJ is better soon and it stops with him. So far, knock wood, BB and I seem fine.

During weeks like these last two one understands why they include "in sickness and in health" in those vows. Here's to returning to the "in health" part very soon!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Feature -- NanjoDogz

This week's featured Etsy artist is the Etsyblogger of the month -- congrats to Nancy of NanjoDogz! Nancy's shop is really unique, full of canine cuteness and creativity. And as someone who grew up with a sweetheart of a Westie dog, I couldn't help but adore this little West Highland White Terrier polymer bead.

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 create polymer clay items including Pandora beads, sculpture, tiles, etc. I started working in polymer clay about 10 years ago and it just stuck.

My creative process is just a flow as you go kind of thing. I don't make any plans up, it's either hit or miss and sometimes things turn out lovely and sometimes not so good.

2. Are we teammates on any Etsy Teams?

Yes, at Etsybloggers. I also belong to Polymer Clay, Polymer Clay Enthusiasts and On Fire for Handmade.

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

I love my family, my dog and I'm a real homebody if that's interesting ;)

4. What inspires your creations?

Dogs, dogs and more dogs.

5. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I learned about Etsy through another group I was in on E-Bay.

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

Doing everything from the creative process to advertising to packaging items, it's very time consuming!

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

Knitting, I admire people who can knit.

8. If you had to be an animal for one week, which animal would you choose to
be? And what would you do?

I think it's obvious, I'd love to be a dog owned by me and we'd do fun things like go to the park, play in the river, fetch sticks.

9. If money were no object for just one day, what would you do?

Buy 20,000 acres of land.

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

Nanjodogz blog

11. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your shop or your work?

I love what I do and that's so important when you're doing handmade because you take it so personally and you have to do so much to make it work.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I'm a ticklish person, but I don't really like to be tickled. I have yucky memories of being a kid and getting tickled well past the point of something pleasant -- yelling and sobbing, asking the tickler to stop. The tickler was usually one of my older cousins, who would claim when taken to task, "But she's laughing! She enjoys it!"

Yes, I was laughing, but I couldn't help it! I wish now I'd replied by pointing out that I had also rolled myself into a ball and was trying desperately to escape. Didn't you notice? Who could possibly enjoy such torture? Especially under the armpits. To this day I will still jerk away violently whenever anybody tries to touch me there.

Long before I had my own kids, I vowed that I would never over-tickle them and would never permit others to, either.

In fact, I realize now, this has led to me hardly ever tickling my own children at all. Which is sad.

I realized this a few nights ago, when BB laid herself over my lap and S's lap (we were sitting next to each other on the couch) and asked to be tickled. S got to it, and BB had a big grin on her face, giggling and obviously enjoying it. I joined in, a little hesitant, but was soon having fun too.

Then I stopped, not wanting to overdo anything. BB's response? She laid herself down in our laps again, stretched her arms up high over her head, and announced in a sing-song voice, "Many tickle spots are available!"

I think I can stop worrying about over-tickling my daughter.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


This past weekend, I took the kids to my dear friend M's birthday party. Alas, S was home sick (poor guy is feeling a bit better) so it was just the three of us. Between playing with clay, drawing with chalk, blowing bubbles, and bashing in a pinata, the kids and I had a great time. And I simply have to describe a conversation for the record:

BJ was talking with M's dad, who was clearly having fun with the fact that he was talking with A Smart Six-Year-Old. He asked BJ, "What is the smallest thing there is?" BJ thought about this for a moment, then his face lit up. "Subtomatic particles!" he said (meaning "sub-atomic). Then he was asked, "What is the smallest sub-atomic particle there is?"

BJ's reply, after a moment's consideration: "The ones we haven't discovered yet."

I just had to grin -- I surely didn't expect that kind of a thoughtful answer. (Nor, for that matter, did I know that he knew about quarks -- for when the conversation continued, and he was asked about what kind of sub-atomic particles we know about, quarks was his reply.)

This kind of reply is what I mean when I say that my kid doesn't just read all sorts of stuff, which is astonishing enough -- he actually understands a heckuva lot. He's an amazing random fact generator (and will generate for almost any audience) but there's comprehension too. Such joy to watch him revel in learning, such joy to watch him thinking. Proud mama, for sure.

14 years!

Happy anniversary, my dearest. Saying "I Do" was the best thing I ever did.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Feature -- Sketch Away

This week's featured Etsy artist is Sketch Away. I had such fun exploring this shop, which is full of delightfully fresh works of art! Each sketch is uniquely wonderful, but I was particularly taken with this one of the Stanford Memorial Church -- I am always interested to see depictions of local places, and I love the casual nature of this composition, with the foreground full of the bustle of people and the grand lines of architecture in the background.

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 shop has prints of my original watercolor sketches. I occasionally sell originals and create custom artwork.

My body of work varies widely in subject, but it all ties back to a single, underlying aim: to view and to capture the world around me as a traveller would; to see both the everyday and the exotic with wonder, and to look deeply at both the old and the new. I work maddeningly quickly, and I sketch anywhere. My whole “studio setup” is always on my shoulder: my bag with a couple of sketchbooks, pen and ink, a tiny watercolor kit and some brushes. I work almost exclusively on location because I believe it brings an immediacy to my work. I like my work to be accessible and not too precious, something almost anyone can relate to. I also like the fact that my medium challenges the notion that a sketchbook is just a repository of ideas that go on to become artworks: in my world, that first-person experience, captured on location IS the final piece itself.

2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

SF Etsy
South Bay
Etsy Success
Etsy Critiques
Artist Aid
Digital Prints

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

I grew up in India, and have lived in the Bay Area and in New York for the last 12 years. I believe my sense of color and love of capturing the chaos of urban settings comes from my India background. But I only got back to drawing after I moved here. (I am a graphic designer by profession and drew incessantly as a kid but somewhere along the way, I moved on to working on a computer and totally lost touch with what brought me to the field of design.)

I juggle a graphic design job, freelance, an Etsy store and am a mom to a 3 and 6 year old.

4. What inspires your creations?

Everyday life. Travel. And the confluence of the two: viewing the everyday with fresh eyes.

5. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I have been a buyer on Etsy (under a different name) for ages, and decided to sell my sketches after a couple of years of obsessive sketching, and lots of requests for prints.

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

Marketing. It's hard as an artist to put aside the scarce time that I have for creation and devote it to marketing and promotion, but it's something I hope to learn from!

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

That changes all the time!

Currently I'm enjoying sketching stuff that looks pretty abstract, like this sketch of coral and giant clams, seaweed and fish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

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

I'm too new to have any real advice for pros on Etsy. But as an artist, I think one should make the art one loves, and if it's any good, it will develop a market and a following!

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

This bag, but I'd want it adapted to carry my sketchbooks and sketch stuff.

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

I'd love to go back to silkscreen printing. And learn some other fine art printing techniques: lithography, making linocuts, woodcuts...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May Flowers -- News from the Studio!

Now that Mother's Day has come and gone, I can talk about what I've been doing in the studio without ruining any surprises!

When I was a kid, every Christmas my mom would light a candle for every day from December 1st through December 25th. By the time the holiday arrived, the house in the evenings would be full of the uniquely rosy glow of candlelight. And I'd be tempted to play with all that hot wax!

(Children, don't try this at home.)

Didn't matter how many times I was told to leave it alone, how many times I was told, "You'll burn yourself!" I still vividly remember my mom finding me with my fingers coated in cooling wax, declaring, "When you're all grown up you can play with fire and candles! But not until then!"

I was about ten years old when I got that scolding. Apparently, I'm finally old enough.

Fabric + Fire = Flowers! (FUN!!!!)
Not that you'd necessarily know how much fun I'm having by the expression on my face... S assures me that this is my typical "look" when I'm concentrating. And it does take a bit of concentration to keep the fabric from catching fire.

(Repeat: Kids, Do NOT Try This At Home!)

(Grownups, you're on your own, but consider the fire hazards ;-)

Making these flowers is so satisfying. Every step of the process is entertaining. I'm using thrift store clothes or old clothes of my own to source the fabric, so it's also very eco-friendly. I find polyester works best. Simply cut out circles of various sizes, heat treat the edges to keep them from fraying, and sew together! Here are some of the circles after they have been heat sealed:

I use a candle flame, but you could also use a lighter. Applying the heat this way makes the edges curl and ripple in interesting ways. Mama says keep fingers and hair away from the naked flame, and be sure to have a bowl of water on hand to douse anything that catches fire!

Here are some of the layered circles being assembled:

After sewing them together, I attach to a hair clip or pinback, using felt to give the backing some stability. Then simply embellish with a button or some beads in the middle!

This flower used to be a black shirt in a floral print with a small stain on the front. I added in the pink fabric for contrast. Cutting around the stain, it's made more than a dozen flowers so far!

For Mother's Day, since my mom's favorite flower is a pansy, I decided to try out a different approach and do individual petals to form a pansy and put it on a pinback. Definitely a different look. But equally fun to do! And Mom liked it, which is what matters most.

I've just about perfected my technique for the flowers from layered circles. I've come a long way from the first ones I made several months ago now. Look for flowers in the shop soon!

Monday, May 9, 2011


I love how life with kids reframes reality for you. The chance to see the world through a young person's eyes is priceless! All we big folks need to do is pay attention and listen to what the little ones are telling us.

Latest example: BB has discovered that the back seat windows in the Infinity can open. (In our Odyssey van, only the front windows do that.) Today on the way to gym class, she asked if we could ride in the Infinity. I said yes, she predictably asked for the window to be rolled down, and off we went.

Our route to gym class includes an area of road where we drive down to go under some railroad tracks. Full of glee, wind blowing in her face as we drove through that point, she squealed, "Rollercoaster! WHEEEEE!"

If I could bottle that joy, I'd be a millionaire. (As it is, I already feel pretty rich.)

Just imagine how happy she'll be when she figures out she can Roll Down The Windows All By Herself!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day!

What a lovely Mother's Day! I got to start things off by sleeping in (yay!) -- a rare treat, since I'm usually the one to get up with the kids. When I came out of the bedroom a little after 7:00, S and the kids were in the kitchen. BJ got one look at me, thrust both his arms out in a classic "Stop!" pose, and shrieked, "Sleeeeep!!!"

In other words, he wasn't quite ready for me to get up yet. Chuckling, I ducked back into the bedroom and read in bed until I was summoned. Here's what I needed to wait for:

BJ had read about the recipe in his My Big Backyard magazine and apparently announced to S that this was what he wanted to make me for breakfast on Mother's Day. Crescent roll dough shaped to form letters (WE and MOM) sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. And a strawberry half for a heart. So sweet! Definitely worth the wait.

So we ate breakfast, which I was just as glad not to eat in bed. (I have to say, I've never really understood the appeal of breakfast in bed.) Then we had a relaxing morning of opening gifts and hanging out. BJ had picked me out a new watch to replace the one that broke a while back. BB chose a pretty pair of silver earrings -- along with wrapping up several of her own "treasures" (shaped bits of sparkly confetti, polished rocks, and plastic bead necklaces). And S generously set me up for some pampering with a gift certificate for a massage. Am I a lucky mom or what?

As has become the Mother's Day tradition, I asked S to take a picture of me with the kids. (This post has the round up of pics from years past.) Unfortunately, BB had decided to have a hard time about the prospect of a picture -- or, more precisely, was upset about the idea of getting dressed. Little nudie would stay unclothed for most of the day if it were up to her. She had been crying right before we took the picture, so was trying extra hard to "smile," which you can certainly tell. Ah well, that's pictures with kids. BJ was all grins, though.

And when they both gave me a kiss for the camera, that was the sweetest pic of all!

Got to talk to my mom for a bit -- poor dear has broken her wrist and had to have surgery and everything. She's been in a lot of pain and not doing so well. I so wish I could be there to help a bit! I miss my folks so much. And special days like this even more. But we now have plans for me and the kids to go visit for two weeks this summer, so that definitely helps.

In the afternoon, after S took a nap (poor guy has been hammered with allergies lately and not feeling all that well) I took a little time for myself -- found some treasures at the thrift store (two skirts and a magazine rack) and then we watched our Sunday family movie. Castle in the Sky this week, which was definitely a hit. To finish off the day, S cooked dinner (steak, baked sweet potatoes, spinach salad, cantaloupe slices, and mac and cheese). Then I got in some sweet cuddle time with BJ after dinner, sang lullabies to the kids, and sat down with a red wine spritzer to blog about the wonderful day. Just an all-around nice, relaxing family day. Couldn't ask for better!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Holding Hands

I absolutely love the fact that my 6 year old still loves to hold hands. Every day on the way to and from school, we walk holding hands. Enjoying this time while I can!

The other day, S happened to be with us as we walked home from school. For a while, BJ was in the middle between S and I, all linked together with hands clasped. Then the boys held hands while I tagged along behind. I couldn't resist snapping a few pics.

Doesn't get much sweeter than that!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Scooters!

We celebrated spring with new scooters for the kids!

Zoom! They were definitely a hit.

What have you been doing to enjoy the season?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On Princesses, Innocence, and Osama

It's been hard for me to sit down and blog recently -- I've been composing entries in my head, but when I settle in to type them up the words won't come.

I was all set to write up something about The New Princess, as BB has been calling Kate Middleton. Let me say first off that I didn't watch the wedding, I had very little interest in any of the hoopla leading up to it, and in fact I'd rather decided to ignore the whole thing. Keep in mind that my daughter has replied, multiple times, when asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"A pwincess!"

Cringing a little, I'd smile at her response and say something vanilla like, "Oh, really?" Or, "That sounds like it would be fun!" But it was so hard for me not to launch into a tirade of one flavor or another: Bitter Rant About Vacuous Princess Stereotypes, Sour Grapes Facts About Royal Lineage, Meaty Feminist Discourse On The Disneyfication Of Childhood....

Granted, she was more likely to say this a few months back. She has also said she might be a horse, so who am I to take this all so seriously? Or to stand in her way with a lot of rhetoric about The Way The Real World Works?

These days, she's talking about being a Mom or maybe even a scientist. (She said that once, obviously trying it on for size... heaven knows she hears enough about it from BJ to think it just might be interesting!)

So I try to be open and accepting (and I haven't yet read Cinderella Ate My Daughter, though it's on my list). I refuse to erode her innocence with ideological analysis that she would neither understand nor really care about. (I can, and do, provide the feminist counterweight when I can, in more subtle ways.)

But when Princess Fever seemed to be catching on with more than just the younger set, I'd made a conscious decision I wasn't going to bring it up with BB. Not that I planned to keep the royal wedding a secret, but I wasn't going to go out of my way to mention it. No sense feeding fuel to that fire, I thought.

But I forgot to tell S.

Not that he made a huge deal of it, but he did talk about The New Princess with BB. And now she's noticing her everywhere, even in The New Yorker.

And then, just about when I'd given up on the struggle with that latest example of How Much Should I Let The Real World Into My Child's Life.... all over the news, America's #1 Bad Guy. Dead.

S and I watched Obama's speech announcing the death of Osama, and while I felt a sense of relief, I was also deeply troubled -- about the possibilities of retaliation, about the "celebratory" response as reported on (and, seemingly, created) by the news, and by the question: should we tell the kids?

This time, S and I discussed it a bit. I didn't think we should. I think, left to his own inclinations, S would have said something. But so far, as far as I know, nothing has been said to the kids about it.

I don't plan to lie to them, and if they ask of course I'll be honest. But I have no intention of starting that conversation. I've deliberately stayed away from the media frenzy that has followed the announcement. Since we usually have the TV off and no longer get the newspaper, it hasn't been too difficult. Mostly a matter of staying off the computer or not clicking on links. Now that BJ is reading so well, I've been very careful about what's left up on the screen when he might be reading over my shoulder.

I know that someday they will learn about the horrors of 9/11, the violence and incomprehensible evils of the world. They will learn, and they will not be able to unlearn.

That time will come soon enough. For now, I will do what I can to protect them. Not because I'm naive or because I want them to be. Call it protecting their innocence, call it ostrich parenting (yes, I would prefer to keep my head in the sand in this case), call it what you will. It's what feels right to me.

I'm not one to advocate silence -- just knowing the right time to speak. Especially with children. And I believe that now is not the time to talk with them about this. A real woman growing up to become a princess? I'd rather not have that conversation just now, but it's clearly not a disaster for BB to know about. But Osama's death in Pakistan? That one needs to wait.

Someday, I'll talk with the kids about this. Maybe I'll even share this post with them, though even now, it isn't quite getting at what I'm really trying to say. But saying something is better than being utterly silent. And if I don't write something about all this, it will just fester, and keep me from writing about the fun family stuff that sustains me. So it will have to do.