Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Get Me Through December

There is just something about December. Since I started blogging, it has always been a bad month for me. It goes back so much further than that however. December has had a bittersweet tinge for me for the last 10 years. This year, after Thanksgiving, before the lighting of the tree in Rockafeller Center, was the tenth anniversary of my committing myself to a psych ward in New York City. It is something I have wanted to write about, but have been afraid to write about. Perhaps that is why I haven't been able to post much.

I am torn between a desire to remember what has to be the lowest point in my life, lower than even postpartum depression, lower than even perhaps my very first very broken heart, and a wish that it had never happened. It wasn't supposed to happen. I just want to forget.

My life had skyrocketed out of control. I had a career that no 22 year old should have, I had left behind my home, and a family unit wrought with trouble and dysfunction, and moved to two places where I knew few people. Then I had committed one of the cardinal sins of young adulthood and dated my boss while not controlling my depression. The breakup, the loneliness, it all added up and I cried out for help. What I needed was a break. I needed to walk away and find my center again. Except, I didn't know where to go. I ended up in a hospital emergency room, with the exboyfriend/boss, asking to get locked up. I was alone, and alone I didn't trust myself.

I didn't know it, but inpatient psych wards are for the really crazy people. The kind of person I was not. I heard no voices except the own inner monologue. I held down a good job, had the respect of my coworkers, and had already started to take the steps to improve my own mental health. I was just alone. What I needed was a friend, family, a break from the alone.

Once inside my life was not to be believed. The attending Shrink (hack) assigned to my case didn't want to let me out. She didn't think I was telling the truth about the job, the apartment, the cat, that were all waiting for me when I got out. It nearly made me crazy, for real.

Fortunately inside that terrifying place I found friends. An art therapist who saw what I really needed, a resident assigned to me who had spent time as an inpatient (as part of a school assignment) who knew what I was up against. They both advocated for me, called my mom (who my ex then flew out to help break me out), and put their necks on the line to help me get out without requiring a trip to see a judge about an involuntary committal.

The art therapist abandoned her internship because of how I was treated, and agreed to treat me after I got out. (I have yet to find a therapist I like as much as her) She gave me the tools I needed to prove my sanity. The resident encouraged me to talk to the other patients, to do my best to not isolate myself. He even suggested I had a way with the other patients (it takes one to know one) and that I should consider a career in psychiatry.

I try not to think about it much, but the whole thing left scars. There are days when I still question if maybe she wasn't right, that maybe I am crazy. Really crazy.

Ten years. Ten really wonderful and wild years. My life is nothing like what I would have ever thought it would be. It is so much better. Yet every December I am filled with doubt. Did I make the right choices, will I ever not feel like maybe I am just fooling everyone. Did I pass on the genetics that cause the chemical imbalance that screws with me every so often to my beautiful daughter.

I always make it through December. The darkest night comes and goes. The light returns.

A very special thanks to Natalie MacMaster and her song Get Me Through December. I'm pretty sure I listened to it on repeat for the rest of December that first year and for a few years after.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Couple That Works Together...

If you ever really want to give yourself a good challenge, try assembling a majorly complicated Ikea hack of an entertainment center with your husband while wrangling a two year old, just so you can install a brand new very large (especially for a girl that grew up without a TV) TV, with a Wii and BlueRay player thrown in for good measure.

So, the Ikea hack. I have pictures, but I'm saving them for another very long post about how cool it is. The making of it, not so much. There were four trips to Ikea, at least six to Home Depot (three in four hours at one point), and a couple to Best Buy thrown in for good measure. However, the thing is built like a rock now, fits our very large speakers (old), very new TV, and oddly shaped space in our living room. Whee!!!

We agonized over the TV for months, but finally the buzzing noise the old (18 years maybe?) TV was making, combined with silly good deal, were just too much and we did it. Had I only known it would take four days to get the whole thing done (including removing old Ikea hack entertainment center).

All of this of course means that instead of doing things like, cleaning before my mom comes, baking anything, or finishing wrapping and Christmas shopping has not happened. Which sort of sucks because I was sort of counting on two days with the kiddo still in daycare to be able to work on the whole sewing/baking/cleaning thing.

Ugh, just writing it all down makes me tired again. Tomorrow, A has promised to help me with whatever I need to get stuff done. I hope he can sew a straight line...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Sweeper

"No Mama! I do it!" In reference to cleaning the snow off of the front steps while I shoveled the front walk.

I am so glad I invested in some serious winter gear this year instead of just going to Target for snowpants and jacket. They are seriously waterproof and she came in warm except her face (failed snow angel attempt).

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Year of the Santa

I'm a horrible blogger. I haven't been blogging much at all, barely even on twitter, and honestly, just too busy to care.

This year has me stressed beyond belief. I've been having a hard time trying to figure out just what it is that has me so frazzled, so on edge (besides the antics of a two year old) and I realized that it is because of the importance of this year.

This is the year of the Santa.

M has a crazy good memory, she can remember everything, and this is the year that she will start to believe in Santa Claus. I want her to believe, I want her to enjoy it. I'm thirty-two and I still believe in the spirit of Santa Claus. The warm and fuzzy feeling you get from being generous to others.

This year though, Santa has to get her what she asks for. He has to know what her heart desires and bring it to her. That is more easily said than done. She doesn't even know what she wants. Other than near monthly gifts from her Nana (MIL). she just doesn't ask for toys or really get them. I've at least tried to make that something special, something for the holidays and birthdays. She is two after all, it isn't like she needs all that much.

School has been valuable in teaching about Santa. and helping us figure out what she wants. Of course, part of what she has asked for hasn't been made in thirty years. It has required searching, and asking people to return gifts they had bought because now it needs to come from Santa. It has consumed me. It has stressed me out. It has made me forget other things I needed to get done, like oh, shop for my niece's birthday present.

In the end, I think it will be worth it. I don't know if every Christmas will be this crazy, if we'll do this much to make sure Santa delivers, but this year, I've done everything I can to make sure that she believes. (please let her believe)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Santa Came Early

So, awhile back, like over a year ago, I won a 250 buck Visa gift card from the lovely women at Parent Blogger's Network, and this major name company. Who shall remain nameless lest I have to associate their name with their PR firm trying to welch on the GC, ahem! PBN of course, loveliest women ever.

So, after a Christmas, a birthday, and some other stuff, along with the GC, I finally had enough money to get my DSLR. Except... I couldn't do it. It just seemed like if I got it, it would be like a gateway. I would need at least two or three more lenses, some of them more expensive than the camera itself. So, I went searching for an upgrade to my current Canon A540 (free won at holiday party three years ago). I finally settled on the Canon SX 20 IS. I ordered it Tuesday, and it came today.

It is everything I hoped for and more. While my old camera could do great macro and decent distance shots, it sucked in low light. It also wasn't the best at dealing with a complex depth of field.

Here are some lovely examples, unedited, and before I managed to read the manual (I know, being a geek I should totally RTFM, but it was a new toy).

Flash off again, using pretty much just light from the LED's on the tree.

Christmas tree, flash off, in my not terribly well lit living room.

Dog pictures are so much easier with this camera. This one is a bit fuzzy, but I would have never gotten anything close to this before.

Disclaimer: Canon didn't pay me, or even know about me writing this. I'm just a Canon girl from way back. They made my first SLR camera that I loved.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Amelia Sprout's Rules for Winter in Minnesota

1. It happens. It really shouldn't be a surprise since it has been happening relatively like this since, oh, the Ice Age. Quit your whining or move to Texas.

2. Fashion doesn't count when the wind chill is below zero. Quit acting like it does.

3. Own the following items and use them often when it is cold.
  • A parka. As in a warm coat the goes at least to your ass.
  • A pair of proper boots. Carry your shoes for indoors with you, but wear the boots. Your frost bitten toes will thank you. My personal favorite, Sorel Pacs. Mine are retro black and purple and I love them. They make cool looking ones that keep your feet warm too though.
  • A hat. Seriously, own a hat. If you're like my husband, wear the earmuffs in the morning when you care about your hair, but a hat when it is really cold. Everyone else will have hat hair so it won't matter. My hat, totally goofy elfin looking one I knit myself. It is warm though, so I don't care how silly I look.

4. Mittens are better than gloves. Fingers stay warmer when together.

5. If it is icy, four wheel drive doesn't do you much better than two wheel drive. Drive accordingly. That being said, if the roads are dry, chill already. It is winter, not the end of the world.

6. If you are a parent of a child, please for the love of pete, dress them accordingly. Dress yourself accordingly and set a good example too.

7. Bake cookies. Warms the house and yummy too.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Love The Pretty

First, special thanks to Aisha for dying the amazing yarn that is now in my header. Her stuff is gorgeous, and on top of it, she is incredibly nice. Now what to do with the great yarn that I got from her...

The show is done, I am very tired, but it went incredibly well. I got to meet a blog reader (which made my day) and unfortunately missed seeing another blogger. (damn) I even got help from the incredibly energetic Robin. Bloggers for the win!

Perhaps my favorite thing, well, besides getting the next size up in Harrilu shirts for M and scoring my very own PINK! Yeti from Jessica at Plushroom Soup, was getting my birthday present finally.

I had picked out something else from Etsy back in August, but just never got around to buying it. Perhaps because I was supposed to do it myself, ahem. So today I found something I had to have, and let's just call it my birthday present, OK?

She calls this line of stuff, Sprout. Isn't that awesome? BMF Jewelry. She's local, and hint to my husband, there are matching earrings and larger necklaces...

Friday, December 4, 2009

For a Saturday in Minneapolis

I've written about it a bit, and I've professed my love for some of the places to eat at Midtown Global Market, but in case you missed it, and you're local, tomorrow is the last day of the No Coast Craft-o-Rama.

I got to walk through (quickly) and this year I think is one of the best yet. The advent of Etsy and the awesome handmade movement means craft shows all of the place have experienced a bit of a rebirth as places for hipsters and artists. Your mom's church basement this is not.

Some of my favorites, Plushroom Soup, Harrilu, Pink Sparrow (all got some business from me already), as well as Jennie the Potter , and more I can't find links to tonight.

The point is, you should go. It really is a great time. It can be crowded, but there is something for everyone. Prints, original art, things for people with kids, with dogs, with too much time on their hands.

And, if you're really curious about what my name is, I'll be there too. At the Information Desk most of the day. Directing traffic.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I finally caved and went to see my Dr. about my nagging sore throat. Except this time I didn't go to urgent care, or the random doc that the clinic I went to assigned me, I went to my allergy doc. He gets these things.

My toncils, infected, though not with Strep. My lungs, could be better. So, over the course of the next 20 days (he gave me a refill on the Zpak) you little buggers are on notice. Out! Out! (you that are supposed to be there, say in my tummy, stick around, I swear I will make it up to you)

In other completely not related to my health news, we have a winner of the book.

Ms. Andrea. Who needs to email me with a way to reach her. Perhaps we can meet over coffee or something fun like that.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Perils of Dog Ownership

Wee little doll, in wee little bed, in wee little house.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

And Fin

We're done with what turned out to be a really relaxing weekend. A couple of Ikea trips (have to take advantage of the use of a truck while my brother was here). A few toy stores, a couple of big stores (but not until today) so I could get a few electronic items for M and my adopt-a-family that I can't get at local places.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased. I even managed to get some crafting all done.

The only thing we didn't do is put of the tree, because my living room is now filled with flat pack Ikea boxes. It won't be for long, what we can't setup now will be moved. We got a new entertainment center setup that fits our odd stereo equipment, our old house, and maybe in the future a better TV. We also got more book shelves, because we own far too many books.

So, this week maybe I get up the tree, maybe I do not. Next week I won't for sure. I will be taking my MIL (along with my SIL & niece) and M to see Cinderella at the Children's Theater. Wish us luck, it will be M's first trip to a show.

I am also doing something I don't believe I said yes to. I am volunteer coordinator for the No Coast Craft-o-Rama at the Midtown Global Market. If you haven't been there, why not? It is great vendors in a great setting. (one of my favorites Harrilu will be there) I am also desperate for volunteers. I can't offer much in return, except maybe to know my real name and hear all of my awesome jokes about it. If you are interested, please email me. Please. Otherwise, stop and say hi, I'll be at the front table most of the weekend.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Keep Your Family Close

I very nearly forgot to post because today my brother came to visit. On his way down to Rochester to look for a place to live. Work has given him a promotion, and a transfer, and he is getting out of our home town. When the house sells, all of our connection to it will be gone. (except a little land my mom has in the country) It is odd, but a good thing. He's 29, wants to have a family and a career, and neither would happen in Fungus Flats. (his name for it)

So, today we went shopping for stuff we needed his truck for, and then hung out and had a good evening. Tomorrow, more of the same. It will be so nice to have him living closer to us. M for sure will love it, seeing as she has claimed him as her's and her's alone.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Local Friday

Today I stuck to my commitment and shopped locally for the day. I went to three of the five great local toy stores that we have. I commented about my trip on Twitter and someone responded that they only have one where they live. I realized how lucky we are in this area to have so many great choices.

I went to Wonderment and Creative Kid Stuff in Linden Hills (South Minneapolis) as well as Kiddywampus in St. Louis Park but as Katie mentioned, there is also Peapods in St. Paul (source of many of M's toys) as well as The Green Goober also in South Minneapolis. Beyond toys specifically, we also have great kid's bookstores. (Wild Rumpus, Red Balloon, and I am sure there are others I haven't found)

If you want to go to as many cool stores for kids in the smallest space, Linden Hills (Wild Rumpus, Creative Kid Stuff, Wonderment) in Minneapolis or Crocus Hill (Wonderment, Creative Kid Stuff, Red Balloon and Peapods just up the road) in St. Paul are the best. However, if you love custard and hat Wisconsin (sorry, couldn't resist) right across from The Green Goober is Liberty Frozen Custard.

I'm lucky, and I know it. I only have a few things I need to get this year that require either going online or going to a larger store (mostly electronic items).

Thanks to everyone who has shared their local favorites. Keep doing it, and I'll keep linking. Just give me a URL or name. Small businesses thrive on word of mouth, and putting it in writing on the Internet may drive more business their way, making them that much stronger.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am thankful that this year I managed to go through a holiday with in-laws pretty damn well.

I am thankful for a husband that always drives especially since I am always worn out from family things.

I am thankful that my daughter took a nap (that it took both of her parents laying in bed with her to take) since someone scheduled Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of nap time.

I am thankful that M has great cousins and a great aunt and uncle and that the cousins get along so well.

I am thankful that it is over, because while it was fun, I like being home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Now on to setting up the Christmas tree.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What local places do you love?

I should have reminded everyone of this again, especially with IComLeavWe going on, but I was apparently too caught up in my own pity party to remember.

I am giving away a book. One Yard Wonders. Written by my friend Patricia Hoskins, owner with her husband Matt of the amazing Crafty Planet and her friend, Rebecca Yaker. All you have to do is tell me something original that you like. Post about it, even better. Comment here, really good. Email me, sure that works too. I'll post it over there on the side bar. Does it have to be local to where I am, heck no.

The idea is that in this tight economic time, instead of supporting the big box retailers and a craziness that has left people dead (last year a security guy at Wally World), that you can focus this black friday on supporting businesses in your community. Not giving up on the post Thanksgiving kick off to the holiday shopping, but maybe doing a bit more in your own hood.

The book I am giving away, autographed by the authors. Purchased with my own money because well, I just think Trish and Rebecca are that kind of awesome. Also, my copy of the book, the one I have been using to make oodles (we're up to two) of cute little fabric houses out of, not autographed. I saved that one for you.

PS. Thanks everyone for the comments on my last post. Proof yet again that the Internet rocks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


30 Day Shred, level 1, weights for most of it, up to 5 lbs. Need to get the 7 lb weights.

I'm soft, squishy, I need to get back to every damn day.

I ate chocolate today, swore I wouldn't, did it anyway. Damn you chocolate.

This hurts, it sucks, I want it to feel as easy as it did this summer.

Something is missing, I'm filling in holes with food again. Have to figure this out, or else.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weight of the Matter

For those who are regular readers, you may have noticed that I haven't blogged much recently. Yeah, there is a reason for that.

First, some excuses. Vacation, sick, feeling better, signed up for gym, got an influenza like illness (ILI).

However, for the past couple of weeks I've been going to the gym twice a week, as well as getting out for a walk this last weekend. (absurdly nice weather for late November) I've managed to even jog a little, just like I was before I got sick. My walking pace this last time out was better than I think I ever managed when I was walking in late summer. So, that's good, right?

However, weight still creeping up. Only like five or so pounds, but still, annoying and pants tightening.

Excuses again? Sure. Vacation, Halloween candy, when you're sick nothing tastes good so you eat everything trying to find something that tastes good, and oh yeah my CC # changed because of a fraud thing and I sort of let my food tracking site lapse.

My whole adventure in weight loss started last year when I lost five pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas without really trying. I can't go back on the progress I have made. For one, I gave away all of the clothes that were bigger than what I am wearing right now. Also, I did make a commitment to be a healthier me, for my daughter. A even got in on it and has been going to physical therapy to get his back in order so we can do more active things as a family. Also, I would like some more help with chores around this place.

So, it is nearly Thanksgiving. Here are my resolutions. Start tracking my food. Work out at least three times a week, trying to get back up to four or five after I finish holiday present making. Umm, if I don't blog about how great it is going, someone call me on it, OK?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fruits of My Labors

This is a post mostly for my friend Pusher. These are the Brussels sprouts I grew. We finally harvested them today, I just couldn't wait any longer. They were so tiny (apparently they don't like fighting for sun with a summer squash on steroids) but because of the freezes, they were so sweet. I could have eaten all of them myself, but I had to share with A and M. I even saved a few for tomorrow at work.

You have to grow them next year, dear. They are seriously easy.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm doing IComLeavWe. Hosted by the wonderful Melissa Ford. I can honestly say I wish I didn't have to know who Melissa was. Not that she isn't entirely wonderful (she is, I met her this summer at BlogHer) but because it means that in my case, so many of my friends have struggled with fertility issues. It seems entirely unfair because I should have, and I got lucky. Based on everything I know now about my health issues, it is especially true. I introduced myself to Melissa this summer because of one friend (one of A's old roommates) and then found out weeks later I should have gotten another book for another friend.

Those two friends are both dealing with stuff so serious, so crappy, that if it were me, I am not sure it wouldn't have broken me, at least a little. However, they are so brave, so gracious, and they deserve to not have to go through what they are going through. Ladies, I'm thinking of you, a lot. Nothing but positive energy in your general direction.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Holiday Card Rejects

Not sure I have the winning shot yet, but I at least got ones that would work.

I swear, as she gets older, it gets more complicated. It was easier when she just sat there. Now I have to wrangle her, and the dog, and neither one of them listens unless you dangle a cookie in front of them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Things I Love Right Now

Hoodie with built in fingerless glove things. I may not be able to run outside (too dark) but it is nice for typing in the cold office.

I finished my MIL's yearly calendar. Always a challenge to make sure I get a balance of grand kid photos in it, and I'm done, and they are balanced.

Lists. I made one of my holiday tasks and it isn't so bad for just about Thanksgiving.

Ripe pears. I haven't had a good one in years, but the ones I got ripened perfectly. Yummy.

Sleeping in. I get to on Sunday.

The Internet. I was able to easily see that M's Ped had H1N1 vaccine and could schedule online without a phone wait.

Tall sizes. I love not having the arms of my shirts be short. I am an orangutan, just like my dad.

Weekends. Another day of work would have sucked.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

'Tis the Season

For as long as I have wanted to be a parent, I have wanted to pass on to my child the enjoyment I have for doing things for others.

When I moved back Minnesota, I began really participating in community giving for the first time as an adult. I am sure that people are generous in NYC, but I never worked at the companies or hung out with the people who did that kind of stuff. When I moved back I didn't have the money, but I had time and organizational skills. Fortunately that was what the first company I worked for needed. Ever since then, I can't imagine not participating in adopting a family at the holidays. As of last year, it is now two families. I organize the family adoption at work, as well as adopting a family at home. This year will be the first year that I will be able to get M involved, and I am really looking forward to it.

I've already started planting a few seeds as we get ready for the season. We've talked about how we need to go through her toys to clean out her room and to give them to boys and girls who don't have toys. It will help clean things up before we add more at Christmas, help with next years taxes, and start teaching her to give. I was also able to ask for a family this year that has a kid closer to her age, to let her help me pick out gifts. The little girl in the family we adopted is 5 and loves Dora, so that shouldn't be a problem at all.

As she gets older, I have more ideas of how we can help teach her lessons about the importance of looking beyond your own needs. As someone who calls herself an atheist (though it is more complicated than that one word) it is something that I'm especially sensitive to. For the sake of starting a discussion, what do you do to help teach those lessons to your children? When did you introduce it?

I've listed a few of my favorites organizations, both local and national, along with some ways to get kids involved.

Toys For Tots - Without question, one of the coolest things that Marines do. If this year is like past, their largest need is for toys for teens, and the very small. Even picking out your baby's favorite toy and giving a new one to the organization is a way even the smallest can get involved.

St. Anne's Place - This is where we adopt a family from. Both St. Anne's and Ascension place serve homeless women and their families. They are looking for everything from small personal care items, to people to adopt entire families. Other local organizations are Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army. Both are national organizations that run similar programs around the country.

Feeding America (Used to be Second Harvest) - In a nation with an excess of calories, it amazes me that so many, especially children, go hungry. If you donate food, make sure that it is as healthy as possible. Don't donate anything you wouldn't feed your own family. In the Twin Cities, Second Harvest has people working at the farmer's markets to encourage people to donate fresh produce to local food shelves.

PS. For some cool ways bloggers are giving back, see this recent post by Mom-101.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Potatoes and Cheese is Heaven

I'll spare everyone more gushing or talk of how I spent my whole night working on a present for M. (I did) Instead I'll talk about dinner. Yummy, Ukrainian dinner.

Growing up I had the privilege of know Peter Ostroushko. One of the many great local folk musicians. If you listen to A Prairie Home Companion, you know he regularly sits in with the house band. Growing up, via Peter, my family would go to the Ukrainian churches in NE Minneapolis for Friday lunches where little old ladies would make pierogies and borscht. Pierogies (or varenyky) are little dumplings of goodness. As far as I'm concerned, the only kind is potato and cheese, but they do come in other varieties. They are one of my favorite comfort foods, that I don't have the energy to make regularly (lots of rolling out and stuffing).

While Friday afternoons I am usually at work, I can still get my fix at Kramarczuk's (just don't ask me how to pronounce it). They are part deli, part meat market, specialty bakery, and well, love. They have everything from a huge selection of home made sausages, to Szegedin Goulash (a pork product and sauerkraut dish that defies a good explanation it would seem seeing as I can't write one). They have German and Eastern European sweets and condiments, fresh bread and a pretty stellar butcher selection.

They are one of my favorite local eateries. They've even inspired me to make our holiday meals more interesting. Christmas day dinner at our house is usually some adventure in ethnic cooking. We've done German, Spanish, and well not sure what to call it but it involved beef, and blue cheese, and walnuts. It was good.

So, where do you like to eat? What is your favorite comfort food?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Best thing ever to happen to fabric hoarders...

It is official. One project and I am totally in love with One Yard Wonders. Not that I really doubted it. I know the authors and some of the contributors and I know that they are great artists, and great teachers. However, I reserved really writing about it until I was able to do a project from the book. As you can tell, that took all of like four days. (I got it late Friday) I also have plans to make more of them, because I love it that much. Pretty sure next on my list is going to be the hotdish holder. You know, for the potlucks at work. This is Minnesota after all. M has requested a twirling skirt, the book offers two. I want an apron, there are many options for those as well.

I collect fabric, and while I am sure my husband loves it taking up room in the basement, this book is my first real chance at actually starting to use some of it. Finally.

Still not sure if it needs windows on the outside. I'm thinking yes, but I need input. The roof is made of multiple scalloped "tiles" though it is hard to tell in the photo.

I was not compensated in any way for this post nor requested to write about it. I shelled out my money for the book, that was how much I really wanted to be able to write about it without having to put it on a review blog. Don't expect this to be the last post about projects I've made from it either.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Too much fun for blogging

Wow, I'm just cranking out the barely a post posts.

Tonight's near failure brought to you by the cloth dollhouse, via UK Lass in the US, via One Yard Wonders (with multiple alterations by me, the person who has trouble with authority patterns).

Seriously cute, but too large of a headache from giving up caffeine to bother with the camera. Besides, it isn't done yet. The little girls in my life (and boys too, since it would make a killer barn) have yet to know what has hit them.

ETA: Oh, what the heck. Please ignore the bits inside, that is the roof, windows, and spool of thread. Also, totally not edited.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Difference of a Day

Last night was a hard freeze, so everything changed in the garden.

Some of the drops from yesterday were still there, but frozen.

The kale is really dark now.

I may be able to still harvest some of the tiny Brussels sprouts. They are small, but should taste amazing.

Well, it used to be lettuce. Now it is just pretty.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

End of the Gardening Season

I love cold crops, and how they hang on so long. It has been mild, so the kale is still OK, as are the Brussels sprouts. It rained last night, leaving some pretty cool photos.

Head of the brussel sprouts with the flash on.

Kale with the flash on. It went from having green to being all dark purple. I tried to take some without the flash, but it was so dark, I couldn't get the shutter speed fast enough or stand still enough.

Brussels sprout head without flash. The rain drops were just amazing. It was so still and the rain was so light and steady that they were everywhere.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A 12 Step Program For Etsy Addicts

I really should be doing the dishes, but so I didn't have to watch/listen to a movie that just wasn't my thing, I just spent two hours basically browsing Etsy.

Damn that place is addictive. It is a good thing I'm poor. I've said it on Twitter and I'll say it again here, they need to figure out how to do gift certificates. Seriously. Because if my MIL could do that she would already have a list from me. She doesn't because I can't come up with more than like six things. I guess that means I am blessed and lucky that there is little I need. Sure, I want things, but they all cost a lot or are on Etsy.

I am so glad it is Friday. I finally feel human, I have no guests, no plans, and I can actually do some crafting cleaning. Right, that is what I should be doing. We'll just ignore that I finally got my copy of One Yard Wonders (sold out multiple times at Crafty Planet just in the last week, but I know they have more now), OK?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Doll Carriers for Everyone

So apparently that header brought out a lot of opinions in people.

For those who are interested, it was a pumpkin, from when we went apple picking in September. There were a lot of them that were like that, but I'm not sure why. I meant to have the header up before Halloween, but well, you know how that went.

The new one was taken downtown Minneapolis, of all places. I love finding bits of green (now yellow) in the heart of the concrete.

Here is the finished doll carrier, being modeled by M and Sock Monkey. I still need to make at least one more, and I may make a couple, since I am enjoying perfecting different parts of it. So, M, my niece, maybe a little girl's who's birthday party we're invited too in December.

We even introduced M to the concept of good behavior for gifts at Christmas. Sort of a roundabout way that she'll get a carrier from Santa if she is good, and this one is for her cousin, but it works.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Post is a Post Right?

I would have a post, I would have a header that isn't creepy (according to my mom) but I spent all night sewing doll carrier #3. #2 was sort of a bust, basically a try out for #3 which I now need to get M to try on and then take away from her, despite the fact that it is PINK! and GREEN! her favorite colors.

Pictures coming when I trim off all of the threads.

Well, and do the dishes, sort of neglected those too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Local, Original, Lovely

I'm totally stealing Robin's idea for a name for my little local holiday project. Likely the best part of this whole thing is seeing that the places I love, are the places other local people love, as well as finding new places. For instance, Robin's suggestion of Lily's, I would have never tried. However, seeing as Robin really does live a hop skip and jump away from me, it is close enough I really should. Who knows, I might even run in to her there.

I also realized in my rush to get the thing posted, I didn't put enough guidelines around it. My bad.

Post, email, comment, between now and the end of the month. I'll put links to your posts, your blogs, and the places you suggest (depending on how you send them my way) over there on the right. At the end of the month, I'll random number generator draw a person to get the book. And depending how productive the crafting is, maybe something else too.

In other not even remotely related news, I worked out. It has been... awhile. I apologize for falling off the wagon. However, know that I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for the fact that I do NOT want to let the Internet down. You rock, and my pants were getting tight again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sock Love

In preschool, the rules have changed. Lovies are allowed. It would seem it is hard to stop the train that is a little girl with a love for her pink sparkling unicorn. They are played with in the morning during drop offs, then put away until nap time. (which my little snot still takes at school, damn you peer pressure) M's toys used to go to work with me, since they couldn't stay at school. Now they stay for the fun. I was pleased this morning that sock monkey got to go along for the ride. It was all because she wanted to take the doll carrier I had been working on (still incomplete), that sock monkey had so graciously been trying out for me, but I loved it just the same. You can still see some of the wear where she sucked on his tail when she was baby.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hi Ho!

I have to go to work tomorrow.

I used to say that I would make a horrible stay at home mom. It is the kind of rationalization you need to do when you need to be a working mom, but you would rather sit and cuddle a twelve week old instead. It is partially true. I would have a very hard time doing it, but as M gets older, it gets not nearly so bad. If I hadn't felt like death for part of the week, I could have even gotten in some work from home while she played. I hadn't realized how much fun it was going to be when she played on her own. We've even been forcing the issue a little by making her have rest time in her room when she normally would have napped. A couple of hours of forced book reading and quiet play has helped us all stay sane. Well, only as sane as I can be when her room is trashed at the end of the two hours.

Which is all to say, even with minimal TV (which I am totally justifying as my need to get some damn rest) I think I'm comfy doing true full on work from homes if I need to.

Today was a weirdly productive day. An overflowing wash tub in the basement meant I got some extra cleaning done down there (don't ask) and while M had quiet time I even managed to whip out a doll sling for my niece. M tried it on for me, but was not so enthralled with it that I can't put it away for a present later. I left out my sewing machine so I may even try doing another kind tonight. Maybe. I still have more laundry to do. I also tried to workout, but my card for Snap Fitness didn't work. I am extraordinarily pissed about this since I paid for six months a week and a half ago, but getting the sewing done help soften my attitude about.

The pretty fabric definitely helped.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Release the Hounds!

Today M and I celebrated ending quarentine with a shopping trip where I bled money in an effort to find a dress that would go with the dresses my nieces already have for holiday photos, and some good twirling dresses.

M continues to be a contradiction, and I couldn't be more proud. She loves dresses, and pink, and things that twirl, while loving robots, pirates, trucks and dinosaurs. I don't know how I've done it this far, somehow balancing the typical type girls at daycare (she was one of only three non princesses types in her class) with my, ummm, less than girlishness. She knows that there are princesses, but really, doesn't know much beyond what is on her pull-ups and that girls at school like them. We've tried to encourage anything that she has shown an interest in, regardless of the gender normally associated with it.

The shopping was good, if not well, expensive, but we found what we were looking for for the most part. It was so nice to be out of the house.

We ended the afternoon (after rest time, the new naptime) with a visit to see "her" Trish at Crafty Planet. She saw her on TV yesterday and was very excited about getting to see her today. Trish and Rebecca looked amazing, as always. I didn't get my (your) book, because they were nearly sold out and I didn't NEED it right away, but I understand it will be there soon. I did see parts of it including a small soft dollhouse (LOVE IT! M will be getting one for Christmas if I get up off of my arse) and an apron I need to make (I am a klutz in the kitchen). Seriously, you want to win this book, or buy it.

Side note, apparently the Barnes and Noble special version has five extra patterns. Not sure what they are, and while I totally would support buy it directly from Crafty Planet if you're local, hello, five more patterns. That would be 106.

The lovely Patricia Hoskins and Rebecca Yaker.

Friday, November 6, 2009

There are days...

Today was a rough day. Most of it was good, and then it just fell apart into something as a parent and spouse I'd rather not go through.

Of course, no details, that veil of privacy that I must respect.

I was stuck for something to publish, so I went in and started looking at pictures. Who doesn't love pictures.

I found some of M, when she was a newborn. So small, all cheeks and big eyes. It seems so far away from the girl she is now. She's so tall, so wild, so independent. She demands so much. She is always bringing stuff up from days ago, and I can just see how her brain is using all of the downtime it has just to process everything she sees. She saw my brother two weeks ago and recognized that he was wearing the same shirt as my dad, who she saw two weeks before. When she saw my dad tonight (dropping off gifts to the sick house) she asked about the "green man" shirt. Yet she can misbehave, and not know why she's in trouble. She is so grown up, yet still so little all at once.

I know one of the challenges of having a kid who is big for their age is that other people expect so much more for them than their age allows. The hard part, the part I didn't expect, is that I do it too. I do it because she's so big, because she uses such big words, because I resolved long ago not to talk down to kids. But she's only two and a half. She's just babe. If I think she's asserting herself now, thirteen is going to be hell. Some days, hell some hours, some minutes, I look forward to seeing just how she'll turn out, and some times I'm scared as hell.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Crafting Agenda

I finally feel better. I should be crafting, working on holiday gifts before I wait until the last minute and just end up buying the damn doll carrier from Pottery Barn, but I'm not.

Instead I'm browsing Etsy and dreaming about what I would do if I had unlimited funds.

How about I lay out my holiday craft agenda instead of actually doing it. Making a list and planning counts as progress, right?

Doll Carriers for the preschoolers - I had planned on making buying one for M, but then my SIL brought up that her daughter might like one. Well, that just made it a challenge. I have yet to find a pattern for anything I really like online, so I went out and bought enough fabric to experiment with a few designs. They are all sitting in a bag on my kitchen table waiting for me to get it together.

Quilt for M - Not that she doesn't have a million blankets, but I had to take away the blue one my mom brought for her. It had been mine when I was little, made by my grandma Lila. It had a few naptime potty accidents and had to get washed, and is falling apart way to fast to risk that. I know it should get used, but maybe when we master this potty thing completely. Like when she's 12. So, I got cool fabric to make her a new quilt, just need to spend some time at Crafty Planet pinning it so I can tie it. If I have enough time, maybe I'll hand quilt it.

Knit Blanket for the youngest niece - This may turn in to a birthday present. Not sure if I'll get it done in time.

Sock Monkey for the youngest niece - Have got to finish this one. M and oldest niece already have them. A and his brother both got sock monkeys from their grandmother. I loved the idea enough to make them for the first two kids, now the littlest one needs one of her own.

Doll Clothes - This is for M and the oldest nice. Found this awesome idea at Dollar Store Crafts (amazing craft blog). Love that I can get some use out of M's old baby clothes.

It may not seem like much, but I am a wicked good procrastinator.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Green Friday

Before the plague descended on my house, I had this whole other idea of what I was going to do with NaBloPoMo. I finally think like I am well enough to get started on it.

Every year I wait with dread for the mass commercialism that is Black Friday. While I am all for finding a good deal, the absolute craziness that overcomes some people on that day confuses me. After all, is it really worth all of that stuff? People have died because someone wanted more stuff. However, I'm not really a person of extremes. I don't think that being a consumer is bad, I just think that more thoughtfulness in our consumption is warranted. Combine that with the need to support local and small businesses in this struggling economy and I came up with yet another answer among many about what to do on the day after Thanksgiving.

On the day after Thanksgiving (in the US) and perhaps that whole weekend, or the whole holiday season, support local and small businesses. We hear repeatedly how hard it is for small businesses during a down economy. When everyone is trying to get the most for their money, they have the hardest time trying to compete. What you do to support them has the most direct effect on your community. Supporting a local business owner means that the money they make goes in to paying themselves, or local workers, who then buy their gas, groceries, etc. in your community. Establishing relationships with local businesses pays off in all kind of intangible ways. Local businesses our support schools, sports teams, and charities. They may also become your friends, or introduce you to your future husband (that one is for you Kristen).

I wish I had a catchy name for it, but I don't. (anyone want to help with that?)

For the rest of November, and depending on how this goes, I will be posting regularly about some of the small businesses and local businesses that I love. Some of them I have already written about, some of them I have wanted to, all of them deserve it. My challenge to you is to do the same. I've seen the power that blogs can have when it comes to this. I know I've introduced some local readers to things in the area, and you could do the same thing. It doesn't have to be local, just a small business that you love. You know you have secret Etsy crushes.

This wouldn't be a good challenge without a prize, so I'm offering one. If you post, leave your link in the comments, or email me (ameliasprout at gmail dot com) and I'll link to it in this post and on my sidebar. Each post gets you one entry to win a signed copy of One Yard Wonders (which I am purchasing myself). Posts cannot be sponsored.

If you haven't heard of One Yard Wonders yet, it was written by local artists Trish Hoskins (owner with her husband of Crafty Planet) and Rebecca Yaker (of Sock Monkey Wedding Dress fame). I haven't seen it yet, but I have heard wonderful things about it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wanted: Alone Time

The trouble with NaBloPoMo when you're sick is that well, all I have to write about is being sick.

M is cranky, I am cranky, I am still the most sick, A is still having to work a bunch, I am not.

I want fresh air, but I feel the need to be responsible and stay away from humanity.

I made the mistake of stepping on a scale, yeah, not so good. We're going for convenient and maybe tastes good these days, so yeah... and I haven't exercised because I had been sick, and then I was better, signed up for the gym, got the plague. At least I signed up for six months, got a month free, so essentially I am not losing money, yet.

Perhaps, tomorrow will be better. This can't last forever, right?

Monday, November 2, 2009


We'll call this week a forced vacation of sorts. Saturday night after a rockus night in public including those four houses, and a party, with other kids, M had a slight fever. 100.5 Which our Ped told us was the very edge and that she had to maintain it. When it really didn't return on Sunday, we figured it was a fluke of running crazy in a stuffed spider costume. While neither A nor I felt well, neither of us had the dreaded fever of flu. We did however decide to be safe we would stay home today. Great, until the feverishness came back. I could only pin it down at a little over 100, but we called the Dr, and they said come in, just in case it is strep.

It is not strep, it could be Mono, though she didn't think that enough to test for it. It is however an Influenza Like Illness. (ILI) The dreaded three letter acronym that gets us kicked out of daycare for a week.

Nice, eh?

So, instead of A or I dragging ourselves to work and trading days off with the kid, are both working from home (as much as we can) and enjoying a week of Sesame Street and PBS Sprout. We figure it is a courtesy to all of our coworkers, and since I'm still loving the naps, it is a good thing.

Wearing my mask at the Dr. So M would wear hers and in case I coughed.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sugar High

Things I didn't appreciate enough before having kids:

Sick days that were all about me.
Daylight savings time.
Taking Nyquil and just passing out.

Halloween was a success, except that we all seem to now have a cold. A was nursing something before, but when is the poor asthmatic not nursing something (side effect of having a kid). However, now we all are. Not a fever to be found in the bunch, but enough of "well, almost a fever" that we're all staying home to annoy each other tomorrow to be safe. I am, for the second time since September, cursing my parents for not having my tonsils removed, and I think this may be the year that I really seriously corner an ENT until they do it. It means dragging myself to urgent care every time I get a sore throat for more than a couple of days to establish history, and said urgent cares are full of flu patients, but I guess if that is what it takes. I would really love to be able to eat something with texture without screaming in pain. Also, hard to want to work out when you're in pain. Really.

Speaking of Halloween, I guess I'm like the most boring mom ever. We really don't let M have any candy. She gets the occasional M & M, ice cream every so often (five to six bites at a time), usually as a treat, and generally speaking pretty healthy stuff at home. Even if I wuss on dinner and head for a fast food joint, she usually gets some extra veggies at home. It amazes me that someone would give a kid who weighs under 40 pounds more than a piece at a time. Maybe it is just all of the diabetic nutritionist stuff I'm dealing with, but that would just do horrid things to your blood sugar.

I was lucky in that four houses was plenty for her. She got to enjoy some of it (M & M's emptied into her candy jar), and her dad and I may have offed the other ten pieces ourselves.

So, wish me luck tomorrow. I have every intention of making it a day about movies and snuggles on the couch. We'll see how that goes.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

From the child that will not nap, not now, not ever, not with the threat of no trick or treating, not with daylights saving time ending, not even to give her poor mother a little sanity. Nope, not her.

However, she loved being a spider yesterday and if I had thought of it, with a proper hat and those Babylegs, she could have been an awesome Spirate (spider pirate of course).

Have fun, be safe, don't give hard candy to those under three (hello choking hazard) and offer up some allergy friendly stuff too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Funky Town

I seem to be coming out of the funk I am in. Perhaps it was finally paying a bit closer attention to when I was supposed to take the Metformin, the encouragement from Alexa that it will get better, or, I dunno, the sun. (note to self, make sure you get some sun this winter, you'll thank yourself later) No matter what, while my stomach is still far from normal, just a couple of days of paying a bit closer attention to what I eat and when I eat it in relationship to the meds has meant wonderful things, like not getting debilitating stomach cramps that turn me into a witch at brunch with my in-laws. (which I am hoping to heck I hid well)

I'm still a bit spacey from the fumes, or just my general not feeling well, but that isn't anything a few good lists can't solve.

While I'm going into great depth about my stomach, I suppose it is time to admit to not having exercised in a month. The scale is proving this to me. I have not been sneaking out in the middle of the night while sound asleep to work out like I had hoped. It started with vacation, then the three week cold from hell, and then it isn't light enough to go outside and I feel like crap all over again. So, I've been bad. While I haven't had a complete relapse, I need to turn this around, and fast. Schedule willing, I'm joining a gym. I just need to chat with A about what nights he can pick the kiddo up from daycare so I can get my arse to the gym, on the way home. Honey, if you're reading this, I promise to put something good in the crockpot so you barely have to work to feed the kid, promise.

Remembering that writing is supposed to be my cheap therapy has been good. I feel more clear headed getting to do a brain dump every night. I guess that going into the stress of the holiday season, NaBloPoMo would be a good idea. From the "where do we go this year" to the photos, to the gift and money BS, it is always stressful. So, I'll be signing up to follow the herd for November. However, anything anyone want to know more about? I know that is terribly narcissistic, but I'm a leo, I can't resist.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Big Girls Don't Take Naps

M is giving up her naps. Well, at least at home. Daycare seems to still be able to use group think to get her to sleep, most of the time.

We knew this was coming before we made her give up the Nuk, I guess I just hoped she was kidding. She isn't. Saturday it took her almost two hours to calm down and finally sleep. We let her sleep for half an hour and then made her get up. Sunday we finally gave up and let her watch the end of the Viking's game. (while I tried to sleep on the couch myself)

Perhaps the most disturbing development is that my dad says that I gave up napping around the same age, as did he. He said we both slept better at night, just like M does when she doesn't nap. While I am sure that I will miss things like grocery shopping alone, crafting, and "adult entertainment", having her sleep better at night wouldn't be a bad thing. As it is, if she naps, it takes her almost two hours sometimes to fall asleep.

We'll still try to make her nap, especially if we know she'll be up late, but it just isn't worth fighting it if she won't go down. Besides, I sort of like the absolutely loopy way she sings when she's really tired.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So that explains the burning feeling.

Another week of next to no writing, but at least this time I know why. I finally figured it out.

Back in September during my regular visit to the endocrinologist, I got a new prescription. Metformin. It should help with my insulin resistance, and thus help with my weight loss. They start you off slowly, working up to a pretty large dose. For me, the payoff is not having the afternoon snackies when my blood sugar and hormone levels get all out of whack. Well, it would be if I didn't feel like puking all the time. I'm only at three quarters of the max dose and already I want to die. Horrible cramps, nausea, and a general lack of will to do anything.

Here's hoping that it goes away eventually. Since I figured it out, and finally went and looked it up, I have a few things I can try to make it better. Cross your fingers and hope that they work, will ya? Otherwise, I'm back to dealing with fighting off the urge to eat all of the chocolate at 2 PM.

No matter what, I promise this week to be better about writing. I have so much I want to write about. I still haven't posted about my applesauce making, my holiday gift making, or the fact that my two and a half year old seems to be giving up her naps. (dammit) Oh yeah, and I'm joining a gym. Woo hoo!

Did you know it is ridiculously close to Christmas? So much to make, so little time.

Happy Monday tomorrow!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ooo, look, pretty.

I'm still not feeling very much like writing, so I guess I'll just start and see where this goes.

I wish to heck that I could write about work, but I can't. I will say this, we are currently under major remodeling and I just need to make it through until the end of the month when it is done. Work leaves me feeling sick, home is a bit better, weekends are much better. One more week of this, then I think I will be able to breath again.

Preschool seems to be going well. M has backslid a bit on the potty front, but some issues are to be expected. I'm trying hard to get us out of the house faster in the morning, which is a challenge because of you know, transition issues. All because she just doesn't seem to want to let me go. I'm not one to push it, knowing that before long she'll be rushing me out the door. I'm doing my best not project any of my fears about rejection from my peers on to her. However, I know it is hard being the new one. They have their own cliques and groups, and she's still adjusting.

Traditional gender roles seem to be more defined at this age. M however is not. She likes her dresses, but she likes her legos and trucks too. Having been part of one of the first generations raised by feminists I am starting to have a deeper appreciation of what those challenges were. I, unlike some, don't think femininity has to be given up to be a strong woman, but I don't think the Disney princesses are advancing the cause much either. I suppose I should figure this out before too long. I think that is a good subject for another post.

Speaking of that, I do know there are a few people that read this, and while I'm not always the best about commenting everywhere I read (hazard of perhaps filling my life up with too much, or being lazy) I would love some comments. Not to beg or anything, but I could use some fun or silly right now. Leave me your best joke? Or a link to something pretty? I'll go first, here are a few pictures from the past month or so.

June bug husks (I think) on the tree in my brother's front yard.

Goat's Beard lichen, in Itasca. Amazing creatures, a symbiotic relationship between fungi and alga that has been around pretty much forever.

One terribly adorable puppy we saw at the apple orchard awhile back. He was not supposed to be doing that, but I only halfheartedly tried to stop him.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tiger, Bears and Brother's Oh My!

I just realized that it is Sunday, and I've barely posted this last week. It has been, without a doubt, a cruddy week. Because I can't write about work, and I needed so much to just deal with how crappy it has been, I apparently clammed up, both here and on Twitter.


It has not been uneventful. There was the furnace that stopped working, and then started again. That has nothing wrong with it. At least I have a supply of space heaters now. Of course I can only run two at once because my house is wired all messed up. M gets a space heater, we do not.

Then well, work. That is it. My job is still lovely, unfortunately, people are human. I include myself in that.

This last week was the transition week to Preschool. It went well, she is fitting right in. It helps it is a class that has remained somewhat constant for her. She has talked about all of the kids when they moved up and she is happy to see them again. Friday we topped off her week by going to the circus. I chaperoned despite knowing that she would ultimately misbehave for me. She did well, the other girl in my charge did well. I was conflicted. I knew that at two and half I can't really explain the issues with the circus. So we went, and I know that conversation needs to happen at a later date.

I atoned myself, a little, by going to Zoo yesterday with my brother (in town for the weekend). M had a great time, we got to see two of the bears "hugging" as well as some tigers up close and personal. Seeing every animal lounging in the spots of sun (easy way to find the ones who like to hide on a cold day) while enjoying spacious environments made me feel a lot better. It was also nice to see M wear out somebody other than me for a change.

I'm trying hard to just make it through the weekend get the laundry done, and brace myself for what will be another rough week. M still isn't sleeping well, she's skipping naps, work will be nuts, even before I miss out on sleep, and well, you know, life.

At least my cold is gone and I can start working out again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Giraffes and Rocket Ships

I'm pretty sure my love of wood is genetic. Oh, stop it with the dirty thoughts.

Growing up, some of my earliest memories are of my dad's wood shop. On the commune that I grew up on (my parents would have me say "intentional community", but commune is more funny) dad's shop was out in the woods, over the fallen log that the grouse thumped on, and perched on a hill. I could probably walk to path to get there in my sleep, nearly 23 years after we moved away. There were shelves of tools, a treadle wood lathe on the far side, and nearly every non electric wood tool you could imagine. I help sharp draw knives and rasps far before they were age appropriate toys. I loved the wood shop quarter in school. I got an A.

Even as an adult, I've been drawn to woodworking. I've made bandsaw boxes, sculptures, and am the proud owner of a tidy little collection of tools myself. I can safely say, of all of the kinds of sculpture out there, wood is one of my favorites.

When M was born, I didn't get many wood toys for her. The problem with having a dog that loves to chew on wood is that blocks just don't have the same appeal. However, I'm pretty sure that if the Little Alouette toys had been available, I would have considered duct taping the dog's mouth shut. (kidding nice people at PETA) As it is, I'm trying to not order one just to sit and fondle it all day long.

I "met" Amy through the Citizen of the Month great interview project, but it wasn't until I got a chance to touch her wood (sorry, it is just too easy) at BlogHer that I really fell in love. I bought a cute hippo toy for my friend's baby, and it has taken me three months to give it to her. I just didn't want it to leave me. It wasn't until my niece's gift arrived that I could bring myself to do it. I had better make another order before Christmas, for me, just so I can part of the adorable farm set.

As if I didn't need another reason to love them, they've got both a Pirate and an Ninja set. (just how much of a geek do you have to be to get that?) Now, I'm partial to pirates, but I think I may be in love with the giraffe and rocket ship too much. What do you think? What does my cube need?

Disclaimer: My gushing about this was purely my idea. In fact, I had to ask Amy if I could grab some of her adorable photos, otherwise she had no idea. I just really really love her stuff. She's also a kick ass blogger.

Photo credit: Little Alouette, all rights at the discretion of the owner.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mother of the Snow Day

It is October 12th. It is SNOWING! (sorry for the alarm, but this, this is not normal, even for the frozen tundra)

The following is what my daughter will be going in to school with today, a snow day, in OCTOBER!

  • Half of her winter jacket from last year. I found the liner, but not the outside. I have absolutely no idea where the rest of the jacket is. I have searched everywhere. I could have just gotten her another one from Target late last night, but I figured this year, we'd get her a more cold tolerant jacket, you know, maybe by November.
  • Snow boots from last year. Thankfully Target shoes run large, so they still fit. This year I was planning on getting her a better pair, so she could play more in the snow. You know, in November.
  • Snow pants from last year. Well, at least they were big last year and have adjustable bib overalls this year. Sorry to daycare for the fact that they'll need to adjust them. I just found them this morning while getting ready to go.
  • One pair of "really they only are for looks" mittens. I was going to knit her a wool pair. Likely still will. These were all I could find, unless I wanted her in mismatched maybe too small mittens.
  • Her new hat! Well, at least I got one thing right.

I really hope I'm not the only parent who barely got it together for this one. Her teacher tried to make me feel better and say that maybe they'll just go for a skyway walk.

At least I found enough to buy me some time to find her a good jacket and boots. On a related note, I also need some winter clothes for myself. My new as of last Christmas down vest is too big, my big winter coat fits, but I still need a mid weight jacket for fall. (well, maybe, if it still happens) I think I've lost enough to justify the expenditure. Especially since while I WILL lose more weight, my arms aren't getting any shorter, and that usually determines what size I've worn in outerwear. Damn the orangutan arms I got from my dad.

Friday, October 9, 2009

And One Naked Horse

That, that is a picture of my wonderful two year old daughter from this morning. She is holding on to a fifty dollar bribe. Well, it was worth fifty bucks when wearing all of the clothes that I was guilt tripped in to buying it. OK, so maybe there wasn't so much guilt as well, sincere hope that the more money I put in to it, the better this would go. Yes, I am in complete denial, why do you ask?

M starts transition to preschool on Monday. For the last two months we have been talking to her about how "big girls don't need Nuk's" and that when she is in preschool, she won't need a Nuk anymore. I even brilliantly (I thought) started talking to her about how we would give her Nuk to my friend Trish's baby. Nuk's are for babies, and she was no longer a baby.

Then, we got a date for preschool, and I started to panic. After all, do I make her give it up when she starts visiting preschool, or her first full week? Do we do it on the weekend? Why can't we just be done with this? Finally I realized it is just like a Band-Aid that needs to be ripped off. Better to get it over with. I worked late tonight so that was out, yesterday she didn't nap and I knew she would be tired, we just had to do it. She had started to freak out as she knew it got closer though. I realized we HAD to do something more than a wrapped up pacifier for a baby that will never see it because duh, it is a germy toddler pacifier. So, why not go for the cheesy option and get her a Build-A-Bear. She gets to pick out something she wants, I get to just get it over with.

So last night we made the trek to the closest one and began the process. I managed to forget that she can't make up her mind about anything lately. Mornings have been spent arguing about outfit changes after she puts in exactly what she wanted to wear. She wanted the dog, until she saw the other dog, (holy cow, steer her away from the "Jonas Bear" whatever you do) until she saw the monkey until she saw the horse. We finally made her choose between the monkey and the horse. Then on to the stuffing, where the stuffing machine scared the crap out of her. (oh, and she wanted the heart back out in the middle of the night) We also were shown the error of our ways, when asked if we had brought the Nuk with to pay with or put in the animal. (hello? That is brilliant, why didn't I think of that) Lest stuffing be the most traumatic experience, the "shower" to fluff up her new friend had her screaming and in tears (and so unfluffed she remains). I, in my blind determination to bribe her in to a smooth transition, said she could get clothes. What do you put a stuffed horse in, why a sparkly pink dress, undies (she asked where it's undies were after we got the leggings), pink leggings and little horsie Uggs, of course. Being a distracted and tired toddler, she couldn't pick a name for the poor thing other than the one already given to her main doll (and we really don't need any Digger confusion) A and I were forced into naming the horse Penny.

"Pick a Penny up and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day…."

I'd like to say that it worked, but I don't think we know yet. She was up for an hour and a half past bedtime last night and only fell asleep when I came in and rubbed her back while laying next to her bed (ouch). We're not entirely sure, but we think she was up very early this morning, perhaps as early as 3 AM, just laying bed undressing Penny. All that was left this morning was her pink bows.

Perhaps tonight will go better.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Integrity, It Lives Here

When the Blog With Integrity pledge first came about, signing it was a no brainer for me. Really, who doesn't want integrity. I was fresh off of an amazing experience at BlogHer and full of conviction. Then I wrote about the experience, got a lot of really amazing feedback, and promptly had no idea what to write any more. Especially when it came to blogging with integrity. Missy even asked me to guest post about it on her blog, and I just couldn't do it. The truth is, I wasn't sure what it meant for me. I needed time to figure it out.

I've been a major user of the Internet for a very long time. Back to the days when the Internet didn't have pictures other than the ones created using numbers and letters. I love the Internet. If I can't research it on the Internet, it really doesn't exist to me. I've been intentionally favoring businesses with a web presence for years. I trust the Internet. The Internet in return has been very good to me. I wouldn't have a career that I love it weren't for the Internet and technology.

Until recently, it never occurred to me that an opinion, specifically a blogger's opinion, could be bought. (I know, naive) Product placements in movies, never trusted, but blogs, blogs are honest person to person communication. It helps that the people who's opinions I love (Cool Mom Picks, Popgadget) are not, but I always assumed that any review that I read was an honest opinion. I was wrong. I know the pressure of providing for a family. I know that the way I was raised is not the same as other people. I know there are shades of gray in the world. However, I don't need to be one of them.

If I offer an opinion about something, I want you to know that it is my own opinion. I won't say I'll never do anything for compensation, but I will say that if I do, you will always know about it. You can know that I will not be bought. I value my words, they are my words. What I write about is far too personal for me to not own them. I trust you, the Internet, with a lot of what I feel and think, and I want you to trust me in return. Opinions here are that of the writer.

Finding clarity in this has helped me clear up a few more things about my relationship with the Internet. I stopped following people on Twitter who just tweeted contests, or the same tweet over and over again about their blog. I removed a few contest only blogs from my reader. I try to keep any contest stuff out of my tweets (with a few specific exceptions), and I try to only link to my own posts once. I rarely enter a giveaway anymore unless I know something about the how's and why's of how it came to be (or it is for a million dollars or trip to Hawaii, because really, just for the excuse to dream). I am trying even harder to make sure I am supporting primarily local and independent businesses. This holiday season, I'm trying to do more handmade, even if I didn't make it myself. (something cool relating to that as soon as it gets here)

I will never be someone who makes a living through the Internet, unless you count the day job. I will never be a big name blogger, I don't want to be. However, I owe it to myself to live my life in a way that I can be proud of. This, is something I am proud of.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Knitted Together

It is no secret that I treasure the things my grandmother's made for me, and if it wasn't for some seriously poor fashion choices on my part, I'd still have things I made with my mother. It just took me some time to appreciate how cool all of those handmade things were.

I know my window with M is small. It will only be so long before all she really wants is a gift card to Limited Too and a Hannah Montana CD (though really I swear we are working on her having better musical taste). I want to make sure I make as many things for her as I can while she still thinks I'm cool.

While on vacation I picked up some fun (and machine washable) yarn in bright colors. Fortunately she loves it.

She tells everyone that asks her about it that I made it. She wears it at daycare, long after I've left for work. She always wants to know where it is. She was incredibly excited when I started using the rest of the yarn to knit a hat for one of her teachers. A parting gift for how much they've done for my M. She couldn't keep it a secret, so now they all know they'll be getting hats from me.

She's also started asking for the quilt I made before I got pregnant. My first quilt in a gender neutral set of sushi fabrics. She calls it her food quilt and when she's feeling bad she wants me to tuck her in with it.

Now, when her two'ness can be so much for me to handle, when I feel my fuse shortening every time she uses tears to get what she wants (she's so good at it too), I just remember that there will be a time when all I'm good for is the keys to the car and some money for gas.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Little Black Dress (and Red Patent Shoes)

So, the Target dress didn't end up being all that I hoped it would be. A will always give me an honest opinion, and while it may have been nice if I had kept losing weight, the reality was that this going on two week cold is still kicking my butt and it just wasn't right.

So, while he got a haircut and went on his own shopping excursion to Macy's, I packed up M and braved JCPenney. Their plus sized stuff all looked a little frumpy online, but I was hoping I could squeeze in to a size 16. I was impressed. They had a whole LBD section that gave me a lot to chose from so I could find the right thing for both my body and event. I ultimately went with this dress. I also got a backup dress that was safer, just in case.

A and I met back at home and compared (he also got an outfit and a spare) and he agreed that I had found the dress I had been looking for. Add to it a pair of Spanx high waist tights (yahoo!), and the fact that they still had the killer red patent peep toes at Nordstrom Rack and I found the perfect outfit.

The only downside, I could NOT find any of my makeup before we left. I am not a makeup person at all, but I can pull off a pretty good smokey eye when the occasion calls for it. Lip gloss is better than nothing, right? Too bad I always forget to reapply.

The picture really doesn't do it justice. I got compliments from everyone, including a bridesmaid who I didn't even know. (I knew none of the wedding party other than the bride, so there was nothing in it for them) It was the end of the night, we were about to go, I ate the cake, and I forgot to make sure that all of my little pleats were smoothed out before A snapped this. (thus the really dorky looking lighter black line) I guess that means it just barely fit. I just figure that means I will get to wear it more than once.

I can't thank Susan enough for encouraging me to take this kind of a chance. She helped me have the confidence to know that I could pull off this kind of a shape.

Now I just to get over this darn cold so I can get on with my goal of losing (a very petite) cheerleader. 56 or so pounds left to go.

I was not compensated in any way by the companies mentioned above. They likely have no idea who I am and didn't even ask that I write about them.