Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Return of Lily Ruth's Mama

I'm back! Or rather, I'm still here :-) We took a week and went to San Diego then Scottsdale. We saw lots of cool things and had a wonderful visit with a large group of our family.

Lily Ruth was amazing on our trip. A fantastic travel partner on both airplane rides. A super duper trooper during our looong car trip through the desert. A charming and hilarious sidekick for all of our mini-adventures along the way.

We are all HUGE fans of the San Diego Zoo. Our only glitch was in under-dressing. We were prepared for a 70 degree day - it was colder and MUCH windier. We ended up purchasing a fleece zip-up jacket to use as a blanket for Lily Ruth and a pair of 'children-size' gloves that she is now in love with. These pictures really crack me up!

Those cartoonishly large hands and that happy face!

We spent the morning on foot at the zoo, and returned after dark to ride the double-decker bus. We were basically the only people riding at that time. Lily Ruth got to sit in the front seat on the top level and watch the nighttime zoo go by. We stayed on for 2 (or was it 3?) full cycles around the park. It was wonderful.

She wasn't as thrilled with the Birch Aquarium. It is short on aquatic mammals and big on science demos. She did develop a love for pushing exhibit buttons and turning dials. She only agreed to one photo:

After that, I had to catch her on the sly:

'Where are the pictures of you?' You might be asking yourself... well... we're at the part that has kept me so quiet lately. I had one of 'those' moments. You know the ones - you've been chugging along thinking that everything was fine (or at least fine-ish)... then somebody takes a picture of you, and you get a long look at yourself. *sigh* I knew that I was puffing up a bit. My pants have become too tight, and my shirts are lumpy... but if I just took quick peeks in the mirror and only checked things like my makeup or hair, then I could put it off. Now, I can't - because there's this:

Worn down, dragged out, and much larger than I had allowed myself to believe. This year has taken a toll on me. It's time to stop letting that be o.k. Time to make a plan for becoming the woman that I want to be - strong, vital and full of joy. Time to stop physically dragging my sadness around as extra weight and exhaustion. Time to talk to somebody about the depression.

Thanks for listening, you guys. As I work out my plan, I'll fill you in on the details. For now, writing it down is serving as my impetus for motion.

I have more pictures to share, and even more crafting (!!). Hopefully, working on removing the roadblock of delusion will mean the return of my voice. I'm sure that I'll have more to say soon... bear with me...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Big Ball of MAD.

Ya'll. I am brewing up a cauldron's worth of cranky over here. My darling husband had to cut his errands short in order to come get the Precious One before I lost it.

Let me break it down into layers...

Today: The cat peed on Lily Ruth's bed while we were out. I've cleansed, sprayed, aired, etc., and the smell will not leave! My Angel removed her own poopy diaper (a known no-no), and got herself out of taking a nap due to the bath necessitated by the poop on her legs and arms. She also dug into my makeup and confiscated my concealer stick - the brand new one. It took 20 minutes for her to apologize for that. Her daddy had to come home from running errands to grab her before I lost control. When he left, he grabbed the diaper bag - thus leaving with my wallet and my keys. So much for a solitary run to the grocery store. When he gets back, we'll have time for a hurried dinner before he leaves town for two nights. Again. Stupid job.

This month: My figure (while never sleek) is expanding at a rapid and unacceptable pace. None of my pants fit, and my tops are all lumpy and awkward. Since my actual weight has not changed, I must assume that I am rapidly converting muscle to fat. Charming. My hair is a spit, dry disaster. My hairdresser (who I've considered to be a friend for years) is blowing me off. My skin is a mess - pimples, dry flaky spots, oily slicks (ALL ON ONE FACE) - and the double chin I've developed just frames the mess so nicely.

Since we leave for our first ever family vacation in two days, perhaps I should just go completely retro in style. I think that this level of physical awkwardness deserves the full treatment - caftans, head scarves, giant sunglasses. Perhaps if I swathe myself in layers of Pucci prints and tortoise shell frames, my misery will fade into the background and 'campy' can be my new 'thing' - ooh! I could channel Nathan Lane's character from The Birdcage.

In general: Oh, and I have NO idea what to get my husband for Christmas. As part of our Celebrate Our Lives initiative, he is JAZZED about the present that he has chosen for me. I, on the other hand, am stumped. This turns something that should have been a labor of love into a chore of desperation.

Talk about a case of the Poor Me's! Cheese it! Can you see why I've been crafting like crazy? It's something to keep the funk at bay. In fact, you'll have to excuse me - I need to google a tulle skirt tutorial then drag out all of my fabric.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Um, I Made Some More Stuff

... I can't seem to stop!

To be fair, these last two things really needed to be done.

Thing #1: A tree top star:

We've been married for 15 years. In allllll that time, we've never found a tree topper that we liked. Early on, I found a sticks-twisted-into-an-angel ornament that we've used a few times and I've even stuck a bow up there on occasion, but nothing was ever exactly what we wanted. This year was finally different. I was staring forlornly at the bare tree top while finishing the shell garland. Then it hit me - crafting fever. I simply walked over to my computer, typed in 'star tree topper tutorial' and this was one of the first links!

I love it. It looks very homemade, and that just increases the charm for me :-) It's from a site called The Purl Bee that I will be stalking from now on ;-) The only modification that I made was to add beads in the creases.

Thing #2: A new bag for Lily Ruth:

Someone told me that traveling with a child can be easier and/or more fun if you have a few items that are brand new for them to use/play with during the trip. The first time that we flew with her, I stayed up late the night before hand-stitching my first felt bag. The bag and it's contents were a big hit and a big help. Now it's a tradition (at least it is in my head) for me to make a new bag for each trip. This time around, I wanted to be a bit more adventurous, and I wanted to step out of my felt comfort zone. I had already spent a few sleepless hours designing and over-designing a bag in my head (think zippers and interior divisions). Thank goodness for crafting fever. Flushed with the success of my tree top star, I sat down and googled 'toddler bag tutorial'. After wading through some goofiness, this incredible tiny messenger bag came up. It was too cute not to try!

I used a tutorial with pattern from Craftbuds. It was incredibly easy to follow, and the entire project only took me about 4 hours (including hand-beading the exterior pocket).

The only modifications I made were to move the exterior pocket down (so that my beading would show), and to use hardware on the strap - I wanted it to be adjustable. I'm telling ya'll now - if Lily Ruth doesn't love this bag, I'm totally stealing it to use as a purse. It's just. that. cute.

Do YOU have crafting fever? Do I need an intervention?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Crafting Fever

I've caught it, ya'll... and I've got it baaaaaad. Crafting fever. I simply must make things. Right now.

I'm not dumb. I know that I'm smack dab in the middle of a giant coping mechanism - I mean honestly, nobody needs to finish multiple craft projects in one day - but as coping mechanisms go, this one's pretty benign and lots of fun.

In addition to finally finishing two throw pillows (WITH zippers!):

I made a bracelet for Lily Ruth (she picked out the beads herself!):

Picked up the felt ornament project again. I have finished 8, I have gotten 3 more to the just-need-detail-work stage AND I have templates for 6 more!:

Made a quickie garland (using clear lanyard lacing and felt stickers) for Lily Ruth so that she can have some Christmas of her very own in her room:

And am FINALLY re-stringing a garland of tiny shells and tiny beads that has adorned my grandfather's Christmas trees from the time he was a boy. The original thread had begun to deteriorate badly and the original beads were no longer shiny. SO, restrung with shiny new beads it is!:

I am enjoying this burst of creative energy. I really love to make things. Now, if only I could somehow channel this energy into a money-making enterprise, I'd be SET. In the mean time, I have the materials for 2 more pillowcases, some sock to turn into leg warmers (I know, I'm out of control), and an Advent calender to finish. YAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Keep Up, Already!

I have a backlog of cute for you. I've been (once again) working on my patience, and really trying to spend more of my time being truly present in the moment, so I haven't spent as much time on the computer. As with most things, being consciously present in your own life can be both wonderfully rewarding and mind-numbingly exhausting. I adore my amazing child, but I really loathe repeating the same sentence over and over and/or playing the same monotonous 'game' for long periods of time. Unfortunately, that's exactly what she wants to do these days... *sigh*... guess who usually gets their way... yep, the one with the shortest temper who is able to manipulate door knobs - a.k.a. THIS Girl. Just kidding. My fuse isn't as short as it was for a while...

Anywhooooo... Here are some pictures that I want to share, but haven't because there wasn't enough story for a full post.

First, Lily Ruth LOVES to visit daddy at his office. He has cool stuff there, and someone ALWAYS gives her candy. She especially loves to hang out on daddy's lap while he pretends to get some work done :-)

 Second, if your toddler has been 'too quiet' for any amount of time, there is a reason. Pray that it's a fairly innocuous one like... say... using mama's concealer stick on every visible patch of skin on your body - 'Mama! I put some on my NOSE!!!'

The zoo is the perfect showcase for my tiny Drama Queen - 'Elephants are over DERE!' All the world's indeed a stage and we are merely players :-P

 We recently discovered that our Darling LOVES fire trucks, and is thrilled to her core that the firefighters will allow her to 'drive' them.

We also found out that 'Pajamas in the Park' doesn't mean 'everybody wear your pajamas'. It means 'we're the only adults shameless enough to wear our pajamas in public'. Not even Lily Ruth's best friend Henry joined in. He was too busy supporting his favorite college football team.

All in all, we've had some pretty great moments recently. Thanks for sharing them with me :-)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Finally Halloween and Some Yum...

I almost forgot to post Halloween pictures! Sheesh!

You've already seen Lily Ruth as Cowgirl Jesse. When she chose her costume, she announced that Daddy was going to be Woody, and Mama was going to be Buzz Lightyear :-/ Not that I would mind being Buzz Lightyear, but it would have been a bit labor-intensive. After constructing Lily Ruth's costume and hand-stitching cow print to an existing vest for Sheriff Woody, I was drained. Daddy came to my rescue and bought a pair of cat ears for me while he was out searching for the perfect hat. Then all I had to do is run up a quick tail from black felt, and shove myself into some slim black clothes - voila, cat!

- as an aside, Lily Ruth was almost Cat Jesse. When I drew on my black eyeliner cat nose and whiskers, she delightedly demanded a set of her own. I gleefully complied. There was a moment of almost catastrophe when Daddy tried to wipe it off without her permission (Boys! What was he THINKING!?), but in the end, she asked to have it removed before we left because the nose was distracting.

So, here you go! First up, a party on the Saturday before Halloween. Jesse was pretty much attached to the leg of Sheriff Woody - it was a noisy party, and she was NOT convinced that she wanted to be there:

So Daddy picked her up and gave her a cuddle:

and I squeezed in for a quick pic:

Amazingly, those are the only pictures of us from the party...

Here are the only pictures of us from Halloween night -

Slightly fuzzy:

 Even fuzzier:

 ... I need to either be a bit more forceful about getting the camera out and taking pictures / asking others to take pictures of us OR I need to stop feeling disappointed when I end up with 5 mediocre pictures. *sigh*

Pictures aside, we had a WONDERFUL time dressing up as a family. It was even more fun to do it twice :-) Lily Ruth was positively giddy. She referred to Don as 'Woody' constantly - we're talking every sentence she uttered to him - and giggled every time that she called me 'Cat'. She also yodeled on command 'Yodel-ay-he-WHO'. It was hilarious.


On to the food!!!!

I made burgers based loosely on a recipe from Deceptively Delicious :-) They were possibly the best burgers I've ever made. Wait, you know what, they WERE the best burgers I've ever made. Yum.

Rachel's Veggie Loaded Burgers

1 Lb ground meat (I used sirloin, but you could use any beef or even turkey)
1/4 cup pureed steamed carrot
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 Lb baby bella mushrooms cleaned and finely chopped
1 zucchini finely chopped
garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste

1) Mix all that stuff together then shape it into patties. 2) Cook those suckers. 3) Top with cheese - I used Havarti. 4) Whimper softly as you take the first bite because it's THAT GOOD.

I have no idea what sent those from possibly good into amazing, but they were... Lily Ruth was not as thrilled as I was. Next time I'll chop the mushrooms and zucchini into much smaller pieces so that she can't see them ;-)

You're welcome. :-P

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Stay-At-Home Snapshot

Here are some moments that reflect Why I Want To Go Back To Work. Nothing bad, just daily general wackiness. You guys, I am about ready to trade in daily unpaid wackiness for a paycheck and some regular adult interaction.

Yes, I understand that the trade off will not be that simple. I will be giving up precious time with my fast growing daughter. I will be trading in that time for extra helpings of exhaustion, aggravation and grief all due to having to keep schedules and show up places on time both dressed and fed.

Yes, I understand that a LOT of people would give their eyeteeth and possibly their second-born* to have the opportunity that I have had to stay at home (*obviously not the first-born, since that's the one they want to stay home with...)...

Yet the siren call of bills paid on time and disposable income (hellooooo clothing that fits, is hole-free and vaguely fashionable!) draws me ever closer to the workforce...

I also feel like my Little Missy could benefit greatly from a day care program that is a pre-pre-school (a program that will actively teach things other than social skills and manners), and there happens to be one around the corner from us. Plus, well, I think she might be tired of me...

Here's how it goes down these days:

Day 1) After keeping me up for the majority of the night, both the dog and the toddler wanted to be up for the day at 7 am. I bribed the toddler with tv, and shut the dog out of the bedroom - thus buying myself another 45 minutes of sort-of sleep broken by pleas for food, diaper changes and 'watch some-fing diff-ent'.

Once truly awake, I changed and fed the toddler and booted the dog outside. Negotiations began for the day's activity schedule. I opened with 'what do you want to do today, Boo? Dinosaur bones (the museum), zoo, play with friends?' She countered with 'nothing. I want to stay home today.' After five minutes of zero progress, I called a break for bath time. For me.

Side note: I really do have an awesome kid. I can usually put on PBS and be bathed and moisturized before she needs something. She doesn't even make crazy messes or cover the dog in juice. She's amazing.

I jumped into the tub and began my ablutions. I had just completed the 'lather' portion of 'lather, rinse, repeat' when she came in holding her diaper in her hands proclaiming 'I pew-ped.' It was true. She had pooped. I managed to convince her to 1) throw the diaper in the trash, 2) bring me some toilet paper and 3) allow me to wipe her - all without leaving the tub. See - she's awesome.

She vocalized about the poop and stared into the trashcan for the remainder of my (very hurried) bath. I dried off and got her dressed. I sent her back in to watch 5 more minutes of tv while I dressed and (sort of) dried my hair. She came back in covered in yogurt and demanded that I clean her off :-/

Day 2) While I was busy throwing on an old T-shirt and slapping on some concealer in a haphazard manner, my daughter carefully laid out a wet wipe then meticulously covered it with a thick, even layer of hand sanitizer. When asked about her project, she shrugged and requested to take said wipe and the container of hand sanitizer with us in the car.

*sigh* See, nothing awful. Just an extremely active toddler brain and an exhausted mama. Now I feel like a jerk for complaining. She's so incredible! Funny, silly, cute...

Never mind. I'll stay home and wear awful clothes.

HA! Pillow!!!

I did it! My zipper is whonky, my seams don't line up and my stitching... well... I tried... But I LOVE IT all teh same!!!!

*sigh* It's lovely. Completely impractical for our rough and tumble feet-on-the-coffee-table lifestyle, but I am very very pleased with my finished product.

In case I didn't say it loudly enough before, I used the Petal Pillow Tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew, and the Zippered Pillow Cover Tutorial from Craftiness is Not Optional. All mistakes are my own, and are not due to the tutorial skills of these lovely ladies.

A few notes:
1) I used a supposedly indoor-outdoor fabric for my base. It was NOT sturdy enough. For my next try at this (oh yes, there WILL be another pillow!), I will either use heat-n-bond interfacing to stabilize the fabric before I create the flower, OR I will attach the muslin lining first.
2) I need a LOT more practice with zippers. My zipper is sort-of poking out at one end :-/
3) I LOVE the finished look of this flower! My next idea is to do a pillow with either 2 or 3 smaller flowers in different colors on it.

My hope is to start putting together a home that looks less Found It On The Curb and more Put Some Thought Into It while remaining comfortable and functional. I have no interest in a 'good living room', but I sure would like to smile when I walk in the door. Let's work on that, shall we?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dratted Sinuses

Ya'll, I'm down for the count AGAIN. Instead of recapping my adorable daughter's Halloween antics and meltdowns, I'm going to have to go to bed with some hot tea and a giant box of I Feel Sorry For Myself.

My sinuses have been giving me trouble on a drastically increasing basis for a few years now. I may opt to have them removed. You can do that, right?

Until I'm better, can you come over and pat may back? Oh, and could you throw in a few loads of laundry? AND, since you're here, could you paint Lily Ruth's toenails - she wants pink this time. Thanks! :-P

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just EAT It!

I'm sure you guys remember how delighted - and, I'll admit it, slightly smug - I was when my baby girl started eating food? She ate everything I gave her (aside from peas and peaches) and asked for more. It was so exciting! It was so much fun! I made purees and brown rice cereal until my freezer was full.

Well, now she's two, and she wants to be in charge of stuff. One of the few things that she can actually control is what goes in to her mouth... so she does. Because of the variety in what she will actually eat, our pediatrician agrees that this is a control issue and not just picky eating. Unfortunately, control issues can take longer to grow out of :-/

It's hard, ya'll. I love food. I love to cook. I firmly believe in not making a separate meal for children. This means that as a family, we've been eating a lot of boring stuff lately because Lily Ruth's sticking points are spice and stuff that's mixed. I occasionally lose my mind and make something spicy or a soup or spaghetti sauce and give my daughter leftovers from a previous night, but it's getting old.

My redemption may be here. Right as I began to really worry about her food intake, I had several different people mention Deceptively Delicious to me. Around the third time someone referenced it, I finally listened (obviously the Universe is feeling pushy) and grabbed a copy.

Of course, I've had it for two weeks, and just got around to making my first batch or purees... The concept is simple, and sounds foolproof - you add vegetable (and sometimes fruit) purees to almost everything you cook. You also continue to offer veggie and fruits in their un-pureed forms with every meal, but if it takes your kiddo a while to incorporate them into their list of acceptable foods, they'll still be getting all of the benefits on the sly.

Today, I steamed and pureed carrot, butternut squash, calabacita squash (a Mexican name for summer squash - mine was green and white) and cauliflower. I also have broccoli, but I got tired of the process, so I'll do it later... maybe...

Here's what I ended up with:

from left to right:
1 Lb carrots = 1 1/2 cups puree
1 head cauliflower = 3 cups puree
a 3 Lb butternut squash = 3 1/2 cups puree
1 1/2 Lbs calabacitas = 3 cups puree

The only thing that I'm not fond of is the waste involved in using the baggies. By the time I was done with the butternut squash, I felt very guilty. Luckily for my conscience, I had a few containers left from Lily's baby days that hold exactly 1/2 cup (the portion size suggested by the cookbook). 

I'm going to make her Rice Balls recipe tonight. It uses brown rice, chicken, purees and spices made into balls and baked... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...  I'll let you know how it goes!

** Update: The Rice Balls were very good! I ended up punting on the final prep because I left half of the recipe at home... typical :-P... The adults loved them. The kids were suspicious, but seemed to like them. Definitely one to try again!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cowgirl Reveal!

Ya'll, I DID IT! I made a costume! Of course, I had to wait until Lily Ruth was at Parent's Day Out so that I could finish it, so she's not here to model it yet... but I'm too excited to wait!

Here's how it went down:

I made patterns for the yoke and cuffs by tracing the outlines of the onesie directly onto parchment baking paper. Then I added 1/4" seam allowances all of the way around. For the cuffs, I also angled the edges so that they'll stand away from the sleeves.

I spent a while getting the design placed the way that I wanted it. It's a good thing that parchment paper and pencils (and erasers) are so compatible...

I 'bulked up' the yellow fabric for the yoke with heat-n-bond fusible interfacing, then I used a low iron to flatten my pattern onto the fabric. Now it was time to pin then cut out my yoke:

Then I cut notches into the seam allowance so that my edge would lie flat:

After a failed concept, 

- I have no idea what happened there or why I thought it would work. I ended up with 4 small pieces of completely unusable fabric :-/

I cut 2 yellow cuffs:

Then I decided to bulk up the cuffs with yellow crafting felt, so I cut some of that too:

Once I ironed down and stitched all of my edges, I added red puffy fabric paint to the edges:

Now it was time to add the detail to the yoke. I was stumped as to how I could match my painstakingly carefully drawn pattern... until I was struck by genius - I poked the entire line with a sewing pin, placed the pattern back onto the yoke, and followed my now-dotted line with a red marker (red in case any of it showed through the trim...):

It was a huge pain in the ass to hand-guide the trim along the line under my sewing machine foot, but it was totally worth it. I didn't have to hand-stitch the entire thing, AND it is securely attached.

Next, I used embroidery thread to tack cow print 'chaps' to her jeans:

For her belt, I used scrapbook specialty paper. I actually SEWED paper, ya'll. I cut 2 strips of suede-feel paper that were just under 2" wide (her belt loops are right at 1"). I connected the strips, used a low iron to turn both edges in, then sewed them down with red thread. I cut a cardboard oval, sewed 2 loops to the back and used a hot glue gun to cover it with gold paper - voila! belt:

Then is was just the tedious business of taking the yoke and cuffs to the onesie. I decided to go with snaps on the shoulders (I now hate snaps) and quick stitches at the bottom (corner points only) because I want to be able to detach this stuff after Halloween and use the onesie for the rest of winter. The cuffs are stitched with embroidery thread, and will come of easily... Oh, and I added white lacing to the awesome cowboy hat that our friends found for us... *need a minute to catch my breath* *WHEW!*

Enough talk - here it is!!!

Don't look too closely - it is far from perfect. Fabric paint is HARD, ya'll... but I love the way that it turned out :-) and my little cowgirl is pretty excited too...

I picked her up early from Parent's Day Out, and plopped her on the kitchen table to check it out. 'Is foe ME?!':

And approximately .05 seconds later 'I a COWGIRL! Ee-HAW!!!!':

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Day to Remember

Warning: If you are tired of looking at pictures of my daughter playing with animals, then you should skip this post!

We went to the aquarium again, ya'll! Lily Ruth's daddy had to work down there one day last week, so we went with him. Poor Daddy. We get to play, and he gets to sit in depositions...

Lily Ruth and I arrived just after they opened. It was very cool. Some of the trainers were cleaning the dolphin tank, and we got to wave at them and watch them use the same vacuum that we have for our pool. Then we wandered over to the amphitheater where they have the bird show. We watched an anteater take a sunbath for a while:

We wandered over and made silly faces at otters and pet a few rays. Then we went back to the dolphin enclosure just in time to see them come out for the morning! Lily Ruth ran along the window with them yelling 'Mama! My FRIENDS are HERE!'

Then the four of them shared a quiet moment:

THEN one of them came over by himself to smile at her!

She was terrified and ecstatic all at once. It was so exciting that we had to stay down there for a while...

We wandered back out to the bird theater in time for the show so that we could see our friend the anteater again. Lily Ruth actually ran down the steps in the middle of the show, and almost made it on stage to see her friend again! We stayed after the show, and got to know a bird:

But here's the best part - we asked nicely, and the trainers brought our friend back out for us! We got to pet her!!!

She was looking right at the camera with her darling face until I pressed the button :-/ That's Lily Ruth's hand in the bottom left corner. She's approaching an animal just like I taught her - slowly, quietly and with the back of her hand :-) Our anteater friend has an unbelievably soft nose, really rough, scratchy fur and she smelled like a ferret. It. was. awesome.

We did lots of other stuff like watching hermit crabs, yelling at otters, walking out on the boardwalk and melting down in the gift shop but our quiet, solo encounters with the dolphins and the anteater blew all of that away.

I love you, Lily Ruth. I can't wait until the day we can get in the dolphin tank together!