Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I need to start 2012 over again. Mine got all messed up. Not horrible or anything, just out of whack. Since I was trying to Start As You Mean To Go On, I need to re-do the last week so that it is not replicated down the line.

There was a great trip to the aquarium:

Which somehow ended with Lily Ruth's first big skinned knee. Thank goodness for impulse-buy bandages with unicorns on them that came in a tin sturdy enough to leave in the diaper bag!

This was followed by a decent day with friends marred by a full-on face-plant and a rushing to the pediatrician's office in case of loosened teeth. Don't worry - we left without being seen as she was obviously fine after waiting for an hour... *sigh*... and now I've made my first public appearance as The Crazy Lady (in a stretched out T-shirt, old maternity yoga pants and my SLIPPERS) since we were preparing to nap when the incident occurred. In case you're worried about her reputation as a fashionista, Lily Ruth was styling in a blood-stained T-shirt/droopy diaper combo. Together, we were a pathetic sight.

The following morning (read: 3 a.m.) saw a bout of the stomach flu for my beleaguered angel. She apparently hates throwing up even more than I do. Before each round was even done, she was wriggling to get down and proclaiming "I o.k. I fine. I feel better." She's a trooper, that one. Oi.

The NEXT day, she knocked the scab off her knee, and made the sore bigger.

The next day, I had the stomach flu.

- Can you see why I ask for the do-over? We're two days out from our Five Days of Trial and Tribulation, and I just got us back in order. All of the pukey laundry is clean. All of the accumulated dishes are washed. The dog hair tumbleweeds are in the trash. Everybody is sleeping on fresh sheets (pets included - damn them).

Here's what I'll do. Since you obviously don't have the authority to grant my simple, easy request, I'll go you one better. Let's just start from here. My house is clean. My body is cleaned out (eww.). The bills are paid current. Let's just use this as the jumping off point for 2012.

Here are my guidelines:
- No more than one alcoholic beverage on a weeknight (and I must choose either Friday or Sunday as weekend nights, but not both).
- Portion control. Just slow down and pay attention.
- Keep moving. The kid and I are on a very active kick - let's keep it up.
- No beating yourself up for flubs or backsliding. Just be present and aware and move forward.

What say you?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Is It On The List?

As you may have deduced from my personality type, I love lists. I love to have my tasks laid out in an orderly fashion. I love to check things off as they're done. The whole process soothes my monkey brain into submission so that I can actually complete the tasks on the list. I have been (lovingly) mocked in the workplace for my daily to-do lists, but when I take my lists and move on, they're sorry :-P

I like lists so much that I even love spreadsheets. I've created spreadsheets for restaurants, architects, spas and just for me. When I began my massage career, I even made one that tracked each massage appointment that I had by type, commission and tip then totaled the appointments by shift, week, paycheck and month... o.k., that sounds obsessive, but a) it sounds more complicated than it really is and b) when you work solely off of commissions and gratuities, it's important to keep track so that you are compensated appropriately by your employer :-P

I even keep old lists. I pleases me to look back on past lists and remember the occasion that warranted such planning and organization. Like Thanksgiving 2007 - it was my first time to host a major holiday on my own :-)

... and my house was a WRECK. This is actually page 1 of 2. The second page has a 2-week countdown on it. I barely finished in time!

Sometimes my past holiday and event lists help me to prepare for future events as my shopping and task lists are already laid out. Sometimes they're a reminder of what went wrong or what I should do ahead of time.

Then there are the things I've tracked just since becoming a mother. The breastfeeding log that was meant to be kept up for a week or so to soothe new parent's concerns about intake and output. I obsessively kept it up until she was almost 8 weeks old:

Oooooh, here's a good one! Look at this timeline:

Looks a bit crazy, doesn't it! I see new parents who are so sleep deprived that they devise a complex system to track baby's movements in order to discern ANY possible pattern of sleep with the hope of turning that pattern into a habit. My heart goes out to those two - that was a rough time. Now we've learned our lesson - she either sleeps or she doesn't.

I almost showed you my current ongoing list that tracks our bills just like a spreadsheet but with more elbow grease because I'm pretty proud of it. Then I realized that putting all of my service provider names along with amounts and due dates would be incredibly unwise. Don't worry, I trust YOU, it's that one over there that I'm worried about :-P

I come by this naturally. Friday was my dad's birthday. Saturday, my mom hosted  a small dinner to celebrate. When we spoke Friday, she said something about not being able to go to the store until in the morning, but that it would be just fine. I could hear her list beginning in my head. When I got to her house  to help set up, I kept my eye out for it. As we puttered along, she said 'maybe we should write down what we have left... you know... just to stay organized.' The notebook was procured, and the new list was begun. As we went along, she'd say things like 'add wash dishes so I can cross that off when I'm done' or 'did you add bread dough in machines? Good - cross it off.'

It's just one of those things that I share with my maternal kin. Like our eye shape, our hands and our inability to make anything less than too much salad. We like lists. We like to lay out our tasks and our projects. We like to cross things off as we go. We like the feeling of completion when the list is done. I like that we share this small compulsion. I like that our same-ness is more than skin deep.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stop GROWING Already!

This is a Look How Much I've Grown update post. Lily Ruth is changing so fast (AGAIN!) that my head is spinning! I'm gonna note some of it here before I forget :-)

Her vocabulary/word usage in context has exploded yet again - she recently asked "can I watch a movie on your Kindle Fire?". She also sobbed "It's just... *sob, tears, sob*... I never, never, NEVER get to sleep with my mommy and daddy" the other night when told that it was time to lay down in her own bed.

Her concentration level is up - she plays by herself for long periods of time. Only pausing briefly to give me updates or request snacks. She also tells loooong, complex stories with lots of characters, intricate plot twists and surprise endings.

She has become re-interested in blocks, and wants to build by herself for the first time. Last week, we built side by side for a while, then we pushed our creations together and connected them:

I love her attention to color placement!

The next day, she wanted to build by herself, but wanted me there as a witness/block stabilizer (she occasionally needs help pushing them tightly together). She made this entirely on her own!:

- in the second image, I pulled them apart to show the separate structures. Again, I marvel at her focus on color!

She has also shown a renewed interest in trying new foods. This is a HUGE blessing. Even she was tired of the few foods she would consent to eat recently! She ate spinach and peas last week without trickery, bribery or stern commands. I am elated... and am getting completely ahead of myself by planning all new menus again :-P

We've started some basic 'science experiments'. While looking for a distraction (so that I could start dinner in peace) the other night, I whipped up a small batch of the the old cornstarch-and-water 'is it liquid or solid?' It was a HUGE hit:

A few nights later, I had promised a cookie making experience, but was out of eggs. In desperation, I made up a larger batch of what we now call 'A Big Mess' and dyed it pink. Since she was able to use her new cookie cutters and her decorations, so it was accepted as a substitute :-):

The pictures are dark because she loathes the flash :-/

We got around to making the actual cookies last night. This was another big 'first'. Until now, she has begged off any baking because of the noise that the mixer makes. My newly Big Girl not only stayed in the room with the mixer, but held it with me through all of the steps! She also cracked eggs and squeezed in food coloring. We also cut out hearts together and iced and decorated them. There are no pictures of these processes as you need all available hands to control the situation :-P The end result are these beautiful, but bland cookies:

I'm not going to share the recipe, because it produced tasteless cookies. Unfortunately, I still have about 3 pounds of dough in the fridge. Hopefully I will be able to write it off and not feel like a gluttonous waster when throwing it out...

Add in her increased agility on the playground, and she's basically a whole new kid. It's terrifying.

Thank goodness she's still my baby

Who's toes press into my body as we snooze of a morning

Who dances without inhibition in public

Who plays very silly games with her long-suffering dog

I love you little girl.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Haiku Friday

My dear Old Guy Cat
I love you to distraction
No more rug pooping!


small sparkly objects
tiny fingers pick, poke, prod
this is toddler joy


big, stinky dog
so happy just to be close
fine. sit on the couch


three friends in a tub
we ALL have to get in there?
this bath is CRAZY!


intricate sorting
brow furrowed. tough decisions
'This one's for TuTu!'

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Doll Shoes: A Tutorial

Let's say that your daughter only had one Barbie-sized doll. Let's also throw in there that said doll had not worn her shoes (because they don't stay on!!!!!!) since she made it in the front door.

Now let's say that since Christmas has come and gone, your daughter now has TEN Barbie-sized dolls. Let's add that FIVE of them have those freaking shoes - and your daughter now wants all of them to wear their shoes.

*sigh* NOW, let's get real and say that this is me. I now have a life full of Disney Princesses:

and Fashionista Barbies:

Well, thank goodness for Fashionista Barbie. Her glitter platform heels are held on with clear rubber bands! In a pattern that is easily duplicated and holds all doll shoes on!!!!

1 - with the shoe on, loop a small elastic band (a.k.a. pony tail holders) around the doll's ankle:
 2- twist the band once and pull it down over the shoe so that the 'x' rests on the top of her foot:

 3 - now that you're under the shoe, twist the band again:

 4 - leaving that 'x' under the shoe, draw the band back up to the top of her foot:

5 - release the elastic - you're done!

Now all of your dolls have shoes that stay on! Well, sort-of. Mama will have to make touch-ups every so often... P.S. Now is a good time to invest $2.50 in a package of hair elastics that match all of your doll shoes ;-)

Then release the dolls back into the wild and go about your business:

Star Ornament Tutorial

O.k., so you guys already know that I love to figure out how to do stuff, right? Well, I do. That's one of the main reasons that I can't just follow someone else's tutorial or pattern (or recipe) without making adjustments or additions of my own. One I have the basics down (or at least think that I do), I am almost always compelled to see what else I can do with it.

That's how this ornament came about. I made the felt tree topper star, and learned how to 1) make permanent creases in felt by whip-stitching and 2) make a three-dimensional star. I LOVE my tree star, but I prefer that my stars have an odd number of points. Typing that out makes it sound weird and compulsive... maybe it is... at any rate... I wanted to see if I could make a 3-D five-pointed star. I can. And now you can, too.

Now, keep in mind that I am a complete amateur and I have zero patience, so my stitches are almost never even, and at least one area will require that you look at it with soft, unfocused eyes. That said, let's start crafting!

Rachel's Felt Star Ornament


felt (wool or craft - this project is small enough that you can get away with craft squares)
thread that matches the felt
embroidery floss (choose a color that compliments the felt - preferably a metallic ;-) )
star templates
needle that can accommodate 2 strands of embroidery floss at a time


I used white craft felt with silver glitter in it. This means that I used white thread and silver embroidery floss. I now have plans to make future stars using combos such as aqua felt with copper floss or hot pink with glossy black... you get the picture.

I traced and scanned stars for you - you're welcome ;-) Wait, I have no idea how to add PDF files to my blog. dammit. Fine, I'll turn them into jpeg files and get back to you... crap... :-O Ya'll, I am freaking.out. I put both stars on the scanner and hit 'scan'. My super-smart printer turned them into 2 separate image files. Awesome!

SO, the star with the dotted lines is your front piece, and the plain star with the skinny arms is your back piece. Cut out one of each.

The lines on the front piece are lines that you will sew down using a tiny whip stitch

First, mark the center of your star - front and back. I would NOT suggest using a Sharpie or a pencil - I used a pencil on my first try, and ended up with a mark that I had to cover later. I would suggest using a tiny stitch in the same color as the star.

Flip your star over so that the back side is up. If you are not using felt that has glitter on the front, pick a side, and call it the back.

Following the tiny dotted lines, and using the thread that matches your felt, whip a very shallow seam from the interior corners to the center of the star. It helps to match up the adjacent points - this creates a straight line from corner to center:

Once you have done that to all 5 corner-to-center lines:

flip the star over so that the 'front' is facing up. Following the dashed lines, and using the embroidery floss (I used 2 strands at a time), whip stitch a slightly deeper seam from the tip of each point to the center. Once you have found your seam line, pin it thus-ly - this keeps the felt from shifting as you stitch:

If you made a super-ugly mark in your center and need to cover it up, attach a bead that is too big and looks weird:

Then go back and remove the bead, for it is ugly. Replace it with random embroidery stitches:

Alright, here's the part where you just wing it... or at least that's what you do if you're me. Starting with a corner (not a point), line up your front and back pieces. Using the embroidery floss, whip stitch the two pieces together:

Notice that this is where my 'skills' let me down. For some reason, I can manage a fairly even-looking stitch down the points, but when it comes time to join the pieces, it all goes whonky. This is a case of 'do as I say, not as I do.'  Especially when it comes to the pointy bits. My original template for the back piece was slightly shorter than the front piece. This meant that I had to fudge the ends of each point. They look ridiculous. I even tried to only photograph the edges without including the points. My camera isn't good enough for close-ups that small :-/

Luckily for you, the scanner made the stars the same size. Yay for technology! Anyway, there it is. whonky points and all. My Star Tutorial :-) You'll get a picture of the finished product if and when I finish one and remember to photograph it before I give it away.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I just left my mama a voice mail message (she's at work). I believe it went like this: 'Mom, Mom, MOM! GRAY HAIR! Call me.' *click*

Today was already on my shit list. I'm not sleeping well again. In addition, Lily Ruth had a fever yesterday and was attached to me like a limpet. By the time I finally passed out after midnight, I was beyond drained. Today found me exhausted, cranky and battling a monster headache, but ready to give it a go. Then I over-conditioned my hair and (not surprisingly) couldn't find an outfit that didn't make me feel like a whale. *sigh*

I was still gamely trying until The Great Nap Battle of 01/10/12. Wanna guess who won? Not me. My opponent is happily nattering on about princesses, car keys and flowers. I am trying to find an inner well spring of fortitude. I decided to try to tie my hair back in a funky/fun braid and maybe venture out to the grocery store or the park. In the process, I found a GRAY HAIR. At first, I assumed that it was a cat or dog hair stuck in my regular hair - a ridiculously common experience around here. Then I pulled on it, and it was attached to my skull. Then I yanked it out in a blind panic and stared at the good inch and a half of gray leading into a 'badly in need of coloring' strand that terminated with a split end. dammit.

I'm still staring at it.

Hey, can you come over and watch my kid so that I can go out and make some really bad choices just to prove that I'm still young enough to do so? Thanks.

** Update ** So, I made it to the grocery store (with a sad, sloppy ponytail instead of a cool braid) and the liquor store. I even found ginger vodka! I adore ginger! Then I came home and found out that my dog had not only rolled in poop while outside, but she had then come inside and peed on my NEW futon mattress - that's right, the mattress that's replacing the one that the cats peed on until it was no longer clean-able. I was livid... and a bit freaked out because my housekeeper told me to put a mattress cover on that thing just 24 short hours prior to this disaster - is she psychic? No, it's more likely that she just knows us really well...

*sigh* Well, the futon tag has helpful cleaning tips like 'dry it out outside - fresh air will take away the odors'. Seriously? Jerks. I blotted up as much as I could then covered the wet part in baking soda that I will vacuum off later today. This led to Lily Ruth playing with baking soda while I unpacked the groceries, mixed myself a yummy cocktail and started dinner. She was enthralled with that stuff. Maybe we'll try the cornstarch and water trick today - that feels like magic!

I guess the morals of my sad, sorry tale are that: 1) Gray hair is not fatal - not even your first one. 2) There is always something worse lurking around the corner - do NOT tempt fate by declaring your current situation to be the 'worst day of your life'. This will force the fates to prove you wrong. Not that I did that yesterday, but I came close... 3) Vodka is not just for breakfast anymore.

p.s. I finally managed my funky/fun braid! Also, did you know that it is extremely difficult to take a picture of the back of your own head?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bookcases, Futons, Glitter & Feathers (now with pictures!)

We've kept ourselves RIDICULOUSLY busy since Christmas. It has been wonderful to reconnect with friends, and I actually love to entertain, but ya'll, I am TIRED.

On the up side, having people over means cleaning up the house. All of this hosting means that our home looks better on a daily basis than it has in ages.

Oh, I want to show you my new stuff! Not in a brag-y, jerk-y way, but in a 'please be excited for me that my house is beginning to look like a grown-ups-live-here type of home' way :-)

SO! There's the new IKEA bookcase that holds toys, art supplies and crafting madness (do you like how I snuck in my Christmas tree?):

 The IKEA lazy Susan & IKEA impulse-buy candle (paper flowers are left from summer soirees):

The futon mattress that transforms the naked-and-unuseable-for-almost-a-year futon frame from eyesore to inviting seating (don't worry, Kittyn, the pillows are just for show - they'll be winging their way to you soon!):

And last but certainly not least, the hand-me-down toddler bed that we spray painted AND assembled just yesterday. It. is.awesome. My Lovely has been sleeping on her mattress on the FLOOR since the day that she flung herself out of her crib. It was fine, but this is better ;-) She even slept by herself aaaallllllll night long last night!:

Enough about furniture. On to the glitter of it all! My company holiday party is a Masquerade Ball this year. I was completely unaware of this since I am hardly ever there, but my June Bug keeps me informed of such goings on, and insisted that I join the fun. I then talked her into making masks instead of buying them. It was big fun! I had planned on showing you more of the process, but I got distracted - big surprise. Instead, here is a glimpse into my madness and a view of the finished product:

First, I ironed a golden dragon transfer onto a piece of chiffon - a process that I hope to never repeat. It was a gigantic pain in the patooty. Then Lily Ruth and I painted a blank mask red. After a short break for toddler crafting and clean up, it was time to stick the dragon onto the mask. Ya'll it was a MESS. After years and years of success using Mod Podge glue to decoupage various items to various surfaces, I dove in with complete (unwarranted) confidence. A loooong time later, I ended up securing tiny edges with Super Glue, using nail scissors to painstakingly clip 'blank' areas of the design and finally painting in pesky areas with more red paint. When it dried, I globbed on a ton of beautiful orange-y/red/gold super-fine glitter and stuck some feathers on the corner. I was completely disgusted with it at the time, but I really do love the finished product!

And here it is with Don's 'Bird of Prey' mask (inspired by some Venetian Masquerade images) and Lily Ruth's 'Pink Fiona' mask (she named it herself):

There's going to be a super-fine layer of super-fine glitter on every surface in my home forever. Oh, and here is the Lady herself modelling her mask:

LOVE IT!!! Oh, and there's more! I traced a Monarch butterfly image and used it as a pattern for wings that we glued onto June's mask - My Junie wanted to be a Monarch, so she will be :-) She may well swear off crafting forever after the minutiae of hand gluing 90 bazillion gems in place, but it was totally worth it. Here are my wings and the (almost) finished product: 

We made a mask for her Honey as well, but it's not as exciting as hers :-P

The party is tonight. I'll post pictures later. Gotta dash - these eyebrows aren't going to pluck themselves!

*** Update *** You know what dudes hate? Being asked to hold still for pictures. Even if their Lady never never hardly ever gets to doll herself up and feel like a queen. Most guys will still act like a grade schooler asked to kiss a girl if you try to get them to take one lousy photo of the two of you dressed up. As a result, I will have to beg the two people who managed to get a shot of us to e-mail said images to me so that I can include them here.

*** Update #2 *** pictures! Courtesy of June & Hubert :-)