Monday, June 30, 2008

Love journal

Was my subconscious mind thinking of blogging when I strung these magnetic words together? Should I indeed start a love journal? Am I paranoid that someone will hack my computer? Is Magnetic Poetry just a little too telling about what's on a person's mind?
Naw, it's all just for fun.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Waking up...

Waking up to this little boy makes me smile!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Aliens have taken over my child

First, I saw that Fly picked up his cup from the floor and placed it on a table before leaving the room.

After his nap, he put his blanket on the pile of blankies next to his crib.

Today, he said, "Eat!" and signed the word too, bringing his fingers to his mouth. I asked him, "Are you hungry?" "Hungry!" he said (although it really sounded more like "Hangman!").

Then my heart stopped beating when he came to me clutching his, uh, diaper area and said, "Peh."

Clearly, these alien creatures come in peace.

Maybe I was worried for nothing.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What I'd Wear Wednesday: Feathers

What I'd wear today if I could: this simple, chic dress from Twelve by Twelve. I love how this dress is such a simple cut and shape, and sleeveless for summer. But then it has this cool brooch (what is up with this word and why isn't it spelled broach the way it sounds -- or should I just say pin?) and feather attached to the bodice. That just makes a nice dress so much more exciting! I don't have any other clothes with feathers.

And probably for good reason. Fly would likely ruin the feathers in 3.4 seconds, so I would have to wear this dress on the sly. I imagine putting on a wrap to drop off Fly at his grandparents' house, then heading out somewhere special with JP. If the brooch/pin and feather come off, it would be a fun, simple dress to kick around anywhere.

It comes in other colors -- yellow, light orange and burgundy. I thought the taupe color would be good for day or for night, and easier to match shoes.

And, is it just me, or do the mannequin's arms seem exceptionally long...?


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Turning lemons into a new bathroom ... or something like that

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

And when life takes away your Internet and phone access for most of the day, a mama has to find a way to make good use of naptime on a rainy day.

So I finally cut and sewed a ruffly thing for my bathroom.

Oh, wait. I never mentioned my bathroom redo, did I? This is what it used to look like:

Disclaimer: this was after I pulled off the flowered wallpaper the previous owners installed. Which Fly would eventually grow to despise, I'm sure -- so onto a more masculine-looking bathroom.

I really can't describe the color of the walls waiting for me once I got rid of the wallpaper. Except maybe dingey.

Back to the ruffly thing....

I didn't finish the hem yet because the trim I was going to use ended up being too short. And when JP fixed the rod and hung the ruffly thing up, he slid the rod through the wrong casing so there's no ruffle on the top. (Men!) After I finish the hem, I'll put it up right.

Forget lemonade, I like ivory and black for this room much better.

Oh, and here's a little tip from me: never, ever think you can do one little thing in a room. One little thing snowballs into at least a half-dozen things. Getting rid of the flowered wallpaper led to not just a fresh coat of paint, but also new art on the walls, replacing the towel bar with a hook shelf, and new faucets, lighting, soap dispenser and maybe some towels in the near future.

And a new ruffly thing just waiting for a rainy, no-Internet day.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Screaming fish

Now that it's officially summer....
Isn't there some saying about drinking like a fish?


Friday, June 20, 2008

How does a mama be a mama?

Toddlerhood seems like shaky ground -- as though each day I’m taking careful strides with Fly, unsure of where I’m stepping.

Lately, I question just what to do with Fly from hour to hour. I wonder whether to try to make him do whatever I am doing or to let him do whatever he wants, often on the other side of the house. Usually, the latter wins, and I'm beginning to feel as if I'm not teaching him enough, or teaching him the right things. I tell myself his independence is a good thing. But I wonder if it's at the expense of ... what? Maternal closeness? A chance to share time and space with him? To share life skills with him? Lately, he just doesn't seem to want my attention as much.

One of the issues making this hard is that Fly isn't an easygoing boy. He was a fussy baby, and he's now a fussy toddler, often whining for no apparent reason. When he knows I want him to come to me, or that I'm going to pick him up, he runs in the opposite direction and laughs while doing it. I read stories about teaching your toddler to help by stirring food for cooking, putting things in the dishwasher or feeding the family pets. I have read about younger toddlers who can dress themselves, pour their own beverages or who are potty trained, and that isn’t Fly. He now doesn't seem to want to do anything I want him to do. If I try to show him things, even fun things, he turns away. I'm not saying he never wants to be around me -- and sure, there are times he imitates me. If this is what he's like at 21 months, though, I fear for age two and three. If his strong will and independence are evident now, I just worry what our relationship will be like in the near future.

Despite my worrying, Fly is growing in ways I couldn't have imagined. When he picks up something new -- like giving his grandma a kiss, or making the sound for the letter H unprompted, or saying a new word for the first time, or leaning over to smell a flower and say, "MMM!" -- I catch my breath and want to hold onto the moment forever, reveling in each new way he is developing. It's as if I wish the sense of discovery would last past the newness of learning something for the first time. But I know I have to let the moment go, so he can learn yet another new thing. He certainly has no problem letting go. Clearly, he is learning and growing, even though I don’t feel I have contributed much.

So it's obvious I love to watch him learn something new, but I feel my opportunities to help him learn are limited because of his resistant attitude.

Before Fly was born, I expected there to be highs and lows. But I didn't expect to feel so perplexed by his growing apart from me, not even two years into this motherhood gig. It could be a toddler phase, an individual personality trait of his -- or some lacking on my part for not being more persistent with him.

For now, all I can think is how does a mama be a mama when her child is growing independently of her?

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

A-Starbucking I will go

Jodi at Jodilightful recently celebrated her 100th blog post and had a contest to give away a Starbucks gift card. Guess who won? C'est moi! Thank you, Jodi. Click on over to see pictures of her three adorable girls.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What I'd Wear Wednesday: Tie dye

What I'd wear today if I could: this tie-dye skirt by INC at Macy's. I saw it the last time I went to the mall, where it was on a mannequin paired with a plain blue cotton cami. I was instantly like, "Ahhh! Summer!"

My friend Guinevere was just saying to me how surprisingly cooling she found skirts to be in the summer -- even more cooling than shorts. And I think she's on something. Oops -- I mean onto something.

Besides having built-in air conditioning, another great thing about this skirt is someone else has done the tie dye for you. My only experience with tie dye was in sixth grade when our whole class went to a camp for a week. I thought tie dyeing was messy, and you couldn't control the results. I know that's pretty much the point of tie dye, but my T-shirt was nothing I would wear. A teacher told me I did a nice job on the shirt, but I thought she said the word without the R, and that just compounded the tie dye experience letdown for me.

This skirt, however, wisely uses just two colors, so it's very wearable. And as I keep pointing out with clothes that have prints, it probably hides stains well. You just have to be very careful about how you wash those stains on this skirt....


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Say cheese

Seventeen teeth. And you can see every one of 'em in this smile!


Monday, June 16, 2008

Lick a fast rocket

Just a bit of jabberwocky today....
And yes, I realize "stand-up" shouldn't be hyphenated in this part of the sentence. I used to be a hyphen control freak, but not anymore. (That's different from being a hyphen-control freak.)
By the way, does anyone else look at the phrase "high school students" and read "school students who are high"?


Friday, June 13, 2008

Last-minute Father's Day craft, or, A card no one throws away

You know how it is when you give someone a gift and feel the need to give the person a card too? Did you ever feel like skipping the card? Because you know it's just going to wind up in the trash. But with almost everyone I buy gifts for, cards are expected along with the gifts. So you spend $2-$5 on a card, attach it to your gift, and feel a little guilty about it because you know that money is just wasted and could have helped Bono fight AIDS in Africa or do a local deliberate act of kindness or something.


For Father's Day, I am giving JP a Snapfish photo book of digital scrapbook layouts featuring photos of him and Fly. Instead of a throwaway card to go along with his gift, though, I made a cool layered card using digital scrapbooking tools.

But wait! Don't stop reading yet if you're not into digiscrapping, because you can make this card the old-fashioned way too. You can make it for Father's Day or any occasion. And who's going to dare throw away a card you made?

To make my card, I used a template created by Sine, a digital scrapbooking template designer. It was a freebie template that's no longer available. But you'll see you don't even need a template. You can use an alphabet stencil or even go freehand.

First, I placed digital paper and photos of Fly on the template, then printed them out on regular office paper. You need a regular-looking letter and one that's backward for each layer.

If you are kicking it old school, you can just trace letters onto scrapbook paper, construction paper, wrapping paper or even newsprint. Spell out any word that you want. For each subsequent letter in your word, extend the look of the letter by about two inches. From the picture, do you see what I'm talking about?

Then, cut all the letters out. This is a good project for older children. In fact, older children could probably do this whole thing by themselves, with a little help.

After that, I traced each letter onto posterboard. The original instructions called for chipboard, but the original intent was to make an album, and I am just making a card.

This is a letter Y below. It's the last letter in the word Daddy, so it's the longest/widest.

Cut out the posterboard letters...

...and then you can glue the fronts and backs of the letters onto the posterboard. I used a humble glue stick.

If you are making your layered card without a computer, this is when you might want to add real photos, ribbons, buttons, flowers, or whatever else to decorate your letters. If I had been smart about this project, I would have put the pictures of Fly on the front of the letters, to the left, rather than across the back of the letters, as you've seen. So, that's an idea for another time....

Once everything is glued down, arrange your letters and spell your word!

I used a regular hole punch to put two holes in each letter, stacked them up and tied them together with yarn. You could use ribbon, twine, or whatever is lying around the house.

Oh, and on the last letter, you can write "Happy Father's Day" and sign the card.

For an even easier digital scrapbooking template, check out the "Father" word album from Scrap Girls. (I used Scrap Girls' Mischief Maker digital papers and embellishments to make this card.)

You could even scrap (hee hee) the idea that this is just a card and give this as a gift! Oh, uh, but then you might need to give a card....

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Colors Mother Nature didn't intend

Stephanie at Adventures in Babywearing posted about her blue hair, so I thought I should post about my pink hair.

(That green stuff behind my head isn't a funky hair accessory. Just so you know.)

When I was still pregnant with Fly, I had pink streaks too.

A friend's husband asked me why I had pink hair, and I told him because the purple didn't look good on me.

But really, to be honest: the pink hair is just a couple of clip-on extensions. I'm really loving it, though, so maybe next time I see my stylist, I'll make it permanent.

Am I a hippie-chick mama, or am I waaaaay too old for this?!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

A perfect read

My first real job out of college, I worked at an educational publishing company. My division produced a CD-ROM full of reprinted articles and other information for children in elementary and middle school. We cataloged everything by subject and offered educators a guide along with the CD. It was a popular product with libraries and schools across the country. I could go into detail about my job and prove just how big a nerd I am, but how fun would that be?

One of the best parts about this job was that we subscribed to almost every single children’s magazine that was published. There was a large closet that served as our library, and we stored several years’ worth of all these magazines. I tell you, I was an expert on children's magazines.

Basically, it was the perfect job for someone who liked to read. A lot. Like, all day. But at a child’s reading level.

One of our staff’s favorites was the Cricket family of magazines. Cricket magazine is the flagship magazine of Carus Publishing Company. It publishes several magazines for kids, from pre-readers on into high school. For older students, there are magazines on specific subjects like archeology and American history. Everything is well-written and is produced with wonderful art.

I am not kidding when I say our staff fought over who was in charge of reading the Cricket magazines for content. (I read Ladybug, for three- to six-year-olds, and Spider, for six- to nine-year-olds.) I don’t remember if we had permission to reproduce the articles, but even if we didn’t, we couldn’t let that stop our company from funding our subscriptions! Er, I mean, our division’s subscriptions.

Now I have a kiddo of my own. Through the Parent Bloggers Network, the Cricket folks generously gave us a subscription to Babybug (for children up to age three). It's the perfect magazine for someone named Fly! He loves looking at the illustrations, which feature children his own age. Babybug’s stories and rhymes are about subjects Fly can relate to -- or he will in a few years. The current issue includes stories about a child moving from a crib to a bed, and a boy looking around his home for his teddy bear. The words are in large print, making them easier for him to look at. Each issue always has a new story about Kim and Carrots, a stuffed rabbit, as well as poems and simple tales.

Babybug is also the perfect size for little hands to hold. The pages are thick and don’t tear easily. (Fly hasn’t torn one yet!) So it’s really like getting a fun new book for Fly several times a year.

To make Babybug (and all the other Cricket magazines) even better, there are no ads!

Probably almost every parent wants their children to have a love of learning and reading, and I think it has to start young. Providing Fly with eye-catching, age-appropriate books and magazines -- and reading to him -- will help him want to turn to books to learn and to have fun. And if he reads so much that he wants to subscribe to every single children’s magazine there is, I’ll just have to clear out a closet.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What I'd Wear Wednesday: A coverup

What I'd wear today if I could: a swimsuit coverup. I plan on taking Fly to a water park today -- there are several small water parks for the itty-bitties where we live, thankfully -- and I would love to just stay covered. Do you know what I mean? I have a couple of swimsuits, but when you're in the water as frequently as I am during the summer, sometimes you want a change. Having more swimsuits in rotation might be one answer, but wearing something loose and comfortable that is also just fine for getting a little bit wet sounds, well, refreshing. I love my T-shirt and board shorts (they keep the sun off), but sometimes you just want something different.

These coverups from Victoria's Secret would do the trick. They look kind of like a dress, so they have some shape to them. Some coverups look like a loose towel. But these would be fun. I don't care if I am just going to the kiddie pool. A mama doesn't have to dress frumpy just because she's hanging out with her little darlings, right?

Do you like to wear a coverup?

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Love hurts

Fly turned 21 months old on Saturday, and the cutest thing he does now is give me a hug and a kiss. He says, "Hug!" (it sounds more like "Haaaag!"), then embraces me. After that, he zones in on my face for an open-mouth kiss -- he doesn't yet get the idea to close your mouth. I'm not sure why he wants to kiss me on the lips, because I've only kissed him on his forehead or cheeks. But from what I hear, these kissing days are short-lived, so I will take any hugs and kisses I can get!

Somehow JP realized Fly can get a little jealous. Yesterday when he came home, JP said to me, "Watch this." He made a big show of kissing me in front of Fly.

Fly squealed, then ran in our direction. "Hug!" he said.

I bent down to give him a hug, but Fly kept coming. Right before he got close to me, he did a weird leap/trip -- honestly, I am still not sure how the laws of physics enabled him to do this -- and he ended up whamming his head upward under my chin.

The sound of my teeth grinding against one another made JP's hair stand on end.

JP didn't know which one of us to comfort first. Fly was wailing the loudest, and JP scooped him up. I think I was speechless for the most part -- not really hurt, but my chin still aches a little if I rub it.

I always wondered what it would be like to have two guys vying for my attention. I didn't imagine calamity....

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Quiet mess of life

And now for the Magnetic Poetry giveaway contest results.... Drumroll, please.... The die roller turned up nine, and commenter #9 was Amanda from lifelong playdate! She wins a Magnetic Poetry kit! Don't worry -- there might be another one in the near future.
In the meantime, feel free to post your own magnetic creations.


Friday, June 06, 2008

How I save my memories digitally

Some readers have commented on my scrapblogging posts -- wondering what tools I use and how I create the layouts -- so I thought I'd share a quick introduction to digital scrapbooking.

I turned to digital scrapbooking (the dark side, if you ask my expert paper scrapbooker friend Roo) only last fall some time. Before then, I (very badly) did regular paper scrapbooking when I had the chance, which was almost never. By the time I found my supplies and set them out, found pictures I wanted to place on the page and came up with an idea for a creative layout, naptime was over. So I put all that stuff away for another time, which hardly seemed to come. When I found out about doing layouts with a program like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, I was amazed. I may be all thumbs with scissors and glue and stamps and lining things up properly in a paper scrapbook, but using a mouse click to crop a photo or undo something I messed up -- that I could do!

It started when Fly was born, as I started sending family and friends pictures of him at the end of each month using Tabblo. I would put all of that month's pictures into one of Tabblo's layouts, then send everyone a private link to the layout online. This was perfect for me at the time because I didn't have a lot of spare time, with a newborn.

Around Fly's first birthday, I found out about Smilebox. This service offers more creative layouts that you can send through e-mail, or -- if you pay a fee or buy a membership -- you can even print out the layout, add music, etc. You can use still photos or video, and use premade templates to send electronic greeting cards, slideshows and other fun stuff. Scrapblog is another great resource for creating digital layouts using videos and music, and offers more flexibility. Both are great for sharing with family and friends online.

Later, I found several online stores that sell digital downloads for scrapbooking. Now my digital life was really going somewhere because I wasn't limited to someone else's template! Some sites sell files that are for designing your layouts purely digitally, while others are what they call hybrid stores where you do the design on your computer and then print out what you've designed to make your layout or other paper craft project.

Some of my favorite digital scrapbooking stores are Scrap Girls, Scrap Artist, Scrapbookgraphics, Scrap Dish, Digital Design Essentials, Sunshine Studio Scraps and Little Dreamer Designs. There are many, many more! Digishoptalk has some really good resources to get you started and has had fun digital scrapbooking contests. In fact, most shops and designers have contests (usually called challenges) every week or every month, and winners get money to spend in their digital scrapbook store.

At these stores, you can buy entire kits, which are color coordinated and usually have a theme. Kits include background images (which is what you would use for the "paper" portion of your scrapbook layout) and embellishments to add to your page like a photo frame, ribbons, flowers, stickers, pockets, glitter splotches and other things you would use if you were doing a paper scrapbook layout. Sometimes kits include an "alpha," or files of letters and numbers that coordinate when you want to put a title on your layout. If you can think of a theme, a digital scrapbook designer has probably already designed it! You can also buy digital files separately if you don't want to buy a kit.

After I choose some digital files to work with, I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0. I open up a background paper file. I choose a digital photo downloaded from my camera. I like to put my picture in a frame, which is another file. Then I might rotate it a little bit in Photoshop and place it on my paper. Then I would add some embellishments, a title or some journaling. I save the file, then also a smaller version of the file in a .jpg format (the common format used for the Web). If you don't have an idea of how to position everything on a page, digital scrapbook stores also sell templates for you to plug in your paper, photos, and other items. It's fun -- and I spend a lot less time scrapbooking than the traditional paper method.

Many designers have blogs and give away freebies through their blogs -- a great way to get started in digital scrapbooking to see if you like it. Ikea Goddess posts an excellent list of freebies every day.

At the end of the year, I plan to put my best digital layouts into a hardcover book from Snapfish. Shutterfly and My Publisher also sell photo books made from your digital photos. In fact, all of these sites have built-in design templates if you want to just plug your photos in and skip the design part yourself. I've done that too.

This is just a basic introduction to digital scrapbooking, but maybe it will be helpful to someone. If anything, I hope it will inspire you to save and share your memories!

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

The long and short of it

The long...

...and the short

Still wild, still curly, and now suits his personality even better.

I didn't even cry.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What I'd Wear Wednesday: Maxi?

What I'd wear today if I could: probably not one of the old-style 70s / newly renamed "maxi" dresses -- supposedly the dress of summer 08. Have you seen them around?

It isn't nice to fool Mother Nature

Didn't I see you on The Love Boat?

Two sleeves and some snaps away from a housecoat

My stepmother's best friend liked to sew a lot, and when I was a teenager, she gave me a bunch of her old patterns. At the time, I was like, "EWWW!!!" but I kept them anyway, hoping my skills would someday be good enough to take bits and pieces of several patterns to make my own design. And you know what? One of those old patterns looks just like these maxi dresses! From 1974!

I can't say I would never wear a dress like this because sometimes a design ends up growing on me. But right now, I can't find the allure.

What do you think about this trend?

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I cry when I pee and other stories

Adventures in Babywearing tagged me last week to post six random things about me.

Oh, I can be random, all right....

1. When I was a baby, my father used to take me for rides on his motorcycle. I even had my own little baby helmet. Still ... the horrors of putting a baby on a motorcycle!!! And I remember burning my foot on his engine when I was four years old because he thought he'd take me for a ride without putting my shoes on first. Boo daddy! Despite this, my first vehicle was a scooter -- again my dad's influence. I used to ride it to work and school, pretending to be all metropolitan-y Italian when really people just made fun of me. After I was in a bad crash in a car, I refused to ride the scooter any more because I knew if a crash in one of the safest cars put me in the hospital for three days, I'd have been roadkill on a scooter.

2. My husband has rescued four baby turtles from our pool and has been keeping them in tanks inside until he can build a nice pond for them. The biggest one is now easily five inches long. I cannot wait for this pond.

3. Sometimes in the morning, I cry/weep/have watery eyes when I pee. Maybe I should ask Dr. Oz about that one.

4. When I was in kindergarten, first grade and second grade, I didn't grow. My parents asked my doctor about it, and he suggested they sit on me. I was apparently kind of a hyper kid and was also involved in lots of dance and gymnastics classes, and the doctor said I was burning up all my energy and didn't have any left to grow. When my parents told me about this years later, I was really annoyed because I could have been much taller! My father was 6'2", and I'm taller than my shrimpy mother but I'm still only 5'4". So you wonder why so many of those gymnasts and ice skaters are so little? That's why!

5. I suck at a lot of things, but I do them anyway because I like to.

6. For the life of me, I can't figure out how some bloggers can post something rather ho-hum like "Today I threw away a box of cookies," and they still get 115 comments! (If you posted about throwing away cookies, I'm not talking about you. I just made that up.) I guess some bloggers are just that popular! I say good for them!

I'm supposed to tag six people, but I'm just going to leave this one up to you -- yes, you -- if you're reading this. Because if I tag you, and you've already done it, or if you're really stressed out right now and the last thing you really want to do is write some random crap about yourself, or if you want to watch the season finale of Lost again that you Tivo'd, or if you'd rather be playing outside and in the back of your head you're like "But Damselfly (who calls herself Damselfly anyway?!) tagged me and I feel this obligation pulling me to the blog and it's hanging over my head like that green stuff from You Can't Do That on Television," I don't want you to hate me. But if you feel like doing it, you can say I tagged you.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Frisky language

Guess I was in a violent mood this week....

Win a Magnetic Poetry kit! Just leave a comment here, and I'll let pick a winner next Monday. My partner in magnetic crime, Guinevere, is also having a Magnetic Poetry giveaway, so you have two chances to win.