Thursday, January 26, 2012

And the Winner is . . .

Commenter #7, Marcy, who I once upon a time only referred to as Mrs. Owens, my sixth grade teacher. And I don't think she's aged a bit in those (gasp) 23 years. How wonderful to see you again! If you'll email me your address at, I'll get Scrappy in the mail to you. Our winner was selected by my random number generator, also known as my husband, Bracken. I was planning on using one of my children, but the only ones here right now would give me numbers like "I don't want to!" and spit up.

As a consolation prize to all of you who entered and didn't win, here is a picture of me circa 1989 when I knew Marcy. I went from sweet mullet to rad perm. With bangs. And high waisted overalls.

For the record, I started out as a pretty cute kid, if I do say so myself, but then I got hit with a mullet, glasses, and giant grown up teeth all at about the same time. And then began an awkward stage that lasted for such a painfully long time.

Thank you all for the wonderful comments. I feel so warm and fuzzy inside. I mainly write my blog for my own amusement, and to journal the crazy and sweet and poignant in my life, so I'm glad it reaches others, too. Lately I've been seeing new readership on my tracker, so I just wondered who all was out there. I hope to do more giveaways in the future. Keep your fingers crossed that Rosie starts sleeping better, enabling me to be more creative.
If not, you'll just get more crazy. And that can be fun, too.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Heart You, and thus, a Giveaway!

A friend of mine recently found this cute tutorial on Pinterest for a beautiful ruffled felt heart shaped wreath. She shared it with me, and I loved it. Then, she went a step bigger and better and braved the lines at Joann's to get me all the necessary supplies to make it. This was super fantastic because it meant that I would actually be able to make it before Valentine's Day. So, I sat down last night and whipped out this beauty in about 2 hours.

After making this wreath, I found I had a couple of tips and some information to add to the original tutorial.
  • I used a 12" styrofoam heart wreath.
  • I cut about 150 3 inch circles, and used up my entire 3/4 yard of felt.
  • This means you'll need at least 150 pins. I bent several of them while I was assembling my wreath, so I was glad I had extra.
  • I bought flat head pins in case the heads showed, but they don't show at all. I'm sure you could use round head pins, and they wouldn't hurt your fingers so much when you push them in. I quickly started using my leather thimble to protect my fingertips. Now I'm trying to convince my daughters that the thimble is a tool, not a finger puppet.
  • Instead of tracing 150 circles onto the felt, I cut one circle out of craft foam, then held it in place as a pattern on a double layer of felt while I cut. This saved a lot of time, plus I didn't have to be super careful to keep my tracing line from showing when I cut them out.
  • It's important to place the circles close together, but don't pin them too closely or they'll get crowded quickly. Instead of luscious ruffles, you'll have flat folds of fabric. Space your pins about 1/2 to 1 inch apart. After I had a few inches covered on my wreath, they started looking too dense so I pulled a few of them out and placed them elsewhere.
  • Fluff the circles to fill in any thin areas.
  • Hang it on your front door, then keep going outside to admire how cute it is.

When I was finished, I found I had a large pile of concave square pieces of felt, the scraps from between the circles. I also had a spare 9 inch foam heart, so I decided to put those pieces to use. I call this little guy Scrappy. He reminds me of flames of love, and I think he's charming.
If you decide to recycle your scraps like me, I would recommend using flat head pins. They are more likely to show since your pieces of felt are smaller and more randomly shaped. I did end up cutting some most of my scraps of felt into appropriate pointy shapes to fill out this wreath. As with the circles on the first wreath, I folded the pieces into fourths before pinning them on the heart.

And I've decided to do something fun with it. I'm going to host my first giveaway on this blog I'm going to give Scrappy to one of the six of you reading this. Leave me a comment telling me why you read my blog, and I will randomly pick a winner from the comments. The giveaway will be open until Wednesday, January 25, 6pm pst. Good luck!

Friday, January 20, 2012


When I was 8, my family moved to Whitehall, Wisconsin. I'm not surprised you haven't heard of this town. I just checked and the population is about 1600. It was even smaller when I lived there, though I did live there at the same time as Newt Gingrich's current wife, Callista (which I just learned, and isn't really a claim to fame). Every year, the high school cheerleaders would host a cheer-leading camp for the elementary school girls, at the end of which the girls would get to cheer at a high school basketball game. In an attempt to help me make friends, and not because I showed any aptitude toward cheering, my mom signed me up.

Having not yet learned that thick-legged, uncoordinated girls do not the best cheerleaders make, I was thrilled. I enthusiastically learned the routine to "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (which also initiated my love of George Michael). I diligently scrunched my cheap little pom-poms in an effort to make them as big and beautiful as the big girls' pom-poms. And I put on my best approximation of the high school girls' uniforms. We were the Vikings, and our colors were black and orange. I had a black leotard. And I had some red shorts that fell slightly into the orange spectrum. There were all I had, and if you looked at them in the sun, they would work.

The night of the big game, I proudly arrived at the school, only to learn that the rival team's color was red. By the time I marched out onto the basketball court, I had been teased so much by the other girls that I was sure all eyes were on me and my embarrassment of an outfit.

Undeterred, the next year I signed up for the clinic again. This year as I diligently practiced, my mom diligently sewed. She was determined that I wouldn't suffer the same humiliation again, and made me a fabulous cheer-leading outfit while juggling the demands of six kids, including a small baby. I don't even know how she got the fabric given how small our town was and the pre-existence of the internets. It was orange, with black godets and our viking logo embroidered in black on the front. And it was awesome. I tried it on as often as I could in the days leading up to the game.

The morning of the big day I woke up hot. And I'm not talking hot like in this picture. I'm talking hot as in fever. Though my mom had a strict rule about not sending us to school with fevers, if I didn't go to school that day, I couldn't cheer. I was heartbroken, and I'm sure my mom was, too. Since it was a low grade fever, and I had no other symptoms, my mom decided to let me go to school and keep her fingers crossed that I would be fine.

I got home from school that day, excited to cheer that night. Unfortunately, my mom had been on the phone that day and learned that the chicken pox was going around. How did you know if you had it? A low grade fever. My mom checked, and found the first few pox hiding around my hairline. I wasn't able to cheer that night. I'm sure it wasn't out of spite over not being able to wear my fantastic outfit, but I diligently infected all 5 of my siblings, including my 6 month old sister. Thankfully, she was young enough that the scars she got when another sibling picked all of her scabs off don't show.

I still got a lot of wear out of that outfit, accessorizing it with legwarmers, heels and a rainbow belt. And yes, I did have a mullet to top it off. Though I rocked it (see above), I never forgot the injustice of not being able to wear it and perform that night. It was my first clear experience with irony.

Chloe's birthday is July 2, so she never gets to celebrate her birthday at school. And unfortunately, her half birthday is January 2, usually the last day of Christmas vacation. Still, she wants to be able to celebrate her half birthday at school on whatever the closest school day is. This year, for whatever reason, I just couldn't get my act together. Weeks had passed and I still hadn't gotten a treat together. Finally, yesterday, I decided it was time. Chloe and I baked cookies. I found my last sheet of labels and printed up tags for the ziploc bags we'd put the cookies in. Nothing fancy, but it was enough for her to feel special.

And then she coughed. A rattling, painful cough. And confessed that her throat had been hurting all day. I cringed, and hoped it was just the change in the weather. I checked on her last night, running the temporal thermometer across her forehead. Fever. As she whimpered and rolled over, I said a silent prayer that she was just hot in her blankets and she would be fine.

This morning I went in to wake her, thermometer in hand. She sat up in bed and said, "Mom, my throat hurt, but I coughed and now I feel fine! I'm better!" But her eyes were too bright and her cheeks too red, and when I scanned her forehead, her fever was even higher. It broke my heart to tell her she had to stay home. "But I was so excited to share my treat today!" she said as her eyes filled with tears. I assured her that we could put the cookies in the freezer and she could bring them when she felt better, and she smiled.

I'm so glad there's such an easy fix for her fever crisis. Her gratification with be postponed, not cancelled. I just hope my mom, who passed away 12 years ago this month, knows how grateful I still am for that cheer-leading costume I never got to cheer in.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's my potty and I'll cry if I want to

As a mom, I've found there are three very important keys to a successful outing with kids.
  1. Make sure they are well rested
  2. Make sure to bring plenty of snacks
  3. Make them use the bathroom before leaving the house and at every convenient interval thereafter, whether they think they have to go or not. And especially if they insist they don't need to go.

These rules are not just for kids, but for dads and moms and aunts and anyone else on the outing. And they are especially important when all of your children are female and require an actual toilet to relieve themselves.

I recently was very, very pregnant, and therefore had to use the bathroom quite often. Pretty much every time I left the bathroom I needed to turn around and go back in. After my baby girl arrived I was overjoyed to have my bladder return to its former capacity. And I got cocky. One super busy day I failed to adhere to rule #3 and found myself stranded on the freeway behind a car accident trying very hard to not think about the fact that I hadn't used the bathroom in 8 hours. I recommitted to stick to rule #3 in the future.

My little sister came out to visit after Christmas and we decided to take a trip to the city. We rode BART into San Francisco with all the kids. We explored Union Square, then rode the trolley down to Fisherman's Wharf. I kept the children fed and pottied (though they continually complained, through mouths full of food, that they were starving). We had a delicious lunch, then wandered over to look at the seals on Pier 39. As we headed back toward the Musee Mechanique, we passed the fully automated, free standing bathrooms. I've always given them a wide berth, not fully understanding how they worked and fearing for their cleanliness. However, this time, despite the hordes of holiday crowds, there was no line. As I realized that it was time for a potty break, and this was our best option in the area, I decided to give it a try.

I pushed the button on the wall, and the mechanical door slid open. Leaving Maggie with my sister, with Rosie strapped to my chest in her carrier, Chloe, Addie and I entered the bathroom. It was very clean, and full of all sorts of buttons, ones to open the door and turn on the water, and a kickplate to open the door for those who prefer not to touch the buttons. However, after Chloe relieved herself, I realized there was no button to flush the toilet--it would only flush after the room had been vacated. (Cue ominous music) Since we were already in, I had Addie go. Then, remembering rule #3, I also decided to use the bathroom.

Perhaps it's better that you don't know this wasn't the first time I had used the bathroom with my baby attached to me, but I figured this was my best option for the moment. And I have often shared a stall with my girls, though every time it's a race to get my pants back up before they decide it's time to unlock the door. As I quickly did my business, the girls started getting restless. Chloe started dancing around. I watched in horror as her foot, seemingly in slow motion, banged into the kickplate. Frozen in terror, I was helpless to stop the large door from sliding open, exposing me, quite literally, to the crowd that had gathered to wait for the bathroom.

Time stopped. I aged several years as we tried to locate a button that would close the door before discovering there was no button that would close the door. The only way to close the door was to get off the pressure sensitive floor, which could only be accomplished by leaving the bathroom. And I was literally caught with my pants down. The line of people politely backed away, out of sight. I called to my sister and had her move my double stroller in front of the door to give me a little bit of a shield. And I thanked my lucky stars that I had chosen the bathroom that faced the ocean, and not the one that faced the street.

As quickly and discreetly as I could, I got my pants up and got out of there. One of the people waiting, another mom, commented on how calm I was. She said, "I would have been screaming at my daughter." Oh, I was definitely screaming inside, but I didn't want to do it out loud because I really didn't want to attract more attention. So I laughed. This was the sort of thing that could only happen to a mom, and because I've been a mom for some time now, it hardly even phased me. Easily the most embarrassing moment of my life? Yes. But was it something that in future years I would look back on and laugh about? Yes and no. Because I really couldn't do anything but laugh about it right then. It was hilarious.

Not that I want to repeat the experience anytime soon.