Saturday, August 27, 2011

Man vs. Woman

This post is dedicated to all the friends and family out east who are probably getting a lot of extra crafting time as Irene moves in and keeps them inside for a few days!

We have three chain craft stores in our town: Michael's, Jo-Ann's, and Hobby Lobby. I really like Hobby Lobby and they have BY FAR the best paper supply of anyone. But their fabric and notions and yarn selections are less than impressive, so I don't usually even think to go there. I mean, unless I'm looking for ultra-cheesy raffia-covered holiday decor. Which I'm not. Ever. So I usually have to choose between Michael's and Jo-Ann's. And this would be my review of them: (picture is of the knitting project piece I finished last night with only that much yarn left!! And since the skein came from the clearance rack at the knitting shop, it was a huge relief not to have to rip out and remake the entire thing a little bit smaller, or go shopping online for some matching yarn!! Thank you, knitting gods!)

Okay, back to my review: I hate Michael's. They have a good paper section. They have an impressive cake decorating section. They have awesome clearance items for incredible prices. But oh my golly that store makes me claustrophobic!! It's so dark and so cluttered and holy moly if I ever take my children there I usually regret it A LOT. Not because they are ill-behaved. THEY never break anything! But if I'm there with my girls I HAVE to get a cart (to keep them contained, and so I'll have a place to keep my goods) and the carts don't fit through the aisles, so I either bump into other customers or knock down entire display racks with my huge cart. (actually, they have those craft store mini-carts, but it doesn't matter. They still feel giant.) You know those terrible strollers with the non-swivel front wheel that you have to move by lifting up the handle and moving it like an inchworm? I have to do that in Michael's with my cart that carries approximately fifty pounds of child as well as all my purchases.

And while I did have a lovely time by myself there the other evening (I tried to put the claustrophobic thoughts away,) overall I'd much rather go to Jo-Ann's.

And evidently, so would Greta!

Last night was Friday night and we felt like we needed something to do. We had the idea of going to a kid-friendly place to get drinks of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety, but Greta said she wanted to go to Jo-Ann's. (Out of the blue, this was her suggestion.) It just so happened that I needed to get a zipper for a project that was almost finished, so it was really a good idea. The problem was that when we were finished there it was 7:30, on a gorgeous Friday night, so everyplace was PACKED. And with two little ones and it being coming up on bedtime, we didn't really feel like playing the restaurant waiting game. Sad. But at least I got my zipper, and Greta picked it out and it just happened to be the EXACT coordinating color to my project! When it's finished I'll try to remember to post a picture. It's a little wallet. So Greta was definitely my little craft fairy last night.

And I enjoy so much being in Jo-Ann's, with it's brightness and well-displayed items. It is a cheery experience! Not like barfy Michael's. Gloom.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ode to Matilda

Yesterday was the first anniversary of Matilda coming to live inside our house. What a surprise that the timid little puffball living under the neighbors' porch didn't just let us take her in, but has also become such a friendly, loving, snuggly little member of our family. I love this cat!

And today is the anniversary of Martin giving me Theodore. Five years ago! What a surprise his time with us has been too--growing from such a starved-looking little kitten whose ears were too big for his tiny head to the beast he is today, whose head is too little for his gigantic body. His weight is really quite astounding.

And those are just the anniversaries in our immediate family. It's also my sister-in-law's 31st birthday and my sister and brother-in-law's 10th wedding anniversary!

Happy day to all! BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Keeping Up With the Craftistas

I've gotten away from Blog reading in the past year we've been without a computer. Browsing is not so easy on my beloved iPhone, so I've pretty much stuck to the list of people I actually know in real life and Soulemama's, which I still read daily. This system keeps me pretty well grounded while providing me one blogsworth of unattainable inspirations. Most of the blogs I read are real lives of ordinary people. Even if they do only show the sunny side in their writings, I recognize that because I know them; they are not keeping up a face for their international following. And even if soulemama does make me long for a life I don't have, only one blog like that can't be too harmful to my self esteem... Right?

But, sometimes I stray.

Sometimes I go to lots of inspirational crafty blogs and I drool over their work spaces, their houses, their all-creative-all-the-time lifestyles. And I inevitably start feeling bad about my own. Today it was Sew Liberated. (Now, I really like her and think she is by far the most honest, down to earth craft blogging mama out there.) She had posted about her studio, which I couldn't really tell if it was her space as well or only an art space for her two-year-old son. It doesn't really matter, because her post was about the things for her son. Lots of "stations" and organized activity trays. A cutting station, a mailing station, a clay station. Designated props in a designated space for practicing these necessary skills. I read it and looked at her gorgeous pictures and thought wimpily, "I don't have that. I am a failure."

And then I thought with sudden gusto, "The hell I am!" we don't need a special room for skill activities! We DO those things! In real life! Where things like that really happen every day! Often Anja helps herself to a blank notecard, pen and envelope from the big desk and writes to one of her cousins or grandmas. When I write a letter or card I let the girls place the stamp and seal the envelope. It's real life! And when I am crafting and using such essential skills as cutting, they are cutting alongside me. Real life! I AM NOT A FAILURE!!!!!!! I keep telling myself this. Sometimes I even believe myself!

The other morning Martin made a paper chain counting down to a goal. When he showed it to Anja she asked if he was going to make one for when he never had to go to work again. Ha! He calculated it and found he would need 8,000-something links. Gee, how encouraging.

And fruitflies are gross. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cycle Me This

I got a bike!
And I love it! I especially love the rubber band Martin fit into the corner of the basket (basket!!) so I can transport jars of flower bouquets home from the farmers market. And the funny story of how we got the bike is that Martin answered an ad on craigslist and it turned out to be people we know. Funny!

I'm really excited to have a bike. I doubt I'll be as hardcore as Martin with his (though i've promised the girls I'll get a pink bell) considering what a rarity it is for me to go someplace by myself, but I'm happy to have the option and since we got a baby seat too, all we need is for Anja to have some wheels of her own and we'll be set to hit the trails!
I'm going to try really hard to get back to blogging from my phone. I think the key is short posts.... So let me start practicing that technique right now! BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Catching Up on Pictures

I finally realized I could just upload my facebook pictures onto my parents' computer and then use them on my blog! This is helpful because I do have pictures always on my phone, but I don't always have my camera SD card on me. ('Cause why would I?) So here is a little catching up in pictures. This one is called "Shocked Annie." I just won a CD at the Shirley Martin awards ceremony! Photo credit to this one goes to Steve Fletcher, and I have to say that he and his wife have been such a blessing to the Shirley Martin Scholarship and to SAMI in general over the past few years, volunteering so much of their time and enthusiasm. And their daughter Amanda rocks too!

On Martin's birthday when he got home from work we jumped right on the trolley and took a ride over the bride to eat dinner at Panera. Last summer Greta developed a fear of busses and trolleys and this year she has thankfully forgotten about that fear and LOVES riding.

Awhile back Anja had a hard time going to sleep one night, so we made a cake! I later turned the cake into cakepops. Such fun times! And look at our matching aprons! I made the one for Anja when I made mine, when she was just a tiny baby. I've been waiting about three years for her to be able to properly fit into it!

This is just a pretty (Instagrammed) picture of the girls in the backyard.

And this is a funny picture of Anja that I took of her when she climbed up into the tree. I forget what I said to let her know I was taking her picture (probably "Anja, I'm taking your picture") but she made this face completely on her own. Awesome. She's really become quite the little tree climber lately too!

Every time somebody has a baby I get to thinking about the newborn times and everything that goes along with them. Burping. Diapering. Staying up all night with a crying baby. And that unique newborn cry is something I always think of. Everyone always told you that you'd quickly learn the differences in the "hungry" cry and the "tired" cry and the "gassy" cry, etc. It took me a long time to learn all that, and it was much easier with Greta, I'll admit. But I've found lately that the cries keep developing and I keep having to learn them. But I'm doing well now! I've learned to recognize from the next room the difference between the "my sister is choking me" cry and the "I put both legs into one leg hole of my underpants" cry. There is a trueness to the cry that means "I've fallen behind the bed" while the high-pitched scream that means "I can't reach the soap you put on the top shelf so I couldn't reach it" is something that can be ignored until I've turned off the dish water and dried my hands thoroughly. It's really amazing! Thank you, my girls, for always teaching me new things!

And speaking of new things, it was really fun to see all the pictures on facebook this morning of the children going off to their first days at school. My nephew Christopher LOVES school, and according to my parents, he had a marvelous first day of 4th grade. As for us, this time of year makes me thankful that my kids are so little. I'm not ready for summer to be over yet. Thankfully, for us it's not!

We attempted to walk up to my mom's house today, but got less than halfway (in about 45 minutes) before we made a collective decision to walk back home for the car. We were NEVER going to make it. But I'm so glad we turned around, because we got to stop and watch a cicada emerging from its shell! It was SO COOL. I kind of can't get over how truly cool it was. And then a few yards down the same sidewalk we came to some big flowery bushes where two hummingbirds were feasting! We stopped to admire them, and one of them flew RIGHT UP TO US, and started squeaking at us!!!! IT WAS SO ADORABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Honestly, I have never been that close to a hummingbird, let alone had one TALK to me! So in the end, it was a really great walk. Well, until Greta fell and konked her head on the sidewalk. But even that turned out to not be a big deal. And to be fair, she didn't really FALL.... she was pretending to be hopping like a bunny and she got a little confused or something... in fact, I'm not really sure how it happened. At all. But somehow she knocked her head on the sidewalk and I had to carry her the whole rest of the way home. The end.

Have I blogged about Martin's bike? Oh my goodness, he LOVES HIS BIKE. Definitely the best fathers day present he's ever gotten! He rides all the time. And, in fact, he has been putting his bike on the rack of the bus and then riding his bike home at the end of the day! This is a really fabulous setup for everyone involved. I get the car every day, but I don't have to go pick him up at the end of the day, AND, he doesn't have to wait for the bus after work and then get carsick on the ride home! (For some reason the bus ride home always makes him really carsick.) And he has set up his bike to be pretty much a vehicle with a rack and a pannier, a bell, lights, etc. Everything he needs for fun and safety!

Oh my gosh! We're playing Pandora on my dad's phone while I type this and a song came on that I sang at my friend Alison's wedding!! How fun.

I played music with Kim and George at the new NPEN (Natural Parenting Education Network) grand opening last Friday and it was really fun! I love being a musician because not only is it perfectly acceptable to drink on the job, but the wine is always free! Haha, just kidding. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not much of a boozer. I did enjoy the bit of white wine that night.

And of course it's always good to play music with good musicians!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Birthday to Celebrate

This morning almost as soon as she woke up, Anja informed me that today is Squeaky's 18th birthday! Squeaky is one of Anja's imaginary animals--a cat, who is the mother of Smodo. Not only that, but this evening on the way to the birthday party (which was relocated to my parents' house because Martin was stuck at work for soooooo long) Anja told me that Squeaky has a new kitten, just born last night, named Oatmeal!! Congratulations, Squeaky! We made cupcakes. We had to go to the grocery anyway so it didn't really matter that we didn't have any cocoa powder--except evidently they aren't selling that at Aldi anymore. So I had to make another trip out later in the day and I went to Payless, where I couldn't find ANYTHING, except a lot of familiar people. We were there FOREVER, wandering the aisles and talking to people, and having people being clearly annoyed with us for taking up so much room in our huge car cart. They only had a place for organic cilantro and the bin was empty, and I couldn't find the cocoa powder until I went the opposite direction down the baking aisle--it was halfway covered by one of their obnoxious hanging "buy this! buy this!" displays. Grrrrrrr..... So eventually we made it to the checkout and then at last back to our car where Anja exclaimed, "I'm not wearing any underpants!"

Which reminds me of an evening last week when we had dinner with a young couple (one of whom just happens to be my cousin) at Mrs. Schap's place, and I was really trying to make my girls look their best, but then Anja went to the bathroom and after awhile called out to us, "Mama! I have a big poo-poo stuck in my bottom!!" Classically awesome times.

We had a string of rough days at our house, with the girls fighting constantly. And vicious fighting, like clawing and hair pulling and pinching, etc. It was bad. And really annoying. But just as suddenly as it came on, the girls are suddenly best friends again, playing so nicely and getting along! And so, life is good again. Thank heavens!

One thing we've been doing lately is listening to an old Wee Sing tape. It's the Wee Sing Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes and it's really fun! Greta especially loves it. All the nursery rhymes/songs are woven into a story about how the children of the nursery rhymes are going to the birthday party of Old King Cole in Londontown. Every time they pick up a new gift for the king along their journey, they set off again saying "Here we go to Londontown!" So all day today Greta has been saying "Here we go to Londontown!" and it it unbelievably cute.

And now it's REALLY late, so it's time to get jammies on and head home. I hope to start posting regularly again soon, but really, we are having so much fun enjoying the last weeks of summer that I don't seem to have the time to make blog posts (with one-finger typing.) Maybe someday we'll get ourselves another computer!

(As for the floors..... let's just not talk about it.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Building Projects

Anja built this little tower in my mom's basement the other day. For a baby who showed absolutely ZERO interest in blocks, she suddenly has started building quite elaborate towers and "barns." This one seems especially well thought out.

And while Anja works on building with her wooden blocks, Martin and I are working on building with other sorts of things. Like building floors with the laminate flooring my sister and brother-in-law gave us from the garage sale (!!!!!) and possibly building a kitchen table after the HUGE disappointment of going to get the perfect table from the ReStore, only to get there and find it gone. Sadness. Plus, I seem to have formed a habit of ripping up carpet... and I found a little bit of wood floor and a little bit of plywood in different parts of the upstairs. So now we've got about ninety projects lined up in front of us, and since we can count our spare minutes on one hand, it looks like we might be in over our heads!

Anyway, the garage sale was a success! We all made a little cash-ola, all got a little sunburned, all had a good time. And best of all, we got rid of a ton of stuff!!

Otherwise, summer just keeps chugging along and I am noticing the days getting shorter and it's starting to make me sad. My friend Alison always got really depressed on June 21 because the days would only start getting shorter after that. I am beginning to see how she feels. I do love Fall... REALLY, love it... but I'm not quite ready for summer to be over! We have many more dates with the river before it can be over. (Luckily, being in the throes of a record-breaking heat wave makes it easier to believe summer will last forever!)

I wish I had more pictures to share... but I've been using my phone camera for most things and I am making this post from my mom's computer. (She fed me pasta with garden tomatoes and butter--YUM.) Now I think I'll go sit in a rocking chair on the front porch.

Oh, that's another project... my beloved rocking chair has an arm that looks like it's taken it's last mending. I'm afraid it's dumpster-bound, and that makes me REALLY sad. But I can't imagine that arm ever staying on again. Sadness.

The sun is shining! Soaking up the sun is better than going to the grocery store!