Thursday, November 29, 2012

No one ever said it would be this hard

As you may remember, I didn't think Marissa Meyer (new CEO of Yahoo) was a great role model for working parents or changing our workaholic culture. That's still true.

But I thought this mean-spirited article by Lisa Belkin on HuffPo, was pretty uncalled-for. Apparently, like us, Ms. Mayer has been blessed with an "easy" baby.  Not to mention, she has help - her husband reportedly stays at home, plus I'm sure neither of them shleps to the grocery store or cleans their own bathrooms.  Not unlike our current situation.

But apparently she's not allowed to call it like it is, because "it turns her into one of those mothers we don't like very much."  I'm sure Ms. Mayer doesn't particularly care, of course.  But the article goes further and makes these dire predictions about how her baby could change in an instant, and how she shouldn't be too smug, etc. etc. 

And the comments?  Even worse.  They seem to be wishing her all sorts of ill will, and warning her about all of the rough patches that (may not) come ahead.  

While I do not aspire to her version of work life "balance", I'm not rooting for her to fail, or waiting for her to eat her words, as several commenters seem to be doing.  I hope baby Macallister continues to be easy, because honestly, that makes parenting that much more fun. It's easier to be patient when someone isn't demanding your time and energy 24x7 by yelling.

People, it's not a reflection of your own parenting when other people say they're having an easier time of it.  I'm not sure why it's so hard to get that.

Apparently, while we're allowed to talk on the Internet all we want about how parenting sucks and babies are hard, we're not allowed to breathe one word of how some babies actually do sleep long stretches regularly or are generally "easy".  I've seen this in real life as well as online, and it frustrates me.  

I don't think anyone with an "easy" baby is deluded into thinking it's their excellent parenting that made it so - it's totally the luck of the draw.  In fact, before BabyM was born, I was sure she wouldn't be as chill as her big sister, and that we'd have to "pay" for the relatively easy babyhood we had with T. (We haven't, knock on wood.)

Clearly, it's our excellent parenting at work here.

Why do we think like that?  Is it an American thing? In Seattle people talk about "doing penance" for our gorgeous summers by living through 9 months of gray. I think that's a depressing way to look at things.

What I've found is that if I dread something to come (terrible twos, potty training, etc.) it *feels* worse than if I just accept it as developmentally appropriate for my kid.  And yes, even parents of "easy" babies have things that are "harder" than others.  

But all the "you'll see, it's harder than you think" stuff?  It's condescending and just plain annoying. Wouldn't it be great if we could just accept that all experiences are equally valid and sometimes people just get lucky?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Advent: New Family Holiday Tradition

I first read about the idea of a "book advent" Christmas countdown on Ali Edwards' blog earlier this year. I've always loved books and reading so I wanted to do this in our family, too. Then I promptly forgot about it until I saw Susan Weinroth post about it on Instagram a few days ago.  I needed details, and she put them on her blog.

It's easy - find 25 books and wrap them. Each night in December, through Christmas Day, you unwrap and read one (and maybe re-read some of the others). From what I can tell most people try to choose all holiday books, and build up their collection over time, filling in with library books in the meantime.  You definitely don't need to go out and buy 25 new books, though that sure would be fun, wouldn't it?

As soon as I read her post, I knew we had to do this.  I love the idea of an Advent calendar to build up the excitement of the holidays and have little tiny surprises to look forward to each day. However, I didn't want one full of candy, and the Lego ones seem overpriced for what you get.  We have tons of ornaments for our Christmas tree already, so adding 25 new ones didn't seem like a good idea either. The book idea is perfect.

I don't think we need 25 books about Christmas since we're not Christian, so I broadened the list to also include other winter holidays and winter itself, books about reading, books about giving and love, and a few family favorites.

The First 3: numbered, and with little hints/notes about each one.

I also had a few books set aside for T because she wasn't ready for them, so I've included those.  I know she'll love opening them, and she's really into counting right now, so tonight she was already looking for the book with the "1" on it, so she'd know where to start.

I combed through our books over the last few days and put the ones I wanted to use in a box in our closet.  I had to sneak some out of T's room when she was at preschool.  Three year olds ask a lot of questions. 

I chose two different rolls of gift wrap to make it look more interesting - one with cute winter birds and the other just a plain silver. Today I started wrapping, and man, was it slow.  I'm bad at gift wrapping, and sadly, the paper is cheap and tears really easily.  I've made a solemn resolution to no longer buy cheap Target gift wrap. Only the good stuff from now on. It's just too frustrating otherwise.

Gift wrapping and adhering the number tags is a great use for washi tape, since I have so much of it.  The patterned tape looks great on plain gift wrap, too. 

I have a ridiculous collection of number stickers so I used those for the number tags on each gift.  Of course, I don't have enough of any one sticker type to do all the numbers, so they'll be delightfully mismatched. It's what snooty people call "eclectic", right? 

I got 13 of them done while both girls napped today (omg! at the same time even!).  I'm waiting for Olive the Other Reindeer from Amazon, and need to order a second book, because I want the books on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to be new. I'll finish the rest this week.

Book Number One is one of my favorites, Owl Babies.  My plan is to have us all sit together in the living room, or in T's room before bed, and read. We need to start reading more to BabyM anyway, and I like the idea of us all snuggling together to read.

If you have recos for strong pretty gift wrap, please leave it in the comments.  The Target stuff is not working.  I also could use a recommendation for a great kid's book that's non-holiday related, suitable for preschoolers.  Something not well known would be great as we have most of the classics and popular ones. Thanks in advance!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

BlogHer Book Club Review: My Life Map

I was really excited when I got the opportunity to review My Life Map by Kate and David Marshall. The timing was right since I'm on maternity leave and the sleep situation is not so bad. Being on leave for so long is also a great time to think about long-term planning. And you know I'm a planner.

After taking the Mondo Beyondo class last year, I'm a fan of doing introspective "work" and thinking about what I want out of life, instead of just floating through it trying to get to the next day. Admittedly, as a new 2-kid family, there are days where we're just trying to keep everyone happy, clean, and fed, but not so many that I can't keep an eye towards the future and the life I *want*.

This book is a guided journal to help you draw a detailed timeline of your life: past, present and most importantly, the future. It's structured very well to ease you into big goal-setting.  I had a hard time getting started because it seemed too "big", but the questions are actually very directed and "bite sized".  I love that it starts with the past and present, which are easy to map, since they are fact-based.  This is a stepping stone to planning the future, and there are lots of exercises and questions to guide you.

What I especially love is the way they've structured the Maps -  you do a "Whole Life" map first, and then a 10-Year Map, then individual "subject" ones for work, family, friends, play, learning, and service.  It's all open to your interpretation, and you can do them in the order that makes sense.  In fact, the authors suggest different ordering based on your particular outlook - whether you're a top-down or bottom-up thinker.

The authors' website has electronic copies of the Life Map form in several formats, which is very handy, especially if you intend to do this exercise more than once, which they recommend as you go through different stages in life.

My minor quibbles are about the physical book itself - I wish it was spiral-bound to make it easier to leave open when filling out the questions and making notes, and the hardcover binding gives me a bit of a mental block about writing in it, because it seems "too nice" to write in.  I also would have loved an e-copy of the questions themselves, so that I could print copies and write on those, rather than in the nice book itself.

But I do think this is a great (and inexpensive!) tool for anyone considering their long term goals in all areas of their lives. It's the sort of thing that gives back as much as you're willing to put into it, and can be worked through over a period of many weeks or months.

So if you don't know what you want to be when you grow up, or are facing a transition period in your life,  give this a try!

I was compensated for this review by BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are totally my own.

Friday, November 23, 2012

30 Days of Thankful Mini Album: Cover and More Gratitude

I've been consumed with crafting lately. Every spare moment I have I'm trying to work on one of my many open projects. It's great to be excited about something, though I don't have nearly as much time as I'd like to spend on it. Sleep takes higher priority right now.

But I figured out a simple cover design for my 30 Days of Thankful album, using the Martha Stewart labels from Staples.  I printed the text from my computer, thanks to the handy Microsoft Word templates Avery provides online. For some reason, the gold labels wouldn't feed into my printer so I used rub-on letters and stamped some arrows.  (Click for larger images.)

Front cover of album

The inside front cover has a cute phrase from the Silhouette Online Store, "a thankful heart is a happy heart." I cut it using my favorite glittery paper, the American Crafts POW line.  This color is a muted gold called Caramel, the same color I used for the numbers on each page.  

This week I also went back and stamped the days of the week on each page. I have 3 (!) sets of days of the week stamps, so I figured I should actually use them.  I keep buying them with the intention of using them for Project Life, but I never seem to pull them out when I'm working on my pages. Sigh. I am a hoarder, plain and simple.

Yes, those are two different babies in the photos.
This page is about my love for the baby wrap/sling/carrier.

Not sure how many pages I can get away with re: my love for crafting.

I do like the way the stamping looks, and how the pages are still pretty simple, allowing the photos and patterned paper to shine.  So I'll probably leave them as is, and just bind the album once all the pages are complete.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wishing you ham and pie

tiny pie from Whole Foods
Happy Thanksgiving! We had a low key lovely Thanksgiving Day together. Just the 4 of us at home, hanging out.

T chose the menu for dinner earlier in the week. Apparently she had learned about Thanksgiving at preschool and informed us that she wasn't sure she would like turkey.  So I suggested ham and she thought that was a great idea.  And pie, she said. We have to eat pie at Thanksgiving.

So that's what we did. Yesterday we went to Whole Foods and bought a ham steak, four tiny pies (one for each of the pie eaters in the house plus a spare) and some brussels sprouts from the prepared food counter. I made mashed garlic sweet potatoes today and TJ baked biscuits from a tube.

We ate on our fancy china, and enjoyed each others' company. We even made our Creath Family Holiday Fun List, which I'll post in the next few days.

Today was a good day. Hope yours was too!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Project Life: November 2012, Halloween & Election

This was a week where I had way more photos than slots for my Project Life pages.  It covered Halloween and I had a million billion pictures of my darling big girl in her ladybug costume, which she selected back in June and never wavered.

I've also been relying on my phone camera and Instagram for day to day photos.  I'd like to spend more time with the fancy DSLR but it's so big that it's hard to take with us when we're out and about.

I had limited time to finish these pages, so I tried to keep them simple.  Also, I had so many photos that I didn't have much room for craftiness anyway.  Click each photo for a larger view.

Oct 29-Nov 11: Pumpkin farm, election, Twede's, preschool

Oct 29 - Nov 11: Halloween, sisters making faces

My favorite slot - I've been saving these guys for something special :)

I got a little crafty.
I finally used some of the paper from one of those huge paper pads I keep buying when they go on super-sale at our local JoAnn's.  I've finally stopped buying them, because I have more paper than I can possibly ever use and I've come to realize I'm not a fan of themed stuff.  But I was glad to have some "spooky" paper for Halloween - those monsters are adorable.

Oh, and I have two new white pens that actually work well - the Uniball Signo and the Sakura Gelly Roll in plain white. It's like the papercrafting holy grail - an opaque white ink pen that works more than the first time, and writes smoothly.  I've tried a bunch, but these are my favorites.  And even better, Amazon has them for non-extortion prices.

Thanks for sticking with me through 3 crafty posts.  I promise I'll go back to writing about something else, for my non-crafty readers out there!

Friday, November 16, 2012

30 Days of Thankful Mini Album: In Progress

So I told you about my love for 30 day projects.  I recently read about 30 Days of Thankful on Cathy Zielske's blog.  I was going to use her cool printable templates, but I realized I wanted to start using some of the gorgeous paper I've been hoarding, so I created my own album from plain cardstock and pretty shiny fall patterned paper.

The album measures 6x6".  It's a nice size, because I can get 4 pages out of a 12x12 piece of paper (of which I have many!). I'll bind it with my Zutter Bind-It-All tool (love that thing!).

The idea is to capture one thing I'm thankful for on each of the days this month.  I'm horrible at photo-a-day type projects because it's so easy to get behind.  So for this one I tried to prep most of it ahead of time.  These tips are also helpful for anyone planning to do a December Daily album.

  • I made all the album's pages and the covers before November, including the space for me to write down my "thing".
  • Each page has the same format to keep it simple.  I may do some embellishing later (or not). All journaling is handwritten, to make it fast and easy.
  • I found a very cute set of numbers from 1-30 in the Silhouette Online Store and cut those out of glittery paper all at once, and backed them with cardstock.
  • I have a little IKEA bin that holds everything for this project - the markers I'm using, the labels, the empty pages, and the numbers so I can quickly work on a few pages at a time.
  • I downloaded the handy planner from Cathy's blog so I can make notes on the photos I need to print and the topic for each day.
  • I'm using either Instagrams or old photos for each page - no rules about taking a new photo each day.
  • I print all photos at home, and do them in batches for efficiency.
  • Once I've got the photos printed, I add them to the page along with the number, and punch the binding holes.

Here are some photos of the title page, and a few of the first pages.  I won't bore you with sharing every page!  Click for a larger version.

Title page: Basic Grey sticker, Project Life paper, Lawn Fawn & Kelly Purkey stamps

Journaling page: EK Success border punch, Martha Stewart labels, Me and My Big Ideas Fall paper
Photo page: I may add more text or stamping later

Another 2 page spread: I love my puppies!

I'm mostly "caught up" - it doesn't really make sense for me to work on the album itself each day, since it's more efficient me to print photos in batches.  But I do try to write up each thankful thing daily and think about what photo I'd like to use.

Since I've been punching the binding holes as I go along, the only thing I'll have to do at the end is actually bind the pages together.  I've still got to come up with a title design for the front cover, which is on deck for this week.  Once I see all the pages together, I may need to add some little embellishments here and there to make it interesting.

Doing this has made me realize that I don't want to do a daily project for my December "Daily" album.  Too much pressure and stress, and some days we'll have more holiday stuff to record and others nothing. So I'll be doing more of a "December When-I-Feel-Like-It" project.

I'll post more about 30 Days of Thankful next week, with more finished pages, and (hopefully) the covers.

Do you do a "thankful" project?  Tell me about it, or link to it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankful & Start of A Banner Year

It's been a rough week for BabyM (and us!). Her doctor warned us that her peak fussy time would be 6-8 weeks. BabyM is usually pretty mellow and sleepy, but in the past several days has had a really hard time falling asleep and won't, unless she's sleeping ON someone. Which is a little difficult at say, 1am, when I just really want to go back to bed after feeding her.  But TJ has often "taken one for the team" and let her sleep on him while they watch movies late into the night.

Despite all this, I'm so excited to have completed a whole crafty project from start to finish this week.  I made a new banner for our mantel.  I have a bit of an obsession with making banners.  I've made them for T's 1st 2 birthdays, one for the board where we display her artwork, and one for our mantel about a year ago with some of her baby pictures.  

Last Saturday, BabyM and I went to the CKC scrapbooking convention and wandered around the hall doing a little shopping.  One of the booths had tons of cute banners decorating it, and that inspired me to make a fall banner of my own.  Click for a larger view.

This came together pretty easily, thanks to my trusty Silhouette SD die cutting machine.  I'm currently taking a class online on how to get more out of it, and it's been great.  I'm really glad I bought it, though it's taken me a few years to use it regularly.

Lessons learned and quick tips:

  • Measure the total space before cutting out the banner shapes (duh).  I randomly picked a size, and realized that I'd need to put more nails in our mantel, and even then it just barely fits.
  • Wood veneer shapes look great when colored with Copic markers, or slathered in Stickles glitter glue. (I love sparkle!)
  • Use the "Offset" feature in the Silhouette software to make the "shadows" for the letters and to make the inner/outer shapes for the pennants themselves.
  • Use the 'Double Cut' setting in the Silhouette software to get nice clean cuts that peel off the mat like buttah.
  • Cut a similar piece of paper you don't love to "test" the blade and speed settings, before cutting into that special paper.  I had only one sheet of the metallic gold vellum, so I used another vellum sheet first to cut out the hearts as a test.
  • Don't adhere anything with permanent adhesive until you've figured out where *everything* goes.  (this is a problem for me!)
  • It's easier to use the Silhouette to put pre-cut holes in each pennant than try to punch them manually (and evenly!) later.  (This I learned the hard way.)
  • Tapestry needles work great for handsewing with thick thread like embroidery floss - they're easy to thread and handle.

I had a LOT of fun with this.  And then I thought, why stop there? It's part of a new bigger project I'm starting called "A Banner Year".  I will make a new decorative banner for our mantel each month through Oct 2013.  If I pack them carefully, I should be able to reuse them for many years to come, until I get sick of them and want to replace them.

I love the idea of decorating our house with things I've made.  Now I just need more time!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just walk away, there'll be no more tomorrow

Apparently today is the day to read More Working Mother posts.  Laura Vanderkam has a post about the resignation letter from a lawyer who detailed her hellish schedule trying to juggle her family life and work.  The original blog that posted the letter, and the HuffPo article about it (I'm lazy, Laura's post above has links) are about how the work culture in the US is stuck in the 1950s and doesn't jive well with two working parent families.  This, I can totally get behind.

What irks me is all the posts and comments people are making on the different sites about how this woman isn't doing it right, that she's not outsourcing enough, that her quitting to handle family stuff was really an excuse for her not liking her job, and really how she's not prioritizing her time correctly and should be able to work full time, goshdarnit, because everyone else does it.

This is what sets my teeth on edge.  Yes, *some* people can and do outsource everything, down to the night nanny to handle frequent baby wakings.  Yes, *some* people need to work outside the home and would go batshit crazy if they were home with kids all day.  Yes, *some* people thrive on a constant level of busy.

But not all of us are like that. And again, maybe it's because I haven't found my people in blog land so what I'm reading is biased. 

Everyone's life activities are prioritized differently.  Some people simply need more sleep (or uninterrupted sleep). Some people have a passion for what they do for work. Some people homeschool. Some people can only handle having one or two scheduled activities on a weekend.

Tonight, both kids in my house were finally asleep by 7:45pm.  I wasn't going to blog.  As you can see, some of my previous projects had to be dropped, like NaBloPoMo.

But then I read the comments in this AskMoxie post.  Specifically, the ones by Jan and by Gina.   I had to write this post after reading those. These women have articulated how I feel about working, far more eloquently than I ever could.  They do work outside the home, but regret that it changes the relationship and time they spend with their kids. 

There are those of us who do work, but whose work is quite simply a lower priority. Yes, maybe that means I don't LUUURVE my job so much I can't imagine not having it. (For the record, I do like it.)  I've already detailed why I work.

But for me, and apparently at least a few of us out there, the answer is not always "outsource everything".  And that's how I feel every time I see helpful tips like "hire an au pair/nanny" or "have the nanny give the kid a bath before you get home from work" or "just buy the cupcakes at the grocery store".  This may work for some people, heck, even most working parents, but it doesn't work for me.

I want to do these things myself, even if "they" don't think those tasks are important.  I'm very lucky to have an equal partner in my husband, a great preschool, and parents who live nearby for part of the year.  Even with all that, *I* still want to do the hands on stuff, and not squeeze it into the 1 hour we have between dinner and bed.  I'd like to make cupcakes from scratch and discuss and execute elaborate birthday plans with the 3 year old.  And though it's not pleasant, I want to be the one who wakes up with the baby at night, not some person I hired.

I'm glad to know there are other people like me out there, and want to give a shout out to Jan and Gina for making me feel like I'm not an anomaly.  But now, I must go.  There is pumpkin bread to be baked and Project Life pages to be made.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

It's my godforsaken right

BabyM for President in 2048!
Election Day is not that exciting here in Washington where we all vote by mail. TJ and I completed our ballots on Halloween night and I dropped them off at a ballot box last week.

As the daughter of 2 naturalized citizens, it's been ingrained into me that voting is REALLY important. My first presidential election was in 1996. I was in grad school in San Diego and was very proud to get my "I voted" sticker.

We're not always on top of the primaries here, but are pretty good about voting in the regular election. I like our current process - we gather our ballots, voter info pamphlets, my laptop, and a frosty beverage of our choosing, and go through the items line by line. It's fun - we don't have a lot of political discussions in our house, but it's nice to chat about our views in this context.

My reference source is our local alternative newspaper, The Stranger, which publishes a useful Election Guide with their endorsements.

I know that sounds sketchy but they actually interview the candidates and do a good job of explaining why they favor a particular candidate or position.  I don't always agree with their conclusions but their info is helpful for the local elections where we don't know much about either side.

I HATE the game of politics, though.  HATE it.  I don't see this as a spectator sport, and hate the ridiculousness spewed by both sides.  If I could block all political posts on Facebook, I would.  Luckily we don't have TV anymore, so we don't see political commercials except for a handful on We got rid of our home phone line so we don't get robocalls.

A few things I noticed about our voting preferences:
  • TJ doesn't vote on uncontested elections.  I thought that was interesting.  I need to look up what happens with those - if those candidates get just 1 vote do they automatically win? 
  • For local races where we didn't have a strong preference (like Lands Commissioner), we tended to vote for the candidate with a better educational pedigree.  PhD scientist from Berkeley, we voted for you!  Editor of Yale Law Review and Rhodes Scholar, we voted for you too.  Make us proud :)
  • If one candidate didn't bother sending in summary info for the pamphlet, we tended not to vote for him/her.  Seems sort of important, considering most people don't do extensive research on their state representatives and other local officials.
  • As much as we don't discuss politics in our house, we're in agreement on most of the bigger issues and candidates, which is nice.

I feel good about completing my civic duty for another year. Now onto holiday preparations!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Project Life: October 2012, Family of 4

Doing my Project Life pages every 2 weeks was an awesome change.  It's long enough that I'm sure to have enough photos even if we don't do anything exciting.  It's also enough time between pages that I am excited and ready to work on the next set, rather than feeling like I need to catch up or worry about getting behind.

What I can't decide for next year is whether to do one week per 12x12 page, or keep the 2 week time interval across two pages.  I think the week-per-page approach will make me feel that pressure again to not fall behind, though, even if I decide to work on the pages every two weeks.  It also means that for weeks where we don't have much going on, I need to make sure I have some photos or something to write about.  As I write, I'm talking myself out of 1 week per page, and keeping the same approach of 2 weeks per 2 pages.  I love it when a plan comes together!  (Yes, I realize I can just go back and delete this entire paragraph, but of course you wanted to know my entire thought process.)

This past 2 weeks was pretty low key.  We're sort of getting into a routine at home, as much as we can with a tiny baby who sleeps at random times.  But generally, I do the night feedings for BabyM and TJ takes the night wakings with T.  He gets T ready for preschool while BabyM and I sleep.  We often sleep in until 10 or 11, which is awesome, even if we are getting up every 3 hours or so for diaper change/feeding.

Click the photos to see a larger version.

Oct 15-28: Sleep is good, Children's museum

Oct 15-28: Meeting Thatha, Sisters, a tired baby is a good baby

The highlights were my dad meeting BabyM for the first time, and a trip to the Children's Museum where I got a lot of really blurry Instagram photos (unfortunately!).  Mostly we hung out at home.  The time period ended on Oct 28, so Halloween photos will be in the next spread.  Arbitrary, I know, but I wanted to get back to a 2 week time period instead of half-a-month.

I grabbed some of my recent purchases for these pages - the Basic Grey Shine On 6x6 pad and some silver doilies I got at Jo-Ann's, and the "This is Life" card from the newly expanded scrapbooking section at Target.  I also recently sorted all my miscellaneous 3x4 printed cards by color, so I can grab one that matches for an empty slot - I love the "So Tweet" one!  If I hadn't cut them all apart and put them in a box near my desk, I'd never use them.

This spread was pretty easy to put together since it was mostly photos without a lot of "craftiness". I did experiment with stamping on a photo using the Staz-On solvent ink (the "I Love This" on the photo of TJ and BabyM), but it's pretty subtle.  I'll use a lighter photo next time.

I can't believe I've kept up with Project Life for this entire year!  Only 4 more spreads to go!  I'm definitely doing it again in 2013.  What about you?

Linked up with The Mom Creative for Project Life Tuesday.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

5 Things I Love About New Babies

I'm so totally a baby person.  Love them.  But the first 4-5 weeks with BabyT were rough as we sorted out breastfeeding, soothing her to sleep and general life with a newborn. Before BabyM was born, I was wishing I could just "fast forward" through those early weeks.

Tomorrow BabyM will be 5 weeks old, and I'm so glad I didn't find the magic fast-forward button.  It's been delightful to watch her grow from a tiny wrinkly skinny baby to putting on that delightful baby chub on her cheeks, thighs and hands.  She's still got more to go, but is getting nice and squeezable.

In honor of her 5-week birthday, here are five things I love about tiny new babies:

1.  Watching her grow so quickly. It's almost like I can *see* her getting bigger if I keep staring. 

2.  The cute little faces she makes when she's sleeping. TJ calls this her "system startup routine" - her expression goes from sad/crying to half-smiles, to radiant joyful smiles.  All meant for her imaginary friends, I guess.

3.  Dressing her in adorable tiny outfits. She has no opinions about what she wears, so I get to choose.  And everything looks cute on a baby.

4.  Snuggles.  She WANTS us to hold her, and squeeze her, and cuddle on her.  She's not too busy playing or embarrassed by us.

5.  Port-a-baby.  For a couple more months (maybe), we can take her out when we want to.  We're not chained to a nap schedule just yet.  She can sleep on the go.  Though I've noticed she doesn't sleep nearly as well as her big sister did when we're out and about, so our days may be numbered.

she's watching you, and she DOES NOT LIKE what's going on.

You can tell from this that we've been blessed with another relatively easy baby.  (Knock on wood, salt over the shoulder, etc.)  Things are a lot easier this time than last time, even with a 3 year old in the mix.  (She's an awesome Big Sister, by the way.)  Fingers crossed that it'll continue!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Quitting before I start

As always, I have a tendency to take on more projects than I can reasonably handle.  I'm all "ooh, shiny!" about new things, especially crafty ones, and before I know it, I have 37 things competing for my very limited non-sleeping, non-baby-nursing-changing-soothing, non-preschooler-entertaining, non-housework time.  

Here's the list of what I'm supposedly doing right now:
  1. Easing back into Paleo eating - this week, no sugar.  Failed miserably thanks to Halloween.
  2. Meal planning and actual cooking (as opposed to eating out or heating up Frozen Things.)
  3. 30 Days of Thankful mini-scrapbook album
  4. Cut It Out Silhouette online crafty class at Studio Calico
  5. Project Life
  6. Finishing the mini-scrapbook of T and my trip to Portland in July
  7. Setting up the class photo sharing site for T's preschool
  8. Staying on top of laundry (how does one tiny person generate so much?!)
  9. NaBloPoMo
  10. Setting up my December Daily mini scrapbook album once the kit shows up mid-month
  11. Crafty projects for Christmas gifts (calendars, photobooks, M's birth announcement)
  12. Sending out holiday cards (end of month)
  13. Understanding and enrolling in my health insurance plan for next year
  14. Creating and submitting some cards and scrapbook layouts for publications
  15. Submitting an application or two for crafty "creative teams"
  16. Selling craft supplies I'm no longer using online
  17. Making pet ID tags for a few repeat Etsy customers who requested them
It sounds insane when I spell it out, doesn't it?  So I'm likely to ditch NaBloPoMo and slow the clock WAY down on the non-time-sensitive crafty projects.  I'll probably save 2012's photo book for January.  

We can check off "voting" as complete.

I've made great progress on the Portland trip mini album - the whole album is assembled and my photos are printed, and everything is together in one box.  It can rest while I complete some of these other things.

I can't ever seem to get it together in time to make stuff for craft magazine publication calls. I think I have so many projects going, that making cards specifically for the themes requested is way, way down on the list.  I might need to let this one go.  Same for applying to "creative teams", which is basically free labor.  Companies send you free stuff, and in exchange, you make projects with them  and tout their wares.  Sounds like a lot of fun, but it's work with specific deadlines.

What I need to make a priority is my health.  I'm one of those lucky people who loses weight relatively easily while breastfeeding, so if I can harness that chi and combine it with eating right for my body (which is definitely Paleo), I think I can get things under control without having to commit to a major exercise program or restricted diet.  

Now that T is older, I'm also starting to realize the importance of setting a good example.  We tell her she can only have one "treat food" a day, so it doesn't make sense for her to see us chowing down on candy bars and soda multiple times.  

I spend NO time on meal planning - we just shop a couple of times a week and put together meals from what we have so it's often very random.  And then there are MANY times where none of it sounds good so we end up going out.  I need more of a plan, and more stuff prepared ahead of time.  Now that it's fall, I can start using the crockpot again - making a batch of oatmeal weekly has been working quite well.  Not rocket science, but it requires dedicated time.

So while I should be the proud owner of an "I'd rather be crafting" bumper sticker, I do need to cut back on all the open projects.  Right now it's just going to be 30 Days of Thankful, and Project Life since they're time sensitive and I've made great progress on both.

Priorities.  I'd love your take on this.  What do you think is important, and what should go?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Been around the world

I'm a sucker for 30-day challenges.  Like doing the Whole30, or 30 Days of Lists, or my crafty 30 Days of Thankful.  (More on the last two in a future post!)  30 days is short enough that I won't get bored, but long enough to accomplish something.

I just found out that November is National Blog Posting Month, where people are challenged to post *every day* for a month.  There are even daily prompts for it. So I guess I'll give it a shot!  This means I need to go back and do a post for yesterday since I didn't know about this challenge.

Today's prompt is: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Seattle Space Needle
Photo by jcolman on Flickr
I can fantasize about tropical islands with palm trees, daily 75 degree weather and no snow, ever. But that's not my real answer.  My real answer is right where I live now.  We live in a not-so-hip suburb of Seattle.  Everything is closed by 9pm.  But it's home to me like nowhere else has ever felt.

Maybe it's because I love our house.  It was the first one we saw when we started looking to buy a home, but I knew right away that it was "the one".  We've already agreed that we won't ever move to a different house in Seattle.

Another reason is that I love the diversity of our area. There are people from all over the world in our tiny suburb.  There are also TONS of interracial and inter-cultural families.  I noticed at a restaurant one evening that 5 of the 7 other tables near us had interracial couples or families.  As a consequence, it's not weird or unusual that my kids are mixed-race.  No one bats an eye, or even asks about it.  LOVE that.

The small but awesome side effect of all this diversity is that we can get nearly any international cuisine we can think of, within a 25 minute drive, similar to Los Angeles or the Bay Area. Well, except for really good Mexican food.  I'm still searching for that.

One other huge factor is my feeling of "community", which I wrote about 5 years ago, and it's only gotten stronger.  Because I live so close to work and I've been at the same company for almost 10 years, I constantly see people I know when I'm out and about.  Just today I ran into a neighbor and former coworker at Old Navy.  When we took T trick-or-treating, we met up with another neighbor who also used to be a coworker of mine.

We love T's preschool, which is right down our street and has only about 10 families in it right now.  And of course, having lived in Seattle for most of the years since 1997, I have tons of friends in the area.  I can't imagine starting over from scratch in a new town.  Even looking for a Space Needle photo on Flickr yielded one from an acquaintance's husband.  How crazy is that?!

Yes, the weather from October to May sucks.  But we're getting better at taking advantage of the dry days, so we're not trapped inside.  And after 10 years, I think I'm getting used to it.  If we strategically plan a good vacation in February or March, the dreary gray season is bearable.

Your turn.  Where would you live?

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Give me something good to eat

OK, so I'm cheating a little for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) because I didn't realize it was this month and I hadn't posted on Nov 1.  So I'm backdating this one.  My blog, my rules, yo.

Our neighborhood is pretty sad on Halloween.  In the 8 years we've lived here, we've gotten about 2 trick or treaters.  EVER. Most of our neighbors have grown children, plus we live at the top of a dark hill, so it's a lot of work for kids to come up, and probably doesn't seem very safe.  Judging from the number of neighbors with their lights on this year, it wouldn't have been worth all that walking anyway.

But despite my lack of enthusiasm for Halloween, I feel like if you're going to trick or treat, you should do it in your own neighborhood. I don't really get the mall thing, or this "trunk or treat" thing that local churches do. I'm only lukewarm about taking kids to work for the planned festivities, though it's nice to see a different side of my coworkers when their kids are around.

So I was determined that T's first ToT experience would be walking around our neighborhood in the cold and dark.  We all set out together, which was really nice.  We chatted with the neighbors we knew, and T was probably their only trick or treater, so they made a big deal out of it.  It was fun, and after the first house, T declared "we should do MORE trick or treating".  Though we couldn't actually get her to say "Trick or treat", so we settled on "can I please have a candy?" and "Happy Halloween!".

A good time was had by all and the wee ones were in bed by 7:30pm.  What more could we want?

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