31 January 2014

Kiddie Videos

Since Jane climbed out of her crib I have been wary of exercising during her naptime, mostly because I don't want to be surprised and I want to be able to hear her at all times. So I've altered our routine and do the exercises in the morning (I tried doing them at the same time and letting her stay up, but I ended up rage-filled trying to do something I didn't like with the added hindrance of a needs-to-be-napping toddler).

Working out in the morning after breakfast has been working out so far -- maybe a week and a half? She's less clingy (hard to do push-ups with an extra 30 lbs on your back), and she likes to pretend to do some of the exercises and read or play the rest of the time. I still get mad when she climbs on me but we're working on sorting that out.

After my exercises she wants to do "toddler exercises," because I showed her a Mickey Mousercize video once. It snowballed from there to watching the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Hot Dog video and a Jimmy Fallon & the Roots sing the Sesame Street theme video (oh-em-gee I love it!). I even watched "Let it Go" from Frozen with her -- making me want to see the movie that much more. And we watched the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood intro song. Nostalgia!

So, her no-screen time is officially broken, as put them together and it's about 5-10 minutes a day (plus the exercise video, which is usually 25-35 minutes). Still less than the 1-2 hour limit recommended by the AAP. I don't feel good or bad about it -- just neutral I guess. She LOVES it though, and I know if I were to leave her in front of a running YouTube set up or something she'd be still and quiet for a good chunk of time. As it is I watch with her and try to get her to dance with the music -- sometimes she will, sometimes not. And then we shut it down for the day and transition into something else -- books, playing, going out, whatever.

For what it's worth here are our regular favorites so far:



30 January 2014

Car Seat Shuffle

Jane's car seat is still installed rear-facing, even though she's nearly 27 months old. The law used to be rear-facing until age 1 and 20 lbs. (both had to be true), but just before Jane was born that was changed to recommend rear-facing until at least age 2.

Her main car seat, a Britax Marathon, has a sticker on the side with the old rule, something like "use rear-facing only for children younger than 1 and less than 20 lbs." But looking at the seat's manual it says "Use rear-facing for children 5 – 35 pounds, and forward-facing 20 – 65 pounds." Jane still fits into that rear-facing category (weighs less than 35 pounds).

There are also new car seat rules for 2014 about how the seats should be installed. (Awesome explanation here at The Car Seat Lady.) We use the LATCH system now, and from what I can tell that is still fine. Basically the new recommendations say that the seat plus the child's weight should be less than 65 pounds if the seat is to be installed with LATCH. Otherwise it should be installed with the seatbelt. Jane's weight plus the carseat weight is definitely less than 65, so we're good keeping LATCH For now too.

I'm not sure when we'll turn her seat around. I'm sure she'd like it and it could make getting her in and out easier, but she's much safer rear facing, at least in terms of a crash. Here are some sites I looked at when we were first considering moving her car seat to face forward in November/December:
I couldn't find any sites supporting the idea of turning her seat around being better for her safety in any way, although if I'm missing some I'd be grateful to have them pointed out to me.

Part of me wonders if I am keeping her rear-facing to extend her babyhood, and if I'm being selfish. But that is a small part of me, because I know this is for her safety in the event of a crash. I hope we never have to put it to the test, now or whenever she is flipped around to face forward.

Am I being ridiculous about this?

Affiliate link used for car seat.

29 January 2014

Clean Bird and Random Ice Updates

I can't stop thinking about this Jezebel post about showering and how often is normal. The comments are as interesting as the post. They are mostly about not showering daily. For what it's worth I shower every night but wash my hair every third or fourth day. I can't imagine not using soap, but then I've never given it any thought. We bathe Jane every other day and use the mildest soap imaginable, for which I'm ever grateful to my friend for introducing to us.

Frozen driveway -- ice pellets
We had another snow day (or faux sneaux), which was good because the roads were icy and dangerous until the afternoon. I don't understand why the mail didn't run, but whatever.

This stay-at-home for multiple days in a row has coincided with my second cold of the year. This one has hit me like a freight train, as opposed to the last one that crept up on me and lingered. I can only hope that this one will just go away as quickly as it came.

Also for the first time in more than three years I can actually take medicine (not pregnant and not nursing). Two nights ago night time cold medicine sent me into a deep foggy sleep that was unfamiliar and scary, so I skipped it last night. Big mistake, as I had poor sleep and not enough of it. Tonight I'll brave the crazy feeling just to get some rest and hopefully recover.

Icicles on the roof
The staying at home thing isn't totally difficult for me, as I can easily go a couple days without leaving the house if I'm not careful (especially since I've been trying to stay away from Target and mindless shopping). With warmer weather we usually hit up the park, which is a welcome relief. It will be warm enough later this week to do that too.

I haven't lost any productivity either -- although I wonder how much they can total the storm's impact on the economy to the region and our city. I still did my chores, exercised and kept Jane entertained, fed and mostly happy. Having Shawn home helps with her happiness. This stupid cold is surely bringing me down, and a couple times today I thought I would just collapse on the couch in a heap... Maybe tomorrow.

I'm not sure how I picked up this second round of cold germs. I know Jane was sick for one day last week after we had a play date, so that's possible. (I made a big point of scheduling the date AFTER we were all healthy from 2014 cold round 1, but the other family did throw some sneezes and coughs in Jane's face.) If I got it from kissing Jane's face I guess it's worth it -- I love kissing my big girl. But I'd still rather not be sick!

There is another possible source though. I started feeling sick Sunday evening, and I'm ALWAYS suspect of passing the peace, which we now do every week at church. I don't think I'm a big germ-o-phobe, but I am aware of public health best practices and how washing hands stops the spread of germs. And seeing the pastors (and helpers, sometimes children helpers) serve communion intinction-style after touching everyone in the sanctuary without so much as a swipe of hand sanitizers always makes me leery. No one listens to my suggestions though so I've just stopped sharing ideas.

What a positive bird am I.

28 January 2014

Goodbye Open Diary

Starting in December 2000 until about May 2013 I wrote somewhat regularly at Open Diary, an online blogging site before blogging was cool. I had written a bit before that in a self-coded website (geocities or tripod or both), but the ease of OD -- and the included anonymous audience -- made writing much easier and more satisfying. I stumbled upon the site after looking at bored.com in my dorm room while procrastinating school work. It was quite the happy -- and long-lasting -- find.

After I started this blog, linked to my own name, I backed off writing on OD, except for when I wanted to write something that just wasn't right for this blog -- i.e., could hurt feelings or was too personal to be publicly tied to myself. Not that my OD was untraceable. I'm sure if anyone wanted to they could have figured it out, and there are people from OD who know about this blog too. So the trail is there. But somehow it felt safer, more anonymous.

Now it is closed. The home page doesn't even load anymore. There had been rumblings about it already, so I had downloaded my diary -- not sure if I wrote any more entries after I downloaded, and I can't check now. So that's that. All I'm left with is a massive notepad file. It includes comments, but there's no way to track down anyone I haven't connected with already outside of OD.

They say nothing really ever leaves the Internet though, so I'm sure via the wayback machine or some other archiving process someone could read about my angst over boys in college or complaints about whoever was pissing me off at a given time. I don't know that I'll ever ready my own archive, except maybe I should mine it for material for this blog!

I hadn't thought about OD in a while anyway, so I appreciate my friend who tipped me off to its final demise in a comment here. Thanks.

27 January 2014

Crochet on a Dime

Snowflake afghan I made for my Gran several years ago
I really like to crochet, and I also really like to look at crochet books. Of course a great way to get new pattern ideas is through the library, and even better for me is loan access to digital crochet books (made possible by my Christmas gift Kindle Fire that allows me to see the photos in color!). Here are some of the favorites I've checked out recently:

Crocheting School is a nice big book with lots of pictures. It covers basic stitches, plus many I've never tried (afghan/Tunisian, hairpin lace and using a loom for example). Published in 2004 its yarn examples look outdated in color combinations (hard to believe 10 years is enough time to do that!), but the techniques are so great. I have made the three-layered Irish lace flower, thinking I'll make some hair clips for Jane, and I tested the interlocking rings in Christmas colors just for fun.

Uncommon Crochet: Twenty-Five Projects Made from Natural Yarns and Alternative Fibers is one I checked out electronically. A bit more modern (published in 2012), it has fun projects to try with materials other than yarn. I really want to make the leather basket, and the raffia placemats look intriguing too.

101 Crochet Stitch Patterns and Edgings is another 2012 release that I borrowed digitally, and it's just a stitch dictionary with straightforward directions for each pattern. I bookmarked three to try -- a chevron, a rainbow arch and a starburst/alternating shell.

I will soon exhaust my library's digital and print collection, but I still like to look at more patterns. Browsing online is one way to go, and there are certainly many free patterns available. But often I prefer a more book-like experience. A quick search on the Amazon Kindle store for "crochet" revealed many free pattern books. They're released by yarn makers in the hopes that you'll pick a pattern and buy the suggested yarn, but it's still a great way to find some new patterns and ideas.

Here are some not-free but still cheap books that I'm thinking about investing in, although most are available to borrow for free with the Prime Kindle Owners' Lending Library:
And I could keep looking for hours, but my naptime window is closing. (There was no nap today, but she won't stay resting in her crib forever!)

Do you have any other ideas for inexpensive crochet? This doesn't even touch on the ways to save on materials. I have enough acrylic worsted weight yarn to keep crocheting hats for a good long while, but I keep coveting and wanting more -- especially now some lighter weight variegated sock yarn for making a drapey pineapple pattern baby blanket!

Disclosure: Affiliate links used throughout.

26 January 2014

Wintry Mix

Frozen bunny in our garden

Frozen trash and recycling cans
On Friday we had a bit of a wintry mix weather situation, and the town SHUT DOWN. The bridge over the river was closed -- the only reliable way to cross was via the slow and overcrowded ferry. We stayed home all day, although Shawn did go to work. It was cold, but it didn't snow. There was icy rain and some sleet/ice pellets. Nothing like the beautiful snow I remember from NYC.

There may be some more weather coming in Tuesday, a 30% chance and definitely cold. I absolutely love it, as being slightly nippy in my warm house is OK by me. But there might be a small part of me turning into a southerner that's looking forward to warmer days ahead. (Who am I kidding, we have warmer days mixed in between this cold days -- it's going to be about 60 today I think!)

25 January 2014

Preschool Panicking

It doesn't matter who is talking to me or what their opinion is. Any mention of preschool or Jane's education otherwise is enough to make my insides seize up and my breathing to go shallow. Without being too dramatic I really want to avoid the whole situation.

When homeschoolers ask me about preschool and why in the world I'd think she needs that, I get defensive.

When someone asks me whether she's in a mother's day out or similar program, even if they are just making conversation, I get defensive.

When anyone asks about where we want her to go to preschool I just flat out panic in addition to being defensive!

I can't be the sole provider of Jane's education for sure, and I respect those people who are able to be that for their children. But I know that home schooling isn't for us. I don't know how to work the system in the Baton Rouge education market (and that's what it is, a market) to get into the "right" school, whatever that actually is.

I'm interested in Jane having a solid education, not socially climbing or trying to get into a school where she'll be among the elite/future power brokers of the city or state. (How weird is it to think of preschool as the precursor to that kind of thought?) I also don't want her to be in a failing school with ill-prepared teachers and unmotivated students.

A friend at church said he doesn't worry about his kids because he knows they're smart enough that wherever they get in their family will be able to make it work and they'll excel anywhere. Rationally I know that's true for Jane. But it doesn't stop me from fretting needlessly -- mostly needlessly because the fretting doesn't lead to any action, not that I'm aware of any action I can take at this moment anyway given that she's 2.

(I wanted to apply to an LSU lab school through the department of human ecology, but that website is gone and I can find no mention of it anywhere besides outdated preschool compilation sites.)

We're on the list for the university day care, so perhaps we should accept our spot when we come to the top of the list again. But that care is expensive, I can't imagine being away from her and there's no part-time option. Would I be ready to let her start when she's almost 3? What if I wait until she's almost 4? Is that too long to be out of the workforce?

And that's the rub -- while my panic about preschool and Jane does center on her well being and development there is a part of it that is about ME and my wants/needs and what's expected of me from some unknown (and perhaps imaginary) them.

24 January 2014

Reading Rainbow

I love to read, and with an amazing Christmas gift of a Kindle Fire and access to tons of books via my library's ebook selection I've already started plowing through several books this year. The Kindle is linked to Goodreads automatically, since Amazon now owns it, but gone is any way to simply tweet about the book itself without also posting to Goodreads. (I also have an old school early generation Kindle that I have to decide what to do with, but I could tweet something without linking to Goodreads on it.)

One thing that is neat is to see the books I read in a specific year. I have never fully cataloged my reading on Goodreads, and I don't really keep track of the books I've read anywhere else. The Kindle makes it easy to add any Amazon books -- either Kindle or ordered in print -- by accessing your Amazon account. I didn't do that yet, because really what does it matter?

I will try to record the books I read on the Kindle -- but not every one. I've been reviewing several crochet pattern books (AMAZING) and read most of a fitness book, but I don't think I want to count those in "what I read in 2014." Maybe if my count is low at the end of the year though I'll go back and add them! Because my library loans link to my Amazon account those details will be there forever I think. :-/

Anyway, here's the latest book I read, finished today, and briefly what I thought of it (brief because I can't type well on the touch screen).

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Surprisingly Novel-like

I didn't realize I had chosen nonfiction until I started the book. I loved the details and everything about the fair. having that interwoven with the serial killer story made for a book I didn't want to put down.

View all my reviews
 
I was very impressed with the amount of research that went into the book. It reminded me of my grad school days and the work I got to do in the National Archives II in College Park. It was fun and felt somewhat exciting to sift through records and documents that no one had seen in decades. (I was focusing on female reporters during the Vietnam War.) There are many more stories like this to be told I'm sure, but the level of effort it requires seems insurmountable. I know I'm late to the game (try 10+ years) for this popular book, but I salute the author for his work and will probably check out more of his books.

Affiliate links used.



23 January 2014

Therapeutic Shopping or Lifting Weights

Today I broke my self-prescribed Target fast. I tracked my spending in December and saw patterns I didn't like. I tend to buy things to make myself feel better, and that really isn't healthy. So I decided to stay away from Target for at least a month.

I didn't quite make it, mainly because of diapers. I had it in my head that potty training *might* happen this month so didn't really count how many we had left before I started the "fast." As we crept ever closer to zero diapers I realized I'd either have to buy non-Target diapers or break the fast.

Obviously I chose a small Target run. (Target diapers work so well for us -- no leaks/no problems/affordable.) I bought bananas too, but was pretty good in-and-out. I looked at some clearance items as I walked by them and checked out the kettle bells, because I think I want to buy one. But I was able to resist any extraneous purchases. Just being in the store made me feel good and happy though. What is wrong with me?

Re: kettle bell, I did a Jillian Michaels kettle bell workout and just used my 2 lb. dumbbell. It was fine, and even picking up the 7 lb. kettle bell in Target made me think about how much harder it would be -- and what a better workout.

At my metabolic clinic appointment this week the new RN I'm seeing (because the old one moved away) suggested only 1/3 of exercise be cardio and to really focus on muscle building exercises with weights. My body can certainly build muscle, and although I don't totally believe her that I can drop weight that way given my experiences losing weight in the past, I thought I would give it a try. I'm just not sure how to get my hands on heavier weights without joining a gym. Hrm.

The Jillian Michaels videos incorporate cardio into the routines with weights/strength training, so I'll keep sampling those until I do them all/am completely bored with them. The RN didn't think that was the best idea/doesn't like JM. But she couldn't give me a good reason why not. Mostly I just have to keep up the consistency.

Maybe I should check Craigslist for a used kettle bell or heavier weights. I think I need to give myself another month off Target. I bought the huge box of diapers, so I should be OK through February... I will probably let myself off the hook to make a few other purchases before then though...

19 January 2014

Hello Kitty Crochet Hat

I made this Hello Kitty-inspired hat in a few hours one Wednesday. It's for Jane and turned out pretty cute.

It's the same basic hat that I used to make my toddler Christmas hats with different shapes for the eyes and nose, plus long stitches for the whiskers. I'm still not sure that I'm happy with those, and I almost wish I had edged the hat in pink or done the side braid ties completely in white.

Overall I'm pretty happy with it, although Jane likes to wear it backwards -- maybe more of a Goodbye Kitty look?

17 January 2014

The Terrible Twos

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/2454450843/in/photostream/
Bingo Number 2 by LEOL30 on Flickr
After a few months of parenting a two-year-old, I'm starting to think it isn't her who is terrible, but me. She is going about her business, trying to learn new things, but it's me who's resistant to change, and frustrated simultaneously by her lack of independence and her lack of dependence, if that makes any sense.

She's too big to be babied, and I can't physically corral her with any sort of ease -- but she's not quite big enough to do most things by herself. It seems her least favorite thing is to follow instructions or requests, regardless of whether she agrees with them.

I'm sure she's ready for a lot more than I've introduced her to, but I still hesitate. And sometimes when we try a new thing -- like colored play dough from a package -- it goes well for a while, but whammo! One afternoon without a nap and she reverts and tries to take a giant bite of the blue dough. Gross! And no more play dough for a good long while.

Early childhood development is fascinating stuff, and I'm privileged to be a part of Jane's and watch it unfold. But I don't always like the mama that I am while it happens!

16 January 2014

Num Nums are Not Forever

This week I said goodbye to an important part of my parenting life up to this point. Jane stopped nursing, after just over 26 months. I'm feeling lots of feelings about it.

I have thought of myself as an accidental hippie mama in this respect, but really I am an intentional lactivist and wholly believe that extended nursing has been a boon to her health and development. It's also been pretty great for me, what with regular releases of feel-good hormones (and you know I need all the feel-good-ness I can get!).

Now that weaning is over I can feel the difference, but at least our weaning was gradual. I haven't had any engorgement or pain issues. When I started drafting this post, everything felt fine emotionally. But a couple days later and the hormonal bottom has dropped out so to speak. I've had a terrible, no-good, horrible day with lots of crying and am trying to regain equilibrium. I'm chalking it up to the hormonal shifts that come with completed weaning, although it is probably a lot of things together. I just didn't know it would hit me so hard.

I'm quite proud that we made it so far, but I'm actually more surprised that we've completed weaning! I was starting to think it wouldn't happen, mostly because we both love it so much. It had started getting more challenging, with her being so big and unfocused about it.

I wanted the perfect children's book to say goodbye to nursing, but I never found a good one. We did read "Ready to Wean" a lot (affiliate link), and talked about the concept, so it was at least partly an intellectual assent on her part too. She did understand why we were going to stop and was able to agree to "no more num nums."

We didn't set a firm deadline, but it just sort of happened, as I suggested not nursing one night before bed (extra singing and cuddles in its place), and we kept dropping until even the nap nursing was gone. The last time we nursed was very briefly on Sunday 1/12 before her nap.

My body had a very difficult time getting pregnant, and it's never been a well-oiled machine. But I found out that it can feed a baby to perfection. For the first 6+ months of Jane's life she was all breast milk all the time, and she was the chubbiest, most beautiful and healthy baby. Her doctor often proclaimed her "perfect" and pointed out how proud I should be for providing her with that nutrition.

But it was really just the easiest thing. I didn't have to think about it after the first month or so, and after six weeks we stopped tracking and just went to feeding on demand (mainly because Christmas travel screwed up my note taking). It's the feeding her food that's been so much more difficult!

Jane's been pretty healthy, avoiding most fevers and colds thanks in part I'm sure to the protective qualities of breast milk. I'll be interested to see if she gets sick more often now, although it's not a fair comparison since she's much more out in the world these days and her immune system is more mature.

It's a bittersweet time, as I'm going to miss the special bond -- and the guaranteed soother. But I'm glad to have this baby girl continue to grow into childhood.

11 January 2014

Saying No

Without a regular paying job I don't have a lot of out-of-the-house commitments. So it seems like when I'm asked to do something I should say yes, in part to get out of the house and also because why wouldn't I as long as I can figure out child care?

I said yes to a spiritual leadership academy simply because I was asked. It has turned into a pretty big commitment -- financially more than a $100 in the registration fee plus books for each author -- and time, since there are four "weekend" retreats that involve being away a Friday evening and most of a Saturday. And it's not even up my alley/something I'm that interested in. I said yes simply because I was asked. (In hindsight it wasn't even an exclusive ask/important that I attend like I was led to believe. There were plenty of other people who WANTED to be part of the academy and would have gladly taken my place.)

So I was asked (or rather told, obscurely in a mass email) to be part of a leadership workshop for my church, specifically about the church and its work (I think?). This actually IS up my alley, in that I try to keep the communications content channels flowing and their website from looking absolutely horrible. But because it was this weekend and next weekend is one of these weekend retreats I found myself able to say NO.

I didn't get any pushback (probably because it was such a bizarre mass email invite), but I still find myself feeling guilty and like I'm playing hooky from something I should be obligated to attend. (Doesn't help that they're posting multiple pictures and updates on Facebook ... when they usually don't touch social media much at all!)

I hope they can figure out some communications steps without me sticking my nose in and trying to run everything (because that's really what I end up trying to do). I never can get anything to happen though because of lack of feedback and lack of any authority, which is actually fine by me, but I'd rather not bother/get so involved and care about a project just to see it wither on the vine.

What a whine-bucket.

10 January 2014

Disney Worms Its Way In

Even without regular screen time I've got a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse-loving toddler on my hands. We listen to a lot of Pandora during the day, usually the Toddler Tunes channel. I'd say about 50% of the songs are somehow Disney-related.

I'm not complaining because I actually love the They Might Be Giants songs for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Jane does too. Hot Dog is a favorite, as is the title track (after looking it up seems like those are the only two TMBG songs, although the band has put out some other kids music).

I think I'd actually like to buy the album (affiliate link), but I'm trying to curb my spending as a self-improvement exercise ... and to see if I can actually do it. It's been about 12 days since I've been to Target and even longer since shopping online. And it is rough.

But I digress.

The Pandora listening is also really driving an urge in me to see some of the new Disney movies, specifically Tangled and Frozen. Man, those songs are good. And hearing Little Mermaid songs always makes me want to watch that. Even seeing The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast sounds good to me, and I never really loved either of those films.

It just goes to show how great Disney is at marketing through every channel. I want to resist the corporate conglomeration that is the mouse. I don't think we'll ever be all-things-Disney, but I do think I'll eventually break...

08 January 2014

Static Electricity

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mzmo/2438511720/
mysterious by Adventures of KM&G-Morris on Flickr
We've had a bit of a cold snap here, even in the South. And with that we've had really dry air. I know it's drier outside, but also running the heat so much makes is SUPER dry inside. I may have become too acclimated to the humid climate!

We've been sparking it up nonstop here, and I'm not sure how to combat it. It's probably only a problem for 1-2 weeks per year, but it's kind of wild.

I don't use fabric sheets or fabric softeners to stay away from added chemicals or things like that near my daughter's skin (or ours for that matter). But that left us with washcloths stuck to crocheted blankies and static everywhere. And I'm tempted to get a box of unscented dryer sheets to rub over the offending garments and blankets.

The dry air also has given us some crazy spark nightlights when Jane kicks under the blankets. I don't know if it's the zipper of her one-piece jammies or if it just happens no matter what. I was a little freaked out last night during a 2 a.m. visit (unusual these days, but not unheard of). I don't think that's what woke her up, but it very well could have been thirst. (I gave her a drink of water.)

Do you have any advice to deal with the static electricity in clothes and bedding? We're also walking around shocking each other quite a bit. What a silly problem to have.

05 January 2014

Crochet Eloise Toddler Sweater & Beanie Cap

Using this amazing pattern from Moogly Blog, I decided to attempt another toddler garment. I wasn't disappointed, and the resulting sweater was easy and is so adorable. I made it mostly while re-watching Sherlock with Shawn on our new Roku (thanks, Grandma Dale!).




I also made a matching beanie cap with the extra yarn (and there's still more to play with). I used the beanie pattern from my Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers book (affiliate link). It was also easy and cute and took about 20 minutes.

03 January 2014

Home is Where The Heart Is

I sort of went down a rabbit hole accidentally while Christmas shopping. My Oklahoma family has started doing a "clean" Santa exchange in lieu of buying gifts for everyone. I decided to try to buy something fun and artisan or somehow support a non-corporation.

While I waited for my chance to go to a local arts market (where I eventually bought a custom wooden cutting board and a tin of Louisiana pecans for the gift exchange) I perused Etsy and found a couple potential things. While I was looking I found a really cool letterpress print of Oklahoma, and I decided I wanted to get it. I had a $5 Etsy gift card somehow, so click-click-click I got it.

I thought I would also get versions for Louisiana and Virginia, but the artist didn't make those states as her prints. I found some other state prints that were cute, particularly the Home is Where the Heart Is series. I ordered that in the Louisiana version with the heart on Baton Rouge (and had a great experience working with the designer, who gave me digital proofs to show me what it would be like -- originally it was horizontal but I was envisioning vertical because that's how the OK letterpress one was ... in the end I should have gone with her original design). I also ordered a Virginia print from a different sellers' State Heart series, but I didn't think about its orientation. When it came horizontal I decided that I needed a matching Oklahoma one to make the heart theme complete (instead of the vertical "wind come sweeping down the plain" letterpress one).

After I ordered a three-5x7-opening frame that would no longer work because the prints varied in orientation I picked up some frames at Target (on sale, but still), and decided to put the vertical Louisiana one in an 8x10 with a matte. The second Oklahoma print came just before we left for Oklahoma, so I put everything together, wrapped it up and slapped on a "To Shawn" label, as if to make it seem intentional. Oh me.

(To add more insult, I realized as I was putting them in frames that I absolutely could have done state outlines with hearts placed on them then had them printed at Kinko's or something for pennies. That's basically what the OK and VA ones are, although I guess I can feel good about supporting a small business.)

Shawn hung them up on the wall next to our front door, and I like them a lot. I might want to add some other family photos to the arrangement. Or maybe I'll just leave them as is. I still have the original OK letterpress print that started this out. It looks cute in a frame on a shelf in the sunroom.

I'm trying to detox from such frivolous shopping right now. It's hard with all the sale emails that keep popping in my inbox. (There's a Walgreen's free - just pay shipping - brag book that I'm passing up!)

01 January 2014

A Brand New Year

2013 was actually an OK year for me. Professionally speaking I made zero strides, and I'm probably reversing my marketability every day, but otherwise it was a great year. (Actually I have done a couple side jobs that should help me from being completely unemployable in the future.)

Jane continues to develop and amaze me (and frustrate me) on a daily basis. She's a cool kid and so much fun to be around. Shawn's very happy in his career, and we both like our hobbies (woodwork and crochet). All told we're doing well.

We didn't do quite as much traveling in her second year as her first. We began the year with a short weekend trip to Memphis to visit some friends. We drove to Oklahoma twice -- once for Mother's Day and also for Christmas. We did a two-week trip to Minneapolis in July that was a lot of fun (although that's when American Airlines severely damaged our stroller). Jane and I flew to Oklahoma in August while Shawn was overseas. And we were gone for three weeks in October/November for an East Coast trip to DC and visiting my in-laws. We spent two weekends in New Orleans; one in February and one around Jane's birthday in November.

I thought about making this handprint calendar with Jane after it was sent to me on Facebook. Jane's never worked with paint before, so the idea that I could get 12 good looking handprint images is a bit ambitious. I am tucking it away though with the idea that we could make several of these at the end of 2014 as gifts. Surely by the time she's 3 she'll be able to follow directions and be a bit crafty? (And/or maybe I'll be less gun-shy about tackling such a big project.)


Happy New Year!