Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"Home" for the Holidays

Well, it's official; I've now spent my first holiday season away from my family and friends. I've always been the kind of person that can throw myself into enough things that when I talk to everyone, it sounds like I'm really busy, and there are just no problems adjusting to whatever new life change has come my way. Truth? I'm homesick! I think I called my parents' house at least four times yesterday, just to check up on the progress of the gift-opening, dinner preparation, and general mayhem.

That in mind, I looked at the calendar and realized that I've already been here six months...maybe there's something to that whole must keep busy mantra. Being pregnant has certainly made the time go more quickly, although I say that having Henry has made this pregnancy go more quickly, so whatever it is, time is going quickly. We get to find out the sex of the baby on Monday, and I can't believe that I'm already almost half-way there!

H and I seem to be getting into a groove together; having little craft projects on most days has seemed to break things up enough, and the quiet time is not such a stuggle. The overalls with double shirts has also made life great, as there has not been a single diaper off incident since.

The un-home for the holidays went far more smoothly than I thought it would. J had the two days before Christmas off, and then didn't have to go into work until 1:00 on Christmas Day.

A friend of mine whisked H and I away to her home in the later afternoon, where I enjoyed a dinner of cheese and meat fondue, followed by a to die for yule log by Harry and David...YUM! Of course I came in sweatpants because my two pairs of maternity jeans that fit were in the laundry, and, who wants to do laundry on Christmas? Not Me! Luckily, she didn't mind.

J gave me the sewing machine that I've been eyeing and my sister-in-law gave me two quilting books from my wishlist...coupled with the boxed set of the Jason Bourne movies from H (who doesn't love Matt Damon?), I'd say the holidays were a total hit, and I did feel surprisingly "at home".

I know this post is all over the place, but that's kind of how I feel lately. I've made a couple of friends here, who have kids H's age (lifesaver!). So, even though I miss my friends, I'm starting to realize that the time will come when I'll have to leave the friends that I'm making here, and that I'll feel the same way about leaving them that I did about leaving my Oregon friends...but that's a worry for another day!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Results Are In!

Here is a sampling of some of the crafts I created this holiday season...
The poem on the quilt

The infamous "hand" quilt..

Earrings made of sterling silver and strawberry quartz

Earrings made of Sterling Silver and Glass Beads

Earrings made of gold and Glass Beads

Coin purse that I knit and then's my first experience with felting and it was pretty fun, so look for more in the future!


I just wanted to do a quick plug for my friend Karlee Fuchs and her great fabric bags. Not only are they maticulously hand-crafted from great fabric, they are very reasonably priced, and she gets them to you in no time flat. All of her products are made with durability in mind, which means they are washer/dryer safe...a huge bonus for us moms who carry sippy cups whose seal is not always fool-proof and other unsavory items on a daily basis.

Karlee has a goal other than financial freedom in making her bags and other fabric crafts. She'd like to raise awareness for Pallister Killian Syndrome (PKS), which is a rare disorder with which her daughter has been diagnosed. Claire loves to draw and is quite the arteest, so Karlee and Claire are pairing up to create a fun line of fabric crafts based on her drawings. A portion of the profits from that line will go to PKS-related causes.

The photo above is of the kit that she sells for her Fancy Drawstring Bag. It comes complete with the pattern and even the thread for only $15.00. Karlee's no fool...she knows that you can either give a man a fish, or teach him to it for himself! For those of you who would prefer the hand-out, she sells the completed version too, of course ;)
Her name is hyper-linked above, and she maintains a store on both Ebay and Etsy, under Karlee Fuchs. She is very open to custom orders and has great customer service. Her studio is both pet and smoke-free.

How to Make an American Quilt?

Well, you have your mom finish it, that's how.

Several months ago, I got the genius idea to replicate a quilt for my parents that my aunt had made for my grandparents. Forgetting that my aunt had been sewing (professionally) for several years. I had my sisters all trace their hands, and the hands of their children, leaving a space for as yet un-born/un-conceived grandchildren, as I had always thought it a little sad that I was the end of the line on my grandparent's version, although several were born after me.

I faithfully cut out the hands from brightly colored fat quarters, bonded them onto muslin and embroidered them on. I then used fabric dye pens to write the names and dates of birth of each person on the squares, as well as writing the poem on the large square in the center. I printed all text from the computer, giving the script that extra professional flair.

I felt such a sense of accomplishment. I was going to get this puppy done and in the mail in time to have them open in on Christmas day. I had envisioned a tear trickling down the face of my dad as he saw that this was a replica of the quilt given to my grandparents just before my grandfather passed away.

I should have known better....

Big J took H Christmas shopping so that they'd be out of my hair while I completed the quilt top, and I could use what little space we had to sit on the floor controlling the foot pedal for the sewing machine with one hand and guiding the fabric/taking out pins with the other. A ha! Done! I then attempted to lay it out (as evidenced above) and realized that there was not a single space in our apartment that would accomodate a queen-sized quilt. was I going to get the layers together?

Not only that, but I unrolled the batting (Quilter's Dream, of course...which should have been a my dreams I'd get this done correctly) to find that it was much larger than the dimensions of a queen quilt...for errors maybe? All I know is, it was NOT helpful!

I then got the genius idea to layer them on my own's a queen right? After several attempts, that did not work either.

I then called my friend, whose much more experienced with quilting and got several tips from her.

I sewed the quilt top and backing together as if to make a duvet cover. It was genius! It worked perfectly. Now, all I had to do was get the batting inside...yeah, all I had to do.

Suffice it to say, it was a disaster which resulted in me giving up at 1 am (I had started at about 6pm), calling my mom, and explaining that I'd made her and dad a quilt for Christmas (not telling her what it was), but it looked like poop and wasn't getting any better. Before I ruined it, I told her I wanted to just send it to her as is to see if she could fix it, because I just did not have the space to line up all the layers, and that wasn't going to change.

She was very nice about it, but my vision of them opening their beautiful quilt was quickly replaced with the reality of them opening up a balled up blob. Merry Christmas! A quilt that you have to quilt yourself! Cool, I guess my favorite daughter status is shot to hell for this Christmas...I'm sure the other sister's didn't provide labor-required gifts.

To make it even better, I went to Target in order to get a plastic gift bag to put it in, because the last thing I needed was for it to be a soggy balled up blob. I made my purchase and headed to the car to put the quilt in, as we were headed straight for the post office. I started unfolding the bag and realized it was the size of bag in which people place BIKES...awesome, now it was a huge platic bag with the quilt in the bottom, rolled up and shoved in the box. Merry F'ing Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ginger Spice

I dropped my sister off at the airport yesterday morning, and said a sad good-bye to a fun week of Christmas baking and having someone else to help out with H. Sherri Poppins is the kind of person that just can't be idle, so she has to empty the dishwasher, run a load of laundry, etc all to my half-hearted protests, because it really is nice to have the help.

We made about 5 pounds of fudge, several dozen sugar cookies and chocolate coconut macaroons, and then had to make time to consume a good portion of them. Suffice it to say, I'll have to eat oatmeal for the next year to make up for the cholestoral from the (at least) stick of butter that I ate...but it tasted so good!

We got to watch some Sex and the City after H went to bed, and also had fun entertaining him with making sugar cookies, and letting him frost and decorate them. Pictured above is a gingerbread man that I bought at a grocery store and let H decorate. I have no comment about his placement of sprinkles, other than it brings new meaning to the ginger in Gingerbread Man.
He had so much fun with Sherri because she's game for anything. She was "the dog" giving him endless rides, and she also was not the cold, heartless person his mother is, so he did not have an iota of quiet time while she was here...which is going to be fun to reverse when she's gone.

All of my Christmas crafting was completed in a timely manner, and all packages have arrived at their new owner's homes. My Christmas cards are out, and the plates of goodies delivered. So why am I spending today searching for H's stocking? For the same reason that I just put up our ghetto silver tinsel tree two days ago.

I love the idea of decorating for the holidays, but it somehow falls to the wayside. So, now we'll have his stocking out just for Christmas Eve, and the tree is up for like two days. Each year I get a little better, but I contend that it has to do with the fact that we've always lived in small apartments and I don't have any room to take down the regular decorations and put up the seasonal. Of course, that's a lame excuse, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Christmas will be here tomorrow and I'm so excited! We will have a white Christmas, which I actually haven't had for a couple of years, and it's H's first. When my sister arrived home safely (after crossing our fingers she'd actually get to leave O'Hare), she was surprised with an engagement ring! She's the happiest she's ever been, which makes all of us happy...congrats Sherri Poppins!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Door #1 or Door #2

"Only Mommy and Daddy can take off your diaper!" I repeated this mantra to H, who had taken his diaper off for the 6th time in one day. Three times, he had a #2 inside, and twice he peed on the carpet or his little table as he was "driving" his car.

It was an out of body experience, as I realized that I was being fairly calm...until the fourth time, when I just started crying. Pregnancy hormones are a bitch when you mix them with a little sleeplessness and a dash of frustration. H looked at me and said "Mommy?" I tried to explain the I was just frustrated, but that he wasn't in trouble.

Even though this is the last thing I want, I also don't want him to have a complex about bathroom issues. While some people will suggest to me that this means he's ready to potty train, I contend that a child doesn't pee all over themselves, oblivious to the sensation, if they're ready to potty train. It did not even phase him that there was pee running down his legs as he was sitting on his chair (which he'd placed on the top of his table) pretending to drive his car. Great, potential disease from exposure to pea and the possibility of injury from being unsafe!

That part of the daily drama occurred while I was taking a shower. He had already had one incident of diaperless-ness, so this was a speed shower; only the necessities. No leg shaving or exfoliating, just a quick clean-up. I went to check on him before even putting in contacts, to find him naked and then I blindly picked him up to realize he was covered in pee...mmmm...nothing like a little golden shower to make you feel fresh as a daisy!

I promptly put him in the tub, washed my hands and proceeded to clean up mess #2. The day proceeded in the same fashion, culminating in him putting his diaper on his head (empty, thank God) ninja-style, with his eyes peering out of one leg hole and the side strap across his nose. He was very proud to tell J that it was his hat. I couldn't even contain myself anymore, I just started laughing like a crazy person.

I was talking to my mom on the phone about it, and she just reminded me that bright kids are a challenge to raise. I replied through tears, "Well, here's to hoping that #2 is dumb as a post." (Of course I don't really think that, but it sure sounded good at the time).

That day ended. Today and yesterday, I dressed him in a snap-crotch onesie with overalls, then a sweatshirt over the top. Very non-invasive, but no repeat incidents. Looks like I'll be making a trip to craigslist or ebay to search for more bibs!

Sometimes I reflect on my day, and think; Seriously? This is what my life is reduced to? Inventing ways to keep my child from taking off his diaper and inadvertantly getting poop on the carpet? Awesome!

Because I'm such a genius, I've decided I'm up to the task of doing it all again! (So is that Shame on Me?) On a positive note, the good days far outweigh the bad, and we have a lot of fun together. Sometimes to make it through and not get mad at him, I tell myself, this will be great fodder for future girlfriends!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Goose is Getting Fat

I have found that one benefit of being an at-home mom is that I have, for the first time, completed my Christmas shopping well ahead of time. Not only have I completed shopping, but all of my gifts, save for one, are completed and in the hands of the trusty postal system on the way to friends and family.

I am definitely a procrastinator by nature, so I have been getting an almost giddy high when talking to others about the steps that I have taken toward completion of my goal to have all things Christmas in the mail and to their respective owners by no later than the 20th of December.

In college, I spent the night before every paper's due date desperately researching and typing, praying that there wouldn't be some glitch with the printer at the computer lab as I ran, ink drying, to my class. This is so completely foreign to me, that I'm sure people feel like I'm being smug when I talk about how much I've completed, when it's really that I am stunned.

The crazy crafting came along quite nicely, although some projects were virgin to me, and we'll see how the recipients feel about them. I like to bite off way more than...well, let's just say that the pouch of Big League Chew never lasted long for me, so I am very excited that I've stuck so well to my timelines while still attending fun events such as "The Polar Bear Journey" with my child.

On that note, The Ecotarium in Worcester is one of those New England Anomolies. They have a couple of bald eagles and owls as you're walking to the entrance, and then they have a full-on standing up kodiak bear stuffed in the entrance. In the back of the property, which we travelled to by train today (after having The Polar Express read to us), is, yes, a polar bear.

And I thought I had a hard time adjusting to the heat and humidity here*...they said that she "swims a lot" to keep cool in the summer...uhhhh...I don't think that a POLAR bear is cool, no matter how much they swim, in 90+ weather with 400% humidity, but you can keep tellin' the kiddies whatever you want! It's the same for any zoo, so I'm not saying that I object, it's just funny.

Overall, it was a great day, forgive the biting sarcasm, which was completed with hot cocoa and cookies inside. H was thrilled all day with that train ride, and said late into the evening...chug a chug a chug a All Aboard!

*It was reported to us that this polar bear was born at the Ecotarium, so is adapted to Massachusetts weather, but how much can they really evolve in one generation?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Taxation without Representation

When we told everyone we were moving to Massachusetts, several people joked to us that we were moving to Taxachusetts...I'm starting to see that it's not really a joke.

After several months of successfully crossing our fingers and waiting to register our car so that we wouldn't be stuck with what I'll call the "bull-shit tax" (it is assinine that a person would pay sales tax to one state for an item which was not purchased in said state, while the purchaser was resident of the other state in which the item was purchased, but that's just me I guess), I received a bill in the mail for our "excise tax", due to the City in the beginning of January.

I politely called the City and explained that our car had been registered in our previous state, where we purchased our car as residents of that state, for six months, so we should not have to pay the sales tax. I was using that voice that has a question at the end making them think that you're being pleasant instead of assertive. Being raised in rural America definitely taught me that you get more flies with honey than vinegar.

"Ma'am, do you have Massachusetts plates now?" Me: "Yes". "Okay, that triggers a notice for the excise tax." Me: silence, then "So, this is a different tax?" "Yes, Ma'am. Each year, you'll pay an excise tax of $25 per 1000 of your vehicles valuation." Me: "Awesome, I'm so glad that we fought the revolutionary war in order to get away from tyranny and a government that taxes you at every turn."

Honestly, I thought that the land of Paul Revere would be a little less excited about the whole, lets add tax to taxes thing, but I guess I'm wrong.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mommy, WOW, I'm a big kid now!

Yes, that is the jingle from the ad for Pull-ups. To potty train, or not to potty train; that is the question. I had been adamant with my husband that I would not potty train H until after the baby is born in May. I have many reasons for it, the most important being I don't feel like he's physically ready.

However, he has gotten out of his bath twice now to pee in the potty, and has been taking off his poo-filled diaper in his bedroom without telling me...luckily, I'm not a complete moron and can tell when he doesn't have a diaper on. At the rate he's going, it's only a matter of time before he gets giardia or something else disgusting from coming into contact with his own fecal matter...awesome. My latest task is having him tell me when he needs a new diaper, although usually my nose tells me before he's willing to admit it.

On a totally different note, my parents sent me a huge stuffed elephant that I loved as a child so that I could pass the love onto H. He flipped out when I got it out of the box and said "I cared, mommy, I cared, elephant back in the box!" Sweet, yet another example of my collosal misjudgment regarding what my kid will think is the best thing since sliced bread. By the end of the night, he was carrying it around and loving it, but I must say, I was pretty sad that he didn't immediately shriek with delight since I'd been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 3 foot tall stuffed beast for days. He normally loves anything with elephants, so I thought he'd be thrilled.

Lastly, I've been plugging along with the Christmas crafts and it looks like I may be successful after all! I finished ALL of my holiday shopping, and am ready to start wrapping and shipping!

For those who check-in regularly, sorry it took so long to post again. I've decided to set a regular schedule so that I post at least 4 times a week...I'm sure you'll be waiting with bated breath for the next installment. Until then...