Saturday, January 31, 2009

Monday Morning Write Up 4

Hello, online world! This week's featured Etsy seller is Crochet Maggie. Maggie sells crocheted items including face cloths, dish cloths, and baby hats. Selling online allows her to stay at home with her five kids, including a sweet newborn girl. Her items are soft and well made. I bought a face cloth from her to go with some soap I bought from a different Etsy vendor.

My favorite item in Maggie's store right now is her Candy Corn beanie. It looks just like classic candy corn made into an infant's hat. She's going to add new items soon, so keep Crochet Maggie in mind when you need to shop for crocheted bath and beauty items. Chances are good, she'll have what you need.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Even the Best Things Must End

Last night was my daughter's first time going to bed without being nursed to sleep. In her short little life she has snuggled in my arms and against my chest several times a day and night. Now that closeness is gone forever, torn abruptly from us when my doctor's nurse let me know that I had to choose between my medication and and nursing. As much as it hurts me, I had to choose to keep taking my medicine rather than continue nursing my sweet girl.

The medicine is for ADHD, which I long suspected I have but never sought treatment for until recently. The psychiatrist confirmed it and started me on medicine that has had astounding results. I've gone from having an extremely short attention span, no focus, a very limited ability to stay on task, and a very hard time with time management to well, the complete opposite. My brain has gone from feeling like ideas written on note cards that someone has tossed willy-nilly in the air to ideas written on note cards that are carefully ordered in a neat little pile. That is something I am not willing to give up.

I'll always miss our nursing relationship. For nearly two and a half years I held her in my arms, our bare tummies touching, and her little mouth sucking hungrily at my breast. Tonight, I also held her in my arms, but this time my shirt was down and I was completely covered. She snuggled under a blanket and I watched her eyelids grow heavy as she watched The Batman. She fell asleep cradled in my arms, and then I gently laid her in bed. I'm looking forward to many, many nights holding my princess while she drifts to sleep.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Monday Morning Write Up 3

Good Monday morning, everyone! This week's Etsy seller is Teton Cocoa Company. I bought a gift tin of their caramel hot cocoa during the holidays to give as a gift, but ended up keeping it instead. I'm so glad I did, because it was delicious. It was smooth, sweet, rich, and creamy. The balance of caramel to cocoa was simply perfect. The hot cocoa from Teton was superior to any cocoa I've recently bought locally. Every sip was a delight to our tastebuds. Our entire family was able to enjoy several nights of warm goodness.

I'm looking forward to buying from Teton Cocoa Company again. The next product we plan to try is the Hazelnut Hot Cocoa. I'm sure it's going to be delectable: rich cocoa combined with classy, sophisticated taste of hazelnut. I think this is one treat everyone will enjoy. If you love rich, creamy cocoa, then Teton is for you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

They're Doing Quite Well

I've never mentioned it on this blog, but my husband and I are both opposed to punitive punishments. We use gentle discipline methods with our children and have never spanked either of them. Sometimes people ask us if we're sure we can raise responsible, considerate, (fill in the positive adjective here) kids without raising our hands against them. The answer is, we are positive that we can. Two short situations happened independently of each other last night that illustrates this fact.

Both kids really love Annies Homegrown Bunnies. They're little crackers or cookies and come in many flavors. We usually buy cheddar or chocolate. Last night, Ja was crying because she'd spilled her share of bunnies. Without me asking him to share, or even saying a word, Toe wordlessly gave her a bunny. After she ate that one he gave her his entire share, saying "Here you go, Ja!" as he dropped the baggie into her lap.

The second situation happened during dinner. Toe knocked over his cup and spilled his cocoa. Ja pushed away from the table, slid down from her booster seat, ran to the towel drawer and brought Toe a kitchen towel so he could clean his mess. "Heah, Toe!" she said in her little two year old voice. "Thank you, Ja!" Toe replied and wiped up his mess.

Yes, I have no doubts that we're raising fantastic kids without resorting to spankings or time-outs, or other punitive punishments.

I Don't Dream of Jeanie

I have great dreams. They're always in full color and so realistic that if I were just a little more guillable, you could convince me they'd really happened. I had two crazy dreams last night. In the first one, an anonymous married couple came running out of the woods. A disembodied announcers voice started talking. "These two people are still very much in love. They owe that to our program, and listening to their 19 favorite Beatles songs over and over." Then a projected image of The Beatles appeared, with the four of them standing around chatting. One of them bent over and kissed the projected image of a little kid on the head. That was the end of that dream.

In the second dream, the kids were going to spend the night at their uncle's house so that M. and I could have some free time. (Wa-hoah!) M. gave me directions to his brother's house. "Go out to Dawson Family Farms Incorporated Road. It used to just be Dawson Farms Road, but they added the factory for tax purposes. Now they make cupcake icing out of cow lard*. It can also be used to grease guitar strings." Dream flashed to the inside of the factory, where Krusty the Klown was the floor supervisor. M. and I appeared in the factory and watched people in white hazmat uniforms shovel icing on giant cupcakes. The icing on almost every cupcake was eaten immediately by another worker, always muttering a "Mmmmmmm!" of delight under their breath.

The End.

* Actually, we get tallow from cows. Lard comes from pigs. My silly dream wasn't very factually accurate last night.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Monday Morning Write Up 2

Good morning! This Monday I'm going to focus on the Etsy store Sunday's Wash. Seller Cindy offers environmentally friendly laundry detergents to meet all your needs. Her washes are non-toxic, bio-degradable, and even come in recycled packaging. Cindy really believes in doing her part for the health of our planet.

I got a sample of her diaper wash when I bought a cloth diaper on Etsy. Since I have a front-loader washing machine I had to use half the recommended amount.

I mixed up the amount I needed in a Scooby-Doo cup with some hot water. In hindsight, I should have used a little less water because I made it too runny. Well, live and learn. In any case, our clothes still got clean.

Oh, did I say clothes? That's right, even though this is diaper wash I ended up washing our regular laundry in it because after I already mixed it with water I found out that my husband had already done our diaper laundry. He's such a sweetie. :-)

After our washer finished I gave our clothes the "sniff test" and they were fresh and clean. Threw them in the dryer and they came out looking great. If you're someone who is looking for more natural cleaning products, or you're someone who supports recycling or WAHMs, then Sunday's Wash is a great option for you to try. Great prices, too, only $10 for enough detergent to wash 64 regular loads or 128 HE loads. That is an excellent deal!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Night's All Right for Cookies!

We're trying out a brand new cookie recipe tonight. There's no chocolate in them at all! *Gasp!* Toe picked out the recipe from my Mrs. Field's Best Ever Cookie Book. He can't actually read yet, so he just decided based on which picture he liked best. After I told him that the flowers around the cookies weren't actually part of the cookies. "Awww man!" he said, and then decided on Mandarin and Marmalade Cookies. If everything goes as planned baking them will be our family project after dinner.

Stay tuned! :-)

Dun Dun Duuuuuuun! And I'm back! 10:30 at night.

We ended up not having a can of mandarin oranges for the other cookies because Someone ate them. Right, sweetie? :-p So, Toe picked out a completely different type of cookie, a crazy sort of chocolate chip called "Kids Bake 'Em!" It was egg free, vanilla free, and instead of the typical 1 1/2 cups of white and brown sugars it called for 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup honey. Interesting. They baked at 300 F for 18 minutes. That's another oddity since I'm used to the Ghirardelli recipe which is 375 F for 9 minutes.

Toe helped by putting the ingredients in the bowl. He mixed the dry ingredients for me and tried to hold the hand mixer but it was too much for him to handle. It is pretty wild. The cookies baked to a lovely golden brown. Toe and M. had some cookie dough while they waited. After the cookies cooled I was the only one who tried one because Ja was asleep, and M. and Toe were full from the dough! I had five cookies--oh don't worry about my figure, they were tiny!--and then drank about a gallon of milk. Boy, were they sweet! In fact, I think I need something else to drink.

If anyone wants the recipe, let me know and I'll post it.

Good night, blogger friends!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Check Out My Instock Items

I've been working hard to add some great looking matted photos to the instock section of toeNja Photographs. I take my photos with my digital Canon Rebel XT, and have them professionally printed at a local photography store on high quality Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper by Fujifilm. I have my photos printed locally because I try to support local businesses whenever I can.

Here is one of the photos I have matted and ready to mail in my instock store. I have several of this photo in stock. It's one of the most popular pictures in my store. I call it Peaceful Sky because the day I took it the sky was gorgeous, bright blue, sun high in the sky, and those clouds were floating like whipped cream through the sky. I had just stepped out of my house and looked up when I saw the clouds were illuminated by the sun. I practically fell running back inside, grabbed my camera, framed the shot and ended up with Peaceful Sky.

I also have this incredible photograph matted and ready to mail. I call it Big Sky and it is very impressive in person. I really love how tiny the houses on the horizon are compared to the hugeness of the rolling storm clouds. I think that this photograph looks incredible shot in black and white.

There are other photos in stock, go check 'em out! toeNja Photography on Etsy! Look in the Ready to Mail for these photos, then have fun browsing around my store for my other selections.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oh, the weather up here is frightful!

I grew up in south central Virginia, in the foothills of the Appalachian* mountains, and about 20 minutes drive from North Carolina. In terms of weather, it was a fantastic place the grow up. The mountains shielded us from any really terrible weather, and being in the South it's already fairly decent most of the year. At 22 I moved to Illinois to be with the lovely man who is now my husband. This January marks the six year anniversary of my being in Illinois.

So, this morning M. ran into the bedroom from warming his car. "Toe's school is closed again. It's negative fifteen degrees outside." My first thought, "Hmm, if I go outside naked, I wonder if I'd freeze to death instantly." I'm tellin' ya, those kind of temperatures don't make sense to someone who grew up in the South. They boggle the mind. My Dad used to fuss at me if I went outside without a jacket when it was 60 degrees. Negative anything is incomprehensible.

When we flew to Virginia this past December to see my family the temperature was in the 40s and it hadn't snowed. It had done nothing but snow since before Thanksgiving in our part of Illinois. It seems to snow six months out of the year. In fact, I calculated that in my first year living in Illinois I saw more inches of snow than my entire 22 years in Virginia. And not only is there more of it, but it actually stays for days on end. Bach home it might snow an inch, but it's gone by the next day. "Oh look, kids snow..uh, nevermind it's thawed."--my Mom. "Oh look, kids, grass! We have grass again finally!"--Me.

Yep, nothing makes you appreciate Virginia quite like the weather.

* We pronounce it "Appa-latch-in" (appa like apple), not Appa-lay-shin. Thanks! I'm a firm believer in saying regional names like the people who live there say them. Like Colorado with an sharp "ah!" sound instead of the "Say ah" sound.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1-2-3 1-2-3!

That's what John Lennon yelled right before tearing into a rocking rendition of "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" on the Anthology 2 album. That is such a gorgeous song, I love it. In my opinion it has some of their tightest harmonies. So, anyone else on here a huge fan of The Beatles? I'm turning my poor kids into fans, too. My two year old recognizes Paul McCartney's photograph and my four year old was actually able to name his favorite Beatle without me prompting him with their names. FYI, he and I have the same favorite--Ringo.

I am totally in love with all the Beatles merchandise I can buy on Etsy. Ja is getting a Yellow Submarine mei tai in the mail. I am saving my money--ha ha "saving"--to get a Rocknrecycle bag for college next semester. The hard part is picking out which one I like best. So far I'm leaning towards this one. I know it's not Abbey Road, but it appeals to me. I like how they're just hanging on the beach, having fun. Too bad it's such a cold day, though. You can just tell that Paul is standing there shivering. The others had the good sense to leave their long sleeved shirts on. That Paul, always wanting to be different. He'd fit in good on Etsy. Who knows, maybe he's already there selling tie-dyed socks and mens' shirts.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Monday Morning Write Up

This is part one of my new weekly blog series called "Monday Morning Write Up". Each week I will write a piece on an Etsian I've bought from in the past. This very first Write Up is about The Monkey Shop. The Monkey Shop is run by Dulce who sells sock monkeys, sock puppies, purses, and keychains. I found her wonderful shop while doing my holiday toy shopping on Etsy. There was so much to choose from that it was tough to make a decision. Finally I decided on a super cute yellow monkey for my son and an adorable little caramel puppy with a green scarf for my daughter. The kids loved them immediately. Dan, the monkey, is sleeping with my four year old right now. And Billy, the puppy, follows his new mommy everywhere she goes.

The Monkey Shop has humorous item descriptions, a very nice selection of toys in different sizes and colors, and even a "do it yourself kit" for people more adverturous than I. If you have kids of your own or just want to pick out the perfect gift for someone else's kid, then go check out this wonderful shop. I'm sure you won't regret it.

Toe cuddling with Dan the Monkey on the couch.

I Have The Power to Heal!

I still remember the day in high school when I first forgot to breathe. I was in the library, sitting at a table with a couple of friends, and I suddenly realized that I had been holding my breath. I wasn't sure how long I'd sat there, 30 or 45 seconds perhaps? Maybe a minute or two? I inflated my lungs with a deep breath, looked around at all the normal activity, and decided not to say anything.

As the years passed I got accustomed to those all too common realizations that I hadn't been breathing. I figured out they happened when I was either in deep concentration or stressed, and since I perpetually felt criticized and inadequate stressed was pretty much the default mood for me.

Around the same time in high school was when I started having sporadic heart palpitations. The pain was so bad I would stop in my tracks while clutching my chest and panting for breath. "Like my heart was a fish flopping on dry land"--is how I described the problem to the first cardiologist I saw in my mid-20s. Sometimes I would go weeks between episodes. I didn't mention anything to my husband until we'd been married over a year. I was still not completely comfortable with opening up to anyone, but didn't want to chance my heart problem to be serious and end up in a coma or dead.

I went to a cardiologist who noticed a problem, but wasn't sure exactly what it was. He thought it was most likely mitral valve prolapse, but also mentioned that my heart was one of the healthiest he'd ever seen. He decided to hook me to a 24 hour holter monitor. It showed nothing, which wasn't unusual because my heart problem had always been very sporadic in nature. He asked me to come back in a year so he could do a routine check up. The year passed, and that time nothing showed up on the monitor. He was perplexed and made me an appointment for a year later.

I never made it to my third appointment. I was busy with a toddler son and pregnant with my daughter. We also moved three times during our three years in that town. Our fourth move took us to the town where we live now. I found another cardiologist who was also unable to figure out the reason for my heart pain and palpitations. At this point I started to realize that I needed to think outside the box, and examine what was going on in my life that might affect my body.

It was then I made the connection between my unintentional breath holding and my chest pain. I knew that after fifteen years such a bad habit would take a real effort on my part to break. I decided to become conciously aware of my breath as it entered and left my body. I learned to focus on my lungs as they inflated and deflated, and to pay attention to the rise and fall of my chest. As I've done so, my heart palpitations have decreased down to zero. After fifteen years and two cardiologists, I finally figured out that all of my problem was caused by stress. This is a good story to remember if you are ever in need of a holistic doctor. If I had only gone to a holistic doctor years ago, I would have been asked about my stress and emotional state and the tie in between my stress, my breath-holding, and my heart problem would have been found out much sooner.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baking With My Helpers

Baking is one of my favorite past times, so I usually spend part of Saturday whipping up something sinfully delicious. This week I looked through Recipezaar to find "Mom's Chocolate Cupcakes", which were super simple to make. Toe put all the ingredients in the bowl, stirred with a wooden spoon, and then I poured the batter into their Lightning McQueen and Disney Princesses--or, as Ja calls them, "Mommies!"--baking cups. The kids love helping with the baking, especially when they got to lick the bowl. After the cupcakes finished baking, I topped them with "Kittencal's Chocolate Buttercream Frosting". Then I snuck one while my husband and kids were upstairs playing in the toy room. Shhh, don't tell, those cupcakes are supposed to be for after supper. ;-)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Babywearing Woes

Now that Ja enjoys riding in her carriers again, I'm starting to regret ever sending my two, very nice, Fizzabella ringslings on tour through the US and Canada. When I had the idea to send my two carriers to other parents interested in trying a Fizzy she was still in her six month long, never ending, practically torturous babywearing strike. I was convinced she'd never tolerate being put in a carrier again and had resigned to having to carry her little 26 pound bulk. As any parent can tell you, these little ones get heavy fast!

The thing I regret is that both slings started their tour in Canada, and apparently are still up there. I tried several times to figure out their whereabouts with no luck. I'm told there was a postal strike and that the postal service in Canada is just slow in general. I don't know if that's the reason why my slings are stuck in another country, but I do know this is the last time I send anything I might ever need again on a goodwill tour. Now that Ja loves being worn again, having a ringsling would be very handy for walking through parking lots, going into the bank, and going into stores that don't have shopping buggies. All I have left from my formerly huge collection of carriers is my 3.6 meter Leo Turquoise Storchenwiege, which is our legacy carrier and will never be sold, and our brand new Catbird Baby mei tai, which we call her "Uncle Ian backride".

I don't blame the people who had my carriers last for them being lost. I've known both of them for a couple of years, they are both sweet people and I just couldn't imagine they would keep the slings for themselves. I don't know exactly what happened to them, but I can tell you that I've learned two lessons from this situation. A babywearing strike can last for months, and never let more than one person at a time borrow something.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rough Days for My Princess

My little princess Ja is having a rough time this month. Earlier this week I had to take her to the oral surgeon to have her two front teeth extracted. She had fallen and chipped them when they first came in, and we had never realized it. We just thought that, like many new teeth, they just weren't completely even. We don't remember her falling and her mouth never bled. As it turned out the chip was bad enough to let in an infection. By the time her teeth were pulled the backs were half eaten away.

She's only two, so for the surgeon to do her job I had to restrain her myself. The dental assistant gave her some bubble gum scented nitrous oxide (laughing gas) through a tiny pink mask. She was fine with that, just sat in my lap watching cartoons. Luckily, the cartoon character was in a rocket ship wearing an oxygen mask (or whatever they're called) so I told little princess that she was an astronaut, too. After the gas ran for a few minutes, the dental assistant rubbed some numbing gel on her gums. It was basically a super concentrated Oral-gel. Ja hated that so much. She screamed until she threw up several times. I ended up having to strip her to her diaper because she was covered in vomit.

After a few minutes, the surgeon came in. She actually had to give her four numbing shots in the upper gums. That was a horrible few minutes. I had both my arms and my legs wrapped around my little princess to try and keep her still, two dental assistants held her, and she still nearly struggled free. Fortunately, she managed to not throw up again until she'd gotten all four of her shots. The surgeon left for fifteen minutes while the medicine took effect. During that time Ja calmed down quite a bit and even started walking around the room and played with her big brother, Toe.

The dental surgeon and her assistants returned. Once again I had to lay flat on my back with my arms and legs wrapped around my princess. As quickly as she could, the surgeon pulled her teeth. Immediately, Ja's mouth was packed with gauze which she fought with all her might. I was really afraid she was going to choke on it because of the way she was struggling and the fact it wasn't that big. It could have easily gone down her throat if the dental assistant had lost her grip on it. The same assistant was nice enough to gather Ja's clothes in a plastic bag for me. Ja stopped bleeding enough for it to be safe for her to leave, so I put her in her coat, tied her up in the mei tai, grabbed the bag of clothes and Toe's hand and made a mad dash out into the cold and into the car. At least we were done for the moment.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Let's Eat Cake for St. Judes!

We're blogging it forward!

Let’s Eat Cake, a wonderful fundraiser hosted by Melissa Margarita-DiStefano, is coming up on Tuesday, February 17th at the Plaza Paramount Hotel! Let’s Eat Cake is a cake decorating competition with all proceeds going to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Learn more about the fundraiser right here.

In an effort to make sure they get the word out to everyone (and raise LOTS of money), they are starting a blog campaign. Here’s what you need to do if you have a blog…Repost this post (or create your own version) on your blog and ask others to post it on their blogs too.

Here's the best part: Melissa will donate one dollar to the fundraiser for EVERY BLOG that posts on Let’s Eat Cake, this week! Let's raise as much money as we can for this great cause!!!

Once you have created your post posted, leave us a comment here letting us know that you posted it along with the url to the blog. They will be following the posts from blog to blog to see how many posts there are.

It’s for a great cause and it will be fun to see how far it will go! So lets do it… Lets blog it forward and raise money for a great cause!!!

**Kudos to Unique Designs for creating this fun chain-blog effort!**

New Blog--Same Me!

Happy 2009 everyone! I went out of state on vacation and when I got back I couldn't get into my old "Thoughts From Here to You" blog. I tried every email address and password I could remember (and even a few I simply made up on the spot) but finally gave up and started a new blog.

How were your holidays? My family and I had a great time in the much warmer state of Virginia visting my family. Now that we're all back in the blustery, freezing cold of Illinois I can't wait until the spring thaw. It's icy out here! I've lived in this state for six years now and I still forget that I need to bundle the kids in mittens and scarves before taking them to the car on our trips out. We have to go out every day now since Toe has started Montessori preschool.

It's good to be back! Happy 2009, y'all!