Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thankfulness . . . Post-Thanksgiving

Just a note of gratitude, as sometimes it's nice to reflect and put things into words on a "page" . . .

Thankful for the fact that we've been lucky enough to have power/electricity, hot water, and most importantly -  each other - in the craziness of DFW's "Ice Apocalypse 2013."  

Thankful for a husband that was willing and able to safely drive us to church this morning.  It always means so much to look over at Richard and the kids from the choir loft, and to see their sweet, smiling, supportive faces.  So proud of J and E for growing in their ability to sit patiently through an entire service (a rare situation for them, as normally, they go to RE classes, but the icy weather resulted in an apparent lack of teachers...we found out later that they showed up...we just checked a bit too early), and for their adorable, little grins and waves to mommy across the way.

Thankful for the gift of food for thought and music for the soul that this church and community provide.  Singing Pinkham's Christmas Cantata this morning was invigorating and nourished my need for truly excellent music.

Thankful for a loving, heathy husband to share these things with...his patience in helping our kids learn and practice patience means so much.  I love that I get to share my love of music with all of them, and that we all have the privilege of learning about the UU faith, values, and how to live a life that demonstrates those important beliefs.

Hope everyone in the area is keeping warm and enjoying all the blessings around them.  :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas-"E" thoughts...

Kinda sad after dropping Everett off at school this morning.  As much as I know my ears need the few hours of quiet, and as much as I know this afternoon's regularly-scheduled, loud chaos will have me thinking otherwise, that little stinker really gets to me.  He's such a ham, and just quick as a whip.  And SO excited that "Carter" (our Elf) arrived last night.
I had forgotten how excited Everett gets about having Carter around.  He woke me up, telling me that he's talked to Carter, sat in the living room with Carter, just watching him...and then, he ate breakfast in the middle of the living room floor.  Just eating and staring at Carter on the mantel.  Well, with talking, of course.
Everett pondered whether Carter had a hidden camera...he asked if Daddy or I had ever seen Carter move...he asked lots of questions about elves in general, and somehow - even though Everett was very childlike in his nature - he also struck me as very mature, reasoning, and thoughtful.  In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, this is how Everett is normally.  I think it's just a bit easier to observe in these specific situations.  :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Tradition Attempt

Trying to maybe start up some new traditions with the kids:  making one of their favorite sweet treats together before daddy gets home, and then enjoying a couple of them while we decorate the tree as a family.  I decided we would do a little twist on the always loved "Fudge Babies," as these were Fudge MINT Babies with SPRINKLES!!!!  VERY good!!!!

But can I be honest?  As nice and whatever as I have described this scenario, I can only hope that our children will come away feeling those warm and fuzzy feelings that I strived to create.  Because, seriously??? --- I'm not exaggerating when I say that I had a headache, earache, and chest pain for the majority of this first attempt to start some traditions.  I feel like the amount of patience and restraint that I practice is necessary, but that it results in my feeling like my insides are going to implode.  By the end of the tree decorating/when we were trying to get them ready for bed, I had to say, "I'm almost out of my 'patient voice.'"  Any other Love & Logic parents out there that can relate to this type of feeling???

Anyway.  I am extremely thankful for the sweet, energetic, healthy children we have.  I'm glad I decided to do this fun, little activity.  I look forward to doing it next year.  I just don't enjoy the whole, "everybody will get a turn...don't push your sister/brother off of the fighting..." and the more understandable moments that some might deem as "cute":   "let's not lick our fingers and hands as we roll these into balls...etc." 

I really and truly enjoy our children.  Mainly when they're not in each other's presence.  They're either pissing each other off, or being so silly and loud I need to yell to get their attention.  On the other hand, I can actually think of nuuuuuumerous occasions where they play so well together that it just melts my heart. I guess this is just parenthood, right?  Takin' the good with the bad...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Long-Sleeved Dolman Top...attempt

Whipped up this long-sleeved dolman top this afternoon!  And by "whipped up," I mean:  last night I drew out the pattern for adding long sleeves, cut fabric, and then did the sewing today.  These go together really fast!!!  However, next time, I will heed the advice of @kymy02 and be careful to not cut the sleeves too slim.   Translation:  don't look too closely.  I'll probably rip the seams, and use this as an opportunity to add a funky strip of color down the length of the sleeve.  I also took some artistic liberties by (accidentally) cutting the neckline too much when I got distracted by kids...thus, a muuuuch wider neckline that nicely lends itself to layering a strappy tank underneath!!! 

Annnnd, since I didn't have enough fabric on the fold to do both the front and the back as one piece, I decided to piece the back together with an exposed seam down the middle :

Okay...wrappin it up and posting because I'm in a movie theater!!!

Thanks for reading!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oh, the ideas he has...

This morning, Everett informed me that he was going to bring these pictures he colored to school to be a fundraiser. 

Me:  "wow!  That's so nice of you. What are you raising money for?" 
Everett:  "well, they don't have to pay me. They can be free if they want to have them, but it's a fundraiser." 
Me:  "Who is the money for?" 
Everett:  "it's for you and daddy :) "
I laughed quietly, grinning at my sweet boy, and told him that was very sweet, but that's not really the type of thing fundraisers are for...
He explained to me that they don't have to pay him.  Only if they want to.
And so, when we got to school, Everett eagerly and proudly presented the pictures to his friends, and I pretty quickly saw a couple of kiddos hurry out to their backpacks in the hallway to set their new pieces of artwork with their things to take home.  :)
This kid.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This is how you get kids to do your work...

Small Mommy Victory!

Me:  Guys, I need you to sort your laundry - lights and darks - and then - THEN - I have something fun for you to do with my phone!

J and E:  WHAT IS IT?!!??

Me:  Can't tell you - gotta get the laundry sorted first...

**a few minutes later**

J and E:  The laundry is sorted!!!!

Okay, so, if that wasn't good enough - here's the even better part:

I showed them the most recent pile of artwork/classwork and said, "I need you to sort this into a 'Jillian' pile and an 'Everett' pile.  THEN, you're going to TAKE TURNS using my phone to take a picture." {cue Jillian's groaning over the fact that they're just taking pictures of this stuff}
"Anyway - Jillian - you and Everett are going to be using this cool app called 'Artkive' that I've starting using to *archive* your work!"

J:  And then we have to throw it all away?!??!

Me:  We'll talk about that later...but probably - this will keep your artwork FOREVER!  Papers get old and yucky...{i'm not sure she's entirely convinced, but enough for now}

So they sorted all the papers, and I then taught them how to use this glorious app.  I showed them how to make sure their artwork was in the light near the window, and to be careful of their own shadows, how to retake if necessary, and then how to choose their name and date of when the work was done.

And now...I have (in theory, at least) dramatically reduced my workload as a Mommy!!!  And I have something for them to do from now till eternity (because I have bins of old artwork, too)!!!  And if they don't like doing it?  It goes in the trash. :)))))

Note: this experience was definitely not as pain-free as I have just described.  There were points where I needed to intervene, to remind them of the "trashing" option...and so, I've emphasized the fact that they need to pick pictures that mean a lot to them.  It's definitely a work in progress.  But now that I know they can do it (and truthfully, more likely to remember when the pieces were done), I'm checking that chore off of my list of things to do!!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sick.and.Tired. (of the bickering)

Okay, so.  Richard and I are both sick.and.tired. (cue the Bill Cosby bit) of hearing J & E bicker, whine, fight, tattle, purposefully annoy the other one, and on, and on, and on.  It is seriously an issue.  I know there are nice, kind, positive reinforcement suggestions out there, a la Love and Logic, and I probably have not exhausted those options.  I will say that they got a lot of "practice" being together in a helpful-working-together way last night when they couldn't be nice to each other and I said that they needed practice...and being the awesome Mommy that I am (ignore the fact that I'm saying that with lots of insecurity), I gave them the once in a lifetime (not really) chance to work together on a mission:  making the Kid Craft Room something we can actually stand to look at/walk into/be proud of (make no mistake - the "kid craft room" is nothing fancy.  Really.  We just didn't have another name for "the random room with a bar, just off the living room, that has become where the kids color, treat as a playroom, etc.).  If they couldn't make the room presentable, it would cease to be called the "Kid Craft Room."  So they "practiced" working together and being in each other's presence without an exorbitant amount of discord.  BTW, I've just realized that apparently, my frustration as a Mommy gives way to using a more varied vocabulary in my writing.  Anyway, the mention of that room losing that "title" was totally NOT enough motivation.  But you know what was?  The inability to go to birthday parties of friends the next day.  So the room got picked up, and guess what I got to wake up to this morning?
The refreshing sounds of crying, whining, and bickering.  I know - please contain your envy.  Who wouldn't want to wake up to that kind of beat down authentic display of sibling love and respect?  I handled it:  I subjected them to a long-winded "talkin'-to," and then jumped into the shower, hoping the sibling issues would subside long enough for my going-on-3-days-of-not-having-washed-my-hair-issue to be properly and adequately addressed.  And it was.  In fact, my shower was long enough for me to start mulling over all of my mommy guilt, and how I need to do more of "x,y,z."  For clarification purposes, "x.y,z" = reading parenting books pertaining to the various issues that are exacerbating these "normal" sibling interactions.  I stood there, thinking about how maybe I'm being selfish in not using my time more wisely and directed toward remedying these issues.  I mean, I'm a STAY.AT.HOME.MOM.  Part of my job is to address these things in an effort to help our children become more effective at expressing their differences.  My tendency to use sewing and creating things as a form of therapy - even if it results in random, cute clothes for my children, and random, small surges of income - were taking away from the time that should(?) be spent figuring out how to make our home more harmonious. 

But anyway, I got out of the shower.  At this point, the kids were in the driveway, riding their bikes, while Richard was setting up the car to change the oil.  But what did I hear from our bathroom as I towel-dried my hair?  Bickering.  Richard's frustration with the bickering. 

I got dressed, went out there, exasperated by the realization that we may have hit that stage in parenthood where all we're doing is putting out these fires.  That even though our kids definitely have "good days (or minutes...maybe hours)," the overwhelming frustration of being subjected to their blood-curdling whines (Everett), and endless snapping at the other one (Jillian), sprinkled with the occasional "I don't love you!" (E to J) and resulting, "Moooommmmmmy..." tattling (Jillian) possibly negates those good moments, and definitely leaves me in an almost perpetual state of being on edge. 

So anyway, I marched right on out there.  After being prompted by the insane amount of whining from Everett, I thought about the fact that we try to emphasize that he is a big boy.  We've talked about whining and how it is preferable to use a "big boy voice" - or simply - words.  And in thinking about this, I want him to realize that if he's going to make the choice to not use big boy words, he doesn't need allllll those "big boy toys."  (Disclaimer:  Friends that prefer positive reinforcement techniques, you may want to brace yourselves and/or be done reading this've been warned).  Similarly, Jillian knows when she's doing something that is bothering Everett.  She knows the bickering needs to stop.  The yelling, arguing, etc.  So.  I informed the kids that I will be taking a mental tally, possibly on paper, too...and at the end of the day, the number of times I hear them not using kind, helpful words and tones to work out their differences or express themselves, THAT is the number of things I will be removing from each of their rooms.  I get to choose the item, and it probably will not return to her room. 

Now that I'm in a room further away from the driveway, unable to hear the number of times they've had these verbal altercations, I can't say where we're at in our tallying...Richard is out there, and has said that it's better.  (And since that last talk with the kids, there has been yet ANOTHER talk with them, as Richard had to send them in, after not being able to work with whatever they were doing in the background).  This last talk included me giving them example scenarios of how to handle situations with each other.  They seemed to think that my demonstrating their usual interactions was hilarious.  I explained that it, in fact, is not.  Even in all of its "humor" (I explained to them that while it may seem funny when Mommy does these things, it isn't exactly the same as when they're doing it in combination with yelling, tattling, etc. AND it being for long periods of time), they were able to see that those demonstrated choices of interactions were NOT the correct choices. 

We're at 12:30 in the afternoon, friends.  I'll keep you posted.  Okay, who am I kidding?  No news is good news.  So if I haven't updated here, things are probably going better than usual.  Unless they're not.  And I suppose that's when you'll hear back from me, as I discover this new form of therapy...

Thanks for listening and I'd love to know your thoughts and if you can relate! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

No talking, please.

Dear Annual Fall Voice Loss Due to Allergies,

I believe you're a couple of weeks early.

But since you're clearly here, a few things:

Your presence used to "only" be inconvenient as a voice major in college, and then as a graduate student and voice teacher (man, that seems like forever ago!) . . .

However, it is, as stated above:  STILL AN ANNUAL OCCURRENCE.  And guess what?  Way more inconvenient as a parent.  All I USED to have to do was tell a few people in the music building that I was on vocal rest, and that was that...people understood.  Voice major = care of voice, and that meant  VOCAL REST.  No matter how ridiculous it might seem to outsiders.  Sure, I had to humor Wayne Crannell by trying natural remedies like icky oil of oregano and colloidal silver, and listen to horror stories of the yuckiness of Buckley's Cough Syrup, but it's just what you did...along with the usual downing lots of water, stocking up on echinacea, guafinesan, and little notepads to carry around for emergency communication.

NOW, as a parent, these steps toward vocal health aren't as easy to carry out.  In particular, the step noted above in all caps:  VOCAL REST.  Getting kids ready for school and in the car?  Not easy with very little voice.  Seriously, it doesn't matter how many times you tell them in a strained voice that, "MOMMY'S THROAT ISN'T FEELING WELL...MOMMY CAN'T TALK." -- they will still ask you random questions in the car, expecting a clearly stated response.  And they will continue to say the same thing over and over again until you (1.) validate their statement(s) and/or answer their questions, and (2) remind them about "Mommy's voice."  

Sometimes, gratefully on my part, they pick up on the pain and stress that result from Mommy talking, and the questions/arguments/statements that require feedback will cease for a few minutes.

And now, after dropping off Everett for his first day of pre-k, a few hours of vocal rest.  :)

So THERE, Annual Fall Vocal Loss Due to Allergies!

Silent Mommy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tofu Nuggets...a big risk worth taking!!!

Last night, pretty much on a whim, I decided to "whip up" some Tofu Nuggets.  Richard had recently bought extra firm, cubed, organic tofu for another recipe we tried last week (more on that in an upcoming post), and I thought that rather than do that recipe again, I would try something new, AND finish off the rest of the baby spinach in one of the two containers residing in the fridge (always a supply of the green stuff in this house!).  

Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I just accidentally turned to this page in one of my trusty cookbooks, "Deceptively Delicious."  But, booooyyyyy, did it pay off!!!!  

So anyway, here's the recipe (see my variation of it below the picture, and be sure to click on picture for a better view):

Instead of breadcrumbs (because, if I'm being honest, I just didn't feel like dirtying up my food processor and using all of my whole wheat bread...and I'm not going to use canned breadcrumbs with no nutritional value), I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour (I keep mine in the fridge to keep it fresher for longer...dunno if that's actually a valid suggestion, but I know my grandma does it...gotta respect that, right?).  

I also ended up with about a 1/2 cup of spinach puree.  And I didn't even use all of that.  But that could've been because I wasn't using big 'ol slices of tofu.  I pulled "a Dana" and didn't actually READ the tofu container, because if I did, I would've seen that the tofu was, indeed, CUBED.  And even though the recipe has cubing the tofu as an option, I'm pretty sure it would be bigger than these cubes.  Sigh.  

So after a little bit of messiness (and the smell of burning oil in my pan, due to my slow-going with itty-bitty pieces), I developed a method for dealing with these teeny-tiny cubes:

1.  Take a handful of them.  Drop them in the spinach/egg mixture.  Use a spoon to coat them really well.
2.  Use another spoon (or the other hand, that will inevitably become your "messy hand,") to pick up the green, little chunks, and drop them into the bread/flour mixture.
3.  Now, use your messy hand to roll them around a little bit, but also your clean hand, holding a dry spoon (I used the one that measured my paprika) to help coat them in bready-ness.
4.  This step is important:  pick up the chunks and use your hand to sift off the extra bread stuff.  This is important if you're using the ridiculously small tofu cubes like I was.  
5.  Gently place/toss your cubes in the oiled pan, and proceed per the instructions.

And check it out!  They look kinda like fried okra!!!!

And what's that?!?!?!  My super picky, super skeptical 4.5 year old going back for SECONDS!!!!

Again, more proof!!!!  You can hear my almost 8 year old daughter in the background saying they're awesome...and then my son comparing them to the Chick Fil-A platters he's seen at birthday parties!

All of this being said, I'm not gonna lie - I was very tempted to go workout during dinner time, so that I didn't have to be there to hear the whining and complaining about the meal I spent time making...but they each quickly picked one up, ate it, and were instantly sold!  This prompted me to try one...annnnnd, truth be told, I spit it out (without them seeing).  It was a little bland for me on first taste...but dipped it in ketchup and mustard and it was freakin' awesome!

So there ya go!  Try 'em, and tell me how your family responds!  I'd also love some suggestions on how to season this for a little more flavor!!!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Revisiting Question of the Day...

So a little bit ago, Jillian asked, "Mommy, why does it seem like all animals have something like a tail?"

I thought a bit and said, "Well, I guess that since we don't have tails, it can't be that all mammals have tails, right?"

Everett chimed in:  "Do butterflies have tails?"

Jillian:  "Oh!  No!  They don't!  Insects don't have tails!"

We kinda ran through a random list of other mammals to see if we could figure this out - koalas, platypus, whales, dolphins...

Jillian said, "Apes don't have tails!  Chimpanzees don't have tails! . . . so, I think that it's PRIMATES that don't have tails! . . . I think it might be that other animals have tails to keep their balance..."

(Richard just reminded me that monkeys have tails . . . and they're primates (cue the debbie downer sound effect...killed our hypothesis...and then said, some animals just have tails to swat things away - like cows). Fine.

I told her that I love her questions.

She said, "Yeah, I think that might be my hardest question so far.  . . . Except for that other really hard question I had about what happened before the Big Bang."

This kid.

Other notes from today, while I'm at it (all from Jillian):

"I think that my favorite subjects are math and history.  And reading."

I told her, "Maybe you don't have a favorite - it's okay to like everything . . . you like science too, right?"

"Well, not really.  Not as much.  I think I really like math."

"And I just really like history.  Did you know that Cleopatra died by being bitten by a poisonous snake?"

Then, she says, kind of laughing at herself like she's a bit embarrassed to admit it - "I don't know why, but whenever I think of Egypt, I think of ancient Egypt.  Even though I know it's different now.  And, it's weird to think about Ancient America..." (I reminded her that America isn't all that old) - she said, "oh yeah - it's not as old as Greece, and Italy, and Egypt..."

Again - this kid.

A little while ago, when I was asking her to verify some of what I'm typing, she asked what I was doing, and after telling her, she eagerly told me something else...
"Did you know that scientists have discovered a new monkey with a blue bottom (giggling)?"

She's so much like my Dad.  Just thrives off of knowledge.  Said today, "I just have so many questions.  I wish I could just know it all and not have to look everything up..."

Which reminds me - this past Sunday at church, they had a lesson about all the questions we are the ones she wrote down:

"How many extinct animals have there ever been?"
"How do we move?"
"How many years have people been around?"
"Why are we on earth?" (MY FAVORITE!)
"When did people start eating animals?"

Okay, better go - just had to record some of these precious memories.  :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Little Superhero

Tonight, after bedtime stories/practicing reading...

After a short conversation that we have had several times - one in which Everett says that he doesn't ever want to leave me and always wants to live with me, we had this very interesting exchange:

Everett:  Mommy?  Are superheroes real?

Me:  What do you think?

E:  Yes.

M:  Okay.

E:  Well, I want to be a superhero (kinda whiny, as if realizing they're not real)

M:  Okay - you can be...did you know that policemen and firemen are kinda superheroes?

E:  Yes.

M:  Can you tell me what a superhero IS and what a superhero does?

E:  They save people.

M:  Yeah, so policemen, firemen, doctors, animal doctors - there are LOTS of superheroes around us - and they don't all wear capes, do they?  

E:  No...  

M:  But, what if you were a superhero that had a cape...what color cape would you have (it would be fun to make one for him :) )

E:  Rainbow colors!

M:  Okay - would there be anything on your cape?  Like, a letter or number or symbol or shape?

E:  Well, actually, I would want to be Captain America, and he has wings on his helmet.  

M:  I thought Thor had wings on his helmet?

E:  Yeah.  They both do.  But Captain America's wings go like this (puts hands on head and makes them move)

M:  You don't want to be a totally different superhero that isn't like someone else?

E:  No.

M:  Okay :)

E:  Well, actually, I would probably want to be the Hulk.

M:  Oh really?? I don't know...I don't know if you're scary enough...

E:  Well, I'd probably just paint myself green.

M:  What kind of paints?  Watercolors?

E:  No.  Just paints.

M:  What about markers or crayons?

E:  No.  PAINT.

M: would you paint your back?

E:  Eh, well...I would probably just have one of the other superheroes do it - I would just hand them the bucket and ask them to paint my back.

M:  Oh,'s good that you've got all of this figured out.

E:  Yeah.

M:  Well, what if you could have a cape now?  What color would it be?

E:  Well, I would probably grow out of it.  But...let me show you how big it would need to be (gets out of chair to show me with his arms how big...counts imaginary "inches," totaling 8).  So, 8 inches!

M:  What color?

E:  Blue.

M:  Okay...dark blue, light blue...?

E:  Eh, you choose :)

M:  Okay.  Any symbol?

E:  Well, I think the Superman logo.

M:  Oh, maybe with an "E" instead of an "S"???

E:  No!  That would be confusing!

M:  Oh, okay.  You're right.

Fast forward to tucking Everett into bed - he has one last thought:

E:  I changed my mind - I don't want to live with you when I grow up.  I want my own house.  But I don't want to get married.  Because, that would be pretty confusing for them when I'm a, when I kiss them.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Selfish Sewing" for this Mama...courtesy of "Everything Your Mama Made" :)

Friends, I have found an absolutely fantastic pattern for when you have just a little bit of time to sew for yourself...

I was honored to have gotten to test the soon-to-be-released pattern by Everything Your Mama Made, called "Kymy's Dolman Top" - it is versatile, versatile, versatile!!!!  And I'm only saying that in thinking of the ONE of FOUR different views I tried out!  Talk about a big bang for your buck!!!  

I used a lightweight knit fabric - purple with a little sparkle to it, and check out how many ways it can be worn!!!  By the way, this is "View A" - the "hi-lo" option, but like I said, there are a few other options you can try out as well!!!

Dress it down with shorts!

Wear it with pants, and it would be great for many workplaces!!!  I'm thinking this would ESPECIALLY be great for teachers!  Trendy, cute, AND comfortable!!!

Dress it up for a night out! If I were still performing, I'd totally wear this (or the pants version!), as the subtle sparkle of the fabric is perfect for a night out - whether on stage (for all you fellow musicians) or at a nice restaurant or concert hall!

Normally when I test a pattern, I don't do outfit changes...however, when my husband (who was taking the pictures), said,  "Do you REALLY need to take this many pictures?!!"  I said, "No...I suppose I don't *NEED* to" - - - but I explained to him (because apparently, I have a tendency to ignore rhetorical questions), "Seriously - this top is SO versatile - if I had put many, many hours into a pattern, I would totally love for someone to show potential buyers how freakin' awesome it is.  People might not think to pair it with pants, or with a nice skirt...and then still be able to wear it out and about with the kids!"

Ladies - do you see what I'm getting at?!  It would be a crime to NOT own this pattern!  Once you've printed, cut, and taped the pattern together, trace your size(s) onto freezer paper.  From there, you can either use your paper weights and rotary cutter, or iron the freezer paper directly onto your fabric, and then use your rotary cutter (I do the latter, usually).  You can do the ironing option MULTIPLE times with freezer paper!!!!  VERY helpful when it comes to cutting knits!!!!

Now.  Onto the practicality portion of this post:  if you're between sizes on the size chart, I'd recommend choosing the smaller size (woohooo!).  I'm wearing a Medium in this picture, and I'm currently 5'7" and weigh 155 (though in the process of losing more, which is why I was okay going a little smaller).  

I've seen pictures of other testers making this pattern into a dress, a long tunic to wear over leggings (the banded at the bottom version!), and there's even a version that has ruching on the sides, which lends itself to being a fantastic option for those wanting trendy maternity tops!  

So anyway, I'll leave you with the image of Hubster looking at me incredulously, as I changed earrings and shoes during the photo session* ... why would he act so confused and in disbelief?  The man's seen Project Runway!  I subject him to it every week!  Doesn't he know that styling counts, dammit?!  (disregard my crappy hair in these pics)  Anyway, suffice it to say, I'm a big fan.  My only complaint is that I'll have to buy more and more fabric to make as many of these as I know I'll want to wear!!!

*(please let me reassure you that I did all changing inside the house...I'm sure our neighbors were scratching their heads, as we'd go inside, come back out, take pics, repeat, and repeat...)

P.S. - Wanna win this pattern AND the girls version of this pattern?  Head over to Pattern Revolution and enter the contest HERE!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Could these leggings BE any cuter?!?

Alright, so the ladies over at Pattern Revolution are in school-mode (because, at this point in the summer, aren't we all at least almost in that mindset?!  Yes, I'm thinking of you, friend with the app that counts down the seconds till the First Day of School commences...).  And in honor of school-like conditions, they are conducting a super duper scientific study to see which legging pattern is the MOST awesome.  Yes, I'm implying that they are ALL awesome.  Full Disclosure:  I only own one of the three patterns, but won't lie - I've drooled over the other two (peek-a-boo patterns "Lollipop Leggings" and Lily Giggle's "Petunia Petal Pants")...I've seen the pictures and read the reviews.  I'm confident in making the assertion that they're all awesome.

But, as I said, I only own one of the three patterns in the running:  The Jocole Ruffled Leggings :)

I'll just let the pictures show you how amazingly awesome and adorable they are (in the "short" length...can't wait to try capris and full-length ones soon!):

Yep.  The outfit doesn't exaaaaactly match.  But I had finished them the night before, and HAD to get my daughter to try them on before leaving for school that morning!!!!  So, you're seeing how adorable they are with the shirt that was meant to go with something else! :)

Okay, so about the little collage above...I'm just gonna say it...even though it might sound twisted:  I'm jealous of my 7 year old's cute, little butt in those pics!  Or maybe it's the awesome fit of the leggings???

Perhaps y'all should just get the pattern and see what you think...heck, get all 3 and do a comparative analysis!

But anyway, SUPER cute, RIGHT?!!?!?

Thanks for stoppin' by and don't forget to check out Pattern Revolution for more sewing goodness!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

It's been 4 months, but I'm not slackin' -- I promise!

So a lot has happened over the last few months...

Around Mother's Day, I decided that my priorities were a little out of whack...or, at least, what I was spending the most time on didn't match up to what I knew I wanted my priorities to be...Okay, to make it less complicated:  I was spending too much time on my business, Silly Jillybeans, and not enough time being the best mommy I could be.

Since arriving at this realization, I've worked on spending more time as Mommy and less time saying "yes" to fulfilling sewing and crafting orders.  The passion for all things crafty is still there, but I decided to make that passion work with the way our life is right now.  I took it as an opportunity to really try some new things, get better at other things, and to make more things for my own kids and myself!  :)

I'm super glad I made the decision I did, because it has really allowed me to get to know a lot of fantastic ladies in the sewing world, via Facebook!!!!  As weird and/or cheesy as it might sound, it means so much to know that there's a community out there that can relate to me and my love for sewing and all things creative.  It's helped me get a better handle on what things I like to make and what things I'm not all that excited to make.  I've been pleasantly surprised to see that there are so, so many women out there that are more than willing to help each other in so many ways:  "I'm at Hobby Lobby right now, but can't remember - what is the yardage for (insert pattern name here) in a sz. 7?"  2 minutes later, I get the answer.  I've also seen lots of posts like, "I've been asked to make (insert pattern and sz here), but they also want this added, this applique, and by next much should I charge?"  And then no less than 20 helpful comments follow!  

Anyway, I suppose it's just the nature of technology playing such a huge role in all of our lives, but it's strange to think that when I met Richard on about 11 years ago, that would be only the first of many types of relationships I'd have the opportunity to nurture over the years.  Again, it's not as weird as my inability to articulate it is making it short, I just feel privileged to have "met" and learned so much from the pattern designers and fellow sewing enthusiasts on Facebook.  Yep, that makes me sound like a dork.  Buttttt, I think anyone (?) can appreciate the validation one feels when they are able to relate to others, share victories, concerns, questions, rants, "I DID IT! ISN'T IT PRETTY?!" pictures, etc. with people who can truly understand and "get" the time, energy, talent, and work that went into it...  Right?

So.  All of that being said, I'm hoping that this will be the post that reignites my blogging.  Because frankly, I need any easy way for pattern designers to see pictures and samples of my sewing and photography skillz, so that when I apply to test for them, I can send them to one link with evvvvvverything there.  

And that will be this blog.

The plan is to have an "I Made It" section on the blog, and then possibly another, more specific section titled, "I Tested It."  

Oh yeah.  I guess I never got to the part in my update where I tell y'all that I've been REALLY enjoying testing some super fun, super cute patterns for a few different pattern designers!!!!!  These are the opportunities that have allowed me to really get to "know" a variety of awesome people!!!!

So...without further ado, I will hit the "Publish" button and we'll cross our fingers that I keep up with this blog better than I kept up with the 8 or 9 diaries I had as a kid...(don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about!)

Have a fantastic week and feel free to comment!  Maybe it'll motivate me to keep up the blogging!
-Dana :)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mommy Guilt/Self-Doubt/Inadequacy/Lack of Balance

So I posted the following on Facebook a little bit ago:

"Feeling ridiculously inadequate and a lack of balance today. Lunch at 3:45 probably doesn't help..."

And after receiving a "like" and a comment, wrote the following response (I felt it was a bit too dark and "Debbie-Downer" to subject the Facebook world to encountering.  So here we Facebook comment that won't be on Facebook:

crap!  i totally selected the "only me" option for where to post this!  It would've been the first time for me to try out that feature...and i thought, "okay, i hope this doesn't post to everyone..."  annnnnd, fail.  Yeah, one of those days where I really didn't wanna post or talk about it because I try to keep things positive, AND because I'm trying to be better about not negatively affecting my hubby's mood before he even gets home, ya know?  I mean, he has a long drive home, and who wants to come home to someone they know is having a down day?  At the same time, felt like I needed to get it all out.  Obviously, I was already having some doubts earlier today (per the post this morning), but then, the first thing Jillian says AS she's getting in the car when I picked her up was, "Mommy?  You haven't ever come up to the school to eat lunch with me.  And all the other kids' parents have."  And when I say "AS" she's getting in the car, I mean, AS she's opening the door.  Then, on the way home, "Mommy, when can someone from my class come over for a playdate?  Nobody has come over from my class..."  (and yes, she does have friends come over - it's just more difficult with friends with parents that I'm not constantly in contact with - it helps to know friends' parent's schedules...because we all have crazy schedules, and trying to match them up is NOT easy)...and then, we get out of the car:  "Mommy, when can we get new sand in the sand table?"  REALLY?  REALLY?!?!?!?!!  Oh, wait - then, Jillian sees a letter she wrote to my friend/their godmother, Tanya, on the table...and says, "Mommy?  When can we get more stamps?"  (oh, note:  just now - "Mommy?  When ARE you going to send this to Family Fun Magazine?" - referencing a super brilliant idea I had yesterday - took pics and notes on it, and apparently, it was a mistake to excitedly tell Jillian about it...)  So yeah, back to the stamps:  Jillian - we don't need more stamps - my *plan* was to mail it off with an order that I need to mail off - either tonight (if I can get it done) or tomorrow morning.  

so then, I go back to what I always go back to:  killing myself with guilt.  Should I even be trying to maintain my own, small business?  Clearly, I am slacking.  Clearly.  Because, yeah.  I wanted to be a SAHM.  I should want to go eat lunch with my daughter.  I shouldn't think to myself, "dang, that crosses off that day as a day I can work (because it's a 20 min drive to the school...and by the time I get done there, there would be no point in going back home before needing to get Everett at 2)."  But, the fact is, I DO think that.  I love what I do.  I love that I can do something that allows me to create.  And to get some sense of validation for any hard work that I put into it ...yes, I'm implying that parenthood results in very little validation for any hard work...unless you consider, "Mommy...(fill in the blank with something you still need to do and/or have failed or forgotten to do)" any remote form of validation.

But maybe, maybe I can at least make something good for my kids to eat for dinner?  I tried this last night.  Once again, a battle with Everett.  All because I tried something new and nutritious.  Basically, because I tried to do a better job at doing my job.  Rather than doing what I usually do, and relying on Richard to make something that I'm almost certain they'll like.  

But then, maybe sleep will make it all better, and I'll wake up, and it'll be a great, new day!  Or maybe, it IS a great day.  And then I open Everett's door to get him ready for school, and he immediately starts crying over something that happened yesterday, and tells me that he doesn't want to go to school.  So I get him ready, and throw a breakfast together for him (sippy/travel cup of milk included).  I drop him off at school.  I come home, ready to work.  As I'm getting out of the car, I notice his sippy cup in the back seat.  On its side.  It has leaked.  ALLLLLLLL in my husband's car.  Alllllll over Jillian's library book, that she enjoyed in the car earlier (a book on how to draw the human figure, btw).  I try my best to get the milk cleaned up in the car...then the book.  Because the library has a knack for basically charging one double the amount of an actual book to replace a damaged book.  I work with the book.  Dry it with towels.  Google how to get milk (read:  milk is sticky) off of book pages successfully/get pages unstuck from each other.  I try their suggestion:  hair dryer.  It sort of works.  Pages are still very affected.  I'll be buying a new book.  I move on with my day, working on SJB stuff, wondering (as I wondered earlier, "is it all for naught?") - I move past that thinking...and get a little bit done.  It is suddenly time to leave to pick up Everett from school, and then Jillian.  And here we are.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How did I get her to that reading level?

Honestly, I think a lot of it is just "her" - once she learned to read pretty fluently - around age 4 - she just didn't stop. She just loves books. I love them, too, but I fall asleep no matter how interesting it is. My Dad was verrrrrry much the same way as Jillian - i think a lot of it is genes. Because we didn't push her. At all. I basically just checked out whatever books she was interested in, in whatever topic, and let her go...when she was learning to read, we didn't "give her the answer" too quickly - really made her sounds something out. I also think that her ability to read at this level has a lot to do with her desire to acquire more ideas for creative expression. As odd as that might sound, I guess what I'm saying is, books feed her creative side - painting, story-writing, playing...AND, I think that there being an owl in HP is a little bonus, too :) Additional point: let her read whatever - if they like it, they will read, and will want to read more...and the more they read - even if it's the same thing/type of thing over and over, it BUILDS CONFIDENCE. More confidence = good!!!! Jillian flew through the Magic Treehouse Books when she was 5, as well as the Rainbow Fairy series (the latter has a VERY obvious format in each much that I think it eventually just bored the heck outta Jillian...BUT - I'm sure that in the beginning, it helped with her confidence, which resulted in her reading more). I'm not saying, though, that because I haven't pushed her, I haven't done anything: if there's something that interests her, I have always encouraged her to talk to the librarians and get them to point her in the right direction. And Ofilia (as I'm sure you know) at the Wylie library - is an AMAZING resource. Ms. Dia as well. And Debbie. They'll find things that have to do with her interest, but then also pull things that she *might* be interested in trying out. The ability to do the latter has very much to do with them knowing Jillian, her ability, and the fact that Jillian knows that they've successfully picked some "gems" for her in the past (i.e. - Babymouse books - a graphic novel series - that Ofilia suggested when Jillian started exploring some other books in that genre).

 Overall, though, I go back to it being Jillian. She loves coffee table books, nonfiction stuff, my Family Fun magazines, A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. She'll read Everett's books! I've said it so many times before, but reading is like breathing to's just in her nature. Neither one of us is like that...but I guess it's almost like a talent/natural ability that we saw early on and just went with it, nurtured it, and here we are. . . . I don't know that I would even try to aim for getting a young child at such a high level. It's not necessarily an easy line to walk...just encourage the joy of reading. Poetry, comics, picture books, novels, non-fiction. Whatever. The result is creativity, new ideas, ability to figure out meaning within the context of a sentence, the list goes on and on... And, as difficult as it is to NOT do, comparing one child's ability in a certain aspect to another child's ability is tricky, b/c you never know what things YOUR child can do "better" than the next...ya know? There are lots of things that Jillian has trouble with, that the next kiddo might not think twice about.

Sorry for the ridiculously long answer - it may not have even been helpful - they're just my thoughts...on something that I still often have trouble wrapping my own brain around! If it weren't for the fact that Jillian has consistently expressed the desire to become a fashion designer (to create costumes), I would've totally thought that she would pursue a career in reading/editing/writing (and she LOVES when they do grammar editing in school!). But who knows... let it be, don't force any particular books, if she's uninterested in a book and wants to stop, let her move on to something that DOES interest her (unless it's for school, of course)! It's something to be nurtured just as one would nurture any other talent. Because, now that I'm thinking about it (and typing as I think), I guess it's kinda like what I was saying earlier: there's a certain element of natural ability/talent. So, if your child could play piano amazingly well, pick up on the relationship between notes, chords, and basically "get it," and then keep getting it, continuing to consistently feed that desire, almost to the point where they NEED it...I might ask you, "anything that helped to get her to that piano playing level?" It's just hard to explain. And it boils down to the interplay between ability and desire. If you're already very capable of something, but don't enjoy it, or, don't enjoy it enough to do it ALL the time, you'll still be good at it, probably enjoy it whenever the desire to do that thing strikes...but the internal drive to KEEP doing it, to KEEP practicing - as a musician or gymnast or seamstress (!) might - that's just something that can't be forced.

Similarly, as much as we've offered "Word World" to Everett, he just doesn't enjoy it the way Jillian did. She LOVED learning about how the letters make different sounds, came together to form words, and that each word had a meaning, that was subsequently used in a sentence. Does it mean Everett doesn't have the same ability as Jillian, in terms of reading? Not necessarily. He may very well have the same ability...but will it be tapped into as early as it was with Jillian? Probably not. But can we and should we still encourage and nurture something so important, that may prove to be something he's just as passionate about, at a (relatively) later point in the future? Of course! All of that to say: you never know what will work with each kid. Support and facilitate the things they love; help them appreciate the things that might be harder to love. The things they are less passionate about and more hesitant to take on could have to do with more of a struggle, or maybe just a lack of interest; or maybe the struggle results in a lack of interest. Bottom line: they're all wired differently. What might work for one child may not work for another. They all have different genes, different environments, influences, the list goes on and on their strengths and use those things to help in developing other areas. Example: when Jillian was 3, she LOVED playing Memory. She loved books and the desire to read was beginning. I created a "Sight Word Memory Game" that was alllll the fun of Memory, but using sight words. :) That might not work on another kid...but it totally worked for Jillian! It got the ball rolling with sight words and she wanted to play it all of time. Played on her own, tried to make sentences with the words. Recognized the words in her books. And that's where she might differ from another child. One child might love "Sight Word Memory" because they love Memory, but they might not take it further than wanting to play a couple of times with Mommy, let alone do all the other stuff on her own! Again, I'm certainly not saying I didn't do ANYthing, but I also didn't have to force anything. I've tried my best to encourage, question what she loves about this or that book, what she wants to read more about, and then do my best to facilitate. I try not to make her feel like any part of her self-worth has anything to do with how well she reads; rather, it's just one, small part of who she is, and that that person - all aspects of her - are what make her so awesome and special. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A question I'm glad I asked...

Proud Mommy Moment, before singing to Jillian at bedtime:

Me - "What do you like best about yourself?"
J - "That I'm my own self."

At this point, I was mentally jumping for joy, and just floored.  Not surprised, but I guess taken aback by how deep her answer was.  Yes, I asked her to reflect on herself, but she could have easily gone the direction of answering with something having to do with her physical appearance.  However, I had actually anticipated her to answer with something having to do with the fact that she's good at reading.  Even that answer would have led me to agree, but with a gentle followup to address the fact that her self-worth is something separate from what she's good at and/or how much she achieves.  Sure, talents and achievements can build one's self-esteem, but I don't want her to NOT like herself if reading somehow became something she wasn't good at.

Moving on...

Me - "Wow.  I like that answer.  I think that's great!  When you say your 'own self,' what do you mean by that?"
J - "Well, that I can be my own self and I don't have to be how everyone describes, I like that my favorite color is blue, and a lot of girls like the color pink." (she later pointed out that actually, it seems a lot of girls also like blue and turquoise, lol).

She didn't specify anything else, but I'm fairly certain that there are probably a lot of other ways in which Jillian - at least at some subconscious level - feels like she goes against the grain...and unapologetically so, which makes me happy.  My hope is that these small, but powerful self-reflections are verbal manifestations of a spirit and soul that will always celebrate her own, unique qualities; and to trust her own self and her own judgement in matters of the heart and of character, even when - and especially when - she is hesitant to follow the crowd.

She's only 7 years old, but I feel like Jillian has unknowingly met a milestone that many of us work toward for much longer.  It's one that needs nurturing and reinforcement after being met, as there are many forces that can negate such a fragile way of being...but I'm joyful for the fact that my daughter has not only verbalized a way of being, but has also recognized it as something good and something in which she takes great pride.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Too Much

Our house looks even more turned upside down than the norm, BUT...I got a decent amount accomplished today:  almost done with E's bday invitations and mailing some out tomorrow; finished up Jody's Silly Jillybeans order to be mailed out tomorrow; prepped a few more Hearts for the kids' doors (see previous pics); cleaned the kids' bathroom countertop and mopped the floor; took the kids to feed the ducks tonight (pics to be posted later!); and started some laundry!  However, please note that when I say our house is turned upside down, this is probably an understatement.

Who knows how many loads of laundry need to be folded and put away...and how many square feet are covered in miscellaneous crafting supplies...I feel like I have my hands in so many things (like most Mommies), that I can never even begin to get the house in a state where I can feel okay crafting cute Vday decor...because, what would be the point?  I could hang the decor, but nobody would notice because my ADD has manifested itself in the form of stuff everywhere.

All of this to say that I don't know whether to feel proud of myself for doing these things for the kids (handmade invitations; daily vday door decor expressing the things we love about them; quick trip to feed the ducks, etc.) OR overwhelmed (Richard is sick of hearing me use that word...) by all that is left to do...

Some say that their house is a reflection of themselves.  And I'll admit it...ours is a reflection of me.  The words, "too much" probably sum it up best:  too much I need to do, want to do, have to do; too much stuff; too much time spent on this project or that project...too much brainstorming...too much guilt resulting from expectations of myself that can only be described as "too much."

The ironic thing is that in having so much "too much," the resulting feeling is "not enough."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2nd Grade Resolutions = Mommy Resolutions?

Judging from the numbers written and crossed out at the top of the page pictured, as well as the writing style (or lack thereof), it seems the goal for this assignment was to write 10 resolutions.

As I read all of these, I was so proud of the things my sweet girl wants to aim for this year.

But then...I got to the last one:

"This year I am not going to bother my mom when she is doing crafts."


  1. I'd just like to say that Jillian is not my child that tends to "bother" me when I'm doing crafts.  
  2. In my defense, I really and truly aim to just do "crafts" on my own time, either when the kids are at school, or after they've gone to bed.  Or when they're hanging out with my husband, as he is truly an amazing husband that understands my need to do stuff in my craft room.  It keeps me sane.  But moving on...
  3. I used quotes around "crafts" because it's actually rare that I do what I would consider "crafts."  I think what Jillian is actually referencing is "work," as I am lucky enough to stay pretty darn busy with Silly Jillybeans orders.  And again, she's typically not the child in the family that thinks they can wander freely into and out of my craft room, either to tell me something, explore, and/or pick up something...
Still, regardless of my defense, it's clear my daughter has, at one time or another, got the impression that she has bothered me while working.  Apparently enough to warrant a resolution.

OR - maybe...maaaaaaaybe, she knows that it's not something that' really an issue - even a moot point - and so, therefore, it would be a good resolution, and easily achievable!

Or maybe I'm reaching a bit.

In any case, this doesn't do me any favors in terms of the "Mommy Guilt" that is basically a way of life at this point.  It's there.  All the time.  In a variety of ways.  Y'all know what I'm talking about, right?

BUT!  The good news?  This resolution was LAST on a list of (a required?) 10 items.

I don't know about y'all, but in my experience, something that is written last on an assignment like this is often a struggle to have thought of...right?  RIGHT???

Nevertheless, I was called out by my sweet 2nd grader in her resolutions.  But this is good.  It's good that I know all of the goals she is striving for, as I want to make sure I do my best to facilitate and encourage those goals.  It's just that in terms of this one, particular resolution, the work will need to done more on my part:  to talk with her about whether she remember certain instances of when she felt she was "bothering" me; and, to be more cognizant of the time I spend "doing crafts" - both in terms of the amount of time and my choice of timing, as well as the attitude I put forth during those times, in an effort to minimize the possibility of inaccurate perceptions of Jillian being a bother.

So there ya go.  I just realized that what I have written above could have easily been titled:

"How to over-analyze your child's classroom writing assignment, and, subsequently, add to an already abundant amount of 'Mommy Guilt.'"

I'm going to consider this my cleansing of the guilt, move on, and focus on my daughter's awesome writing.  :)  
The End.
(well, the end of this particular instance of the mommy guilt cycle)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dinnertime as a Family: Maybe not so hard to swallow...

Confession:  we have a hard time eating dinner as a family.  Pretty much because our kids (7 yo and almost 4 yo) have a terribly difficult time focusing on eating.  Instead, there are random moments of getting up from the table, being silly, complaining about whatever was made (this warrants an entirely separate post, addressing the fact that I have little incentive to cook the awesome meals I used to - and that I'd like to cook), etc.  Pretty much the usual, that most other families deal with (or at least, that's what I tell myself, so let's just go along with that assumption, k?).

So after dealing with these same type of things throughout the day, the last thing I want to do is eat my dinner while reffing or trying to keep kiddos focused.  As a result, my husband and I usually eat later, and at least one of us stays with them at dinner to keep them company, talk with them, keep them focused, break up the fights, and whatever else...

BUT, when I saw this idea from No Time for Flash Cards, inspired by the upcoming holiday of alllll things love, I thought, "Hey!  This could actually make dinner pleasant!!!"  What do y'all think?  Any other conversation questions that might be good to include that aren't shared in this post?

conversation hearts dinner time activity for families

What other types of things do y'all do to make dinner bearable, and - dare I say it - enjoyable???

Bring it on!

And, because I'm assuming I'm not the only one faced with this dilemma, I'm creating a new board on the Silly Jillybeans Pinterest page titled, "Dinnertime Techniques."

So if you've blogged about your technique or have found some helpful posts somewhere, please share in the comments section and I'll add it to the board with a link to your blog and/or tag you via a comment!!!  Let's get dinnertime more doable!!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mermaid: Water : : Jillian: Books

A few weeks ago, we checked out a bunch of new books from the library.  And, it just so happens that the library we've gone to for so many years is also home to the 2012 recipient of Texas Librarian of the Year.

Ofilia has been a godsend over the years, as Jillian has always had a love for learning and an intense love of reading.  Having a librarian that can immediately address the needs of a child like this is a gift.  Jillian would often walk into the library and Ofilia and Dia (another FANTASTIC librarian) would ask what she wanted to learn about that day.  There were horses, the weather, rocks, birds, LOTS of things...however, Jillian's "Dinosaur Phase" lasted for over a year and a half.  I think we checked out close to every dino book...

But anyway, Ofilia has always done a great job gauging what might be a good selection for Jillian.  And it has gotten more difficult the last couple of years because Jillian's ability far exceeds what would be appropriate for her age.  

This last trip to the library, we checked out a few selections that Ofilia and Debbie worked together to select...their suggestions were a big hit, as evidenced below.  

The reason I'm putting dates on these books is simply so that I can look back (and so that Jillian can look back, too!) to know that she's always loved much so, that she breezes through books ranging from 200-300 pages.  Just effortlessly.  I've blogged about it before, on our family page (in fact, my constant amazement of Jillian's reading seems to be one of few things I actually sit down to document/write about.  I don't know why I'm still blown away by it - I mean, I guess I really shouldn't be surprised anymore, but I am.  I've NEVER been able to get through a couple pages of anything without nodding off...doesn't matter how much I enjoy it.  It's just weird.  And Jillian just doesn't stop.  I'm over the moon about it.  Even envious - but more in a way where I'm ecstatic about the fact that she is essentially opening up limitless possibilities in so many ways.  The true joy she has for reading is unreal.  

So here we go...

Jillian finished this book around Friday, January 3rd:

She loved it.  She talked about it and made me want to read it.  I started to read it.  Really enjoyed the first chapter and got a little into the second which point, Jillian had asked me how much I had read.  I told her I finished the 1st chapter and was a little into the second.  Her response?  "Ummmm, Mommy?  The chapters aren't very long."  Ouch.  It wasn't that I didn't want to read it, or that I didn't find it super fun...I seriously start to fall asleep when I read.  Weird.  But anyway, this post isn't about me...

A day or two later, Jillian moved on to The Tail of Emily Windsnap.  School started back up on Tuesday.  She finished Emily Windsnap, as well as Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister by Saturday, January 12th:

At this point, I thought I'd see if our local library was set up for us to download books.  It is.  So I downloaded the next 3 books in the Emily Windsnap series...Jillian started the 2nd book in the series,
Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep, on the way to school Monday morning, January 14th.

That night, the Nook said she was 79.8% done.  She finished it the next afternoon on the way home from school, and without my knowing, started reading the 3rd book in the series, Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist.

Now it is Wednesday night.  She finished Castle in the Mist tonight and started the 4th book in the series, Emily Windsnap and the Siren's Secret, but shortly thereafter, it was "lights out" and "go to bed." :)

So if the pattern continues, I'm guessing she finishes Book 4 at least by the end of Friday.  Though really, NO RUSH.  Book 5 isn't released until a month from now (GASP!)!!!  I think that after reading these four substantial books over the last 11 days, I would welcome a little break, simply to digest everything.  But I'm betting we'll be making another trip to the library, or at the very least, downloading some new, fun reads...

Suffice it to say, though, this Emily Windsnap series is GOOD.  Not that I would know...but surely, a 7 year old that can't put the books down would be a good indicator, right?  Annnyway, stay tuned for more "can't-put-it-down" book suggestions for your young one! :))  I'm guessing that for us, it will be the next book in the Phillipa Fisher series ;)

One, last thing:  BIG shout out to author, Liz Kessler!!!!  Thank you for sharing your imagination and your love of a good story with my sweet girl.  You've addressed quite an insatiable appetite for reading, and in doing so, you've also given my daughter a different kind of pride - one in which she feels she has accomplished something "bigger" than other books and series have.  I'm sure there was a sense of pride in having finished other books and other series as well, but I sincerely appreciate the fact that your books have been able to keep Jillian engaged, while also quietly reassuring her that no book is too big!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Whooo Loves You?

I've decided that I might "borrow" a few posts from our family blog that is rarely updated, simply in an effort to make this one a bit more exciting as I continue the nonstop juggling act of being a Mommy, keeping the house remotely presentable, and working on Silly Jillybeans orders.

I have to say, I'm really, really happy about having blogged what I did (way back when) melts my heart to see my sweet girl so much younger and squeezable and just....oh.  It really does go by fast...

Anyway, since my "Not for the Dull..." blog has heavy emphasis on crafty things, I thought this Valentine's post from 2010 would be a good one to share, as we approach the big V-Day :)  Plus, I just love this card I made.  It's not one of my most complex, involved ones, but I love the colors and the whimsy.

Enjoy!!!  Make sure you read the RIDICULOUSLY EASY description of how I threw this card together.  Seriously.  Way.  Easy.  3 words:  Target Dollar Spot.
Jillian has been SUPER excited about Valentine's Day for a while now.  Every morning has been just one day closer...well tonight, Jillian got to open a little something from us...

Ugh.  If we could only break her of this habit.  Jillian puts her hands on her ears in response to the following things:  "loud" noises; Mommy and/or Daddy sternly explaining something (not all the time, though); Mommy and/or Daddy singing (also not all the time).  In the picture below, I was singing a Fresh Beats song...

Checking out the Mommy-made card:

A little Blueberry Muffin doll!  Fun!!!

She was pretty excited that this doll was "just like Lemon Meringue and Strawberry Shortcake...because you can take off their shirts (and switch them out)."

The card I made for Jillian :)  She instantly said (in reference to the inside of the card), "It's a PATTERN!  Red, purple, red, purple!"

Happy Valentine's Day, Jillian!  We LOVE you!!!!


1.  Buy the following supplies:  Cheap set of card-making supplies at Target Dollar Spot.  My set included 2 (maybe 4?) cards, some animal cutouts, buttons with adhesives on the backs, ribbon, a few stickers, and envelopes.  Also, one of those cheap packages of 2 to 4 small clear stamps and small ink pad.

Warning/Disclaimer:  Normally, I put my blinders on as I approach the general vicinity of The Dollar Spot in Target, pretty much in an effort to avoid spending absurd amounts of money (ironically enough).  Sometimes, it's because I have a child or two in tow, but either way, it's monetarily risky.  However, it seems I came out of the process relatively unscathed this time.  I'm giving you permission to go to this section for the purposes of Valentine card making ONLY.  But that's as far as my responsibility goes, people.  You're on your own after that.  Tell yourself you need to book it to the Starbucks across the store and get the helloutta the Dollar Spot AS SOON as you get the supplies!!!!

2.  Assuming you found a card kit in which the card is textured, use a little sander (something like this if you're fancy; you can also use a big ol' nail file or some sanding paper) to sand away the top layer of color from the card (I wanted to do that to this one because it started out just looking way shiny and one-dimensional...despite the raised dot texture).

3.  Use funky handwriting to write on the back of any small scrap of paper you have within a foot radius of where you're sitting.  Fold and tear carefully to give a rugged/torn look; use scissors if you're going for a clean look.

4.  Use tape runner or glue dots to stick one of the packaged cutouts (in my case, an owl) to the card; then your little paper with text, then the button with adhesive.

5.  Stamp a fun shape on the inside of the card.  I did hearts.  Raid your kids' crayon/colored pencil supply. Do a cute-messy coloring of the inside of the stamps.  Write something fun in your funky handwriting.

6.  You're done!  Put it in the envelope (maybe include some of the stickers that came with your card pack, too - my personal experience is that stickers are an instant WIN!), use the funky handwriting to write their name on it, and YOU'RE DONE!!!!!  Easy.Peasy.