and a merry christmas to you too!

Hello everyone!

I've emerged from the land of Dial Up to the prosperous nation of Faster Than Dial Up but Not High Speed. Thus, another blog post is upon us.

Christmas was eventful--with all the snow and everything, we managed to get to Brandon's folks' house in 9 hours (it usually takes us about 7 or so), which is pretty good, considering half the drive was compact snow and ice and we almost died. Just kidding.

But not really.

Don't ask.

But we got to Longview, alive and in one piece. My brother and sister in law came up the next day with their cutie pie Butter Bean (she is a chunk of a baby!) and Birdy and Butter Bean had good times pulling hair, giving open mouth kisses, and stealing toys from each other. The girls are adorable together. I think Birdy is missing her little friend now that she's all alone up here at my parent's house.

Birdy's first Christmas was...eventful. She looked super cute in her little dress (photos coming soon), and had fun with paper and boxes. She was very spoiled by her Grammie and Grandpa, but that's to be expected. Her favorite toy (shudder) is a Noah's ark that makes all kinds of music and sounds. With no "off" setting. And all at full volume. I thought I could be creative and dim the noise, but 8 layers of tissue and packing tape has done nothing. And, the "silencer" I crafted actually looks pretty good. You can't really tell I did anything unless you knew I did something. Or something.

Christmas with my side of the family happens on the first, and Christmas with my dad's side of the family happens on the third. Wish us luck.


ah. mah. gahd.

Let me tell you a story about Wee Heather.

I've always loved swimming, and I've always been good at it. This was the case when I was four or five, and swam up a few levels in swim lessons. We were mostly in the deep end, and it made me feel like a big girl.

Then something terrible happened.

One day, before swim lessons, I was hanging out and watching some cartoons. Popeye was on, and in this episode Popeye is at the pool. Swimming, splashing, having a good time. Then, that meanie Bluto let...um...uh...oh man, this is tough. He let SHARKS into the pool. That messed me up.

When you are Wee, you can't see over the kickboard you are using to see the bottom of the pool. Also, because it is swim lessons, you can't use goggles, also hindering your ability to see the bottom and to investigate a shark situation.

Needless to say, I developed a huge fear of swimming in the deep end. I was only safe on the walls, so I got to be pretty fast. I didn't want to get eaten.

I did get over my fear of sharks in the pool eventually. However, it's still really hard for me to swim in a lake, pond, or the ocean. You don't know what might be swimming by ready to touch you or eat you. Yucky.

So you will imagine my surprise and SHOCK when I saw this yesterday. The good news is that the shark died, and cannot share the secret of swimming pools with her friends. And I honestly can tell you that I don't think I can go to Atlantis resort now.

it's a pennypincher! it's a miser! NO! it's frugal frannie!

That's right, she's back.

Last night I made my friend April a holiday card using awesome papers and embellishments from ScrapArtist (that's for you, Angela). April had found some inspiration cards, sent me some photos, and away I went.

I'm also painfully aware this project should have taken me less time than it did. I will admit it went faster than the first two I made. The picture of the whole family was taken when Patrick was chosen as the Cougar Kid or something like that (sorry, April). They got to go down on the field, see the press box, and Patrick got to be on the jumbo screen. There were other exciting things that happened, but you'll have to ask April about those.

So here it is...the finished product:

On a less awesome note, we at Rural State University are snowed in to our side of the state. The coastal areas are going to be experiencing "blizzard-like conditions," "high winds," "one foot of snow" and most importantly "lots of foul language due to weather."

These things are unheard of...especially in an area of the country where 1-2 inches shut down entire metropolitan areas. Ugh.

So, here we are at RSU, with students thinking they are going to get home (keep dreaming those dreams!), while we KNOW we aren't going home. Yet.


all i want for christmas


help save handmade

This is reposted from Cool Mom Picks, a blog dedicated to helping cool moms pick cool things. As a cool mom and a lover of cool things, it only makes sense that I would be a reader. The following is something important for all lovers of handmade items--especially toys.
So many of you have written to us out of concern regarding the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, that we created this page as a source of information, resources and breaking news.

If you want to help spread the word, you can post this button on your blog or website. It's our hope that together, we can encourage Congress to amend the act so that we can both keep our children safe and protect the handmade toys and clothing that we love so much.

Adorable handmade bear image courtesy of
Bumblebird--a true artist worth saving! And design by Laurie Smithwick of LEAP Design.

We're all for strengthening the safety standards of mass-produced toys, clothes, and accessories made in China, and banning toxins like phthalates and lead. But this year, congress passed the ill-conceived Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, a law which goes into effect in two months and will absolutely decimate the small toy manufacturers, independent artisans, and crafters who have already earned the public trust. The very same ones that we often feature here and in our yearly special edition gift guides.

With this act going into effect February 10 2009 so many people we love will be affected: Moms who sew beautiful handmade waldorf dolls out of home, artists who have spent decades hand-carving trucks and cars out of natural woods, that guy at the craft show who sold you the cute handmade puzzle--even larger US companies who employ local workers and have not once had any sort of safety issue will no longer be able to sell their goods. Not without investing tens of thousands of dollars into third-party testing and labeling, just to prove that toys that never had a single toxic chemical in them still don't have a single toxic chemical in them.

How to Get Involved -- it only takes 5 minutes of your time!
-Find your
congress personand senators and write a letter like the sample here.Particularly if they serve on the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection or the House Committee on Small Business.

-Send an email directly to the
CPSC or contact chairperson Nancy Nord at 301-504-7923

-Vote for amending the law on
Change.org, digg style: With enough votes it will be presented to President Obama in January!

-Place the
Save Handmade! button on your blog or website to help spread the word to everyone you know who cares about protecting the little guy and preserving beautiful items made with love for our children.
Fantastic Resources

The Handmade Toy Alliance (check out their proposed changes, a lot of which make a whole lot of sense)

CPSIA Facebook Group

CPSIA information group on ning

Z Recommends: Five steps you can take to save natural toys (excellent reading)

Handcrafivist Channel on youtube with updated news stories and videos

Fashion Incubator

The Smart Mama

Etsy business forums (including this specific thread on local media coverage

-Twitter: Search using the
#CPSIA hashtag

Endangered Whimsy - a blog gallery of handmade products endangered by the CPSIA. Feel free to submit yours.

Video: Handmade Portraits

-Excellent letter from
Rick Woldenberg, Chairman of Learning Resources, to CPSC on improvements to the act. Also see the You Tube videos in which he addresses the CPSC panel in November. Well worth a watch. (1 of 3)

Press, related posts and late-breaking news
Fantastic response from Senator Majority Leader Patrick Leahy (D-VT): I am hopeful that the CPSC will take the needs of small, American manufacturers into consideration as they continue to develop new testing policies. In the next session of Congress, I will continue to work towards a solution that both ensures the safety of our children and allows small businesses in Vermont to stay competitive. (Other Senators, take note!)

Celebrity Baby Blog - with great sample letter to Congress
WSMV 4 Nashville news segment (inspired in part by our post, yay!)

Digital Journal article: "New child product safety law threatens all US homecraft businesses" (with great mentions about how reselling items on Ebay and Craig's List will also be illegal)

Boston Herald: "Small toy stores fear new US regulations" (Promising quote: according to Brin Frazier, spokesman for Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce... “Manufacturers and distributors already selling safe toys that comply with the new standards should not have to incur prohibitive costs for compliance.”)

Activism alert: Etsy artists band together and
send handmade toys to Congressman Rush

Patriot Ledger Editorial: "New law to put thousands of out work"

Boing Boing: "Consumer safety rule could drive crafters out of business"

Mothering.com: "Good intentions lead to catastrophic results for the natural toy industry"

Wall Street Journal: "Vendors urge relaxed lead safety rule" (despite the misleading headline)

DaddyTypes: "Is CPSC's new lead regulation going to wipe out the baby non-industrial complex next February?"

Eco Child's Play: "New consumer safety laws will make handmade, natural toys illegal"

Mom-101: "In support of work-at-home moms and other reasons to defeat the CPSIA act"

ETSY open letter on CPSIA

Startup Nation: Will CPSIA affect you? Have some news for us or want more info?
Contact Liz and Kristen at info@coolmompicks.com with SAVE HANDMADE in the subject.
This page is protected by copyright. You are welcome to reprint an excerpt with attribution and a link to the full post



You ever have those conversations when something totally random like "whispering unicorn" is a topic?

Well that happened today at work. And this whispering unicorn is for you, HM, to help soothe your burning wounds.


christmas cheer courtesy of the heathers

the festival of lights

Remember the Seinfeld episode where George wanted to be Jewish for the jokes? I'm kinda like that, except for the jokes part. I want to be Jewish for the remembrances.

My godmother, who is a librarian, gave me the book Girl Meets God as a high school graduation present. It's the memoir of Lauren Winner, the daughter of a Jew and an Episcopalian who chooses to become an Orthodox Jew. Complications arise when she begins graduate work at Oxford and explores Christianity and begins attending an Anglican church. The resulting book discusses her eventual conversion to Christianity and her struggles to reconcile her Jewish past with her Christian future.

It's fascinating. She talks about the parts of Judaism that she loves the most, and I agree with her on many points. Notably, we Christians spend hardly any time remembering. Lauren talks about that, and how Judaism is about remembering all the time--through ritual, dress, and food.

Too often, in Christianity, we focus only on the New Testament; and really, only with the Gospels. While they are the foundation of Christianity, we forget to remember what God was before there was Jesus. People's knowledge of the Old Testament falls under one of a four stories: Adam and Eve, Moses, Noah, David and Goliath. And really, all of David's story people might know about was when he fought Goliath, and maybe something about a woman named Jezebel.
As a people, we've forgotten where we came from. I find my life is strangely like that.

I think this has been preying on my mind for the last few weeks because of my uncanny ability to forget large parts of my life. The biggest part I've forgotten (through limited brain space or other psychological issues) is college. For the most part, I remember what I paid to learn, but I've forgotten much of what I did during those three years. I find that unsettling and disturbing. What was I thinking? I ask that question in horror as well as introspection.

The more I think about it, the more I feel like perhaps I was, in a way, mourning the death of who and what I was before I left home. In my life before college, I was very outgoing, confident, and so sure of myself all the time. When I came to college I was a nobody--no one knew who I was or where I was from. Many people revel in something like that...having the opportunity to re-make themselves and be what they've always wanted to be. I didn't feel that way. I liked who I was. I missed my family, and my friends were a poor approximation of what I missed in my familial relationships. For some reason, I felt like I couldn't be (or shouldn't be?) who I was when I was at home.

So much of what I do remember from college was going through the motions of being a student, a friend, or a girlfriend, and it all seemed to be in avoidance of losing something, or a failure of creating and discovering who I was (am) as an adult.

I think my present to myself this year will be to be unashamed with what I like and dislike, and embracing myself for who I am. That, and I'm starting a journal. I want to start remembering, so I can start living purposely again.


this one's for brandon and david

I can't remember laughing this hard in a long time.

dear eva

A while ago, I mentioned a project I've been working on for Birdy's baby book. I asked family members to write a letter to her with things they want her to know and things they hope she does. The only page (gah) that is completed has the letters from my budder David and Brandon's dad Jerry. It happens to be my favorite (and not just because it's the only one that's done. Really.) so far.

I'm excited that Birdy is going to be growing up with a family who loves her and loves each other. Family is the most important thing that we have on earth, and I consider it a blessing that we truly enjoy each other's company and love spending time with each other. This is more precious to me as I get older and see that many people don't get to share that joy.

Yes, that is my kitchen floor in the upper right hand corner. No, I don't have a better place to take pictures at night. Yes, that is my handwriting. No, Anita, I haven't made it into a font yet. :-)


omfg peeps!

I just made my first blog banner.

That's it.

I think I'm never going to bed at a reasonable time again. This is addictive.


I just realized something. Everyone is asleep and I am awake. And it's quiet. And peaceful.

It's also way too late, but a little taste of no noise but the aquarium is really quite relaxing.

frugal frannie strikes again

So. I spent the last four hours figuring out more about my Photoshop Elements program. I learned many things, like how to add a drop shadow and just how complicated it is to erase something, and how far I will go to pay more attention to my computer screen than mah sweet bebe. The answer to that one is a little embarrassing. Moving on to better things. Seriously, move on. Stop dwelling on the baby comment. It wasn't bad. But it did involve an Exersaucer and some stuffed animals.

So ask me, Dear Reader, how cheap your pal Heather is. Come on. Ask.

Oh, you twisted my arm! Okay, I'm so cheap that I am making my own photo cards this year. Paying upwards of $.50 a card is ludicrous. So, I'm using my Photoshop to make my own 4x6 cards and will get them developed at Costco for [I'm going to need your best drum roll here, please] $.13!!!!!!!! That's right. For $6.50 I'm getting photo cards. This will come in handy, because I'm already planning on giving my left arm in exchange for stamps.

I cannot tell you how proud of myself I am. What a Frugal Frannie I am! Best of all, all of the elements used in the card are free downloads over at Shabby Princess, who happens to rock my face off. I used two of her holiday downloads, and I think it was quite nice of her to use the same colors for her free holiday download two years and a row. Kudos to you SB!

I think it paid off--this is the photo card I made for this year:
All you need to do is imagine a nice festive picture of Birdy in that large blue space and wah-lah: Christmas Cheer. For 13 cents.


we need to talk

Have I mentioned that I love Today's Creative Blog? No? Well I do. A lot. And there are some blogs that I follow now that I didn't before Anita told me about TCB.

The newest one is Susie Can Stitch. Susie is awesome. I want to make what Susie makes. I want the fabrics Susie has. I want the sewing machine Susie's daughter uses. One problem though...I don't sew. But that's okay! Because I embroider! And so does Susie! She also has an Etsy shop [stay tuned for a post about my other other other love affair...ETSY.] so I can order her things and pretend that I could have made them.

And I'm sure I could. In the same way that a room full of monkeys could type one of Shakespeare's plays.

For more felty, Susie Stitchy goodness, check out her Flickr photostream.


harrison john, or why i can't wait until birdy talks

So we went to dinner with our friends as the mama of the house was out of town. Brandon and I had the privilege of sitting near Harrison, who can spell his name with both eyes closed. No fooling. He did it for us just to prove it. And then, just to show off, he did it with only one eye open.

Harrison is in kindergarten, and is learning lots everyday. He also says some of the greatest things I've ever heard. Here are two examples from dinner:

"Bwandon, it's time to shave, holy jeez!"

"Birdy looks like a little fat woman."

In what I believe was an effort to get back at him for that last comment, Birdy grabbed his hair and pulled out some strands when I wasn't looking. A little fat woman has to stand up for herself, you know.

He also always asks several times during the evening if Birdy is a boy or a girl. I'm not quite sure why he can't remember, or doesn't connect the fact that she is wearing something pink every time he sees her. [People who get hand-me-downs like ourselves are not choosers. Hence, most of Birdy's clothes are pink.]


fanksgiving amendment

So you know how I went to go see James Bond a few weeks ago? Well I went to see it with Tater and Brandon. And I was all psyched and junk because last time I had to sit in the front of the theatre. And it was uncomfortable. And I didn't like it.

So this past Friday we went again. And instead of sitting in the third row from the front like the first time, we had to sit in the very front row. I saw less of the movie than the first time. Boo. People are supposed to be at home the day after Thanksgiving, sorting the presents they bought and eating turkey sammies. Not going to lunch at Red Robin and getting the blackened bayou burger with a Boca patty and then going to see a movie.

That's all.


Highlights from the past week:

Seeing parents times 2: We are so blessed to have parents who are still married and like each other! Plus, it makes holidays easier. I don't want four sets of each holiday. Blech.

Grandma Eva finished my blanket! Wee!

Seeing Joe, Brittany (and I'm still not certain how to correctly spell it--I'm sorry!) and Brenna.

We got to see Portland AND visit with an old professor of ours and his sweet boys. Chez Jose East, you have my eternal allegiance due to your margaritas and lime chicken enchiladas.

Good down time.

Snuggles with Birdy Bean.

I got the Best. Pants. Ever. They are green. They are also awesome.

We got to see mah BFFFFFFF (there are a lot of forevers in there) Jessica TWICE. Take that suckas. Plus, those two times were for a concert and for XXX Root Beer in Issaquah. AND we got to see her daughter, the Mak Attack.

I went to Stuffy's. Twice. And had their Stuff. Twice. Suckas times 2.

Hot tub at mah parent's. I could marry that thing. AND DON'T THINK I HAVEN'T THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

Making pumpkin pies with Birdy and mah Tater (my dad. Long story for that name). We have good pictures of it, they are coming as soon as he sends them to me. It might be a while.

Christmas tree hunting at the tree farm mah brudder works at. We had him, Tim Tim and Gwen help us find a tree. Now THAT'S service. That's our friend Rylie on the home page.

And believe me, I could have put more links in this post. I just didn't want to hurt your clicking finger. And I'm all about preserving your clicking finger.