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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
-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
-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 firstname.lastname@example.org with SAVE HANDMADE in the subject.
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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.
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:
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.
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.
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.