Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I so very much wish that I had written this. She writes it as a stay-at-home mom, but I think it's true for all moms. I've never seen the "mom club" described so well. It's like we're all simultaneously embracing and generally surviving the same adventure. There's an awesome camaraderie, despite all the daily judginess, that comes with recognizing the look of sleep-deprivation and complete adoration in another woman's eyes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bow Board Tutorial

Last year my sister-in-law moved in with her boyfriend and his two awesome kids, an 8 year old girl and a 5 year old boy. We met them during our visit in July and fell in love. However, 5 days was not a ton of time to really get to know them. So I was really stuck for gift ideas for the girl (I'm pretty good on 5 year old boys right now). I had the idea to make her a few bows, but then thought I'd need to make a bunch to constitute an exciting gift. That's when I came up with the idea for a bow board to go with the barrettes. I really love how it came out, and it was super super easy.
A $4 frame from Target, a fat quarter, and trim scraps

Pop out the glass and replace with cardboard cut to size (taken out of the recycling bin)

Cover the cardboard with fabric, ensuring that you pull it tight as you glue

Lay out your ribbon. I started with an assymetrical design, but decided that I liked the weave pattern better.

In my disassembly I broke off the stand, so I glued this thick ribbon to the back so it could be hung on the wall

And covered the back in fabric to hide the scar from the broken stand. I actually like this a lot better. I think it gives it a finished look.

Ta da! I'll gift it with these bows I made. Altogether, including the bows, the cost of this project was less than $10 and took under 2 hours total. I think she's going to love it! And now I have to make Syd one...
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Wood peg dolls

I found this awesome tutorial via Pinterest and immediately fell in love with these little wooden people. I'm picturing them accompanying the wooden blocks that we're making for the kids. A few tips: I found that a straight pin was the easiest way to paint the eyes on. My brushes all made too big circles, which ended up looking a little freaky. I also had intended on much more specific characters (i.e. cowboy, space man, firefighter) but once I got started I liked the more generic ones better. That way the kids can make them be whatever they want. I ordered these through this website. I really wish I had bought the box of 100, verses 3 packs of 10. It wasn't a huge price difference, and I think I would have used them. Also, these were a bit smaller than I was imagining. If I did it again I may buy the bigger ones (2 1/8 in vs. 1 11/16th in).
Finally, ninjas are a great way to salvage ones that don't come out very well. Just paint over the whole thing black :)
These were so fun to make. I painted them in two nights after the kids went to bed and ended up with a very cute little village. I can't wait for the kids to see them. Now I'm trying to find a cute little box to put them in.

Of course there had to be Power Rangers. And ninjas.

About half the family. I added a few, including several generic people,
Batman, and a space alien.

I think this would have been a fun project to do with the kids too, and depending on how they like them I may buy more so we can add to the set. And if they don't like them? I'll probably steal them for myself.
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Friday, November 25, 2011

How we spent Black Friday

What do you do with two stir-crazy kids on Black Friday when it's too cold to go back to the park?
Take a cue from a friend and bust out the "trampoline"
I love long weekends at home.
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Thursday, November 24, 2011


It was a really awesome, fabulous day

"The Turkey Bowl 2011"
Where a bunch of 30-somethings play tackle football early in the morning and hope no one gets injured bad enough that they have to tell their wives. Thankfully, no one did.

The Turkey Bowl cheering section. Can you tell who's had coffee?

They FINALLY allowed a picture of them in their turkey hats for school. So freaking cute.

Third try at a Thanksgiving family picture (at my new table!) This one's my favorite. We can't all smile at the same time, but we can duck-face like nobody's business :)

I have been so filled with gratitude lately that I was really looking forward to today. A day with no consumerism and a day to spend just hanging out with my favorite people. In all the stress and B.S. of everyday life I love those moments that hit me with how lucky I am. We're all healthy, happy, and relatively sane. We have a freezer full of frozen meatballs and a pantry full of chicken broth and spaghetti sauce. I can go buy milk or get gas without having to balance my checkbook first. My kids go to an amazing daycare and I get paid well to do a job I would do for free. I have faith that grows stronger as my world becomes more uncertain. My friends are seeing miracles. Life is good and I am thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why shrinks have weird kids

Eli: Mama, are you frustrated?
Me: No, buddy, I'm okay
Eli: Mama, are you mad?
Me: No, Bud, I'm fine.
What is it about the backseat that makes kids so freaking conversant?
Eli: Mama, are sad?
Me: Nope
Eli: What are you feeling Mama?
Me: Bud, I'm fine! I'm just trying to concentrate so I can find this place.
Eli: No, Mama. That's a thought. I asked how you were feeling.

My husband and hundreds of clients are right, that is obnoxious.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I think he liked it

This is the face he made in the car as we pulled up to the studio

I couldn't get a decent picture without other people's kids in it, but just imagine him and six other little kids with crazy focus shouting "Yes Sir!"

Loosely-karate related accident. He bumped his knee on his mouth as he was running back to his circle. I think it counts.

Before we went we came up with a code, because Eli was worried that it wouldn't be fun or that it would be a "baby class." If he said "elephants" it meant that he liked it and if he said "peanuts" it meant he wanted to try somewhere else. At the end of the class, despite the bonk, he came running up to me whisper-yelling "Elephants! Elephants!" I'll have to work something out at work so I can get him to the one weekday class, but for now we're signed up. Twice a week he gets to put on his uniform, run like animals, and "show respect. It's very important, Mama."

He is so freaking in love with this uniform, and completely fascinated with the fact that he has to earn his belt.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Go go power rangers

On the advice of a friend I went ahead and signed Eli up for karate (though I chose the cheaper, less time commitment class). Well, technically we're going to "try it out" but let's be honest, like he'll get to yell and kick for 30 minutes with a bunch of other little kids and then say, "Eh. Mama, you know, I think I'd rather stay home and quietly color." He is so freaking excited. He keeps telling people, "I'm going to karate and we didn't even sign up yet." Like we've gotten something over on the universe. I'm a little concerned that he'll be disappointed that he won't be able to fly across the room and tackle battle zorgs, but I'm thinking he's going to love it. He'd better, because the only class his working mom (which, BTW, is a whole other post. Why do they do all these kids activities at 3:00 or 3:30?) could take him to is on Saturday morning, aka my ONE sleeping in day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Angsty Susie Sunshine

I really, really wanted that list to come out today. And it didn't. And at work that was combined with a whole lot of other fuckery that included a group of inmates bitching and whining that I was making them participate in the therapy group instead of "just letting us watch the fucking movie." Awesome.

I threw in the towel about an hour early, came home and spent that hour productively perusing Pinterest, and picked up the babies. I love how quickly they can turn a shitty day around (venting to the very awesome director and associate director didn't hurt either.) But oh boy, I am so very grateful for my family right now. I realized, driving home, that I am really, really stressed out. It only hits though when I'm away from home. Because at home there are two little munchkins randomly stripping off their clothes to do the nakey-dance. Two little rugrats climbing over me, begging for just one more story. An amazing man who congratulates me when I FINALLY make it all the way through a Harry Potter movie.

I need that list to come out soon. I'm tired of not knowing, not knowing where we'll be, what we'll be doing, if I'll have a job. Not knowing whether to buy a nightstand because "we'll probably just have to move it anyway." Not knowing if I should sign Eli up for karate because "who knows where we'll be in three months." Tired of just not knowing.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Clear as mud

So the lay-off thing...

Yes, it's still happening. There's been much freaking out and self-shrinking and oh, how The Crazy has returned. But I think we're in a place of acceptance now and we're just waiting for the next steps. There've been a lot of rumors about how it's all going to work and so I've been hesitant to write much, as information is literally changing day-to-day. At first we all hustled to get our applications to other prisons, hoping to transfer to prisons who weren't losing positions. I had two really great interview/not-technically-an-interview meetings and then the positions were frozen. Like, got a job offer and then three hours later was told that they couldn't give me the job. They announced a voluntary transfer process, where they sent us a list to prioritize and gave us seven days to opt in or out, but the positions they offered were outdated (like, for facilities slated to close outdated.) Then they "postponed" that, indefinitely. As it stands now, it looks like it's going to go down like this. 1) Voluntary transfers, open to all employees in counties that will lose psychologists, and granted based on seniority. 2) The opportunity to apply and interview for any positions not filled through the voluntary transfer process. 3) Lay-offs.

I was really hoping to have the application/interview process first since my seniority score sucks and the places that I would want to go are pretty desirable. I'm a much stronger applicant based on my merit. So here's what we're hoping for, and if you're the praying/hoping/putting out to the universe type and you feel moved, I'd appreciate it. We're hoping that 1) the idea of relocation, even to attractive locations, deters some of the older, more established psychologists from ranking or opting in to the voluntary transfer or 2) there are enough positions open to absorb all of the people who are slated to lose their jobs at their current prisons. If the information I have is correct, one of my top choices is supposed to have enough openings to almost take all the displaced employees. My chances of getting in there, if I have accurate information, is pretty good. Worst case scenario, we'll go wherever we can and then try to transfer somewhere better when the dust settles. But I really hate moving, and that would suck.

So the reason I'm throwing it out there now is that we've been in a holding pattern for a couple weeks now, waiting for the new and updated voluntary transfer list to come out. On one hand it's been a blessing because there truly is nothing we can do right now if our Plan A is to stay with the department. So it hasn't been the first thing out of people's mouths. On the other hand, I just really want to know where we're going. Also, the state has a deadline, so every day that they postpone this step means a more compressed process later.

The latest thought is that the new list is coming out this week. My guess is that we'll have 5-7 days to decide and rank our choices. C and I are good with leaving. We don't love this town, though we've made good friends and I doubt I'll find another daycare as awesome as ours, but we're good with leaving. We'd really like to end up somewhere that's a better fit for our family. I have no doubt that we will, but I'll feel so much better once I know where that is. I'm mentally trying to prepare myself for the onslaught of new stress if the lists do come out this week, so if I jump on here talking about moving my family to a yurt or going back to school for auto mechanics, please remind me of this post.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Simple Felt Stocking Tutorial

I looked forever for a simple stocking tutorial but never found a great one. After a friend requested a how-to it occurred to me that other people might be looking for easy directions as well. I hope these make sense. Let me know if you have any questions. And if you make one I'd love to see a picture! Enjoy!

This is the stocking I had intended to make for Syd. In fact, I still have it in my closet, waiting to be listed on eBay. If anyone's interested, I'm selling it cheap. But after you read this, you'll never be tempted by these kits again. Because I've made these kits and it is not a fast project. Or easy. Or self-contained. By the end of it you're cursing the spirit of Christmas and busting out the glue gun. I got smart for Syd's and trusted my own creative talents (and those of other artists on etsy/pinterest/facebook).

My first step was to browse the internet and find what style I was looking for. I knew I wanted something nature-y and I was drawn to simpler designs (for ease and aesthetics). I came across a beautiful appliqued stocking with a single red bird and knew I'd found it. When we were in Minnesota I learned that having a bird on your Christmas tree is good luck. At the raspberry house we had a cardinal that lived in our bushes in the back. My favorite ornament is a little red bird. And Syd's favorite song? Three Little Birds. Perfect.

The supplies for this project cost me less than $5. I had the embroidery thread on hand, but even if you chose a more intricate design with more colors and had to buy thread and needles, you'd likely still come in under $10. I bought a half of a yard of white felt off the bolt(I think it came out to a couple dollars). The other colors I just bought in the craft section. I think they were on sale for .20 a sheet and I needed 1 red, 1 brown, and 1 green. I have lots of scraps left and a ton of white felt left. If you know of a good project for white felt, please let me know!

For the design I google imaged "Silhouette bird" and picked several that I liked. Then I google imaged "Silhouette branch." Rinse and repeat. I found a couple that fit well together and printed them out. I had to modify the branch a bit to get it to work with the stocking, but it wasn't hard.

Once I had my design printed out, I traced each piece onto a piece of wax paper. Next time I would use tissue paper, but when I was doing this I couldn't find my white tissue paper. It was on top of my dresser. Which makes perfect sense considering there's absolutely no reason for it to even be in the bedroom. Moving on...
I traced the outline of the Bucilla stocking to get my base piece, but this could easily be free-handed. I used each of the traced images as a pattern for cutting out my felt.
This is where I stopped taking pictures, because it seemed like this project may actually come together in time for the holiday. Bear with me and I'll try to explain what I did.

Based on my design, the leaves needed to be under the branch, which went under the bird, so they needed sewn on first. I put all the pieces down, then glued the leaves with a small (and therefore temporary) bit of white glue. Then I put the branch and bird pieces to the side and sewed the leaves on, using green embroidery thread and a simple whip stitch. I built the design up from there, adding the branch and then the bird.

For the name at the top, I wrote out Syd's name on a piece of wax paper, layed that over the green, and embroidered through both pieces. I used a chain-stitch because I know how, but there are prettier stitches out there. When I was done I just ripped the paper away from the stitches. Make sure your knots are tight or else you'll accidentally pull out half of an "e." Not that I speak from experience...

Once the embroidery was done, I sewed the top part of the green to the white, using green thread and a blanket stitch. I made a small loop out of a 1x3 rectangle of white felt and sewed that in the corner of the back piece. I didn't worry about this being pretty and just sewed an "X" several times. Remember that this will need to be weight bearing, so strength of stitches is key. Then I sewed the front and back of the stocking together with white thread and a blanket stitch again (my embroidery arsenal is small, but effective), sewing under the green. The final step was to sew the sides of the green down (green thread, blanket stitch).

And Voila! (or as Eli says "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!")

Friday, November 11, 2011

Homemade Christmas

Last Christmas C and I decided that, instead of spending WAY too much money on plastic crap we'd be tripping over for the next year, we'd do a homemade Christmas this year. We do this every so often. It started when one especially lean year my mom declared that all gifts would be 1) re-gifted, 2) thrifted, or 3) made. I find that the gifts mean so much more to me if I know that I spent a lot of time thinking about it, making it...Plus in my world, if someone wants something from T@rget they've probably already bought it. Then the lay-offs happened. I got all crazy about money for a minute, then we were able to pay off (!!!) a couple credit cards, and I just have little interest in screwing ourselves so that the kids can play with the boxes and I can freak out about how much stuff we have, have to move, spent money on...

It's been so much fun so far! I've spent DAYS on pinterest, logging ideas and finding eight million things that I want to make. I go to the fabric store almost daily to scrounge through the remnants bin (maybe not such a frugal idea), and I think I've finally got a good plan for the holidays. First up was Sydney's stocking. I got it in my head that all the kids in our family need a homemade stocking. Last year I made my niece one out of a kit and it took for.ev.er. Literally, months. I bought Syd a kit, but I just couldn't bring myself to start it. I didn't even like it that much. Then I realized that there was no law saying it had to be a stocking from a kit. I could go freestyle! Behold!
I am so happy with how it turned out! It's a complete original (though inspired from one I found on Etsy) and it took four episodes of Gray's Anatomy start to finish. Including sleep training in between.

I'll keep posting pictures of the projects (and tutorials where I don't think I'll make an ass of myself.) For the gifts for people I know read the blog you'll have to wait until after the holidays. I really am excited, and I hope everything goes as well as the stocking did.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Susie Sunshine strikes again

I took yesterday off, which was awesome, but made today going back that much harder. It's too early! I have too much to do! I don't feel good! What's the point? No one wants my help anyway! (admittedly, there is a not so small contingent of inmates who are more motivated to look sick than to get better.) It seems like no one knows still what's going to happen with the layoffs and we're getting runaround so much it feels more like learned helplessness than indignation.


I got away with making some very inappropriate jokes during a team meeting

My unit newsletter came out today, and it was awesome!

The daycare teachers RAVED about the pink hair.

I've been wanting to watch all the Harry Potters in order but couldn't find anyone who had them all. Today at Costco, where I haven't been in MONTHS, they had them all for $5 each. Technically 4.99! I bought five and six, and may go back for more.

Sydney is sleeping in a toddler bed right now, and it's freaking adorable.

Eli keeps randomly telling me that I'm beautiful (in a sort of Eddie Hascal way, but still)

The drama mom from daycare (who I haven't written about yet because I'm not sure I'll be fair but let's just say I switched into "shrink mode" very quickly), who I questioned my judgement about, totally hung up on me. Validation FTW!

My dad, after asking in a text about the job situation and hearing about the drama mom, replied (and I quote) "Take a number, b--ch!" My dad is a 62 year old, very white upper-middle class man. He may still own sweater vests.

It's the little things.And there's a lot of little things.