Friday, October 28, 2011

scurvy pirates

i think the first year i got to dress my little boy up i picked something cute, but warm...the second year i let him kinda pick...and i have done pretty good at letting them all tell me what they want to be (i guess not bobby yet...he doesnt get a say so...but thats on account-a he doesnt talk). so anyway - i let them pick and bryson wanted to be either Finn from Adventure Time or David Bowie ala the Labyrinth. Bodie wanted to be Harold and the Purple Crayon.

I am still working on bryson's costume...bodie's was easy - a blue footed pajama and a big purple crayon. the only thing was that i didnt account for all these daytime costume parties - dressing up at school...for a birthday party...for another little party...for all kinds of activities during the HOT days...some days it has been in the i decided to execute halloween plan B. pirates. 

i just whipped these up the other night without asking them if they wanted to be pirates...without really measuring fact i made basically the same size for both of the boys - just really loose and forgiving. i didnt overlock anything...i just kept it super simple and the greatest thing is...they can get it dirty and muss it up and it will just add to the authenticity of it all - brilliant! 

it isnt my finest piece of work...but i was proud of myself for using only things i had laying around and things that i havent used for years...and also making a shirt and vest, which i had never done before. dont inspect them too closely...i warn you...but how fitting for a couple of scurvy pirates! i have to add that it did make me a teensy bit proud that amid the sea of pirates in his class...bodie had the only authentic i just need to whip up a couple of eye patches!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Podcasts to check out

do you do podcasts? i feel like there isnt a whole lotta talk about them, but i have found myself scouring the archives for good podcasts. is that geeky? i dont know if this is okay to admit...but i almost never listen to music in the car by myself anymore. i almost exclusively listen to NPR, and more exactly, PRX. I had the opportunity to listen to some of my favorite shows and thought it would be fun to share with those of you who don't have XM or sirius and want some fun podcasts to listen to. I listen to podcasts while i do my sewing at nights home alone - i also listen to them doing remedial office work like filing or billing (with ear phones on). they are a fun way to pass the time...anyway - here are some of my favorites!

1. This American Life.

With host, Ira Glass. if you haven't heard of it...please check it out. Every episode I have heard (and that is a lot) has been either entertaining or interesting or both. I can not recall a single bad episode. The layout of the show is usually centered around a theme and 3-4 "acts" or different stories related to that theme. Some of my favorite episodes:

The Invention of Money - fascinating episode about how we invent money and worth
How to Talk to Kids - so good...just listen...
Break-Up   - even better after you read Twilight

2. The MOTH                

These are true stories told by *semi* real people. I say *semi* because probably 80% of them are in the entertainment business somehow, but sometimes you get an AMAZING story from a non-celeb and at least most of the ones i have heard are heartfelt in one way or another. listen to a couple and you will be hooked...swear...

Toast - by Colin Quinn - a true story about a horrible gig      
One of the best ones i heard, i found on youtube - A.J. Jacobs talking about Outsourcing his Life.

you can also attend the story slams...there is one coming up next week i think in LA - i have gone before and it was awesome!

3. 99% Invisible

With host, Roman Mars - a show about design and architecture - there was this fascinating story i heard on one the other day where he investigated the history behind the columns in the washington arboretum...every one i have heard has brought these amazing stories to spaces - love them!

4. The Memory Palace

with host, Nate DiMeo - its harder to explain concisely - usually a compilation of music and stories around a central theme with questionable history. i have loved every episode i have heard.

here is one that is great - consumer electric eulogy

5. The Kitchen Sisters

gosh..everybody loves them...they are highly respected broadcast journalists and it seems like every piece i have heard by them is a knock out!

here is their more recent work - and every one is amazing...again...i swear!

so there you go...a few podcasts to look know...if you are into that sorta thing...if you don't think you are, but aren't sure...give one (or two) a try - you never know - you just may be a geek like me!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Captain USA Zoodie

i am a little terrified of words like infringement and copyright and all those types of things...can you tell? i had a friend ask me to make a couple of these for his nephews and at first i hesitated because bryson's super-zoodie ended up taking me a long while and i still have yet to find a way to attach the cape and make it friendly on the pocket in order to sell. but to my delight Captn USA does not have a cape...and in fact these came out fairly easy! but the real deal has red and white stripes along the bottom and i havent figured a way to include that without making the pocket obsolete...any suggestions?

these are also horribly photographed also BTW...i am missing my photographer around...we have been two ships lately passing...last night we were supposed to have a little date at home together and watch a movie and i fell asleep on the couch at 7...woke up at 8...declared i am done for...and brushed my teeth, took off my shoes and collapsed in bed. i believe it was the first time ever i fell asleep before my kids. we have both been working very hard...almost non-stop. i realized last night that as much as my brain wanted to get stuff done, my body just wasn't cooperating. it couldnt even watch television. that was when i knew i needed to listen to body and give in.

anyway...dont know where that all went, but i wanted to show you all this little number and ask if you think it should go up in the shop? should i make it more "costumey" or is it nice that it is simple? i get torn a lot on that - i personally like them simple. bryson goes to a school with a uniform dress code and i feel like i could send him in this without violating long as he keeps the hood down during school. a little fun in a sea of same-ness :) but please...spill your beans...if you feel so inclined i would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

conflict resolution - part one

i get a little obsessed over themes...or ideas...and it seems to me that there is always one overwhelming theme or idea that sorta pervades parenting through a phase in your child(ren)'s life.

once my middle child bodie (2.5) got to be old enough to play with his older brother bryson (5.5) it seemed like all of the sudden there was constant conflict. there are several steps we have taken as an intentional course in ridding our household of conflict.

step one...get rid of stupid toys. i have been to many a house of parents with children who have bins upon bins with toys...and i am always amazed that their children actually play with their toys. my kids are not of that temperament. my kids like to take a toy and then fight over that one toy for an hour...then the next day that toy sits...and the next...and the next...for months. its like they just want an excuse to fight over it. i also personally am not a fan of toys that make noise- i feel like children are born with this amazing capability to re-create sounds and make their own *amazing* sounds for toys and it breaks my heart a little when a toy does it automatically for them. for instance...light sabers that light up and make noise. my husband bought one for bryson without any consultation and i was a little sad that it was no longer him making "woosh" sounds, but the toy doing it for him. also - imagine 3 boys all with different sound making toys...i just can't handle it. for my own selfish sanity sake. plus my boys are always better with outside toys anyway - i would much rather spend money on a scooter than a box of legos because i will not trip over a scooter in my house (cause its outside you see) and also they are getting fresh air and exercise, which i believe are two key ingredients to a child's overall well being!

so we purged. like totally purged. we only kept the things they play with on a consistent basis and also boxed up sets so they could be taken out and played with during a set constructive time. its not overwhelming for them and that way they are actually excited about it.

step two...remove the parent from (most) conflict(s). i learned this at bryson's pre-school...and i am sure there are probably many of books on the subject and this is not something i made up...although i think the idea is pretty genius. when a normal conflict happens between the two older boys and one runs up to me and says "bodie hit me in the face" my response is something along the lines of "i am so sorry he did that! did you ask him why? did you tell him how that made you feel?" and then i sit back and watch him ask "bodie...why did you hit me? that hurt! i was only trying to show you how to play with that!" and then i smile if bodie says "i'm sorry" and gives him a hug. it doesn't always end like that of course, but that is a part of parenting conflict. teaching them to resolve it among themselves. i will not always be there to mediate conflict.

step three...stepping in. when i found out i was having a second boy and not knowing about brothers (our family had 2 girls and one boy and so did my husband's family) i asked a dear friend who happens to be one of five boys (!) what to do with brothers...when to step in and when to let them get it out. his reply was immediate and direct "when there is blood". i have (almost completely) taken this to heart. i realize that boys like to physically express emotions sometimes and there is a healthy version to that. even in complete friendship and fun there is physicality...and it can be hard as a mom to sit back and watch your son get pinned and all red in the face and not tell the other kid to let go of him...but i do...because i believe it is all a part of teaching them healthy conflict resolution.

please don't peg me wrong - i dont let my boys go all out and i never step in. i step in when there is a serious threat, or i feel like someone is taking advantage or manipulating wrongly and correct them, but the point is - i let them try to figure it out first. i think that is an important point.

step four...modeling healthy conflict resolution. here lies my struggle. of course. my husband and i come from two very different models of conflict. one model they openly had conflict in front of their kids in maybe the not so healthiest of ways. in another model they only argued behind closed doors, so that when it happened the children were scared of divorce. so our whole overwhelming theme right now is how to model healthy conflict and conflict resolution to our children, without making them aware of very adult discussions that they should not be aware of. i should also add here that this is a constant theme because my husband and i work there is that. enough said.

i think the point of it is that in every relationship that is of worth and value there will be conflict. that is completely normal, right? so it all comes down to your choices in how to react and resolve said conflict. and, i might to make your children aware that conflict is okay...and not scary.

i remember when we were newly-ish married and starting to really get into conflict (past the honeymoon phase) i was reading marriage books and "love" books...and then somehow i got turned on to the book "The 5 Languages of Apology". this was an amazing eye-opener of a book for me. at the time whenever we dealt with conflict my husband would re-hash the whole series of events of where i went wrong...then explain his reaction...then tell me about my reaction...oh my goodness - this took hours my friends...and the whole time i would be defensive saying "but i said SORRY!!" my reaction was always the same...i felt he was beating a dead horse...i would get super defensive. i am the quick to blow up and quick to forgive type. not him. he was the SLOW to blow up and SUPER SLOW to resolve conflict. so this book helped me see where he was coming from. it helped me to see that everyone has different ways to accept and give apologies. it is still my go-to source for conflict resolution in intimate relationships.

so...we are obviously still learning...10 years later...we still have a LONG way to go to be anywhere near being good at it...but it is still in my immediate thoughts and concerns.

this is already a long post and i have a lot more thoughts on the subject...but will save it for a different time, but if you have any conflict resolution parenting books or relationship books or advice you want to share - PLEASE comment and share!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Money Matters - Mint (dot) com

i just have to post this. i hope i dont have to tell anyone that they did not pay me to do this...but they did not pay me to do this.

i help my husband run our family business....i also run my own business...i am also responsible for our personal finances. because of this...especially because our family business is like a full time accounting job that i cram in to 20 hours a week...our personal finances get overlooked. like majorly overlooked. like i never know how much i even have in my account. i have operated from a "feeling" that we have enough to cover this...well...turns out my feelings dont always match up with my bank's feelings...

so this past month has been a real "come to Jesus" as far as my accounting goes. i realized i suck as an accountant. i begged my husband to fire me for like 4 days straight...when he explained that it was neither a financial option nor a marital option...i tried to figure out how to get it all straight.

i have spent about 10 hours just working on budgets...i still have about a weeks more worth of work in figuring everything out...that is just how mixed and crazy it all is. we recently had this amazing opportunity in our business to finally stop working from a cash negative stand point, so the BUDGET has become full focused.

my problems with budgets in the past is that i dont enter all my receipts until months after the fact. so if i am over budget and continue to be over budget it all happens much too late. also - i dont really have a grasp on all the things we spend money on during the month on a regular basis. we have multiple businesses and our personal finances get all wrapped it gets tricky.

enter Mint.

this is so incredible.

i signed up (for free) and plugged in my bank accounts and my credit card and they categorized all my spending and i set up my budgets. and now on my phone (and my husband's) we can look at a glance where we are with spending. if we are where we should be...if we are over...if our bank account is getting low...if we need to be focusing our budget on other things. its all there...and i cant help myself from looking at it at least 10 times a day right now.

if you are a budget-challenged person like might just love this app. it is also a website if you dont have a droid or iphone...and so easy to easy to manage. this has completely changed our (financial) life.

so check it out...seriously...and tell them they should pay me or something.