Hey, look, I know things are a mess. I took a hiatus from blogging and decided to switch up my design before returning. Please be patient, because if you can wait out the mess it means REGULAR POSTING WILL RETURN SOON! :D

Hooray!

Thursday, December 31

2009: The Year In Review

In January I survived the first month of parenthood and more fully realized how much my life had changed. I learned just how LOUDLY a baby can fart. Adam started classes for his second degree {which has nothing to do with his first degree}. And we began using cloth diapers.
In February we announced our exit from Mormonism. We enjoyed a great visit with Lucy’s Uncle Jared. Then my inner mama-bear made her first appearance in the form of a rant.
In March I celebrated MS Awareness by writing educational posts and you helped me raise funds for the MS Walk. I also learned that parents will try anything to get a baby to stop crying.
In April I struggled to learn how to do my own blog design. I also had a dental adventure.
In May I celebrated my first Mother’s Day as a mama. I finally launched my new blog design {which has since been replaced}. I started taking better care of my body. And Lucy wrote her very first blog post.
In June we took Lucy on her first road trip. I finally became a permanent resident of Canada…and it SNOWED {yes, in JUNE}. I learned how to make tutus. I also let you in on my toilet cleaning secret.  I finally submitted to temptation that is Twitter.  And I came to terms with my birth dissatisfaction.
In July I had fun celebrating Canada Day and prepared for the announcement I made in August.
In August I unveiled my graphic design business. We flew to Ohio to visit my family and had a mini-adventure on the way there. And I had wonderful guest bloggers while I was on vacation.
In September I made my first {and thus far, only} video tutorial. I shared my thoughts on arguing. Adam went to court. And I had trouble getting my hair dyed purple.
In October Yeti Freddy became a part of my life. I opened up about being a bullying victim. Lucy did another blog post. And we had a great Halloween dressed as Beatles’ songs.
In November I started {but did not finish} NaNoWriMo. We found a new apartment. And I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
In December my Lucy began to walk. We had a big party to celebrate her first birthday. I reflected on her first year and managed to not cry my eyes out. Lucy met Santa and was less than thrilled about it. I made two of Lucy’s uncles {Spencer and Jared} feel welcome when they came to visit and we enjoyed the holidays. I also celebrated 4 years of marriage with Adam.
And now, on the eve of 2010 I can’t help but wonder what exciting changes the year will bring. The last year has been a good one, a great one, filled with baby tears and laughter, growth, hard work, fun, new ideas and lots and lots and lots of nursing sessions. Thank you for all you’ve contributed to my blog and my life this past year. May the new year treat you as well as the last year treated me.
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Saturday, December 26

Snow!

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Winter is beautiful…until the month of January. By then I’m sick of it. ;)
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Friday, December 25

Christmas Day, In Pictures

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{Santa left this fort for Lucy. But it had to be taken down because she was leaning on it and taking it apart. *sigh* Oh well, at least she doesn’t know she’s missing anything.}
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{Checking out stocking goodies.}
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{Attempting to teach Lucy how to open presents.}
Hope you had a very merry Christmas with family, fun, and food!
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Thursday, December 24

My Little Gingerbread Girl

  gingerbread baby
gingerbread baby
Santa’s on his way! May you and your kiddos sleep well {and not get up at five in the morning} and may you have a Merry Christmas tomorrow!
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You’d Better Not Pout, You’d Better Not Cry

Last year we were so busy adjusting to the whole “OMG-we’re-parents-now-and-we-have-a-tiny-newborn-blob-who-needs-our-constant-care-and-attention-thing” that we never took our itty-bitty Lucy to see Santa. This year I was NOT going to miss taking her to see the big guy.
She was less than impressed.
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Hmmm…what if she has a candy cane to play with?
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“Here, Mrs. Claus, you try!”
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“Hey Dad! What if you try holding her?”
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Yeeeaaaah…not so much.
Oh well, at least I got funny pictures instead of no pictures. I will have you note Lucy’s outfit. It’s not bad…but it’s also NOT the Christmas dress I ordered for her in OCTOBER that STILL ISN’T HERE. Yeah, Mama is very angry about this dress debacle. I ordered Lucy an adorable dress with holly fabric and a sparkly red sash at the end of October. I paid for it November 2nd. I finally messaged the seller a while back to ask where it was. She hadn’t even started making it. If it’s not here today I’m asking for a refund. It’s not like I can save the HOLLY-THEMED dress for Easter {if it would even still fit}. /rant
Come back tomorrow for more photos for the December Photo Challenge {and to find out if “THE DRESS” arrived or not}!
And don’t miss NORAD’s Santa tracking website!
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The Goggles! They Do Nothing!

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Here’s Uncle Spencer, re-enacting his childhood practice of eating grapefruit while wearing goggles {so as to avoid getting squirted in the eye}. This is my picture for yesterday for the December Photo Challenge. We didn’t get home until really late from playing games at a friend’s house.
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Tuesday, December 22

HOORAY FOR UNCLES!!!

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Suspicious at first, our little gal is now quite enjoying her Uncle Spencer.
{This photo is part of the December Photo Challenge. Come back tomorrow for more!}
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Monday, December 21

“I Have A PHD In Horrible-ness”

I made this bookmark for my younger brother-in-law who is supposed to get into town at 3:30 am. If you don’t know what it is your geek cred is woefully deficient.* I made the pattern by tweaking one of these fabulous Star Trek cross-stitch patterns by *black-lupin. There are several patterns, including recently added Next Generation characters! The bookmark is going in his welcome basket full of goodies.
dr. horrible geek whedon cross x stitch dr. horrible geek whedon cross x stitch dr. horrible geek whedon cross x stitch
{This is part of the December Photo Challenge.}
If he doesn’t like this bookmark I will be very disappointed. I love it!
Are you giving any home made gifts this year?
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*Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog
Sunday, December 20

Reason #547 I Love Etsy

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I love these cute, vintage {holly-themed!} tea light holders I found on Etsy. The jingle bells make me happy.
{This photo is part of the December Photo Challenge. Come back tomorrow for more.}
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Saturday, December 19

The Holidays Are Pulling Into the Station…

Here’s something a little different for the December Photo Challenge {a video is just a series of photos in order, right?}. But first, a little background…
Earlier this month, the 9th I believe, I saw movement out the window out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and WOAH! There was a train covered in Christmas lights! We’re used to trains going by {our new place is across the street from the tracks}. But this was my first encounter with a festive, decorated train. Apparently it’s an annual thing. Well, tonight I saw it again and this time we managed to find the camera before it chugged away. I don’t know if this was the same thing we saw before, as the Holiday Train website doesn’t say any trains are scheduled for our town today. But either way, I like it!
{if you’re wondering what on earth is going on in the background it’s A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All.}

What are some neat holiday attractions in your area?
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Friday, December 18

Make Guests Feel Welcome With A “Welcome Basket”

Have you ever heard of a welcome basket? It’s an idea I’ve seen in various places on the internet {though one of the best descriptions/idea lists is here}. Basically it’s a basket of goodies and useful items for house guests. Well, we’re having two of Adam’s brothers visit us over the holidays. And I wanted to make them feel welcome. Here’s what I did:
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I included:
  • 1 toothbrush
  • 1 baggy of flossers/toothpicks
  • 2 fruit leathers
  • 5 bags of fruit snacks
  • 4 granola bars
  • 1 eye mask
  • 1 book light {that matches the eye mask}
  • 1 novel
  • 2 mini cans of ginger ale
  • 1 decorated pack of gum
  • 1 decorated chapstick
  • 1 puffy box with 5 Wint-o-greens, 1 Lindt, and 1 mini candy cane
  • 1 bottle of water with a cute pouch for a single serving lemon-lime Crystal Light pack
I picked up the baskets for two bucks each at the “Almost-everything-is-a-dollar Store.” I also plan on including a bookmark cross-stitched by me, but haven’t finished them yet. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh?
{I used Christmas scrapbook paper and clear vinyl to decorate the gum, water bottle and chapstick. Be sure to click on the links to find the tutorials I used to make the puffy box and the bottle tag pouch. I did the bottle pouch a little bit differently because I didn’t have all the same supplies but generally it was the same.}
It was a fun and easy project. I’m looking forward to seeing my house guests’ reactions. Come back tomorrow for another picture for the December Photo Challenge. And tell me in the comments what your own ideas are for making guests feel special/welcome.
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Bloggers Work Too

I just got this message from someone I've never done business with, nor communicated with {that I'm aware of, maybe I know them on Twitter or maybe they comment on this blog}. If it is you, and you are reading this I have removed your name and website to protect your identity.
e-mailrequest{click for larger or read the text below}
Hi Blogging Mommies and Friends!   My name is ******** and I am the owner of ***************. Some of you are familiar with our store, some of you have had giveaways or reviews, some have purchased from us and others have things for sale with us. I am a stay at home - homeschooling mom. I started this business three years ago wanting to help other moms stay home with their children. As you can probably understand in this economy we are struggling. We cannot compete with the big companies such as Walmart who bring items at cheap prices! That is why I am turning to you. I am a loyal reader of your blogs and know the power of a blogging mommy (and grandma)! :)  
We are a very small online business that supports other work at home moms. We carefully choose our items and only bring our customers quality items. Our items are often personalized, hand made and made to order. A unique gift!  
I am writing you today to ask for help (begging really). We are on the verge of losing our business. I would love to be able to stay afloat and keep some income coming in to the moms with items in our store. I am asking you to open your blogs and post about our store. A button to our store would be great as well. We do not have anything to offer for your advertising other than a huge heartfelt thank you from other mom's. I know many of you get paid for advertising. We need the help this season. If you could take a look at our items *********************, blog about some of your favorites and promote some hand (mom) made gifts that would be wonderful. If you are able to post about us please send me a link to your post. I would love to thank you personally. If you can pass this on to other blogging mom's that you know could help please do. I cannot express my gratitude in words.  
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
When that message arrived in my inbox I couldn't believe it. But I visited their website to check things out before I made my final judgment. And what I found on their website was not encouraging. I felt the items were overpriced {and not just compared to Walmart}. I can support WAHMs and homeschooling moms on Etsy without burning a hole in my wallet. I don’t spend money at businesses just because they’re mom-owned. I spend money at businesses because they deserve it.
Please explain to me why I should give away one of the only products I have {just because it's digital doesn't mean it has no value} to save someone else’s business? Why should someone get for free what my other sponsors pay me for because they couldn’t keep their business afloat? If one’s business can't make it without me saving it maybe they ought to change what they’re doing. And maybe I'm just heartless but if I gave free advertising space to every WAHM who wasn't making money I would never make money either. It is not my job to make sure every one else stays employed. And while the government might give out bailouts to industries that are "too big to fail" and that employ probably hundreds of thousands of people I am NOT the government and this business is NOT an entire industry. They say 50% of small businesses fail in the first year and 90% in the first five. Is it my responsibility to prevent that from happening by giving away what my business provides?
I find it rude and ridiculous to send me an unsolicited request for free advertising, especially when not offering anything in return. It's pretty common for bloggers to contact companies to set up reviews/giveaway {though in most cases businesses contact us} but we're providing a service in exchange for those samples. Offer a discount code for me to share or a gift card to host a giveaway for my readers. It would have provided publicity and traffic to the web store while giving me the opportunity to give my readers something worthwhile. 
See, I try to limit reviews/giveaways on my blog for a reason. I want my audience to have good content. I don't want to be a corporate swag sell out. I haven't yet done a review that didn't come with free stuff for my readers too {and I’m hoping to keep it that way} nor have I written up a business or product I don’t personally like. 
But all that aside I DESERVE TO BE PAID FOR MY WORK. My work is blogging. I have worked very, very hard to make a good looking site and I work hard to post regularly and with interesting content {something that has suffered a bit during our move and the holidays but I digress...}. And here's what I think offends me so much: by asking me to not get paid for MY work so I can make sure she can continue to get paid for HER work, she has essentially said that HER work is more important/legitimate than mine.
I wouldn’t send an e-mail to a business saying “Could you send me some free shoes for my kid? I’m a SAHM! I can’t pay you but I’ll send you a big ‘thank you’!” So why is it OK to come to me and say “Could you spend your time writing up free publicity or give me free advertising? I’m a SAHM! I’ll send you a big thank you!” This woman says she started this business because she wanted to help moms stay home with their kids. Well, what about me?
Blogging is work too. My blog is not just some digital scrapbook/diary to keep my family up-to-date. It is a product into which I put a freakin' LOT of effort. And if you are really a "loyal reader" like you say then you should know that. If you were a "loyal reader" you should know better than to try to manipulate me into giving away my work with a sob story and compliments that, frankly, feel less than sincere. You have offered nothing, not even publicity {though, even then, I’ve seen some compelling arguments against bloggers writing unpaid in exchange for publicity}. You, a complete stranger to me, want me to save your business in exchange for nothing. No discounts for my readers, no giveaway, no publicity, nothing. And by doing so you are essentially telling me my work is worth nothing.
Well I disagree. I think my work is worth something. That’s why I charge for advertising space {with the exception of non-profits}.  Maybe some people think that because I don’t make much {and believe me, I really, really, really don’t} then I won’t care if I go from making pennies to making nothing. I do care. Any professional blogger {or blogger with delusions of professionalism like myself} should care. So will I give away the one source of income I have on this blog to save your failing business?
NO.
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Thursday, December 17

Christmas Stockings

reindeer stocking hook etsy family         reindeer stocking hook reindeer stocking hook reindeer stocking hook
These are our family stockings. Adam’s {left} was a gift from my parents. Mine {center} is the one I used throughout my childhood and I think it was a gift from my grandparents. Lucy’s {right} was custom made by an Etsy seller. And don’t miss the stocking hooks! It’s a little reindeer family just like ours with a daddy reindeer, mama reindeer, and baby reindeer! :)
As usual, there will be another picture tomorrow for the December Photo Challenge.
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Wednesday, December 16

Holly Jolly Ornament Exchange

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Yay! My ornament from Jessica for the Holly Jolly Ornament Exchange arrived today! It’s an Etsy find {hooray Etsy}! An ‘L’ for Lucy makes me smile. Thanks Jessica! And thanks Jessie for hosting the exchange!I loved participating and might have to start doing exchanges more often.
To see more Christmas photos come back tomorrow, or check out photos from other bloggers in the December Photo Challenge.
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Tuesday, December 15

BALLOONS!

When I turned one year old my mom filled our place with balloons. I liked that idea and decided to replicate it for Lucy.
IMG_2052IMG_2094 IMG_2102 trying to eat the balloon
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I think it was a hit, no?
Come back tomorrow for another photo{s} for the December Photo Challenge.
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525,600 Minutes

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It’s been one year. One year since my life completely changed, for good…and for the better. It hasn’t always been easy. But it has been more than worth it. It has been the best 525,600 minutes of my life. And I look forward to the next 525,600 minutes. If you’re familiar with the song Seasons of Love from Rent I think you’ll appreciate my version of the song:
five hundred twenty-five thousand
six hundred minutes
five hundred twenty-five thousand
moments so dear
five hundred twenty-five thousand
six hundred minutes
how do you measure- measure a year?

in daylights, in sunsets
in midnights, in dirty diapers
in inches, in miles
in laughter, in strife

in- five hundred twenty-five thousand
six hundred minutes
how do you measure
a year in the life?

how about love?
how about love?
how about love?
measure in love

seasons of love
seasons of love

five hundred twenty-five thousand
six hundred minutes
five hundred twenty-five thousand
tantrums to calm

five hundred twenty-five thousand
six hundred minutes
how do you measure the life
of a daughter or a mom?

in that first story book
or in times that she cried
in the first steps she took
that filled you with pride

it's time now- to sing out
it's Lucy's first birthday
lets celebrate
remember the year and shout "hooray!"

remember the love
remember the love
remember the love
measure in love

measure, measure your life in love
seasons of love...
seasons of love
Truly my year has been one season of love after another. And there’s no way to measure or contain all the love and joy I have found.
Happy birthday Lucy. I love you.
Love, Mama
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Monday, December 14

Photo

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It’s a photo! Tomorrow I’ll have another. That’s what the challenge is for.
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Extending Thanks & Congratulations

I want to say congratulations to the winner of the Blog To Inspire contest, Amy! Congrats!
And I want to thank all of you who voted for me. Thank you for your support. I really appreciate it.
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Sunday, December 13

Just Putzin’ Around

Here are two random pictures for the December Photo Challenge. The first is part bragging that I already have things cleaned up from Lucy’s party and half showing off my Christmas table setting. The second is another shot of my birthday headband in action. See the tiny bit of purple left in my hair? Yeah, it’s faded almost completely. *sigh* I’m done trying to dye my hair. Come back tomorrow for another picture, and to see if I’m either a: trying not to be a sore loser or b: trying not to pee my pants in excitement.
Christmas table setting dining etsy holly head band hair purple
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