Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This is gonna be long. Sorry.

When I logged in, I realized that my last post was my 300th post. What a fun milestone! I love blogging. It's like a journal where I can share the bests (and sometimes worsts) in life with the world. I especially love connecting with friends and family who are far away (as well as making new friends).

We had a blessed Christmas, and we hope you did too. This year for advent our family read the book "Jotham's Journey." It is an excellent story, and I highly recommend it. You can read more about it here. We borrowed it from the church library, then bought our own copy at amazon.com for a mere $8.79. There are two other books in the trilogy, but they are very hard to get right now (and quite expensive). Hopefully they will be reprinted soon.

The Sunday before Christmas was a special program day at church. I am in the choir, and we had worked hard on some special songs to sing for the service. One of the songs was a new favorite of mine, "Night of Silence." Kind of a lullaby feel to it. :) Yeah, I'm a girl. Between the two services was our Sunday School program, where each of the kids sang with their classes. Micah was being "such a boy" and refused to sing with his class. :P

We enjoyed snow storm after snow storm for the entire month of December, each time followed by unreasonably low temperatures which ensured the snow stayed for the holiday. By the time Christmas Eve arrived, we looked like we were in a winter wonderland for sure.

On Christmas Eve we went to the service at church. It was beautiful, and fun. When we came home we opened presents that were a gift from a very generous family at church. We were humbled by their care and concern for our family and they way they blessed our children!

We went to bed with strict instructions for the kids to wake us up Christmas morning. Imagine my surprise when I heard Micah's voice at a bright and cheery 4:17 am. "Mom, Malachi has a poopy diaper, and Eden woke everyone up already." Um....NO. It's not happening kiddos. So Mitch did diaper duty and put everyone back to bed. We got up again at a more humane hour of 7:00 am. :) We all took turns holding baby Jesus (a doll that shows up every Christmas morning) and hearing the Christmas story together. After opening the rest of our presents, we spent the very little time left cleaning and baking for Christmas dinner. A little after 11 am family started arriving. It was my joy and honor to host Christmas dinner. On a normal basis I couldn't care less about cooking. It's not my favorite. But hosting is a whole different story. I made a turkey and a ham. Everyone brought dishes to share. We enjoyed games and stuff late into the evening.

We barely had time to breathe before having some old SCCS friends over on Friday evening. I went shopping earlier Friday hoping for some good deals. Let me tell ya--if you didn't go out--I was disappointed. No steep discounts (according to my standards) to be found. But then, maybe I didn't look hard enough! I did buy some yarn for the baby's blanket finally and bought a crochet book with baby bootie patterns. I then proceed to stay up until 4 am (yes, that is not a typo!) crocheting. I made two pair of booties and got started on the blanket.

Oh, that reminds me! In the past week I have also crocheted a blanket, which I gave to my inlaws for Christmas. It was beautiful. I definitely broke my own record for completion time and size.

Mitch's sister Hope and her "daughter" arrived on Friday to stay with us for a little while. We still have to work out the details. But for now Eden has a new best friend. Hope has full guardianship. Selena is sweet as honey and almost exactly one year older than Eden. She also has type 1 diabetes. So I'm learning a LOT about that. It's a lot to learn. More to come later...for now we're just loving her...and maybe, just a little, getting some experience with what it means to foster care or adopt.

On Saturday good friends from the cities stopped in to spend the night. We had another late night of playing games, chatting, and, of course, crocheting! Two more pair of booties made. We were naughty Christians and skipped church the next morning to be with our friends. We don't take this lightly...the number of times we have done it are few and far between. But it was good fellowship all around in spite of our heathen ways! :)

Monday and Tuesday went by in a blur. I'm hanging on every moment waiting for my friend Kristin to go into labor. I can't wait, and hope I am blessed to attend the birth! I got tired of waiting and called her up yesterday and asked if I could come over to hang out "just because." Of course she said yes. So I plodded along (in the aftermath of yet ANOTHER snow storm adding to the piles) and we got another pair of booties made. 5 pair and not a single picture yet. At least I'm getting my money's worth out of that little book!

Tonight is our big New Year's Eve party. I've been looking forward to this almost more than Christmas. It will be with all our best friends, many of them from the same church. Our house will be teeming with more people and children than I can count. I have a lot of stuff left to get done!! And I'm sitting here blogging!! Hand slap.

In all this, I am feeling great. The baby is getting stronger and stronger. My placenta is in front this time, probably the first time ever, and I don't feel as many movements. But it's getting better. I've finally calmed down some about the time passing so slowly. LOL. Now it will speed up, I just know it.

Gotta run...more later...and a picture slideshow too!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shopping for PINK!!

I braved the winter storm today to go shopping for some future "banned hazardous substances" for my little girl. I was not disappointed.

First, I had to shovel the driveway. Micah refused to do it. He claimed that the big shovel was too heavy for him and he was "not strong enough." I'm going to remember that next time Papa (Mitch's dad) says he needs help at his house or wants Micah to go snowmobiling. Well, I have 4-wheel drive in the truck, so I didn't *have* to shovel the driveway, but it seemed like a good idea since the kids were driving me NUTS. It was so much more peaceful and quiet outside. :)

We went to a second-hand kids store because I heard an ad on the radio about some good sale they were having today (completely unrelated to the CPSIA). At first when I went in the store I WAS disappointed. There were no sale signs hardly anywhere to be seen. Finally I spotted a small one that said "25% off blue stars." Hmmm...since their prices are already too high (one thing that keeps them from being my *favorite* second-hand store), I was not optimistic. They are a consignment shop, are very choosy, and pay moms very "poorly" for their used items...thus, the clothes are usually nice (but I have seen some that made me go "huh?") but other things just tick me off. Anways...I was chatting on the phone to Mitch when I turned and saw an even *tinier* sign that denoted the special sale for the day. I saw that if I shopped for a mere 20 minutes the prices would be 70% off the blue stars. Eden and I hit the racks, while the rest of the kids destroyed the toy section (to be cleaned up later before we left). I shopped for an hour until Malachi decided to undress and I quickly made plans to exit, knowing the limit had been reached!

The results...33 items (not counting separate pieces) for $35 something. Here are all the girl things I bought (I also bought some pants for Micah and for Alex).


OH the PINK! The ruffles and embroidery and lace!!!



I hope I'm not making too big of a deal out of this whole girl thing. I wanted to blog about that too. I do feel a little guilty for making it seem like maybe something it's not. I LOVE my boys very much. If this baby had been another boy, I would have loved him too. Malachi, as difficult as he is, melts my heart just as good as a stinky ole girl would. ;)

Really and truly, besides having a sister for Eden and that whole sister/bonding thing, it is merely a WARDROBE issue for me.

As you can see. Ahem.

I hope I find more sales in the future. Not that I'm even sure of what I *need*. Today I just bought what was cute and on sale. :) It was so fun. For Eden too. Hey--even Caleb got involved. He picked out a onesie (in the first picture, on the top of the pile of onesies--it is white with pink trim) that he could buy with his own money for his baby sister. It was just so sweet!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What are you going to name her?

It's so exciting to be expecting a girl...now everyone's favorite question to ask us is "What are you going to name her?"

The answer is we *probably* won't be able to decide on a name until she is born. The reality is that Mitch doesn't usually want to talk about names until the baby is here. I'm slowly getting used to it.

Last night a group of "kids" came up to Mitch at church and began chattering about the prospect of finally a girl. One girl (the same age as Micah) blurted out, "So, are you guys DONE now?" LOL It was pretty funny. Her mom, standing nearby, was obviously embarrassed. Mitch said, "It's ok. that's what everyone *thinks* and doesn't ask." :) Then when they asked what we are going to name her, Mitch says, "We're trying to decide between Steve and Gary. Steve after Stephanie and Gary after one of her ex-boyfriends." Ha!

After he told me that, he said I should put up a poll on my blog. I don't think I will, though I did suggest (again) that he get his own blog.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Moment We've Been Waiting For...

And the winner is...

My "Early" Christmas Present...

Micah is wrong...

Drumroll please...

For the first time in 10 years we can say...

It's A Girl!!!

I couldn't decide on a title. :)

We had the best ultrasound tech ever! Even when the printer stopped working she spent a good 5-10 minutes to get it working again so we could have good pictures (and a lot of them!) to take home. She carefully explained every measurement she took and why she took it. She said she has been doing this for 17 years. She works some here and in another office, plus she works down in the cities for a perinatologist (a specialist for unborn babies who are at high risk). She knows her stuff!!!

At first in the ultrasound the baby was all curled up into a tight ball. It was hilarious (if not a bit uncomfortable). We had a hard time seeing anything at all. :) Even her head--she kept putting her arms and hands up by her face. She was moving around quite a bit though and soon we were getting the shots we need.

Wow, it seems so weird to be able to say "she" and "her."

Caleb was really anxious to hear the gender. As if we all weren't. I think he expected to hear it first thing. I don't know if he really understood what he was seeing on the screen, but we tried to explain it to him nonetheless. He can be a little "blonde" sometimes. ;) He asked the funniest questions until finally I told him to go sit down and read his book.

Finally the tech says, "So what do you have at home, two boys and one girl?" I said, "FIVE boys and one girl." She said quietly, "Well, this one is a girl." I gasped. My heart lept. I said, "Are you sure?" She said, "I'm sure." And she went over that spot again and again and printed me out a "toilet shot"...which is a picture as if looking up at the baby sitting on a toilet. I immediately started crying. :) I said, "Oh, I'm going to cry. I was worried I would cry if it's a boy, and now I'm crying cause it's a girl!" It was so funny. I kept crying. Tears of joy of course. It still makes me want to cry. I just can't believe it really is finally a girl. Oh, and everything on the baby looked perfect...head, nuchal fold, spinal cord, fluid, cerebellum, abdomen, heart, valves, arteries, liver, kidneys, bladder, feet, cord (all 3 vessels there), fingers, and so on. She was SO thorough and careful to explain everything. Even my placenta is faaaaaaaar away from my cervix--it is anterior (on the front), which means it acts sort of as a "shock absorber" and that's why I didn't feel movement with her as soon as I did with the last two. We are so blessed!

I know there are lots of people waiting to hear the gender, so I'll quit babbling for now. Here are the pictures!

Long legs and a fairly obvious girl shot...also the placenta is right above the knee (looks like a cloud)

This is a "toilet" shot...looking up at the baby's girl parts. See the "hamburger" or 3 lines?

Face/skull shot

Face/skull again and a hand up on top of the head. Such a dramatist.

Footprint

Pointing at us

Spine (c-spine)
Thank you, Lord!

If this baby is a boy...

Hehe, you get a 2 for 1 deal today!! I was thinking in the shower this morning. So excited...only 9 hours to go. Anyways, I was thinking in the shower today of ways to encourage myself and get myself in a good mood. That way I can take the news, boy or girl, and be happy with it.

If this baby is a boy...

I love the names Silas and Manasseh
I have some blue yarn that I *love* to make a couple hats for him
I make cute boys
He will be able to put up with Malachi beating up on him
I have lots of "banned hazardous substances" (ie: lots of boy clothes) to pass on

If this baby is a girl...

We have a pretty major name dilemma, but a few names that we love: Hannah (my brother is planning to use this one in February, hence the dilemma), Shoshana, Tirza, and my favorite, Genesis
I have some pink yarn, and have my eyes on some more
I have two newborn outfits with hats already made
I'll be over-the-moon excited to have my first girl in 10 years
Eden will be over-the-moon excited to have a sister
So will Caleb, Zeke, and Josh, who are all rooting for a girl
I gave up my girl clothes a long time ago and only saved a few special things...now I'm beginning to doubt my ability to buy second-hand.

I can't wait!!!

Clarification

I feel I should clarify a couple things about CPSIA (HR4040). I am not a lawyer. I do have a lawyer cousin, and I wish she had time to do a little charity work for me, but she's newly married and I'll *bet* she doesn't have time. ;) She reads my blog though, so I had to say that. LOL.

I wish I understood all the law parts of this law. Unfortunately I have to muddle through it like everyone else, plus I also have the benefit of reading from other people their thoughts. Of course, I don't know for sure anyone else's credentials. I have cited the forum Fashion-Incubator many times. The forum moderator over there, Kathleen F, is also the author of the National Bankruptcy Day blog. She met personally with the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, so I feel like she does have some credentials behind her. When I go read, like another small WAHM I know, I sure do feel like "a little fish in a BIG pond."

Textiles have been specifically excluded in part of the law. Under section 104 they are NOT considered durable goods. Section 104 applies to durable goods. Durable goods has been defined by the CPSC as having rigid parts. Ie: high chairs, strollers, cribs. Also they are considered to last a long time. Apparel and slings do not. However, section 104 applies ONLY to the testing for phthalates. Another important piece of information is that the phthalates law is not retroactive. Meaning it applies to new products going forward.

Section 101 is regarding lead testing. It *absolutely* applies to textiles and apparel as it stands right now. Not only that, but it is retroactive. Meaning, it applies to ANY children's products, not just newly manufactured ones. It applies to the dress you wore as a baby and was handed down. In my understanding (and I admit it is limited), this doesn't mean it is illegal for you to own these products and have them in your house, but rather when you are done with them YOU MAY NOT SELL THEM. They are garbage. In order to sell them, you must have a certificate showing that the products you wish to sell are in compliance with the lead limits laws. Thanks to Courtney for posting this link for me:
http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/advisory/320.pdf

"However, Congress stated that children's products that did not meet the new lead limits would be treated as "a banned hazardous substance" under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act as of February 10, 2009, and made it unlawful "to sell, offer for sale, manufacture for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the United States" any banned hazardous substance."

Anyone breaking this law, even someone selling in the private sector such as a garage sale, can be indicted (is that the right word?) for breaking the law. As absurd as that seems, it *could* happen. Of course, I'm sure there will not be cops patrolling neighborhoods and shutting people down. The thought, the technical part of the law, is what scares me. Probably if you were a lawyer you would not dream of violating the law, because you would understand what I'm saying.

To reiterate: The lead limits DO apply to apparel. A representative on the phone (sorry, I know, no written proof) from CPS confirmed that they consider cloth diapers to be apparel. Even if they don't this law still impacts me, since I depend on the second-hand stores and garage sales to buy clothing and other items for my children.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

FYI

Just another FYI (are you sick of me yet?). Used clothing and toys will also be banned "hazardous material" as of February 10th. (At least, according to the information here.) It will no longer be legal to sell USED children's products as of that date, either. Goodbye Goodwill, Savers, Once Upon a Child, GARAGE SALES, etc. Right now those stores are focusing on the toys, but the reality is that clothing is also affected.

Are you taking this seriously? The "big companies" are not the watchdogs that can change this law. It's us consumers that make up the grassroots. :(

My friend Denise recieved an email response from one of her senators in Ohio, Sherrod Brown. I found the letter belittling and infuriating. The defense of the law under the pretense of caring for children. Here is an excerpt:

"The negative health effects of both these substances have been
extensively documented and studied. Research has found phthalates
exposure linked to decreased fertility capacity in men, premature
birth in women, and asthma symptoms in children. In 2005, a
University of Rochester School of Medicine study found that pregnant
women with high levels of phthalates in their urine were more likely
to give birth to boys with birth defects in their reproductive
systems.

Ingestion and inhalation of lead has long been known to cause damage
to the nervous system, with young children especially vulnerable.
Lead poisoning can cause blood and brain disorders, as well as
gastrointestinal, reproductive, and kidney problems. Although the
number of children with elevated blood lead levels has decreased over
the past several decades, the treatment of lead poisoning accounts
for the vast majority of the $43.4 billion spent on pediatric
environmental disease."

Grrrrrrr.......

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More on CPSIA

Thank you, everyone, for your support and encouragement. I appreciate it so much.

I was directed to some helpful resources today. Courtney posted a great link on her blog:
http://nationalbankruptcyday.com/

This linked me to a forum with answers to many questions I have immediately:
http://fashion-incubator.com/phpbb/viewforum.php?f=32&sid=c634f21d1edb4041a405f8cd79aae63e

Finally, Mitch and I just finished watching these videos. If you don't have time to watch, there is a VERY important point about bankruptcy mentioned in the 3rd video, beginning at about 3 min. He noted something I have only begun to thought about: when I take inventory of my fabrics on December 31, I really need to take into account what is actually "salable." So I have to talk to my accountant (a family friend) about this. Unfortunately, my accountant had not heard about the laws until Mitch talked to him tonight. I'm sure this is what MANY people are going to experience as they go to their accountants for help.

Rick Woldenburg speaking before a CPSC panel on 11-6-08. Rick Woldenburg is a manager for the company Learning Resources, and I'm sure if you visit their website you'll recognize their logo. They are a huge supplier of school science kits.







In completely different news, I head to the doctor tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon for my 20-week appointment, and Friday afternoon we all go for the ultrasound. I'm very excited!!

Down but not Out

I've had lots of questions, so I'll try to answer them a little. I'm confused, too, so hang in there. :)

First off, in MN our congressmen are not on the subcommittee. But we can contact our congressman to ask how this affects us (small-business owners). Mitch suggested calling and asking rather than just sounding off (which is what *I* would do, LOL). Do they realize how this affects small manufacturers? If an amendment is presented to Congress, then our congressmen and women would know our thoughts and would (hopefully) vote accordingly. I didn't study hard enough in government class, obviously.

Secondly, this is ALREADY a law. Now we just have to lobby to have it amended or overturned. But otherwise it's already a done deal. How did they pass this one under our noses like that??

Next, this is for my dad: Hi Dad! Congressman Rick Boucher is on the subcommittee. The hearing scheduled for today was canceled, but hopefully it will be rescheduled soon. I know you know him. Even *I* know him. :) [A side note: I met him when I was in high school.] The most important request we have regarding the CPSIA is that small manufacturers (making less than $1 million/year) be excluded from the act in some way. At the very least, if the manufacturers are operating within the United States and using components that have already been tested, they should be excluded.

Another part I did not mention are the new flammability requirements. I haven't even STARTED to read these. I do know that under the requirements some fabrics are excluded. But if I wanted to put something like sherpa or cotton velour on the outside of a diaper it MUST be tested. These types of diapers are wildly popular. *Cry* Again, I think that there must be some exclusions made for small manufacturers. Or it would be cool if I could say on my site somewhere, "Not intended for use without a protective cover." This would be helpful because polyester fabrics, smooth fabrics (like cotton wovens), wool fabrics, and acrylics are excluded from the flammability tests (I think).

Not out, yet. But I don't know where it leaves me. While talking with Mitch yesterday we discussed the whole scope of industries this impacts. I mentioned the Build-A-Bear Workshop. How can a company like that survive? The end product obviously can't be tested. So is the workshop only selling "components" then a service to help you put the bear together? In that case, as a custom diaper manufacturer, can't I sell the components (fabric, snaps, thread, etc) that have passed testing regulations, then as a service sew them together? Especially since 90% of my customers go through this whole selection process anyways. Someone did say to me yesterday that if a customer sends me their own fabric then the end product would not fall under the requirement (obviously) since I am selling my service, not a product. In that case, then, would the customer have to send me ALL fabric parts of the diaper, snaps, and thread? Even so, it is a possibility and something I've been mulling over.

It still doesn't help me solve the problems of fabric inventory I have here. I'm hoping that most of the fabrics that I have lots of (yards and yards of each color of cotton velour, for example) have certificates that I can obtain from the manufacturer. According to the Federal Trade Association (FTA) rules for listing fabric content on a label, if you have a garment made from a remnant, or purchase a remnant fabric from a store, it does not have to have the content labeled exactly. You would say something like "cotton/poly blend". Diapers are specifically excluded from any labeling at all. Could some similar exclusion be made for the remnants in my inventory that were bought domestically IN a fabric store?

How does the CPS hope to even regulate this? I can get manufacturer certificates for fabrics I buy through coops (most of these fabrics have been imported). But how do I get certificates for fabrics I buy at Joann's? What about on ebay/etsy? Do they reasonably hope to regulate this traffic, or are they saying, "If you make a product for sale, you can not buy from unknown sources (ebay, garage sales, etc)." Again, someone just WASN'T thinking.

Mitch told me I should just sell all my diapers as "used." I'm pretty sure that's not legal, but again how are they going to regulate it? This is all so frustrating!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Certain Death for Pampered Cheeks and many other small businesses

I have put off blogging about this. I'm so frustrated and concerned and confused that mostly I don't know where to begin. I'm sure I won't speak clearly or concisely enough about this subject to help you understand the seriousness of it or motivate you to contact your congressman, but I will try.

On August 14, 2008 Congress passed a law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This new law covers any product intended for use by children under 12 years old. The purpose of the act is to prevent lead and phthalates in children's products. Read more here.

Sounds good. I mean, we sure went through a lot of stress over all the toy recalls. It was scary to think that (mainly china-made) toys were full of lead that could cause brain damage and learning delays in our children. Finding and weeding out these toys were a hassle. Stores suffered as they had to reduce their inventory.

Here is why the new law is bad. It went into effect in November. There was little or no warning. I didn't know about the law until after the fact. I have until February 10th to comply with the law. What does it mean to comply with the law? Certainly I would NOT sell diapers that I thought contained lead!!

The law requires that each product be tested by an independent third party lab. Every different style of diaper would need to be tested. Every different fabric combination that I want to sell. I make hundreds of diapers, and every one is different!! This is impossible. The tests will run at a minimum of $400 each, up to thousands of dollars. I can't afford to test even just ONE style of diaper and then reasonably expect to sell that diaper with no other choices available to customers. It goes against how I have built my business. But even $400 to test one diaper is not financially feasable...I just don't make that much money. If I did test one diaper, and could reasonably expect to sell enough to cover my costs, I WOULD certainly have to pass the costs on to the customer.

Every other diaper maker is going to do the same.
Every other toy/children's product/apparel/book/etc maker is going to do the same.
The law applies to everyone.
It applies to grandpa who makes little wooden toys to sell at craft fairs.
It applies to the small business owner who sells locally.
It applies to the small business owner who sells on the internet.
It applies to etsy, ebay, hyena cart, etc.
It applies to discovery toys, usborne books, pampered chef, tupperware, etc.
It applies to fisher price, mattel, and other big companies too.
It applies to everyone who sells any product for use by children under 12 years old.

Here is another frustrating fact: all the fabrics that I buy either made in the U.S. or imported have ALREADY UNDERGONE these lead tests. Unfortunately, I STILL have to test my finished product. It is SO UNFAIR. It is so much socialism/communist CRAP that I can't stand it. I have yards and yards and yards of fabric in my sewing room. I cannot sew and sell all the diapers before February 10th.

The fine is $100,000 and jail time for EACH violation of the new law.

How many stores have rows and rows of inventory that have not been tested AND properly labeled? Boxes of inventory stuffed into warehouses?

What will happen to our economy when all the small business infrastructure begins to collapse and prices raise? What will happen when stores clearance out their children's products the week before Feb. 10th? How many toys, etc, will go into landfills?

What were our lawmakers thinking? Or were they?

Here's what you can do (copy and paste from a group I am on).

There is a subcommittee hearing on
this on Wednesday, Dec. 10. If you are from the states of IL, NC, GA, IN,
MA, VA, NY, CO, TX, AR, OR, LA, MI, FL, TX, KY, MS, CA, PA, NE, or TN, you
have representatives from your state on the subcommittee, and these will be
the people who will be able to make a difference. You can see the committee
members here:
http://energycommer ce.house. gov/index. php?option= com_frontpage& Itemid=81(click
on members tab). I truly believe that we can make a difference if we
let our reps know this is important to our businesses. Thanks for reading-
Shannon

Dear Friends of Earnest Efforts -

We are writing to inform you of action taken by Congress to pass the
HR4040 or the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) created by the
CPSA (Consumer Product Safety Commission). We are pleased that Congress
passed a bill to protect our children from toys containing lead
and phthalates and addressing other safety issues, however, parts of this
bill will directly effect all small handmade toy makers and store owners in
a way that could put many of us, who make child safety and the environment
our top priority, out of business.

The CPSIA rules now require that all toys be tested, including natural
handmade toys, and at a cost of $4000.00 per toy. This cost would put us
out of business. We would also be required to label each toy with a
permanent batch label. This is another cost that could force us out of
business.

We are asking everyone to act quickly by contacting the CPSC and your
congress person or senator. Tell them that you are concerned that the CPSIA
will have a detrimental effect on small business owners and ask that they
provide third party testing at no charge for small toy makers and remove
requirements for batch labeling.

Dan Marshall from Peapods Natural Toys in St. Paul has created a website
where we can go to read the rules of the CPSIA, a proposal to improve the
CPSIA and a sample letter you can send to your congress person or senator.
The website is www.handmadetoyalli ance.org. This act goes into effect on 12
February 2009, so we ask you to please act quickly to protect our handmade
toys. The following are the regulations that directly effect handmade toy
makers and threaten to put us out of business.

* Third party testing charges of $4000.00 per toy.
* Batch labeling each individual toy on the toy itself.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and we sincerely
appreciate your help.

Please, please, please pass the word. It means so much to me, my family, and to your own.

If this law stands, I will have no choice but to discontinue sewing diapers for sell. I won't even have a decent market to sell off all my fabric inventory. :'( This was so unexpected.

The good news is I've already started digitizing my patterns for sale. So I guess you'll have to learn how to sew your own!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Half Baked!!

20 weeks today. Showing a little growth since Thanksgiving. (Thanks to the cheesecake).


And just for giggles I put on the same shirt I had on for my 20-week pg pic with Malachi. My tummy definitely looks different!! Only a couple days left to vote. I can't WAIT for my ultrasound on Friday! :)


Um...why does my tummy look so different/smaller in the bottom picture (peachy-colored shirt) than it does up above in the 20-week pic?? They were both taken the same day--one right after the other. Ok, well, I did have to *run* downstairs to find the peachy colored shirt in between photos. LOL. Any thoughts???

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Finished!


Yay--I just finished Malachi's blanket. 2 years later. But I met my "new" deadline--I got it done before my ultrasound on Friday. Now sometime after my u/s, I will start a blanket for the new baby. :) I know MJ is going to love his blanket. He would try to pull it off my lap anytime he could while I was working on it. It was a pain in the butt to do because I had to switch colors at the end of EVERY row (and I couldn't just leave the thread attached and work it in...it had to be finished off at every row). So Malachi was often tempted to steal the blanket when I was between rows because then it was no longer attached to anything. Not that he cared a whole lot--he was also happy to pull out my work to get to the end of the row. That is all no more--it's finished now! I'll wrap it up and give it to him for Christmas. :)

Busy Times

We had a busy weekend! Mitch worked this weekend. I was doing our monthly calendar and just about freaked when I realized that Christmas is less than 3 weeks away. This comes on the heels of having a bad dream that we "forgot" to decorate for Christmas. It was all the motivation I needed: the burst of energy drove me to grab Micah and head for the decorations hidden in the garage attic. We drug out the heavy tree, decorations box, and other assorted boxes all by ourselves. I knew I probably did too much, so once we wrestled the heavy stuff inside I parked myself on the couch and had the kids do the rest. They moved furniture, vacuumed, and even carried the heavy tree up the stairs by themselves! Ok, well I did a *little* furniture moving. But they were a huge help. I'm relieved to have the tree up and it actually looking like Christmas around here, but I do have a little anxiety about all the things we would like to get done this season (don't we all?). There's not enough time to do it "all." Here are some pics I snapped of the tree:






We got a pretty good blanket of snow today (about 1 inch). It looks nice outside. The roads are icy, though. It's very cold outside (barely got up to 12 degrees today), and it doesn't look much warmer for the next 10 days. Looks like the snow is here to stay! The Farmer's Almanac said this would be a bitterly cold winter. So much for global warming.

Well, my kids are not cooperating with the "clean up and get ready for bed" instructions I just gave them, so I need to go deal with the chaos. More later! (Yeah, in my head...LOL) Our paper star on top has a special story, but I'll have to save it for a different time.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Never Done That Before!!

I had an interesting day today. Something happened that has never happened before. It's like Mitch & I have this little competition going over who can burn the pans in the kitchen or something. I told him that even though he's very competitive, he doesn't *really* have to try to top this one. :)

We had hard boiled eggs on the menu for snack today. So I got those eggs out and put them on the stove to boil. I was really looking forward to them (egg craving I guess). To make the eggs, I put the eggs in cold water, bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to just simmering, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15-20 min. So I did just that--I put them in the pan to boil. In the meantime, I was going to feed the baby a bottle. So I got her bottle ready, and walked away. I decided to look through addresses to figure out what to do for Christmas cards. I got engrossed in that. 20 minutes later I began to emerge from the computer room, happy baby in tow, and I heard a "pop". Caleb was sitting at the table working. He shouted, "Mom, I just heard a pop, and I smell smoke!" (Catches on fast, doesn't he?). I walk into the kitchen just in time to see an egg explode (with resounding "pop") all over the kitchen. I quickly grabbed the pan and moved it away from the stove, then moved the baby to safety. LOL. Then I went back to the still exploding eggs and put the pan in the sink and poured cold water over it. My error was I had not stayed to watch and turn the heat down. All the water had boiled out of the pan, and the eggs were still sitting there heating up, which caused them to scorch and explode. Wow, did it stink. It was such a mess. But I've never done that before!! Thankfully (this time) our pan cleaned up reasonably well. It didn't melt the bottom of the pan like the time when I boiled all the water out of the carrots. That was pretty cool-looking.

I thought about taking a picture to show you, then figured it wasn't really all that blog-worthy. I took this one instead:



This is a candle that Mitch bought me for my birthday from The Yankee Candle Company. I love that store. :) This particular flavor is red apple wreath, and it reminds me of an air freshener that my grandmother Phyllis Cunningham always used each morning.

It sure helped clear the air after my egg incident.

Speaking of my birthday, I definitely had a wonderful one. Thank you to all the well wishers who sent me emails, posts on facebook, cards, or calls! We had an active group of people over for the day on Saturday to play games. There were a lot of kids running around (yes, more than normal), and the adults crowded around the table for a variety of games. We set out a buffet of snack foods, which helped get rid of *some* of the Thanksgiving leftovers, thankfully! We played until around 5:30ish pm. Then Mitch's sister Holly came over to watch our kids while we went out--YES--to Mexican Village.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Durango. The waitress told me to order something else the next time that has the fundido sauce on it too, but I can't think of what it was (and have no idea how long until the "next time" it will be anyways). I can always ask...I'll never forget the fundido sauce! Go figure--it has cream cheese in it. Boy, do I have a cream cheese fettish! Mitch made a mysterious bathroom trip and while he was gone ordered me a surprise virgin pina colada...my favorite!!! It was delicious and as I sipped I wish I could make the moment last forever. :) I've never had one with alcohol, even not pg, by the way...and pretty sure I'm not missing anything! The fried ice cream was perfect (after I made Mitch eat off the whipped topping...gotta try to remember to order it without) as well. Afterwards we went to the mall to check on a couple Christmas gifts (xbox controllers for the kids' xbox). And that's where we bought my new candle (and a couple others). It's a gift our whole family can enjoy.

Especially if I keep cooking.

Ha!