Friday, January 30, 2009

URGENT: A Glimmer of Hope!!

Today the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency responsible for interpreting and enforcing the new CPSIA law, issued a statement saying they are granting a one-year stay of testing and certification requirements for certain products. You can read the statement here:

I'm still trying to sort through it all and also research the comments of those who have proved to be smarter than I about all this legal mumbo jumbo.

Here are some quotes that give me hope:

"Manufacturers and importers – large and small – of children’s products will not need to test or certify to these new requirements, but will need to meet the lead and phthalates limits, mandatory toy standards and other requirements."

Ok, so we won't have to test, but we still can't exceed the limits. That's good, because I now have reasonable proof that the products I use to make my diapers contain no or only ridiculously small amounts of lead.

"The decision by the Commission gives the staff more time to finalize four proposed rules which could relieve certain materials and products from lead testing and to issue more guidance on when testing is required and how it is to be conducted. "

This stay will only last for 1 year, but during that time, they may be able to exclude certain products from testing for good.

This next part is the part I like so much, because it specifically targets me, the at-home "crafter."

"The stay of enforcement provides some temporary, limited relief to the crafters, children’s garment manufacturers and toy makers who had been subject to the testing and certification required under the CPSIA. These businesses will not need to issue certificates based on testing of their products until additional decisions are issued by the Commission. However, all businesses, including, but not limited to, handmade toy and apparel makers, crafters and home-based small businesses, must still be sure that their products conform to all safety standards and similar requirements, including the lead and phthalates provisions of the CPSIA.

Handmade garment makers are cautioned to know whether the zippers, buttons and other fasteners they are using contain lead. Likewise, handmade toy manufacturers need to know whether their products, if using plastic or soft flexible vinyl, contain phthalates."

There is some talk that this stay actually doesn't take effect for 30 days. During the next 30 days the public has a chance to issue comments and input, then it will be revised and reissued. I'm not sure if this is accurate information. I think at this point it is looking very safe for me to continue to sell diapers, or at least plan on being able to sell diapers, beyond Feb. 10, 2009.

Now if my dang serger would just get fixed. Could someone say a prayer for that??? LOL. I really just need to call them and see what the hold-up is. It will be 3 weeks on Tuesday that they have been holding it hostage. Argh!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sanctity of Life

We celebrated the Sanctity of Life yesterday at church. I cried throughout the whole service, but especially through this video. If you want to hear the sermon, it should be posted shortly on our church website: Calvary Community Church. Our pastor first gave us many reasons to celebrate what happened on January 20th, then balanced that with how we should handle the significance of January 22nd.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Type 1 Diabetes

A little update, then on to the real subject of this post...

Sorry I haven't been on in a bit. I'm feeling deflated because my serger is broken, trying to ignore the CPSIA, and just overall busy with other important things in my life. :)

The baby is growing and getting stronger every day. It's getting harder to bend over. Mitch has felt her kick, and Micah would like to. I'm sure it won't be long before they've all had a turn to get kicked. :) My next appointment, and my gestational diabetes test, is in two weeks. I've never had gestational diabetes, nor am I really at risk, so this post is not about that.

I have to admit that before now I knew very, very little about diabetes. About a year ago I had a friend diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and I still didn't know anything. Then Hope and Selena moved in. Selena is 10 and just beautiful. Selena is technically Hope's "ward," however we all love her as if she had been born into our family. Selena also has type 1 diabetes.

At first I thought I would just let Hope and Selena deal with it and figured I was too busy to learn. It became apparent pretty quickly that either 1) I would HAVE to learn just so I could help care for Selena or 2) I would have to learn because I love to learn and I'm so dang nosy anyways. So I set about learning from Hope and Selena. I'm a busy person. I already have to do a lot. Now think that I am also figuring out what a BSL is and what it should be, how to count carbohydrates and what carb choices are, how to manage a sliding scale, when to give insulin, when to give extra carbs, when to freak out. Oh wait, we never do that. :) On Monday I went along with Hope and Selena to a meeting with a care team at the Center for Diabetes in town. We spent almost 3 hours at the place. It was WONDERFUL. We met with a nurse and a dietician. I timidly brought in our monthly menus and cringed inside at the thought of having the food pyramid brought out. (Our montly menus are already regulated by the Child & Adult Care Food Program, so we already have *some* level of accountability, at least during daycare hours). It went much, much better than that. My menus are fine (whew!).

Now that we are home with a wealth of information, Hope and I have teamed up and made a fairly strict schedule to follow. We are documenting EVERYTHING, so that when we go back we'll have a comprehensive list of data. This is especially important because after 3 days of being really focused there are still times of the day that we can't seem to control Selena's blood-sugar levels. If we can show a 3-week pattern of this, then our nurse can better help us fix what might be wrong in our methods.

I am a snacker...a handful of chips here, 3 cookies there, no problem! Wow, this has really changed our thinking on a lot of things. Now suddenly every carb counts, serving sizes and portions stand out at us, we can't possibly be lazy about what we eat any longer. Accountability is the name of the diabetes game. It would be plain old mean to require Selena to follow one diet, while the rest of the family just does "whatever." Now, we can still do "whatever," the nurse gave us permission to eat carbs. The point, however, is that we have to record "whatever" Selena eats. Therefore, we have accountability. It stares right back at us. And I'm just more thoughtful of it. Certainly I can enjoy a cookie whenever I want, but I'm also thinking with a little more guilt than I used to.

Selena is amazing. I was making her plate for lunch today and I had counted out her carrots and celery (no, they are not totally "free" and since we are counting every single carb at the moment, it adds up). She pointed to the plate and said, "I'll eat more of those!" LOL. I wish she would rub off on my kids!!!

I'm struggling with my own emotions at the moment. I never expected to feel this way. I mean, I know myself pretty well. But I love this little girl so much. How can adding someone to your family with special needs end up being such a huge blessing and not a burden??? How can I fall in love with a child so quickly when she isn't my own? It's amazing what has happened here.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Selena is in 4th grade and she is homeschooling right alongside Eden. Eden is in love, too.

So there. That's where I am at the moment. Now I'm going to go crack open the pink panther diabetes book and get some more studying done!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to Digitize a Pattern

I draw all of my own diaper patterns. When I began, I drew on newspapers. I don't like those--it leaves black ink all over your hands. :) Eventually my mother-in-law was given some rolls of paper from the clinic she worked at--these are rolls that would normally cover a doctor's exam table, only they were given out for free by a drug rep. They have "Levitra Challenge" written all over them. I thought that was ironic given the fact that I'm drawing diaper patterns.

So how do I get my pattern, with all the rough marks, from my house to something that is salable?

I started out with something simple, and could be contained on one page. It is a contoured nursing pad pattern, and you can actually download it from my website:

Back then I didn't take pictures of how I did it, so I will walk you through it with the belly panel pattern that I used to convert my regular jeans into maternity jeans.

This is a pattern that I drew on my own too. I took a commercial pattern that had an old style belly panel in the front. I converted it to be more like the new style pants. So that's kind of where this pattern came from.

To start, I figured out that the pattern would cover two sheets of paper. I taped two regular sheets of paper together and traced the pattern onto them:

After this, I took the pieces of paper back apart and scanned each in individually to my computer.

Once they were scanned in (as images), I imported them into Microsoft Publisher. I'll give some tips on how to use Publisher, but this is definitely NOT a tutorial on that. If you don't know how to use it, you'll have to learn just like I did. :) Or maybe you are better equipped than I and can use Adobe.

In Publisher, I edited my page size to be 17" x 11." I slid the pictures together so it looked like the whole piece. Then I used the curve command to "trace" the lines into the computer.
(click on the image to see a larger version)

Once all the lines were traced, I could move the pictures out of the way and just work with my lines. I could then edit the points of the lines, especially the curved ones, to make sure they looked smooth. This pattern was super easy to do, but my diaper patterns took a lot more tweaking! After the lines were done, then I used text boxes, arrows, etc. to add all the other "information" that is necessary on a pattern. Using the rulers on Publisher, I drew a text box that was 1" square, made the text box have a border, so that the box can be a reference for people who print it off--you can check with a ruler to make sure the pattern is the right size. This is important for people who are making patterns to download.

Now I have a Publisher file, but what I really need is a pdf file. I used a free pdf converter that I got online somewhere (primo pdf), but the problem I found was that there were no guidelines printed for the overlap. So once you printed off two pages, you'd have no idea where to tape them together.

Using a ruler and Publisher, I set the page margins (arrange -> layout guides) to be 0.5." The overlap was automatically set to be 0.25." I realized that the page was printing out over THREE pages, which is unnecessary, so I reset my page size to be only 13.5" and readjusted the pattern to be in the center of the page. The last thing I needed to do was to add a line in just the right place that could be "matched up" when printed off in pdf format. 0.5" + 0.25" = 0.75" I measured back 0.75 from 8.5" using the rulers on Publisher and drew a small line. Thankfully, it worked! You can now view the pdf of my belly panel pattern here:

If you decide to use this, I recommend basting it in to your pants first to make sure it fits right. I've noticed that it fits a wide range of sizes, but that doesn't mean that it is perfect. You may need to extend the center back to make the panel larger or bring it in some to make the panel smaller, depending on your pants/waist size. I originally drew it for a size "medium" pattern, and it works well on that, but it has also worked well on my size 10 and size 12 jeans I've been converting. Of course, the TYPE of fabric you choose to make your panel from will make a difference, too. So experiment. You should definitely choose something that has lycra in it. It can even be an old t-shirt or cami.

Now, let's say you want to have your pattern in a print format, not digitized for download. Then you need to research printers. You have to decide how big of a page you will need for your pattern. I decided to go with a page that was 24" x 36." I found a local (Christian owned) printer who could print up to 36" wide and would charge me per inch for the length. Fedex Kinko's was a little more expensive, but still reasonable. I laid out pages and taped them together, then drew my 24 x 36 inch grid, THEN drew in the margins too. After that, it was pretty much just how I described above. I took pictures, but I can't find them for nothing now!

Let's try this again...

I had another pair of jeans to convert. It was much easier this time! I have some extra tips. I do hope some of ya'll out there try this! I'm sooooo in love with my pants that fit and feel great. :)

This pair of jeans is Old Navy size 12 with a button fly. I love the pockets. I think I must be a pockets girl. At least there's no zipper this time to fool with. I could actually get these on all the way and get all but the top button buttoned. So they fit pretty good now, but probably wouldn't have in early pregnancy. That's ok...I'm all about comfort RIGHT NOW.

I decided how far down I wanted my "dip" in the front to go, and once again used the french curve ruler to draw a curve. If you've never used one of these rulers, and you do sew garmets, I HIGHLY recommend them. My online friend Denise sent me my first ruler ever and I could kiss her for it. Afterwards I found 3 more at a garage sale. Whew what a good purchase!

After I cut my band, I folded the pants in half to make sure they were even, so although it may not *look* even in the pictures, it is a really nice curve.
Doesn't that look good? A nice belly scoop. My belly band has a matching scoop. Maybe here in a little bit I'll go scan it in and try posting it.
Here is another tip. If you do not have a serger (or if you did something really stupid like try to serge over a zipper and broke your needle plate and now it's in the shop), it can be tricky to sew knits, especially knits that are r-e-a-l-l-y stretchy like the ones that make good belly bands. First of all, make sure you have the right needle--a ball point needle is appropriate for sewing knits. Secondly, check the manual for your sewing machine to see if there is a special setting for sewing knits. If not, set your machine to a zigzag stitch, but only put it on a very, very narrow zigzag. Set the stitch length to be very short, I think mine was at 1/2 (normally I'd sew on 2 or 2.5). Once you are sewing the band to the pants you want to switch back to a sharp needle so that your machine doesn't have to work so hard to go through all the layers of denim.

Ok, here they are all done. Don't they look great? My belly doesn't look as strange today, either, at 25 weeks 3 days! :)

Lastly, here is a fun, totally unrelated picture. It's the blanket I crocheted for my baby. I made the pattern up off the top of my head using two new stitches I learned recently, so the proportions aren't right (too long for the width), but that's ok. It's still beautiful and soft. I have to work on my crochet pattern-making, I think!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jericho Faith

Kristin's baby is here!! I'm so happy I made it to the birth--what a privilege and a joy. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

DIY Maternity Jeans

My latest project...I realized this week that one pair of jeans I have are way too small, and one pair of jeans are ridiculously large. I didn't have enough jeans!!! I decided to finally follow these online instructions to try to make myself some new pants. So today while grocery shopping I stopped at Goodwill (1/2 off yellow tags today) to find some jeans. I found two pair that would work, for a final price of $3.50 each. I also found a pair too cute to cut up (and too small anyways) for after I'm pregnant. I found a pair of LIKE NEW Gap boys' jeans for $2 that will fit Micah now, plus two pair for a couple years down the road. It was such a cool shopping day! So here is my first attempt at modifying regular jeans to make maternity jeans:

Aren't these back pockets cute? These are St. John's Bay "stretchboot" style pants.

After marking where the zipper comes up to, like the online instructions suggest, I used a french curve ruler to make my line.

Here is mistake #1: I left that button on the fifth pocket on up there. I broke my sewing machine needle later when I wasn't paying attention. :(

I happened to have some cotton/lycra fabric bought from Joann's that I used for my belly band. I also did it a bit different than the instructions.
Here they are on me! The angle is funny cause Mitch was laying on the couch. My belly is so funny shaped...I've definitely added all that baby to my sides/hips/butt/thighs. :P

I didn't serge the edges until after I had tried them on. Another step I didn't do was take out the zipper. Mistake #2. When my serger tried going over the zipper I broke not only both needles but the whole needle plate (the thing the feed dogs are in)!!! So now my "cheap" project turned out to be not so cheap. I'll have to finally give in and take my serger in to be fixed. Darn it!! I hope it doesn't cost much...seems like a simple little part. I should have parts warranty still, it *should* be just the labor. I'll keep ya posted!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Sneak Peek

I'm SOOOO excited!! I just got back from the printer. I'm going to test the accuracy, then head back to get my first run of patterns printed. It is such a surreal feeling. I'm in a hurry right now (to clean up from lunch), but I'll post more later about how I did it. :)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

CSPC responds to thrift stores

I just had to post it before I got more emails. :) I am grateful a friend of mine emailed it to me.

CPSC Clarifies Requirements of New Children’s Product Safety Laws Taking Effect in February
Guidance Intended for Resellers of Children’s Products, Thrift and Consignment Stores

The article is short, so you can go read it for yourself.

Here is what concerns me about this:

"The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties."

They are clarifying that the resellers do not need to have the certificates of conformity. They do not need to conduct tests of the products. That's cool.

However, it is still illegal to sell any of these items that exceed the limits--to the point that criminal charges and penalties are involved. How are stores supposed to know? Huh..."should avoid products that are likely to have lead content"...indeed! Avoid it or get a $100,000 fine and a felony charge!

Can't miss the last line though: "The agency has underway a number of rulemaking proposals intended to provide guidance on the new lead limit requirements."

I can't wait to see what they propose. Officially they have no authority to actually *change* the law...only the congress can do that.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

How the CPSC feels towards small businesses

This is a letter response sent to one small business owner. I don't know the person, but it was posted on a group I am on. Out of respect for the original author, I'm going to remove her personal identification. There are a couple things I would like to note from reading this response:
1) It doesn't appear that there have been ANY exemptions made officially for small businesses (unfortunately, not even for one-of-a-kind).
2) Here is something technically "in writing" but yet again there is that disclaimer statement saying that unless otherwise stated the views and opinions are basically those of the author's and not of the CPSC's.
3) It is so just feels like we are "stuck" without a solution until Congress finally agrees to meet on this. From some other things I have read, though, Congress really doesn't want to deal with it--they keep saying "it's up to the CPSC." You can see how little it is really up to the CPSC.

The reply from CPSC is above, and the original contact letter is below.

From: Ombudsman, S. B. [mailto:SBO@...]
Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 3:10 PM
Cc: Ombudsman, S. B.
Subject: RE:

Dear [name removed],

The CPSC has heard from many small businesses (and large ones, too) about the impact the CPSIA may have. Our staff has been trying to identify where the Act gives us flexibility and where it does not and the truth is, there are many provisions that small businesses such as yours care about where we do not have flexibility – the Act simply rules it out. That said, where the agency can be flexible, it is looking for formal public input on how to proceed and you can find those requests for comment at this web site:

There has been some public discussion outside this agency about the possibility of Congress making technical amendments to the Act to provide relief for businesses like yours. I can’t predict the chances of that happening. Our Chairman has stated that the agency would be very willing to work with Congress if it goes that route.

In the meantime, many questions have been addressed in our FAQ section on the web site: You might want to give that a try. Please continue to check our website for Information on the CPSIA ( as it is updated regularly. You can also sign up here (

to receive email updates of our new website postings.

Because Congress wrote very, very short deadlines into the Act, CPSC has been deluged with questions about how the law will be implemented. Given the huge number of questions coming in, individual substantive replies are very difficult to do (the entire agency is only a little over 450 people and there is a ton of work to do). As a result, we add new FAQs as new questions crop up (and many questions are duplicative, as you can imagine).

I guess it would sound hollow for me to suggest that we share your frustration – It’s your business and nobody is going to worry about it like you. But I can do this… I can tell you that CPSC staff is very, very aware of the issues you are facing and that we are using the limited authority we have to try to find solutions as quickly as we can.

Your input is important to us.

Very best regards,


Patricia Bittner
Small Business Ombudsman
Office of International Programs and Intergovernmental Affairs
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Phone: 301-504-7263
Fax: 301-504-0137
email: pbittner@...
“Unless otherwise stated, any views or opinions expressed in this e-mail (and any attachments) are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 3:25 PM
To: Ombudsman, S. B.

CPSIA Legislation - AKA National Bankruptcy Day How is this regulation going to encompass the "at home crafter"? I love crafting, knitting, sewing, quilting. People see the items I make, and often offer to pay me to make something for them. Usually hats or socks made from wool from a local yarn shop in Lewisburg. Will she have to get her wool tested? Will I have to get my hats tested? What about the Mennonite and Amish sewers? What about yard sales? Who is affected? What are the regulations? I cannot believe that in the 21st century I could go to jail for selling a scarf I hand knitted. What about gift giving of handmade items, if there is no label or certificate number then is the item "illegal". I simply cannot wrap my brain around this. I agree with regulation but this is really over doing it a bit - or someone simply didn't think things through all the way.

[signature removed]

Monday, January 05, 2009

12 years ago...

Just gotta squeeze in one more post before bedtime...

12 years ago today, Mitch and I made our way to St. Cloud as a very newly married couple. We had married on Friday in Virginia, and left town early Saturday morning. A snowstorm (and a sick Steph) slowed us down and we stopped overnight Saturday. As we traveled farther north (Mitch & I in my little hatchback 5-speed, and his Dad & brother in the minivan pulling all our earthly belongings in a u-haul), we discovered that the storm had shut down I-94. It gradually opened. After we managed to get to the twin cities on Sunday, we inched our way along precariously up the interstate. You can imagine this country girl sitting on pins and needles as I watched the u-haul in front of us swing back and forth on the icy road. I mean, I had seen snow before, but this? I had no idea where I was!

Turns out St. Cloud had received something in the range of 24 inches of snow over the weekend...something that hasn't happened since then either. Something I had never seen before.

Did I mention I had no idea where I was? I was so disoriented. As we passed through Sartell (figured that out later), I stared out the window at an empty field. It was so long and narrow. I wondered what they planted there. Corn, maybe? It had to be a crop. Ha. It was the Mississippi River. It hadn't really dawned on me that rivers really actually DO freeze over!!

What amazed me, and still amazes me, is how fast the road crews can get out and move the snow. Granted, this was one heck of a storm that even slowed them down, but within a few days the snow was moved and the roads were passable with huge "guard rails" of snow and ice on either side. The surface of the road was flat and smooth. And white.

This was something else that was frustrating and disorienting. We were in a new town (well, new to me), and learning where things were, trying to figure out our way around, and for crying out loud you couldn't see ANY lines on the roads!! No turn lanes, walk ways, passing zones, white lines, etc. Even road signs frequently get covered with blowing snow. It was crazy. It didn't thaw until late March or April. I remember being so excited to see GRASS for the first time in Minnesota. At that point you would have me almost convinced it snowed year round. :)

My memories of living here are mostly all good. I don't hang on to bad stuff for long. God protected us and surrounded us with many loving friends. He planted us immediately in a great church family. He faithfully provided for our needs, and continues to do so.

And the winter doesn't last forever. :)

I just wish I had a picture of the roads so I could show you what I mean! It's crazy!

Whoo Hoo LA Times!!!

Ok, so FINALLY the news organizations *may* be getting a clue that this whole CPSIA thing will impact more than just "mom and pop." The LA Times just did an article and reported exactly what I said: thrift stores and consignment shops are also regulated by the law and will have to cease selling their clothing. You can read the article here:,0,2083247.story

Now if we could just get MORE people to listen!!! I'd probably pee my pants if I saw an article THAT good in the St. Cloud Times. :)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Blech...Stomach Bug

So Malachi was sick on Thursday morning. I woke up sick yesterday (Saturday). Why are these things so much harder when you're pregnant? The actual symptoms (vomitting and diarrhea) were gone after only 4.5 hours. The after-effects (sore muscles, weakness, dehydration, etc) have lingered on much, much longer. But probably the worst part is waiting for the virus to make its way through the rest of the family. At the rate its going, we could be doing this for 2 weeks or more! Blech.

And that reminds me of one of my biggest pet peeves. When people call it the "flu." That's fine. But then they also refer to influenza as "the flu." Then they say that they had the "flu shot" and it didn't help them--they still got sick. Grrrrrrrr. Misinformation, people. I even got into an argument with the doctor and nurse at the hospital over it once. It ticked them off, but I they couldn't convince me that I was not right. I just argued, "It spreads misinformation and confusion." I had my "flu shot" for several years in a row now, and I've never contracted any of the influenza strains vaccinated against. Good thing, too, because it would be a lot worse than vomitting and diarrhea for 4.5 hours!

I deserve a sound off, right? After all, I'm sick, and I STILL have to go to the grocery store, otherwise we will have NO food left in the house to eat (at least none that the kids can make for themselves). And it's -1 feels like -19 outside right now. And in Virginia, where my dad sits reading this? 61. Yeah. So **insert bad thought**. :)

And to think only 2 hours ago I was just telling Hope why God led us to this frozen country and blessed us here. Sigh.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Christmas Pictures

Here they are! You can click on the slides to see the pictures all together in an album, and I think they are there in higher resolution too so you can see them *bigger*. In other news, we had a great party last night. Apparently Malachi partied too hard--he woke up this morning throwing up. Just what we all need after staying up till 1:30 am, right? Oye. So now we're just waiting for the hammer to fall and hope it moves through our family quickly.