Friday, January 30, 2009

Thoughts from Thursday...

We had an eventful day yesterday. There is a father-daughter dance next Friday, so we had to go shopping for that. We found some very pretty dresses for Maggie and Cassie. We looked at a few different stores, and I was happy that the store we found them at had them for half of the retail price at another store. I do love a bargain. I wanted to make them their dresses, but having been sick all that time put a damper on that. I probably could finish in time, but I don't want to get all stressed trying to do so. The dresses are like what I would have made, though. They are very pretty, one in purple, one in pink. (It pains me, though, I could have made both dresses for the price of one....) Lino found a sportcoat that coordinates nicely. We just need to find a shirt and maybe a tie, too.

We were at the mall checking out other stores for dresses and shoes and decided to go into the pet store. The kids like to see the puppies and birds and reptiles and things. Now, this particular pet store irritates me, because every time we go in, the employees never acknowledge that we are there. Ever. No hello, goodbye, anything. And they don't greet anyone else, either. Just horrible customer service.

While we were there, they let one of the boxer puppies out of its cage. The puppy was, of course, very excited to be out and was running around, jumping on everyone. Well, my kids aren't dog people. At All. The puppy started jumping on Cassie, who started to cry and scream (she was scared). She got scratched. Nate started crying, too and Maggie would have had the dog been there any longer. I kind of moved the dog away and an employee came to get it.

We got Cassie calmed down, explaining that the puppy was just excited to see kids and just wanted to play. Not one of the three employees who were standing near us offered her a reassuring word. Not even a simple "Are you okay?" to try and make her feel better.

It made me mad. At least acknowledge her. Yes, we went into the pet store, however, you don't go in thinking you are going to get jumped on by the animals.

After we left the mall, we headed to Joanns so I could run in for a quick thing. When I got out, Lino was parked and had the back of the van opened. Getting the spare tire. Fun times, flat tires. Not.

Of course, it wasn't as simple as just changing the tire. Our lug nut wrench thing was useless. Lino walked over to Lowes, they don't sell them. Great. He calls his Mom, to have her call his Dad. They come with more wrenches. They have one that fits, great! It breaks. The three of them drive off to Autozone. I am doing my best to entertain three hungry,tired, hungry, bored, hungry children. Did I mention they were hungry? Thank goodness for M&Ms. I found three little Halloween sized packs in the diaper bag. So they had M-ies while we played silly games.

Finally the tire situation is resolved and we continue on our day. Picked up the dresses and sport coat at the first (and much cheaper) store. Get the other pair of shoes. Go to the school to pick up a fundraiser thing we ordered. And eat.

We did discover a new yummy restaurant that has really nice sized kids portions. That alone will have us go back! The food was good, too.

So. Here is hoping for a less eventful weekend.....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Party pictures!

After telling us for weeks that he wanted a Thomas the Train cake, Nate changed his mind when he saw the Stickers pan at the frosting store. I was fine with that, it was actually easier to do! The sheet cake is vanilla, the Stickers is chocolate. Buttercream frosting. I can make frosting, but with his party and the girls' party coming up, I bought it. In a 5 gallon bucket. Seriously, 28 pounds of yummy tastes good and is so much less work.

Everyone was excited for cake and ice cream....

My dad. We couldn't find any party hats with Stickers. Nate was happy with the Ernie and Elmo ones.

I am pretty sure he is saying "Yes, way" in this picture. I don't know where he picked it up from, but it was pretty cute and he kept saying it all day.

My mother in law knit him a sweater and matching hat. I thought she used her knitting machine for it, but Lino said that he hasn't set that up yet, she did it by hand. I was amazed, the rows are all so neat and uniform. I would love to learn how to knit someday...
So, that is it. The kids had fun. Nate got some of the noisiest toys I have ever heard, which my dad thinks is funny.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I really hope this gets stopped, please read!

There is a new law that is due to go into effect on February 9th of this year. If it does, then it will pretty much shut down home based business, small business,(think EBay and Etsy) and put unnecessary strain on companies that make products that are intended for use by children aged 12 and under.

The article below is from Forbes magazine , and while I probably shouldn't have copied the whole thing here, it is an important read. (though I don't make any money from this blog, I wish!)

Please read it. Write your congressmen. Sign the petition. Contact the comittee members.

Scrap The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
Walter Olson, 01.16.09, 04:21 PM EST
Self-congratulation makes for bad law.

If someone you know volunteers at a thrift store or crochets baby hats for the crafts site Etsy or favors handmade wooden toys as a baby shower gift, you've probably been hearing the alarms about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

Hailed almost universally on its passage last year--it passed the Senate 89 to three and the House by 424 to one, with Ron Paul the lone dissenter--CPSIA is now shaping up as a calamity for businesses and an epic failure of regulation, threatening to wipe out tens of thousands of small makers of children's items from coast to coast, and taking a particular toll on the handcrafted and creative, the small-production-run and sideline at-home business, not to mention struggling retailers. How could this have happened?

Congress passed CPSIA in a frenzy of self-congratulation following last year's overblown panic over Chinese toys with lead paint. Washington's consumer and environmentalist lobbies used the occasion to tack on some other long-sought legislative goals, including a ban on phthalates used to soften plastic.

The law's provisions were billed as stringent, something applauded by high-minded commentators as a way to force the Mattels and Fisher-Prices of the world to keep more careful watch on the supply chains of their Chinese factories.

Barbed with penalties that include felony prison time and fines of $100,000, the law goes into effect in stages; one key deadline is Feb. 10, when it becomes unlawful to ship goods for sale that have not been tested. Eventually, new kids' goods will all have to be subjected to more stringent "third-party" testing, and it will be unlawful to give away untested inventory even for free.
The first thing to note is that we're not just talking about toys here. With few exceptions, the law covers all products intended primarily for children under 12. That includes clothing, fabric and textile goods of all kinds: hats, shoes, diapers, hair bands, sports pennants, Scouting patches, local school-logo gear and so on.

And paper goods: books, flash cards, board games, baseball cards, kits for home schoolers, party supplies and the like. And sporting equipment, outdoor gear, bikes, backpacks and telescopes. And furnishings for kids' rooms.

And videogame cartridges and audio books. And specialized assistive and therapeutic gear used by disabled and autistic kids.

Again with relatively few exceptions, makers of these goods can't rely only on materials known to be unproblematic (natural dyed yarn, local wood) or that come from reputable local suppliers, or even ones that are certified organic.

Instead they must put a sample item from each lot of goods through testing after complete assembly, and the testing must be applied to each component. For a given hand-knitted sweater, for example, one might have to pay not just, say, $150 for the first test, but added-on charges for each component beyond the first: a button or snap, yarn of a second color, a care label, maybe a ribbon or stitching--with each color of stitching thread having to be tested separately.
Suddenly the bill is more like $1,000--and that's just to test the one style and size. The same sweater in a larger size, or with a different button or clasp, would need a new round of tests--not just on the button or clasp, but on the whole garment. The maker of a kids' telescope (with no suspected problems) was quoted a $24,000 testing estimate, on a product with only $32,000 in annual sales.

Could it get worse? Yes, it could. Contrary to some reports, thrift and secondhand stores are not exempt from the law. Although (unlike creators of new goods) they aren't obliged to test the items they stock, they are exposed to liability and fines if any goods on their shelves (or a component button, bolt, binding, etc.) are found to test above the (very low) thresholds being phased in.

Nor does it get them off the hook to say an older product's noncompliance with the new standards wasn't something they knew or should have known about (let alone to say anyone was harmed; the whole controversy from start to finish has gone on with precious little showing of real-world harm to American kids from most of the goods being banned).

Thrift store managers, often volunteers themselves, have no way to guess whether every grommet or zipper on a kids' jacket or ink on an old jigsaw puzzle box or some plastic component of Mom's old roller skates would pass muster.

"The reality is that all this stuff will be dumped in the landfill," predicted Adele Meyer, executive director of the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops. Among the biggest losers if that happens: poorer parents who might start having to buy kids' winter coats new at $30 rather than used at $5 or $10.

And even worse: Since the law does not exempt books, children's' sections at libraries and bookstores will, at minimum, face price hikes on newly acquired titles and, at worse, may have to rethink older holdings.

After all, no one has the slightest idea how many future violations lie hidden in the stacks and few want to play a guessing game about how seriously officialdom will view illegality. "Either they take all the children's books off the shelves," Associate Executive Director Emily Sheketoff of the American Library Association told the Boston Phoenix, "or they ban children from the library."

Antique dolls? Old model-car collections? Musical instruments? Vintage bicycles? Some will go underground in private collectors' clubs, others will be tossed on the bonfires of the new Cultural Revolution.

A traditional attraction on the heritage festival circuit is the kids' dance or performance troupe in ethnic, pioneer or frontier garb, often handcrafted with the sort of ornate detail (beads, pendants, lace inserts, etc.) that will not be practical to test.

The same goes for Native American kids' cherished moccasins, buckskins and powwow gear. Making matters worse, many foreign producers of craft and small-batch toys and clothes, chary of liability under the law, are planning to exit the American market entirely, a step already taken by three German toymakers.

In recent weeks, as thousands of crafters and retailers began to compare notes and realize that they would soon be left with stocks of unsalable merchandise, forced out of business or both, the protests have begun to mount: alarm-raising at hundreds of blogs and forums, a torrent of Twitter discussion, YouTube videos, endangered-products lists, Facebook groups and so forth.
A group called Handmade Toy Alliance is calling attention to the law's burdens in that area. Booksellers are mobilizing. Yet prominent consumer groups have continued to defend even the law's more extreme applications, and their spokespersons are dismissive of public outrage. "I haven't heard a single legitimate concern yet," Public Citizen's David Arkush wrote last month.
The consumer groups--and the congressional offices of key CPSIA backers Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and Henry Waxman, D-Calif.--have blamed opposition to the law on "misinformation" and "confusion."

Defenders of the law point out, for example, that item-by-item enforcement at thrift shops is unlikely to be an enforcement priority any time soon for the Consumer Product Safety Commission's 100 field investigators.

The thing is, few librarians, eBay (nasdaq: EBAY - news - people ) sellers or knitters want to be told that they're outlaws but at too small-fry a level to attract the authorities' attention. They want to be legal.

Besides, the law grants enforcement authority not only to the CPSC but to the 50 state attorneys general, which means anyone who ships nationally, small fry or not, is at the mercy of whomever turns out to be the least reasonable attorney general, a post for which there is always considerable competition.

As CPSIA opponents mobilize, the phrase "unintended consequences" is often heard. Part of the irony, after all, is that the Hasbros and Targets, with their standardization and economies of scale, can afford to adapt to such rules as part of their business plan, while the sorts of enterprises that initially looked to benefit most from the Chinese toy scare--local, organic and so forth--are also the ones who find it hardest to comply.

But the failure here runs deeper. This was not some enactment slipped through in the dead of night: It was one of the most highly publicized pieces of legislation to pass Congress last year.
And yet now it appears precious few lawmakers took the time to check what was in the bill, while precious few in the press (which ran countless let's-pass-a-law articles) cared to raise even the most basic questions about what the law was going to require.

Yes, something's being exposed as systematically defective here. But it's not the contents of our kids' toy chests. It's the way we make public policy.

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of The Rule of Lawyers and other books. He edits


So, thanks for reading that article. Pass it on, spread the word. I understand the intent of the law is to keep kids safe, and I am all for that. I just think that 'they' rushed this one and didn't think it all the way through.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No more wild hair....

I managed to get some pictures of Nate's hair after baths yesterday. Better than the 'bedhead' pictures from his birthday.

Certainly is different...I like this picture. He wanted to carry Yellow Bear and play at the same time...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Finally starting to feel better....there is hope!

So after a month of being sick and in extreme pain and not being able to do anything, I am finally starting to feel better. After my trip to urgent care, it seemed as though the antibiotics worked for a few days, but halfway through didn't seem to be effective. Blah. I was able to find a regular doctor, and she seemed to think that I had a few different things happen at the same time: sinus infection, migraine and stiff neck (she had never heard of stiff neck being a symptom of sinus infection)

She gave me some anti-inflammatory meds, and after I asked, some medicine for the pain. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but the neck/head pain made it nearly impossible to sleep and was really affecting how I managed to get through the day....which was barely. I spent the better part of the past month just existing on the couch, not able to play with the kids or do much of anything. So, I needed something.

Luckily, Lino had 3 days off in a row, which allowed me to take pain meds and sleep to try and shake this. Finally this past Saturday, I woke up with my head seeming a lot better (the headache is still there, but mild in comparison) and the neck pain nearly gone. Finally. It feels as though I lost a whole month, there is so much I didn't get done! Did I mention that while all this was going on, the kids and Lino have each been sick with some fever/stomach thing? Yeah, it has been fantastic.

Nate's birthday was Sunday. Lino went shopping after work on Saturday since we hadn't had a chance to go together. We always spend the kids' birthday days as a family, no parties, and I like it that way. The party with my dad, sister and Lino's parents will be next week (that gives me a chance to get the house back in order!

Nate liked his presents. As he opened the cards and presents, he would get all excited, "Look, it's this!" He got a Mater Shake and Go car, a fire station to go with the train Santa brought, a Transformer Bumblebee and Wii Mario Kart. (we totally scored on the Mario Kart....) We will need to exchange Bumblebee, since he wasn't made nicely, but in all, Nate was excited. This year, Nate was very excited about blowing out the candles, and he actually let us sing Happy Birthday at cupcake time! (I will do a big cake for his party, he wants a Thomas cake)

In between opening presents and making cupcakes, they wanted party hats. So, we made hats.

At bedtime, Nate was convinced that when he woke up today he would be 4. Not quite, buddy. Slow down with the getting goes too fast for Mama.
PS- Did you notice his hair? He had 'bedhead' for these pictures, but you get the idea. We were forced to go short when we tried to trim his bangs. We cut too short. But, he was pleased, now he has short hair like cousin Leo, which he has been asking for since we saw them at Thanksgiving! I do miss his wild curly hair, but, I think the short is cute too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

We interrupt this blog...

I am tired of being sick and feeling like crap. I have had a stiff neck since Christmas eve. Really painful. I also had a migraine, and a fever/chills on Christmas. The migraine and stiff neck stuck around, and after more than a week of taking Excederin/Tylenol/Advil, Lino brought home some Bengay and Thermal wrap things to try. Those didn't really work either. Friday night I woke up to what felt like exploding sinuses. Fabulous.

On Saturday, I finally decided that more than a week of this was enough, so we brought the kids to my inlaws and went to Urgent Care. Apparently, I have the classic symptoms of a sinus infection. Stiff neck, jaw pain (which I have, it hurts to eat, but didn't realize was a symptom), teeth pain, eye pressure and sinus pressure are the classic indications of a sinus infection. They did x-rays, and prescribed some antibiotics and allergy meds.

So, I have been taking those and hoping they worked like magic and the pain would go away, but it hasn't. (And I have a pretty high pain tolerance) It wakes me up at night, I can't find a good postion to sleep in, it is making me extremely nauseated and it is affecting how I interact with the kids. I can't really play with them and help them with stuff because the pain is too much. And that sucks.

They have today off from school due to icy roads, and they have been wonderful, playing nicely while I rest on the couch, but I hate that I am in this much pain. If the pain doesn't start to subside I am going to see if the Urgent Care place can give me something. It is silly to keep taking Advil/Tylenol if it isn't working.

So. That is it. Thanks for reading my whine. Hopefully I will feel better soon.