Thursday, December 10, 2009

What I want for Christmas

What a day. Thought it'd be your basic boring Thursday - but those are the days that throw us for a loop aren't they?

I started by being a guest on an OPB radio show called "Think Outloud". They were doing an hour on food safety and asked me to be a guest to talk about my experiences with Beck and his salmonella. It was an honor to be asked and I think it went pretty good. You can listen here if you are so inclined.... OPB Think Outloud I am on the last 15 minutes or so. Definitely don't have a future in radio, but very cool to continue doing my advocacy for food safety!

Then I went to work. While at work I remembered a comment from my husband this morning. He said something about googling your own name. Have you done this? Fascinating. I googled my own name - wow. All kinds of things on there - luckily all (or at least most of them) are current and relevant to my life which I felt good about. Not that I've done anything I should be worried about...but you just never know what kind of crazies are out there!

As I scrolled down the page I began to see references to my dad's name. My dad died when I was 23 in 1995. He was 50. He was a prolific writer and photographer and involved in some amazing projects throughout his life, so it didn't really surprise me to see his name online. But there were several blogs within the past 3 years that mentioned his name. That threw me off a little.

I found one that quoted a book he wrote in 1979 - it was a prayer of thanks. A missionary in Cambodia drew peace and solace from the prayer and printed it on his blog for Thanksgiving. That one was lovely, I smiled to know he was still touching people.

Another man, a minister, quoted a story I have never read and here's where my day got weird. He (my dad) tells a story of spending Easter in prison with 10,000 other political prisoners. He talks about how many of them wanted to take communion on that day but had no wine or bread. My father led them in a communion (he was a minister back then) without the wine or bread but in spirit. The blog is called Heart on the Left.

I know that my dad travelled a lot when I was a child. I lived with my mom so I didn't always know where my dad went, what he was doing. I remember one long trip he took to Bangladesh and Calcutta where he worked with Mother Teresa. But I am drawing a total blank at him ever having been a political prisoner of any sort. Does the story referenced refer more to him visiting prisoners? As I read the quote, it doesn't seem like it. He tells it as if he was a prisoner himself.

I am left to feel a little sad...a little confused. I have always felt that my dad died too early, before he as ready - certainly before I was ready. I have always had so many unanswered questions - and now I have even more. There is no one left to ask about it that I know of.

For Christmas this year, I would like one more day with daddy. Just one. Santa, are you listening?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Our White House Tour

Our trip to DC was Oct 6th-8th - so many things to write about, but this is one of the coolest.

On our last day in Washington DC we were lucky enough to be included in a special tour of the White House vegetable garden. One of the children we were lobbying with on the Hill is involved in a special project that she and a friend created to bring healthier lunches to her school. She has since gotten several other schools to pilot this healthy lunch program and somewhere along the way she connected with Mr. Sam Kass, the White House chef!

Mr. Kass invited Megan to come and tour the garden and Megan was kind enough to invite us along, allowing us to see a part of the White House not many are privy to.

We arrived en mass. My 3 year old already melting. There were 8 kids and their parents plus a few of the people from each of the groups being represented during the week. We met with Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, who is lead staffer for the White House Food Safety Working Group; and David Lazarus, senior advisor the USDA, and Mr. Kass. They listened as we each described what had happened to our families and children during each of our experiences with food-borne illnesses.

It was certainly an interesting meeting, formal as all the rest of the meetings that week and reaffirmed my belief that my world in Bend, OR is light years away from anything happening in Washington. Of course, during the meeting, true to form, my kids were the most restless. Beck was hungry, which didn¹t really help ­ he also has absolutely no understanding of what we were doing there. The child wouldn¹t sit still to save his life and there was no way I could explain to him why he couldn¹t just run up and down the hallways! National Security truly holds no weight with a hungry 3 year old!

After an hour long meeting with 3 very serious men who probably couldn¹t wait to escape my unruly child, we were led through the house and out into the garden. And it was definitely worth the wait. Beautiful and abundant don¹t begin to describe it. Mr. Kass showed us the bee houses, ­ a first at the White House. He also told us that they have gotten 140 lbs of honey from them!

The vegetable garden was something I will always wish we could have here in Bend. Aside from the extremely short growing season, my thumb is more black than green- something that is obviously not a problem for Mr. Kass. He and the First Lady have done an amazing job with the garden and have already harvested over 700 lbs of food so far this year! What they don¹t use at the White House, they are able to donate to local soup kitchens. The variety of vegetables we saw was wonderful ­ all different kinds of tomatoes, lettuces, herbs, potatoes- it made me want to make a salad on the spot.

Thomas spotted the broccoli and launched into a story about how broccoli is actually a flower and if you don¹t cut off the center it will bloom. I was so proud of him for speaking up and sharing what he knew about the garden ­ he thought it was very cool to be able to share his knowledge.

It was an amazing two hours ­ we got to see things most people don¹t ever get to see or even know it exists ­ like the awesome play structure the Obama girls have there at the White House. Keeping Beck and Thomas from running over to climb on it was no easy feat! And of course Thomas, being a very curious 7 year old, was bound and determined to go places he shouldn¹t ­ like behind the hedges away from the garden and walking over away from the group to touch the White House.

After we got home, I looked online to learn a bit more about the garden and the projects going on around food at the White House. Interesting to see Michelle Obama involved in bringing more of a healthy approach to not only the White House and what she feeds her kids but also making it one of her projects as the First Lady. It¹s nice to see another mom who is concerned about teaching her children about healthy choices for life. As First Lady she has a position to make a difference ­ power it seems she is using wisely. On most of our trip I noticed hundreds of tourists making poor choices right and left and was beginning to feel that maybe the east coast in general eats a little differently than we do on the west coast. I was heartened to hear the story of the garden and see that the local and regional food movements are happening across the country not just in the places I¹ve been lucky enough to live in.

I was appreciative of the opportunity to see a part of our government that most people don¹t even know exists.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crossing the fuzzy line

From the Pickled Tink Blog....

Does Facebook make it all too easy to cross the line? What about creating "friendships" that don't really exist?

My best girlfriend from HS won't sign up for FB. She has said from the beginning that she doesn't have time. And I will admit - it is a time-suck. But now, after hearing about the rest of us signing up and "watching" each other via this weird virtual world, she says she doesn't really want to do it because of the information sharing. "If I'm not friends with them now in real life, why would I want to be friends with them on FB?" she asked me. Good I do not have an answer to.

I certainly understand the networking parts of FB if you are using it for business, but let's face it, most people are not using it for business. It's all about adding friends and watching their lives described in short little snippets. Some are funny, some are actually useful info (so & so had surgery etc), but a lot of it is purely voyeuristic. I have definitely fallen victim to wanting to know what everyone is doing.

And here's the other dilemma....this came up because a friend ("lisa") was telling me about "messaging" this friend ("dave") of hers on FB. Well, Lisa and Dave knew each the biblical sense in HS. They are now both happily married to other people - so is it strange that they are friends on FB and that they message each other? When do their spouses begin to wonder why they are messaging each other versus posting on the wall for all the world to see?

I got a recommendation for a "friend" recently that I am leaving alone for a while. The dilemma above says it all. Do we need to be friends on FB just because someone recommended it or because we knew each other in HS. I just think it's too bizarre. Some of these people are in my past because that's where they belong. They know me in their minds as the person I was back then - not the person I am now. And just seeing them on FB takes me back to feeling like the person I was then - not something I want to remember necessarily. Don't we grow and change as we age for a reason? I don't want to be the person I was in HS anymore. I'd like to think I am much different than that girl who was insecure, worried what everyone thought of her, and frankly a little shallow. Once we are older, aren't we allowed some room for letting go of the old us and truly being the new, current us. I think adding that friend will just make me feel like I did when I was 18 and stupid. Besides, we're not really friends now - I don't even know what state this "friend" lives in!

I realize this dilemma is really only my own issue, I can "ignore" the recommendation. But the fact that this "friend suggestion" lingers in my FB corner makes me think more and more abut the fuzzy lines of facebook. Does the person know they were recommended to me? Will they know I clicked "ignore" on them? Then again, why do I care? See - makes me feel 18 and stupid all over again!

To play my own devil's advocate, I do love facebook for some of the same reasons I hate it. I love that I have found and rekindled old friendships that I thought had been lost. I have found some people I was sad to lose along the way because we lost touch during one of the millions of moves between us. Having them back in my life - even virtually - has been amazing. Some are childhood friends and some are from those "stupid" 18 year old times - some of them have brought back hilarious and wonderful memories.

I guess I can't stop wondering when are the virtual friendships crossing the fuzzy line?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My day as a Lobbyist

I went to Washington DC last week to lobby for food safety and FDA Reform. I went as part of a coalition of several food safety groups, lobbying for HB875, or the Food Safety Modernization Act, as it has come to be called. In a nutshell, here a the key points:

• Mandatory recall power for the FDA – did you know they don’t have this now?
• Annual inspections of food manufacturers
• Mandatory reporting of positive test results for things like salmonella and E-coli (right now a company can test and get a positive result, throw those results away and keep testing till they get a negative test – then put it ALL on the shelves! All without telling anyone!!!))
• Adoption of science based standards for food manufacturing

There are a few other elements, but those are the ones that tipped the scales for me. I have been asked by friends and family why I went to DC. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

The CPSIA which was passed by Congress last fall says that I cannot sell a vinyl raincoat to a 12 year old because he might get lead poisoning if he eats it. However, Congress did not create a way to keep E-coli out of strawberries grown in Mexico, relabeled once across the border as “US GROWN” so they could qualify to be sold into school lunches, where Lindsey ate them and now has life-long kidney problems, is diabetic and will need a kidney transplant eventually. They did not find a way to keep spinach with e-coli off the shelves last year where it was then sold and fed to 2 year old Kyle who died within 4 days of eating it. There was no protection for the people who ate peanuts over the past year that were being processed and packaged in a rat and mice infested factory, 9 of whom have died so far.

This is why I went to DC. Congress needs to get up and change things in the FDA. They acted more swiftly than most have seen in their lifetime when it came to lead in kids clothes….why not food? Isn’t food a more basic need? Going out on a limb here, but I feel 99.9% certain that I can keep a vinyl raincoat out of my 7 & 2 year olds mouth. Exactly how do I keep them from eating strawberries, spinach, orange juice, veggie booty, etc? And why would I want them to avoid those things? Am I supposed to live in fear that they might get sick if I don’t cook everything they eat in scalding water to hopefully kill any e-coli? And isn’t raw spinach better for you vitamin-wise? What’s a mom to do?

On my first day there, I sat with my fellow “lobbyists”, a room full of victims. I have never owned the word “victim” – I just can’t. It’ not that I don’t understand the word, I just don’t accept it. I tend more towards the “get over it” side of camp, but as I sat in this room of people who had traveled from all over the country to rally together for a cause, I found that the word “victim” was oddly applicable here. None of us chose this. Especially not the couple from Idaho whose son Kyle is gone. He died at the same age that my son Beck is now.

Capital Hill is overwhelming if you are there to participate. How does anything actually get done up there and how do those people know who their constituents actually are and what they want? How could they possibly?

I am not sure about the answer to those questions, but after spending a full day up there with a professional lobbyist as my “sherpa and guide”, I at least have a better understanding of how it all works. I went from meeting to meeting, telling the story of Beck and how he got sick. I told my Congressman that I just didn’t think it was right that I should have to wonder if what I am bringing home from the grocery store will actually make him sick, not provide for his nutrition and growth. I met with 4 of our leaders and their staff – in meetings that ranged from welcoming and understanding to dismissive and rude. Quite an experience to say the least.

Throughout my day the School House Rock – “I’m Just a Bill” ran though my head. To see it in action was educational. And maybe a little disheartening – I just don’t know how those guys muddle through the issues presented to them and come up with the ones that truly have depth and substance and are really important. I do not envy them that job and I did leave the Hill that day with a deeper respect for the job of our representatives.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. I can’t go through life without knowing I haven’t done everything I can to ensure that my kids grow up healthy and happy and this particular issue falls into that category. I hope someday they can know and appreciate the work being done on their behalf.

Friday, April 24, 2009

FDA and me....

I head to Washington DC next Monday. Me and the government are going to go at it again. Maybe this time I'll win? Didn't really get too far with the CPSIA but I am eternally optimistic.

The newest issue in my world is the FDA reform - dubbed the Food Safety Modernization Act. I am supposedly meeting with some of the powers that be in Washington DC to try and convince them that our FDA is broken and needs to be fixed. I have been asked several times now - why are you doing this? Why are you going to DC - it is because you just like to get involved in causes? Do you feel really strongly about this issue?

And I have been asking myself the same questions. I suppose that before Monday, I need a clear answer. But the fact is that there are a lot of reasons to do this. I have to at least admit that on some level - the shallowest and least important reason is - it's a really cool way to get to see how the government works and to get to go to DC on someone else's dime.

BUT.... there are also important reasons.... like the fact that I have now seen first hand what a bad law does to good people. Having personal up close experience with the CPSIA, I know what bad government can do. I realize I am small potatoes compared to some of the biggies out there - but if I can make the smallest amount of difference, it's worth it.

It is not OK with me to think that we cannot rely on our government and it's agencies to take care of our food supply. Eating is NOT an option. We have to get our food from somewhere and since no one I know has the ability to eat 100% from their own backyard, we need to rely on grocery stores and other food sources. I need to know that when I go to my local store, the items I choose to buy for my family will not make the sick, give them long-term health problems or even cause them to be hospitalized or God-forbid, cause death.

So - I am off to DC... and our local News station picked it up. More press on it's way - this was just the first. We had the crew in the living room this morning before school - nothing like a news crew to start your day!


Saturday, April 18, 2009


I LOVE birthdays. Love em. I also really love making birthday cakes. I spend hours planning it and hours making it. I need people to oohhhh and aaahhhh over it. I am crushed when no one makes and/or buys a cake for me on my birthday.

Silly - I know. But true. Can't help it. It's like if I don't receive a cake, no one cares. OK - that seems really lame now that I actually type it out - but it's true anyway.

This must be why I love making cakes. I think I put so much time and effort into the cake that the person must now know how important I think they are.

So - here it is - my latest cake - Thomas will be 7 tomorrow. Think he'll understand the love that went into this cake? One can only hope.

BTW - It's a Bakugan. Don't know that that is? If you don't, you clearly do not have a 7 year old boy.

Just in case you are dying to try this at home - I covered a tray with a tie dye t-shirt and then covered it in plastic wrap. (An idea I totally stole from the internet) I then made a sheet cake and used Wilton spray on frosting to make it look like a Bakugan Card. The eyeball is made from a round cake pan and the things that look like leaves are actually construction paper that Thomas colored and then we covered them in plastic wrap so they wouldn't actually touch the cake. It looks like an actual Bakugan.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What would you do?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

This question has been repeating itself like a skipping record through my head for the last few hours. While I ran tonight I began making a mental list - a benefit to running I hadn't thought of previously - time to think!

I began with selfish things I wish I could do, sing, dance, write a novel, compose music, play an instrument. Then I moved on to career choices - and came up a little empty there...maybe something to do with my self-diagnosed career ADD. Can't commit for fear I'll get bored within a year. Anyhow, then I began to think - maybe the question is supposed to be bigger - like feed all the starving children in Africa, create world peace etc. So I am beginning to come to the decision that the list has to be broken up into segments - personal, career, global etc.

Here's the beginning of mine - I think it'll be a work in progress for a while. And keep in mind, this is what I would do if I could not fail - not what I have skills to do or anything so real as that.

Personal things I'd do if I knew I could not fail:
1. Learn to play piano and guitar - because one is portable and one is not. I think it's useful to play an instrument.
2. Learn to speak Spanish fluently. There's absolutely no reason I should not do this already, you'd think after 3 years of it in high school I would have retained some right?
3. Sing. Well. Now - not so much. I don't want to be on American Idol or anything, but singing a line or two of a song in my head in the shower is about as far as I'll go now.
4. Act. Like - I wanna be in a movie. Wouldn't that be fun? I have ZERO talent in this area - but this is if I knew I couldn't fail right? :)
5. Write a book. A total fiction novel that people would be scrambling for - something that'd be made into a movie someday.
6. Get a PhD. I have NO idea what the subject would be - I just want the fancy letters after my name.
7. Run a marathon.

Career things I'd do if I knew I couldn't fail:
(this list is a little harder - it's not that I'm afraid of failure - it's that I'm afraid of boredom. It's not the same thing is it?)
1. Be a doctor - which would of course require accomplishing #6 above.
2. Run a non-profit organization with a multi-million dollar budget. One that does amazing things with children.
3. Direct a movie. this would of course be in line with #4 above - maybe if I don't have the talent to act myself, I could tell other people how to do it?
4. Be a graphic designer or marketing person.... My favorite people in the world do this for a living and I am often jealous of the things they do daily. Or - at least what I think they do daily.
5. Be a photographer - this might fall into the personal category...
Ya - I think that's it. I just come up empty when it comes to careers. That's not good.

Globally - what I'd do if I could not fail:
1. Teach women in 3rd world countries how to operate businesses that would be profitable for them and would take them out of poverty.
2. Join the Peace Corp and go somewhere I've never heard of - make a difference in the future of an entire village, community or city.

This is a good start. I like to think that there are about 500 other things I'd add here. Maybe some of it will turn into a to do before I die list. Some of it will continue to live in the fantasy land that is my head. Some things are meant to live there forever - it's a good place to be. :)

What's on your list?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Things I learned while I was alone for 6 days

6 days with no kids and no husband around.... good time to grow.

1. I cannot live on coffee, bagels and beer. My tummy hurts.
2. There is no limit to how many times you can watch 1 movie in a week. I’ve watched Twilight 3 times this week. It’s my new obsession. I even watched the special features on the DVD. What is it about that movie? Hmmm...maybe a whole different blog post.
3. I kind of like running. Tried it and could see how it’s addicting. Went out and bought running shoes and am even pondering a "learn how to run" class. For anyone that knows me - this is hilarious.
4. 6 days alone is too many unless you are on a beach. I am getting bored with myself.
5. I like the sound of children in the house. Quiet is not normal.
6. When I have all the time in the world I cannot remember a single thing I want or need to get done. What happened to the list of things I’ll do when I have time? Found the list today - but discovered what I really wanted to do was nothing. Well, at least I know what I MEANT to get done.
7. I like listening to music in the house – loudly. Classical, rock, top 40s chick music - it's all really good LOUD.
8. On the last day alone you remember all the things you meant to do all week and try to get them ALL done! That’s a very busy day. The list is still so long.
9. I don’t really read the paper. More of an online, radio, heard it through the grapevine girl. But newspaper is good for putting underneath painting projects. Oh - and finding out what movies are playing. But that's about it.
10. Something big always happens when you least expect it. My 2 year old slept like a champ in the big boy bed at gramma's house so in a moment of craziness I dismantled his crib today. Hope I don't regret that tonight when he gets home.

At the end of 6 days…I am ready to be a great wife and mom again. All rejuvenated. Hope it lasts. ☺

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Theme Song

On day four of total quiet in the house I find I am learning more and more about myself. Besides the fact that I eat really poorly when there's no one else to share meals with and that I leave a lot of dishes in the sink when there's no one here to need clean ones - I have decided that I need a theme song.

On a positive note I have been exercising this week - and because of that, I have revived my ipod. I have been adding songs and making playlists and actually using it! Finally, that Christmas present from 3 years ago is paying off Carl!

But what I have discovered is that my mood and energy are directly related to what's playing. I thought at first that maybe I could find one song that would really define me - a theme song to life. Kind of like that show Ally McBeal - where when the mousy little lawyer came into the scene Barry White would begin playing. But maybe it's more like a theme song each day. Or each week. Or maybe it's every hour. Not sure yet.

Think I'll explore some more... what's your theme song?

PS - If you read this on FB - leave a comment with your theme song, if you read this directly on my blog - leave a comment with your song too!

Energy Suck

Why is that when you have more time you get less done? Kids are gone, husband is gone, no one is shopping right now. Time is ALL I have to do for the next 2 1/2 days... and I just want to sit. Feel sluggish.

How is it that when I have more to do than I think I can ever get done - it all gets done in record time? What is this wierd phenomenon? And how do I get rid of it?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Veggie Bootie - not so bad?

I am so excited... after all this CPSIA stuff I have seriously had my bubble burst on government and how bad decisions can have far reaching effects. BUT - as it turns out, I might get a chance to build my bubble back.

When my 2 1/2 year old was only 10 months his favorite snack was Veggie Bootie. So much a favorite that we dubbed it "baby crack". He loved it - soft, salty, easily transported - what's not to love? The fact that it's billed as healthy certainly didn't hurt - and we fed it to him all the time. Well - turns out that the spinach and kale powder used to make it oh so healthy is actually from China. And guess what? - one bad batch was full of salmonella!

Mostly it was infants who got sick - not surprising since no adult I know can actually stand to eat the stuff. They said it was because infants and toddlers have weaker immune systems - but I seriously doubt anyone over the age of 5 even eats the stuff.

Anyhow, Beck went in for his 10 month well-baby check up and while we were at the dr's office he had a poopy diaper. I went to change it and the doc saw it was full of - well... let's just say it was NOT normal. His poor little bum was raw and she was immediately concerned. She decided to culture it - and lo and behold - salmonella. So guess what they do for salmonella in infants? Nothing! We didn't actually find out what it was for 3 days and by then he'd started to get better. After all this peanut recall stuff and related deaths - we were extremely fortunate.

After we found out the diagnosis, the public health dept got involved and it got a little crazy. Apparently the strain he has was very rare and another 10 cases had been reported across the country recently. I then began the wierd task of helping to find the link between my child and other children around the country sickened by the same rare strain of salmonella. After many phone calls and interviews - we hit pay dirt - Veggie Bootie! I guess all kids think its baby crack! We even ended up in the Oregonian.

Weeks later I read about this group called STOP - Safe Tables Our Priority. I contacted them because I was interested in what the long term effects of salmonella poisoning might be on Beck. For now, he's fine. but what if he has digestive problems later in life? What if he gets ill later and they don't know why? What if it can all be linked back to him having been poisoned by his favorite snack food?

I signed up for their newsletters and have been part of discussions and website updates ever since. And now I might have a chance to actually do something about the way the FDA regulates things! I have been asked to come to DC and share my (or Beck's) story with my representatives and be part of the changes happening. Apparently, since this peanut recall has happened the govt. has decided to listen to STOPand other organizations like them. They are listening to the problems in the way theFDA regulates and approves foods and manufacturers.

After the craziness with the CPSIA over the past few months, maybe my faith in government will be restored - what if they actually listen and people's lives are affected? Am I dreaming that this could actually happen? Quite possibly - but since I firmly believe that things happen for a reason - I have got to believe that Beck got sick for a good reason....and isn't change in government regulation a good reason?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Art Show at school tonight!

Tonight was an art show put on by some of the kids at my son's school. The idea was that each child was the "docent" for the parent, giving them a tour of all the art done recently in school - including many pieces done by the docents themselves. I went alone with the two kids because hubby is traveling - and it made for an interesting evening to say the least.

I think the most important feature for the evening for Thomas was the fact that he was at school when he didn't have to be. Something about the wrong timing of it all seems to amp up the energy all around. It's funny to watch - he was more excited to say "hi" to friends than anything else.

After getting over his stage fright (he definitely didn't get that from me!) he read from his script. It said things like "vincentvangogh lived in frans" and Georgess Curat's "pikchrs loked difrint upclos and far uwa". So danged cute....

We toured the pics and stoped to say hi to every friend who came along.

Beck got in on the action too - he was thrilled to be able to walk around freely in school.....something he's not usually allowed to do. At one point of course he wandered off. Took me about 20 minutes to find him - at the front door of the school pushing the button that makes the door open and close for wheelchair accessibility. I should have known that's where he was - he's two and a boy - he simply can't control the desire to push buttons...especially ones that actually have a function! Funny how sweet and innocent he seems to be here....

Here's a few more pics of Thomas and his art...

This last one is positively the sweetest thing I've ever read.... and I have no doubt it'll bring a tear to one daddy's eye. If you've ever wondered if he's paying attention and if he cares - he is, and he does.

Art is everywhere. Art is bluegrass.
Art is us. Art is a river.
Art is fire. Art is a rock.
Art is a pirate. Art is a rock band.
Art is nature. Art is the Stormbrains.
Art is animals. Art is a diamond.

Art is awesome to me.
Art is the coolest music, bluegrass.
Art is the most awesome thing that I have seen.
Art is a shooting star.

By Thomas Christoferson

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friendship - simplified

I am in major simplication mode these days....who isn't? Between cutting out expenses, slowing down on any shopping and learning to say "no" to extra activities - I think we are all learning to live a little more simply.

One of my new area of simplification is spending time only with those I TRULY want to spend time with. I really just can't handle anymore HMF's. (High Maintenance Friends) Don't have the time or the patience.

One of the people I really DO want to spend time with seems to be one the same track as me. She is good at simplifying and seems willing and ready to say "no" to extras that don't add value to her world. But every time we've tried to plan something lately, there's something in the way. Since I know she feels the same way I do about the simplication process - I am left to wonder - have I become her HMF and been simplified out of her life? Yikes!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New photo!

I took a new photo of my favorite charms... what do ya think?

Also - If you shop at Georgia Blu or Clover in Seattle, Bird by Bird in Cambridge, MA, Tippy Toes in Princeton, NJ, or Space Kiddets in New York - go in and tell them they should carry Pickled Tink! I sent them brochures this week.... can't wait to hear what they think.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Are you kidding me????

Today I was working at my store.... and this woman came in with her 2 year old daughter. She (the mother) told me ALL about her daughter being in the middle of potty training. Common conversation in the store, so - whatever. Then she launched into details of how LONG it had been since her daughter had - you know... gone #2. And she kept calling it #2. Ugh.

After asking her daughter like 15 times "Is it time?" she finally took her forcibly into our bathroom and told her they weren't going home until she went #2. Here's the best part.... to "bribe" her into sitting on the toilet she took a toy from OUR SHELVES and told her she could play with it ON THE TOILET. WTF????

In what universe is it OK to grab a toy off the stores' shelves - used or not - give to your child while she sits on the throne and then put the toy back????

I get to see the most interesting things....

Monday, February 23, 2009

To tent or not to tent

The other day one of my favorite customers, Wendy, came into my store. She told me I saved her life and she was eternally grateful. I couldn't IMAGINE what in the world she was talking about. She went on to tell me that the last time she'd been, I had told her about the crib tent I use for Beck.

She had switched her little girl (22 months) into a big girl bed because she'd begin climbing out of her crib at night and they were afraid she'd get hurt. The night they switched her was the night sleeping stopped at her house. Her little one started getting up at all hours, coming into mommies room, getting up super early in the morning, ready to play. After a few weeks, they were ALL sleep deprived.

I have to admit, when I first heard about crib tents I was appalled. I couldn't believe anyone would CAGE their child in their bed. It was jail as far as I was concerned. Oh - how judgmental we are when we have one child who is a perfect sleeper....Thomas never once climbed out of his crib and when I finally did change him into a big boy bed it took him weeks to figure out he could actually get out by himself! Ha!

Then along came Beck. Sweet as he is (see the Kiss video in my last post) - he is a climber. As evidenced by this photo...doesn't even stay put in the bath!

He began climbing out of his crib at about 20 months and by 20 months and 2 days he had perfected it. He would come into my room several times a night and be up for the day by around 5AM. Not OK. I NEED my sleep. And frankly - so does he - he turned into a sleep deprived little monster.

I wrestled with my inner demons - tent or not tent? Sleep or not sleep? Crib or big boy bed? Well - the sleep deprivation finally won and I ordered the tent.

Night one: "Zip close, zip close!" He loved it! Until I left the room and he figured out he couldn't get out. Was I a terrible mother? I let him cry and he fell asleep - until 7:30 the next morning!!!! Victory!

Night two: "night, night" Asleep in 5 minutes, until 8:00 the next morning!

Ever since - he goes through peaks and valleys - sometimes he loves the tent, other time he hates it. He doesn't cry when he goes to bed and in the morning - he wakes up around 7 usually - he is happy and well-rested.

So I had to let go of some of my previous judgment. It's good for us to do that sometimes when the other path is so clearly the better choice. Beck sleeps better, I sleep better - and now my customer Wendy, her husband and her daughter sleep better! She went home and ordered the tent, switched her little one back into the crib with the tent and are all getting the right amount of ZZZ's necessary to function!

Now if I could only figure out how long it's reasonable to keep Beck sleeping in his jr high too old?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Kiss

How cute is this?

Friday, February 20, 2009


Can't help but smile when someone says such nice things about me! :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Sweetest Things

I had the best day today. I watched 2 two year olds for 6 hours and it was REALLY fun! My son behaved like a true gentleman - giving hugs and kisses at the appropriate time to his little friend Miss A. He shared his toys, he offered her his blanket at nap-time and held her face gently when he kissed her goodbye.

Not once in all the 6 hours did he cry or whine or scream. I kept wondering where my regular terrible two child had gone and who this new child was replacing him. To be clear - he reappeared not long after little Miss A left - but those 6 hours were bliss.

I am left to wonder - what has she got that I don't? What make him behave like a little gentleman when she is around and a screaming banshee when it's his brother or just me around? Whatever it is - can I bottle that ingredient? I loved the affect it had on my household - calm, loving and sweet....maybe that's what it's like to have girls versus boys. :)

I know better though - little girls become teenage girls and I remember being one of those - not fun for anyone involved. U guess I'll have to live with my screaming banshee's.... and invite little Miss A over a lot more often!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

No rest for the weary - CPSIA rears it's ugly head again

It seems to me that there's a bit of a conspiracy going on. Why does the CPSC keep sending out press releases that say NOTHING? They have now sent out two releases which at first glance make you feel like all is right in the world. And then you keep reading. I think they must be banking on the fact that the majority of us are too darned busy to read and ENTIRE press release and will stop at the part that makes us feel better.

CPSC Press Release

For those of you following this issue (and no offense here, but if you are new to this issue you must have been on vacation for the past month, otherwise there's no excuse) you need to know that NOTHING HAS CHANGED. The law has not changed. Retail and resale stores across the country are still prohibited from selling anything that does not comply with the new lead standards.

Here's a great blog with some description for you: Domestic Diva. And she is right. In my resale store, I can sell anything I want that has not been tested - as long as it meet the new requirements. And how do I know that you might ask? Well - since I am not related to Superman (x-ray vision and flying would be SUCH cool abilities) I am going to have to test my products. We have decided to take the financial hit of renting the XRF to test everything.

Am I required to do so? No. But if I sell something - knowingly or unknowingly that has more than 600 parts per million of lead, I could be fined thousands of dollars and potentially spend 5 years in jail.

So many people have asked me "are they REALLY going to come after you?". I don't know. But do you really think I should take the risk that my children might not see me at Christmas next year?

WOULD YOU???????

Thursday, January 29, 2009

IKnowAMom Review

Yay yay yay!

Such a cool website and a huge thank you to them for the great review!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

CPSIA Blog Day

I just learned that today is officially "CPSIA Blog Day". So here I am blogging about it. I haven't stopped talking about it for weeks now. I flip-flop between annoyed, frustrated, so pissed that I can't see straight and just plain DONE with it.

It is amazing to me that there is ONE guy in Congress who has the power to help us. This article is lengthy - but a really good explanation as to why he's the one guy who can help.

As it stands now, we plan to close Stone Soup. We do have one little plan up our sleeve to try and stay open - but it's only a bandaid and an expensive one. It'll keep us open temporarily, but not long term.

My favorite thing to check each day: Check it out - the top ticker has a little place to say what he's working on each day. Everyday that I have checked it, it has this ______________. What exactly is ____________? Can I get that job? I want to work on _______________ and get paid $174,000.

Monday, January 26, 2009

From whence we came

Have you ever looked at where you came from - Truly looked? Growing up, I always just accepted life as it was. Sure, I was jealous sometimes of friends who had more money, cuter clothes, but never put much thought into it.

As an adult, I look back and see where we fell in the grand scheme of classes. Still doesn't bother me too much - just clarifies a few things. Like my love of processed cheese & miracle whip.

I was in Spokane this weekend. Visiting my g-ma. Mom was there so I thought I'd come too and do the good grand-daughter thing. I think I might have just won "grand-daughter/ daughter of the year" award. I slept in grandma's basement for two nights and hung out at a place where the word "organic" is like speaking a foreign language. We ate processed turkey and cheese sandwiches with mayo, talked about funny family stories and got caught up on all the gossip from my grandma's church family - which consists of an entire congregation of 20. We also hit the Macy's clearance center in downtown Spokane and cleaned up on deals of the century. These are coupon shoppers - people who do not buy things that are not on sale. People that are sweet, without a lot of outside interests beyond their 4 walls.

It's good to go back to places from whence we came - it gives you a good dose of humbleness. If nothing else, it clarifies things - like why you love processed cheese and miracle whip.

Friday, January 23, 2009

My government bubble is burst

Seriously, I am tired of talking about this. CPSIA is going to affect EVERY single person in the country who sells, makes, loans or in any way distributes children's items. Little ole-gramma making baby blankets? Affects her too. Especially if she adds any buttons or sequins - look out!

I continue to be amazed at the people I talk to everyday who still think this law is only affecting people who import from China. Or who haven't even HEARD of this law. Are you living under a rock? Apparently a LOT of people are - judging from the conversations I've had today.

Google it, get informed, get out of your bubble. I did. I was pretty happy floating along in my naive little world. Thought the government was here to help, not harm. I mean - at least in the general sense. I do have a new respect for what Seantors do everyday - but I also now have a very sad view of what happens because of what they do.

Here's a good list of what this law affects: (taken from
These are just some of the categories of products this law will affect:

books, including library books
infant equipment
childcare supplies including diapers
children’s clothing including babies to age 12
all toys for children birth to 12
stuffed animals
birthday party goods, decorations, supplies
wooden “natural” toys
hand-made children’s toys/goods/crafts
homeschooling materials
art and school supplies for children
children’s musical instruments
teaching materials and textbooks
bicycles and outdoor equipment for children
resale and consignment clothing and products
prizes/incentive items for children
bedroom furniture items and bedding
girls’ jewelry and dress up items
hand made baby blankets, booties, and hats
religious education products
sporting equipment designed for children
science and math hands-on teaching tools
kindergarten and preschool learning through play items
children’s shoes, backpacks and other accessories

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy New Year

It's January 12th and the new year is already so full! I have my new wholesale brochures ready to go - can't wait to mail them out. Although I am a little scared...what happens if I actually get orders? Yikes!

School is back in session so the days are quieter - although with a 2 year old, quiet is a relative term. When did the Terrible Two's REALLY get terrible? Ugh. Some days I think I may lose my mind - or, I might have already.

The most exciting thing I can think of right now is that I got 2 international orders this year! One came from the UK, as a gift for someone in California. The other came from California as a gift for someone in the UK - neither order is related - total fluke. Kind of exciting though! :)

Here's my big dilemma - I need new color names. What I am doing is NOT working. I have these AWESOME patterns for my charms, but the names of the colors are horrid and don't do the patterns justice. If you are so inclined and feeling creative - check out my new pics in my gallery. See some of the cool patterns and come up with some cool names! Anyone who sends me a suggestion that I use will get a free necklace and charm! How's that for a New Year incentive?