Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Is Santa Claus Coming to Town?

In the middle of Handbag Frenzy, I took a long moment to slow down and enjoy my kids and an old favorite, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I'm sure they both have seen it before but neither remembered it. Aaron was suprised to see that it was created using "stop action photography", nothing in his world is made that way anymore, except for his "cousin's" cool home-made Lego movies. I was worried the boys would think the movie was lame, not enough action and excitement for the "in your face world" in which they live. Surprisingly, they both sat relatively still and watched the entire show and we had some good holiday-ish family time together.

Even though I've been a card carrying Scrooge for a number of years, I am officially excited to watch more of my favorite shows from the good ol' days with my kids. Oh, I love the Grinch, always have (the OLD one, NOT the dumb one with Jim Carrey - an american travesty!!!) and Rudolph is fun, I especially love Hermie who wants to be a Dentist. But my All Time Favorite Christmas show is The Year Without a Santa Claus. It's not as widely known as the others but it's awesome - a true "can't miss". I can sing along with every song, including the catchy "I'm Mr. Heat Miser". I'm sure it's incredibly annoying to be in the same room with me!

Now I'm wondering what happened to The Little Drummer Boy. Does anyone remember that one? I think it was a good one but it's been a hundred years since I've seen it. My husband was especially fond of the part where the Ox and Lamb keep time.

Could it by that my renewed affection for these old shows is a sign that my Scrooge-y ways are coming to an end? I have already realized that I am much happier this year because I have less shopping to do (I know what all the women on my list are getting!! I'll give you a hint, it starts with an "H"! No shopping required for all of those gifts!)

Maybe I'll even go caroleing this year! I'll start us off with an oldie but a goodie..."I'm Mr. Heat Miser, I'm Mr. Sun. I'm Mr. Green Christmas, I'm Mr. Hundred and One. Friends call me Heat Miser, whatever I touch starts to melt in my clutch. I'm too much!" Second verse, Everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No Rest for the Wicked

Suddenly I find myself knee-deep in the "crazy busy" season and I don't know how I got here. There are so many things to keep track of, so many decisions to make and so many obligations to fulfill.

For example, even though I haven't written much about it, I am very much trying to get Sunshine Handbags off the ground. I've been spending a lot of time during recent months trying to learn the ins and outs of Etsy, the on-line location of my shop, and I still haven't figured out the magic yet. Sales are elusive in my shop and they are for many other Etsians according to the frustrated comments I read. Some blame the economy, some say Etsy is over-saturated with shops, others suggest we're just not out there promoting ourselves enough. I'm sure all reasons can be applied to me.

On a much more positive note, two of my dear friends have placed orders for a total of FIVE handbags!! This is super exciting for me because the more bags I have out in the world, the more people will see how much fun they are to own and carry and soon everyone will want one (or several!). Three of my bags will be going international to Portugal to live with Sergio's family! So very cosmopolitan, I can hardly stand it!!

In between the times that I'm sewing my fingers to the bones, I've been busy preparing for the coming holidays. Our Thanksgiving will be quiet this year with just the four of us. The Chicago side of our family will stay home to spend time with my brother-in-law who is recovering from very successful brain surgery. Hooray for Tom! Christmas won't be nearly as quiet as we'll travel to Chicago for a day or two and then will come home to welcome my sister and her family and my father, stepmother and the rest of that gang for a rowdy New Year celebration. Things should get back to normal here by mid January, if we're lucky.

As always, I have Evan here to bring levity to the chaos. Last night at dinner we were discussing his new career path as a "camera operator" (I wasn't aware that he even knew that was an actual occupation, but he's mentioned it several times at school and at home-go figure). He stated that when he grows up and becomes a camera operator he's going to change his name to Eric The Camera Operator. To which I replied, "why wouldn't you be Flynn The Camera Operator?" (confused? see my entry "If it's wednesday I must be Flynn"). Then Aaron, my twelve year old sometimes voice of reason, gives both of us an exasperated look and says, "why can't he just be EVAN the camera operator?
Well, that just makes too much sense and isn't any fun at all, that's why.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

If It's Wednesday, I Must Be Flynn

When Evan was preparing for his 6th Birthday celebration earlier this year, one of his classroom projects was to answer a questionaire provided by his teacher. There were questions on the list that covered the usual topics, favorite this and favorite that, but one question was really unique -"What other names did your parents consider for you before choosing the name you have now".

Evan was due to arrive in mid-June so we started working on names in early March, figuring that gave us plenty of time to argue about it. We worked our way through the baby name book a hundred times and we compiled a list of quality candidates but no name really grabbed us and said "Yes!" We didn't argue over them, we just couldn't pick one. So, in the spirit of March Madness Basketball, we decided to pull names out of a hat, seed them like a tournament and go from there. Each bracket had an agreed upon winner and at the end we had an Evan and a Lucas in the final game. Evan came in first, Lucas won the middle name trophy.

I kept the paper with the "tournament of names" on it tucked inside Evan's baby book so I pulled it out to help me complete the questionaire. Evan was looking over my shoulder as I was filling it out, reading the names as I went along. Cooper, Carter, Flynn, Jack...wait. Flynn? Flynn? Why didn't you name me Flynn. I like Flynn! Mom, I'm supposed to be FLYNN!!!!!

Now, I have tried in vain for MONTHS to convince him that Evan is a really good name, that he doesn't seem like a Flynn at all, but he's not budging. He has actually asked me to find out what's involved in legally changing his name to Flynn. He's threatened to tell his teacher and classmates to call him Flynn. You'd think a little six-year old would give up the good fight after a while, and he has for short periods of time, but out of the blue it will come up again and he'll start asking us to call him Flynn.

I have tried to compromise, mostly by suggesting that Flynn be his special nickname that only his family members use. Not good enough. I've gotten tough with him and told him I'm not changing his name, no how, no way. That only brings tears. So, most recently I've tried to suggest that we will call him Flynn only on the weekends when he's at home all day. That was countered swiftly with the exact opposite - Flynn during the week and Evan on the weekends. Nope. Can't do it. Ok, how about Flynn on Wednesdays AND the weekend, Evan the rest of the time.

Fine, I give in. I'll give it a try, but only at home. At school you're Evan Lucas and no one else. I'm not promising to remember it all the time, in fact, you're probably going to have to remind me every time I slip up (until you get tired of reminding me and just give up). OK, deal.

Good night, Evan. I mean Flynn. I love you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Make Time for the Yummy Things in Life

It's been a typical busy week with sewing, yard work, mothering, two boys scouting. Trying to find the good things in life sometimes takes more work than seems right, other times it's as easy as a date with a friend at a local coffee shop.
Usually my drink of choice is some kind of decaf latte, often vanilla, but definitely decaf. But not today. Nope, it's autumn and that means my favorite shop now has, for a limited time, PUMPKIN FRAPPES!!!! I really cannot convey to you just how wonderful this drink is. It is absolutely sinful, in taste and calories, and I (should) only allow myself one per season. The drink combines the perfect flavors of a fabulous, ingenius even, Pumpkin/Gingersnap ice cream, milk and chai mix (powdered, I think?). Of course, whipped cream on top. It's served in a big cup with a domed lid and has a straw that is as big around as my pointer finger- so you don't have to work too hard to slurp up the creamy goodness.
If I was a blogger with any street cred at all I'd be able to post a picture of this wonderful concoction. I should have. You really need to see it. Maybe it's a good excuse to go get another one tomorrow!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Bed of Hot Mama Love

Our six year old son, Evan, has started crawling into our bed in the very early hours of the morning. This used to be a big problem a few years ago because we couldn't break him of his need to sleep with us, and believe me, he was the only one getting any sleep. Finally, after countless nights of carrying him back to bed every couple hours, something clicked and he started staying in his bed all night.
Now he's back and I have to admit I don't hate it all that much. Most nights his dad is sleeping in a hotel far away and I have a king-sized bed all to myself, and I get a little lonely. I kind of look forward to the clanging sounds from down the hall as he climbs out of his bunk bed, the familiar sounds of his detour to the bathroom and the half leap into my bed, flinging "stinky"(his blankie) in first like a lifeline.
The other day, on our way to school, I asked him why he's taken to visiting me in the pre-dawn hours. His answer was rather simple - it's cold in his bed and he wants to get warm. I told him I was hoping it was because he needed some love, not just a "warm mama bed". To which he smartly replied, "maybe I come for the bed of Hot Mama Love". Well put, sort of.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Leaf me alone!

I wish there was a store that sold time. I would buy as much as I could afford. Not the "I only have six weeks to live" kind of time - that's a whole different kind of time. I just want the "I can't get it all done in one day" kind of time. I imagine that particular type of time would be cheaper than the others, maybe I could pay for it with the loose change at the bottom of my bag.

What would I do with my extra time? Well, for starters, I would sew (of course). I really want to have enough handbags on my Etsy shop that I require a "page two". I have this crazy belief that as soon as I reach that additional page, the sales will start flowing in. I have nothing scientific to base this on, it just seems like those other purse makers who are selling TONS on Etsy have more than one page of stuff. So, to join the ranks, I must have more stuff to sell just like them.

Another reason I would like to purchase time has nothing to do with purses but has everything to do with leaf season. We have twelve very old, very large oak trees in our yard. You simply cannot imagine the vast amount of leaves these twelve trees shed onto my yard each fall. To add insult to injury, there is also a gigantic yellow maple that is technically not in our yard but somehow manages to bend over and deposit all of it's leaves into our yard, too.

My weapon against the enemy is a fancy leaf sucking machine that looks like a mower but it doesn't mow. All it does is suck, mulch and bag. Last year I had over 80 (that's EIGHT ZERO) bags of leaves at the curb. I'll be out in the yard every other day, maybe every third day, for six straight weeks, walking along sucking the leaves and the whole time I'm out there the trees are mocking me, dropping leaves so fast that the path behind me is already ankle deep.

Sadly, I doubt I'll be able to make many handbags during leaf season. I routinely avoid all kinds of household chores to get some sewing time in, and I don't even feel very guilty about it, mostly because nobody but my kids know about it. However, when I ignore the leaves for more than a few hours, the whole neighborhood knows and then I feel like the neighborhood slacker mom/yard lady.

So, because my google searches still haven't found anyone with time for sale, it will probably be mid November before I can get to the elusive "page two". Until then, you can find me out in the yard. And if you are lucky enough to have time to spare, bring a rake.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Handbags are a funny thing

Ever since I started this "bag business" I've been paying a lot of attention to the type of bag women out there choose to carry. I believe there is a whole psychology around bags.

For example, my mother says she doesn't carry a bag unless it has at least two outside zippered pockets. My friend Andi won't consider carrying a purse unless it zips completely closed. My sister, when she's without small child and diaper bag, prefers bags so small I find them completely impractical. Chris has never owned more than one purse at a time (until now, of course!) and Kelli, well, let's just say the more bling and signature name brand hoo-ha, the better.

If you knew these wonderful people as I do , you'd see there is a stong connection between their personalities and the bags they own. Options that would be defended as strictly utilitarian are usually more telling to their lives and who they really are. You may think you're attracted to that purse because it matches the jacket you just bought but chances are, there is something about that bag that speaks for you, tells the public who you really are, if they are paying attention.

The question is, what do I do with this information. I love the diversity of my circle of friends but I can't possibly tailor a bag for each individual purse-onality, can I? How does one "appeal to the masses"?

My kids once told me I needed to have this purse they saw on tv that starts out small but expands as you add things to it. By the time the purse is completely full, it can hold your laptop, your labradoodle and a lap dancer, all in one "easy to carry" genuine corinthian leather bag. If only life were that simple.

I'm off to ponder what kind of bag I'll make for Sarah Palin...perhaps something with lots of hidden pockets on the inside but a big one on the front for her bible.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You have no idea...

Wow. I am blogging. OK, that might not impress many of you, but it's a really big deal for me. Trust me. Not only have I managed to successfully get here, to this point where I'm typing, but today I also started my own flickr.com spot. That's probably not even what "cool" people call it - a flickr.com spot. But that's what I'm calling it and I did it all by myself.

My motivation for all of this internet adventure is my newest obsession, making and selling handbags. Sunshine Handbags. This is actually my second attempt at creating some type of stay-at-home mom business out of a hobby. That first time I spent weeks trying to come up with a name for my jewelry business, spending hours on-line and at a more desperate hour I even paged through a thesaurus for ideas! Because, I thought, it all starts with a name, and it needs to be PERFECT. I bugged my family members and friends for their opinions and finally settled on something that in truth probably wasn't worthy of such a long process. Certainly my short-lived business wasn't worth the effort in the end. Except for the "learning experience" part of the whole deal, of course.

When it came time to give this new baby a name, I never hesitated, never asked anyone for advice, it just was there, waiting for me to announce it. Sunshine Handbags. I don't even use the word Handbag in my everyday vernacular. I have always called what I carry a "purse" as in, "honey, do you know where my purse is". But Handbag sounds important, maybe a little old-fashioned, like something you don't want to get dirty or mussed up or set on the sticky floor of a movie theatre or bar. It sounds like something that is hand-sewn, tailored even. And that is essentially what my bags are. On the inside, they might end up carrying your used kleenexes and old grocery receipts, but on the outside, they look like a Handbag. A thing of style.

However, I'm not delusional enough to think my bags will be in the same league as a Dooney and Bourke, Coach or Prada. No, they are handmade, don't contain any type of tanned animal hide or super fancy buckles or chains. So, I am taking my handbags to a marketplace where people are not looking for a Coach or Prada anything. I'm joining the multitudes of other artists who have found the wonderful world of ETSY. A world where hand-crafted items are considered a luxury, a special gift. Where people, some of whom only loosely consider themselves an "artist" can be a part of a group where everyone has this unexplainable need to just create. And a need to make some money to enable them to keep feeding the creative mind with supplies and ideas.

So, I have this blog, I have my etsy shop, I have a flickr account. I'm going to try not to make this a SAHM blog. That is a big part of my life and I no doubt will entertain you with stories about my kids from time to time, but I also hope to help expand my creative thoughts here, get ideas from others and spread the good word of Sunshine Handbags!