Sunday, January 29, 2012


So, I feel like we're finally more-or-less moved into our duplex.  Finally.  And I'm going to continue to ignore that pile of boxes in the garage that suggests otherwise.  Because, at long last, we have a craft room set up.  It small(ish), and in the unfinished portion of our basement, but you know what?  It's a craft room! In my home!!! So, yeah, garage boxes be darned.  We are moved in.  And I have been putting that craft room to use fairly regularly.

First, I made this onesie for my tiny little niece, Anikah:

This made a perfect gift for her baptism. Especially because it's so true!

And that turned out so well that I made shirts for all of my sister's kids:
One for each of the kids - Valin, Liam, Declan, Joseph, and Anikah.

And then decided that Miles needed something:
This is so very true.  And Miles helped with the paint. :)

After awhile, I decided that I had made enough shirts.  I was ready to tackle something else.  Like knitting:

My first sampler.  I've since learned to make neater stitches,
and finish it off better.

I mastered that in about two weeks, and thought, "What the hell, might as well learn to crochet, as well:
The beginnings of a hat.  Probably for Anikah. :)
But, not all of my crochet turned out to be quite so nice, so I found I could make these cute little flowers:
This was an experiment that turned out better than I could have hoped.

And make them into adorable head bands for - you guessed it - Anikah!
Can't wait to see this on her tiny red head. :)

I may be a little excited about my craft room. . .

P.S. If you like these items, check out my Etsy store: Amara's Vardo

Friday, January 27, 2012

30 by 30 Update

  1. Read thirty books off of the list of top 100 banned books. - Two down!  And getting ready to pick up "Brave New World" from the library
  2. Make thirty crafts I have not tried before.  Bonus points if each serves a practical purpose. - Five down.
  3. Choreograph a dance for my children's group.  All by myself. - Maybe this summer. . .
  4. Take 30,000 pictures. (Considering I've taken well over 3,000 since I got my camera in May, this is not necessarily an impractical goal.) - 2,142 pictures taken.  I really need to get on this. . .
  5. Cook or bake 30 dishes I have never made before. - So far, one.  Need to get on this, too.
  6. Watch 30 classic movies I've never seen. - Two down, with three more sitting on the shelf waiting for me.  Just have to find time to watch them.  And not get distracted by HGTV. . .
  7. Learn to knit or crochet. - I taught myself to knit!  Update on this is pending.
  8. Take a dance lesson, or preferably, a dance class. - Not yet.  I am taking yoga, though?  Maybe that counts as really slow dancing?
  9. Take Miles to a new museum/event/activity/experience at least once a month. - so far, so good
  10. Simplify my life by getting rid of things I do not need. - I feel like this is going REALLY well.  I spent yesterday cleaning out our storage room, and ended up with 4 bags of trash, and a box bound for Goodwill.
  11. Organize all of our household paperwork, and keep up on it. Um, yeah. . . Should probably do that. .  .
  12. Start my own business.  Even if it's just selling a few craft items online from time to time. - Done!
  13. Finish illustrating the children's book I wrote in college. - Not even started.
  14. Open a savings account for Miles. - I have the money set aside. Trying to decide on the type of account.
  15. Send birthday cards to everyone in my immediate circle of family/friends for at least one year. - I keep forgetting! Argh!
  16. Take Dominic through obedience classes. Be a good pet owner to my cat, Nikko. - Definitely working on this.
  17. Decide if/when I'm going to go back for my Master's degree, and what I'm going to study. - This seems so unimportant right now.  I may decide against any more formal education, other than a few classes here and there in the future. . .
  18. Audition for a musical. - The opportunity hasn't arisen, yet.
  19. Quit my Festival job and become a full-time stay-at-home mom. Find a better balance between work and mommyhood. - A plan to (hopefully) accomplish this is already in the works.
  20. Compile my music collection into one place. - I have started, but wow, is it random and everwhere.
  21. Get a digital copy of every important photograph I have, and store them in a safe place. - Again, started, but incomplete.
  22. Finish my digital family tree. - Oh.  I had forgotten about this completely. . .
  23. Exercise every single day for at least 30 days. - Started this morning!
  24. Learn at least 30 new signs for use at Special Olympics. - Two down!
  25. Learn to play at least ten new games. - Two down!
  26. Become more involved in the financial planning of our household. - Yes.  Still need to become even more involved.
  27. Set up our wills, and arrange for custody of Miles, should anything unfortunate happen. - Nope.  Haven't even thought about it.
  28. Find a church where my family is comfortable, and become an active member. - Hopefully soon. :(
  29. Participate in a flash mob. - DONE!
  30. Contact at least ten of my teachers from elementary, middle, high school, and college, and tell them how they have influenced my life. - 3 of 10 contacted. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012


When I tell people I have PPA and panic attacks, I know what they envision.  They envision a hyperventilating woman hiding in a corner trying to breathe.  I know, because that's how I envision panic attacks.  And I've had my fair share of those.  But those are easy to deal with.  I recognize them immediately, talk myself through it, and take a Xanax if I need it.  After a little while, I feel loopy, but not panicked.  Problem solved.

Unfortunately, that's not always how my panic attacks happen.  Often, my panic is hidden behind a calm facade of just feeling (and acting) distant.  A fog rolls in and clouds my mind, making it difficult to focus on anything.  My brain immediately searches out any stimulus, and focuses on it to the point of shutting off everything else.  It is a coping mechanism I learned as a child - if something is worrying me, I simply ignore it and try to shove it out of my mind.

The problem is, as an adult, I often don't recognize that this is what I'm doing.  It happens so automatically that I don't realize it until I finally look up to see that several hours have passed without feeling 'present' at all.  I know it looks like laziness, or worse, like I don't want to spend time with my family.  But in reality, my brain has gone on autopilot and is fighting the panic in the only way it knows how - by avoiding it.  And when I 'wake up' to the world around me, I feel terrible for wasting all of that precious time with the ones I love most.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Crazy Busy Lovely Weekend

The in-laws visited, and spent all day Saturday with us.  It was so wonderful to have them here, and Miles really loved it, too.  He played with GrandMary on the kitchen floor. . .

 And proved himself to be an excellent host by making and offering popcorn for everyone.

And nearly broke GrandDad by making him be a horsie.

All in all, I couldn't ask for more. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dear Miles,

I feel slightly terrible about not doing these letters more often.  The time is passing so very quickly, and I would love to capture it all in words and pictures.  But you and me?  We're just too darn busy for that!
You are so much fun right now.  You've always been fun, but now, you delight me in every way, multiple times a day.  I am impressed by your tenacity, your gentleness, and your energy.  So many contradictions in such a tiny body.  Though, not so tiny as you once were.  You are now three feet tall and weigh 26 pounds.  Looking at you and your fearlessness and coordination, it is hard to believe that just over two years ago you weighed less than a third of what you do now, and were so tiny that you fit snugly in the crook of my arm.  My helpless baby has become a strong, healthy, active little boy.
Every day, you look and act more and more grown up.  You love to sing your alphabet, and count, and help with everything.  You love making phone calls, and try to convince Mommy's phone to "Call Daddy".  You give hugs and kisses to everyone before we leave anywhere.  And even if we're just leaving the park, you make sure to say, "Bye, Park.  Bye, Play."
You love to ride on anything with wheels.  You love to wrestle with Potts, or just cuddle up on top of him while you watch Elmo.  You wear a bright red hard hat around the house, brandishing a sword at people and saying, "Puss" [in Boots].  You tickle people.  And laugh with them.  You dance to every single song you recognize, and many you don't.  You love to take walks, explaining to me everything you see along the way.  And you make my heart melt when you take hold of my hand to lead me off on another adventure.
I am so happy, and so blessed, to join in your adventures.  Thank you for being you.  You make me a better me.
Love you, so very much,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Photos!

"I cooohdddd" [I'm cold]

Enjoying the spring-like weather on Saturday.

Playing in the car on Sunday.

Blue eyes. Melt.

Short-sleeved shirts in January.  Ah, the joys of the midwest.*

Sweet, beautiful naptime.

*The following day, the high was 27 degrees.  Ah, the joys of the midwest.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thinking Spot

One of the best things about our new home is that the windows facing the street are right at toddler level.  We actually gave Miles the master bedroom partially for this reason.*  He loves to stand at the window (especially in the living room, like he is here, where there are fewer distractions), and just stare.  He loves when the school bus drops off the kids in the afternoon - right across the street.  He waits on trash day for the garbage truck to come by.  He watches the people walking their dogs, the cars zooming past, and the kids riding bikes.

And all the while, he looks like he does in this picture.  Thoughtful.  Distant, yet aware.  I like to think of this as his own personal thinking spot.  A place where his little toddler mind can soak up the sights and sounds of our neighborhood.  A quiet, pleasant spot where his brain can process all of the myriad information that has inundated him throughout the day.

Occasionally, he will point things out to me, or tell me about what he sees. "Mom-mom! Dog!" or "Cooo Bus!". Most times, though, he simply stands there, leaning on the window, contemplating the world.

*The other reason was that all of his stuff wouldn't have fit in the other bedroom.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I hate them.  They're awful.  I mean, really.  How many Land Before Times are necessary before they get the idea that we, the public, are over it?  I have always avoided sequels to decent shows, when it's obvious that they were only done for money.

Unfortunately, I know have a two-year-old, who adores a large green ogre named Shrek.  And after the first two-hundred times of watching the original, I gave in and watched part two (which Stacey owns).  Which Miles promptly fell in love with.  And watched a few hundred times.

There comes a point in every person's life when reality wins out over ideals.  Watching an ogre meet his in-laws for the thousandth time was mine.  I caved, and asked for parts three and four for Miles for Christmas.  Now, when he wants 'Feck, I can at least cycle through four different movies, so that I'm not reciting every line word for word in my sleep.  I still hate franchises.  But, I understand them, now.  And I endorse them with my dollars.

But once my son is past this stage of life, I plan to go back to boycotting them again.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Turning Points

During the run of Festival, I didn't get a chance to update my blog all that often.  And because of that, I never got to share one of the most amazing stories of the season with all of you.

I have mentioned that I work with performers.  For the most part, they are fantastic.  I consider many of them friends.  But there are 350 of them, and in a crowd that large, there are bound to be issues.  There are always  whiners, always asking why things can't change, but never grasping the scope of the Festival as a whole.  The 'problem children' as I jokingly call them, who turn in their paperwork mere hours before the gates open.  And, worst of all, the people who are truly helpful and kind, but really need more money that isn't in our budget.  Three seasons of this had worn me down.  I was burnt out, and doubting I would ever return to this position.

And then Opening Day happened.  A performer became irate with me over an issue that should have been dealt with ahead of time.  Instead, I found myself calmly repeating the words, "I cannot take care of it today, but I will fix it before next weekend," while said performer proceeded to cuss me out at top volume.  His face was so close to mine that I could feel the spittle landing on my cheeks.  I strove to keep calm.

Then, he said the words I could not ignore, "You are just a bitch.  You've always been a bitch, and that's all you'll ever be."

Let me back up a moment and talk of all the hours I had put in over the past three seasons trying to make sure that this performer's contract was acceptable.  All of the effort I put into trying to help find him a carpool, since he lives an hour away.  All of the conversations I had with him to help mediate issues he was having with other performers, always giving him the benefit of the doubt.  All of that work and kindness repaid with one word: Bitch.

I turned on my heel and walked away, needing a few moments to clear my head, trying desperately not to respond with the anger that had boiled up, and was about to spill over.  I quickly found my boss and explained what had happened, and asked if I was out of line to fire him.  My boss said that it was absolutely within my power to fire him, and that I should do so, if I felt the need.

I marched back, two of my performers flanking me, trying to prevent the fire they could see behind my eyes from getting the better of me.  And I fired that nasty, thankless, ungrateful jerk right there.  He continued to scream at me, the cussing becoming more and more intense as I asked him again and again to leave, striving not to respond when he pushed me.  At one point, I nearly punched him in the face, but Suzanne stopped my hand and whispered, "He's not worth it."  I turned and looked behind me, trying to contain my anger.

And that's when everything changed.

A ring of performers surrounded me, nearly circling the now-former performer.  And behind that ring, was another.  And another.  And behind that, I could feel the energy of all of the performers who had gathered for a meeting.  Suddenly, I had no desire to hit anyone.

"You may leave now, or I can call security," I said calmly, picking up my radio.  He turned to leave, and I watched as two of my performers followed him to make sure he really did.  Then, when he was out of sight, I collapsed in a heap, holding back tears.  I breathed, trying to center myself, trying to focus on the many, rather than the one.

Then, someone from the crowd said, "You did good.  I would have punched him."  Several more chimed in with similar thoughts, showing their support for me and my choices.  And after the meeting, many of my performers stopped me to give me hugs.

And in that moment, I knew I would stay.


Every once in awhile, as I sit here in my comfy brown chair, with my K-State blanket on, and the window open to reveal a beautiful morning, I realize just how lucky I am.

I live in a safe neighborhood, in a home that is more than sufficient for our needs.

I have a gorgeous kitchen, which I groan about cleaning, until I remember that it is stocked full of delicious food and all of the amenities to make it even more delicious.

I have a son who whines when he is sick, but I have access to some of the best medical care in the world telling me that this too shall pass.

I have a son that I waited for and prayed for and yearned for.  A son who is everything I could ever want in a child and more.

I have a husband who works his tail off to make sure that we have the best of everything, and then comes home to help with the housework.

I have friends who get it, and understand that the important things in life are experiences and people, not things.

I have family - by blood, by marriage, and by choice - who are always there when I need them.  No matter what.

I have a cat who makes me crazy when she interferes with my crafting or winds between my feet while I'm making dinner, but she is also one of the most loyal and affectionate cats I have ever met.

I have the internet, a wealth of knowledge and support at my fingertips, whenever I want it or need it.

I have an education that has helped me become the person I am today, even though it wasn't exactly the education I wanted to get, sometimes.

In this world, so many suffer.  So many struggle.  So many are hungry or broken or destitute.  And while I have plenty of minor inconveniences, I am blessed to not count myself among the many.

This world has been good to me.  And if you're reading this, it has been good to you, too.  Count your blessings.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Whine

Goodness, but I hate it when Miles is sick.  At first, it's all warm toddler cuddles and tons of sleeping all snuggled together.  And then the worst is over and he becomes impossible.  He loses none of his energy and all of his patience (what little a two-year-old has to begin with).  And worst of all, is The Whine.

I'm not talking about that whiny voice that all toddlers get when they want something.  No, this is more of a long-term, consistent, unending whine every time he opens his mouth.  And half the time without opening his mouth.  Seriously.

This morning, he asked if he could have a cookie.  He had eaten all of his breakfast, so I said yes.  He then proceeded to whine at me for five full minutes because I asked him to keep it in the kitchen - which is the standard rule for all food.

He whines when I ask him a question.  When I change him.  When he's hungry.  When I wipe his nose.  When he wants me to turn the television on (or off).  When I walk more than five feet from him.  When I pack him up to go bye-bye.  When I tell him no, we can't go bye-bye right now.

We're on day eight of The Whine, and Mommy is about to lose it.

[And Mom, before you say it, yes, I remember how whiny I was when I was sick (and the rest of the time, probably).  And I'm sorry.  You are a saint for not strangling me before I was six.]

P.S. Yes, he has been to the doctor.  She says it's a cold.  Nothing more.  Just a wait-it-out sort of thing.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Photos!

My happy boy. 

Smiling while reading.

Love that boy.

Long Week

I keep meaning to sit down to the computer this week, and tell you what is going on in our world.  But here's the problem: our world has been full of toddler sickies.  Nothing serious, just a low-grade fever, a tad bit of puking, and a cough.  But, Miles spent two full days clinging to me (including overnight, which meant no sleep for Mommy).

Even now, I type this one-handed as the Boy sits holding my arm tightly around him.

So, yeah.  I'll write more when he's back to his normal, non-clingy self. Until then, I'm trying to enjoy the rare cuddles. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I have a niece!

After six nephews, I finally have a niece.

Anikah Marie was born at 9:55 am yesterday.  I got to hold her for the first time today.  She is the most beautiful little girl I've ever seen, with a full head of coppery red hair.  It took all of two microseconds for me to fall completely in love with her.  And she already has all four of her older brothers wrapped around her tiny, perfect hands.

I will share pictures as soon as I clear it with her Mommy and Daddy.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


I'm not much for resolutions.  Most times, they are forgotten within a day or two, never to be pursued.  So, rather than resolutions, I have begun a tradition of working on one thing for a year.

My first year of doing this, my resolution was simply to Be Nice.  I have a bad habit of speaking my mind, even when I should keep my mouth shut.  I decided that for one year, I was going to try biting my tongue when the situation called for it.

Three weeks into that year, I discovered that I was pregnant with Miles.  For those of you who weren't around for that, let's just say that the hormones surging through my body, combined with my utter hatred of pregnancy in general meant that I was cranky for most of that year.  And that was the year I assistant directed a musical as well.  I had zero patience for drama, and spent much of my summer with actors.  Not exactly a good environment for being nice.  But, I managed.  And I came out with a healthier understanding of how to play the politics when the situation dictated.

After that fiasco, I gave myself a year off from resolutions.  No sense tempting fate.

In 2011, my resolution was to Get Organized.  And, of course, 2011 turned out to be one of the busiest, most tumultuous years in memory.  However, as 2011 drew to a close, organization was beginning to emerge.

So, with two victories under my belt, I am confident in my ability to keep my 2012 resolution.

Be Healthier.

That's it.  Eat a little better, maybe.  Join a gym.  Spend less time in front of the television, and more time moving.  Take my meds on time every day.  A greater variety of foods.  If I can do any of these, this will be a successful year.

So, here goes.  Bring it, 2012!