Friday, November 14, 2008

Count to Three

Three years ago today, I became the mother to a daughter.

Happy Birthday, Stinkerbell.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Recycled Christmas Crafts: Ornaments

I've discovered a fun new way to fuel my passion with handmade crafts. Recycled Christmas ornaments!
No, not antique, re-gifted or one-man's-trash-is-another-man's-treasure "Hey look what I found in the dumpster!" sort of recylced.
But a way to find NEW uses for those things that seemed to have fulfilled their only purpose.
For the past few years those things have been light bulbs and baby food jars.
(I can't believe I haven't blogged about these before, as least I don't think I have as I can't seem to find the pages ANYWHERE but if I am repeating myself forgive me for I know not what I do. Having babies makes your brains fall out.)
(Back to the ornaments!)
They're fun, easy and best of all CHEAP & oh-so GREEN!
The internetz is full of ideas and patterns. With a little searching you're sure to find a project you can do, or become inspired to make up one of your own.
PAY ATTENTION 'cuz I am about to divulge all of my secrets to you.

Last year, inspired by my daughter's love of all things Mumble, I made this Penguin ornament:

I adapted and simplified the pattern from several other penguin light bulb ornaments I found online. The only materials needed were the paints and toddler socks which were used for the hats. (Trimmed, cuffed over and hot glued into place then tied off with the silver rope ribbing.) I make and give ornaments as gifts every year to family and friends, and since socks come in so many different colors, each of these little guys was able to get his own color/patterned hat!

The year before I had an infant who was making her way into solid foods. I had baby food coming out of my EARS! Literally and figuratively. So I found a way to re-use the jars and made these tealight ornaments:

I made this one up as I went along. Basic instructions can be found at the bottom of this post. Oh yeah, and I still have BOXES of these jars stored in my sunroom thanks to donations from the Moms in my daughter's playgroup so... yeah, there WILL be more baby food jar ornaments for years to come.

And this is the bugger that started it all, in 2004.

Instructions for The Grinch light bulb ornament can be found here. All I have to say about this is THANK GAWD for tracing paper! This was the most involved of all the paint jobs I have ever done. But totally worth it.

Baby Food Jar Snowman Ornament/Tea Light Holder

Start with a clean stage 1 baby food far (label removed).
Cover it with the paint-on snow. Apply it thick and sloppy to give it texture.
Let dry overnight.
Meanwhile... make little carrot noses out of orange molding clay (bake according to package directions).
Next day, use black dimensional fabric paint to dot on eyes and mouth and use a dab of hot-glue to attach the nose.
Wrap soldering wire around top of the jar and bend into hanger.
Hot glue black velvet ribbon around the top.
Drop in a battery-operated tea light. Hang on tree, place on your mantel or shelf and enjoy! We always put ours on tree first, then keep it out as Winter decoration once the tree is tossed.
(Note: We tried using a real tea light but the wire hanger gets VERY hot.)

Who says it's not easy being green?
As for this year, you'll just have to wait and see.
(Mostly because I have no idea what I will be making yet.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008


May they always be this ignorant to the troubles and turmoils of the life around them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Custody & Visitation: Kids Are People Too

Why does Mommy get all of the holidays?
"Because that's what the court papers say, babe."

Three years ago, when Maleficent lost custody she had written into the visitation stipulation that she be able to spend every school holiday with Cinderella.
Every one. From 11am to 5pm.
Until this year, it never posed that much of a problem. There were a few times when my plans had to be altered to make sure I was home for her pick up/drop off, but that's the way it goes. I made the compromise to adhere to what seemed to be in Cinderella's best interests.
This year, however, things are different.
Cinderella is getting older and finding her voice. She wants to participate in the decisions surrounding her days off.
Like expressing a wish to volunteer at a local farm to come on school holidays to care for their chickens.
Twice a day. Morning and evening.
Cinderella was especially excited to be part of this. (We always fantasize of the day when we own our own home that will be big enough to have chickens and horses and sheep! Oh my!)
There was just one problem. Chickens need to be tucked in at DUSK.
Dusk comes earlier now thanks to Daylight Savings. Right at the time Cinderella comes home from visiting Maleficent.
Not wanting to exclude her from his activity, and not really thinking it would be a problem, Prince Charming contacted Maleficent. We posed a COMPROMISE of allowing Cinderella to CHOOSE to stay home SOME holidays so she didn't miss out on this.
Maleficent outright refused and accused Prince Charming of making these plans to purposely spite her out of time with their daughter.
Step in the Rational One.
I contacted Maleficent to smooth things out a bit. Explain it was my doing and that I was unclear as to the actual wording of the court document and misunderstood that holidays were an absolute RIGHT and not an option open to compromise. (A concept that has historically proven lost on her.)
She changed her tune and seemed willing to work with me.
If you want ... can you and I keep in touch on this and then if you need me to bring Cinderella home early so she can go with you, I can do that. It's no problem.
GREAT! Right?
Monday morning, I realize tomorrow is Election Day. A school holiday. We need to be at the farm by 4:30. That's 30 minutes before the time Cinderella is supposed to be home.
I call Maleficent and leave her a voicemail, per our agreement. I asked her if she wanted to drop Cinderella off at home at 4pm (only an HOUR early) or just meet us at the farm at her regular drop off time of 5pm. I know from past experience that she responds better if she feels she has some control over the situation. So I gave her a CHOICE.
Still, I suspected that she would not like either.
And when I received the call from Prince Charming a few hours later I knew from his tone of voice that I was right.
If Maleficent was going to lose an hour with Cinderella because of this activity (which Cinderella WANTED TO DO) then Maleficent wanted to make up that time on another day.
In light of recent events, Cinderella does not want to spend extra time with her Mom. She is beginning to see her for who she really is. And she does not like it one bit.
Prince Charming could not consciously place his daughter into that situation.
Emails were sent. Accusations were flung at us.
Prince Charming and I spent ALL DAY Monday either in email with or talking about this woman.
Such a waste of a day and of our energy.
We put up a good fight on Cinderella's behalf. I apologized to Maleficent in an effort to smooth things over.
In the end, she chose NOT to bring Cinderella home and decided to communicate that THROUGH her daughter. Using her as the messenger to notify us that she had changed her mind from the earlier emails in which she agreed to the request for the early drop off.
We went to the farm without her.
And waited in the dark for her to be dropped off (and she was LATE, too).
Sooner or later Maleficent is going to have to realize that Cinderella is a person too.
That she is not a piece of property and has a RIGHT to CHOOSE what she does with her time. Cinderella sas a right to voice her opinion. And to be HEARD.
That's it not about what Maleficent wants.
Or about what Prince Charming or I want.
It's about Cinderella.

Monday, November 3, 2008

There's a Fine Line Between Fairytales and Nightmares...

... and thanks to Maleficent, we are being reminded of that. Again.
What's happening now?
What's happening is that Cinderella's friend narc'd on her after a DARE event at school. Concerned over the fact that C had been "scratching" herself, she sought help in the Guidance Office.
Cinderella was called in and promptly broke down into tears in front of her Guidance Counselor and Social Worker. She told them her tale of woe being a child of divorce.
There is nothing unique about her story.
Parents divorce. And oftentimes they don't handle it well, focusing on their own problems and losses (especially when mental illness plays such a major role).
Kids get caught in the middle. Blame themselves, grieve and try to keep the peace by internalizing EVERYTHING.
Sooner or later all of that stress has to come out.
It's starting to come out now in Cinderella and an observant friend took note.
She scratched her arm in frustration. It's no big deal now, but we know it could turn into something worse.
It's been three years since the Maleficent lost custody.
Three years since PrinceCharing was advised by the law guardian to violate the shit out of her when she crossed the line (which we ALL knew she would do).
And she has. Yet instead of adding fuel to her bipolar-fanned fires, we looked the other way and offered compromises.
Well, Cinderella's well-being is now compromised.
The Law Guardian has been called.
Maleficent has NOT been called. Yet.
We are trying to buy Cinderella a little bit of calm before the shit-storm. If her Mom gets tipped off, it will only spell doom for her and this kid has been through enough.
In the meantime, we're looking for a therapist for Cinderella all-the-while reassuring her that we will do our best to make things better and protect her from continued distress. (Which is a double-edged sword because she is worried that our attempts to make things better will make things worse. And that very-well may be the case.)
PrinceCharming is back to compiling details and facts, taking notes and saving EVERY email. Planning his next steps which will include filing paperwork and going back to court.

And I'm remembering to breathe through it all.