January 24, 2011

High-quality yarn

I'm curious. Do you think high-quality or organic yarn is worth the price? Or is it just a hand-washable pain in your ass?

I want to get serious about the crochet business.

I think if I really applied myself, I could stand to make much more from crocheting than I do. What do you think I could do to really get going?

Here's what is on my agenda:

- Create an actual www.bitteroclock.com site, maybe with shopping cart abilities (if anyone can recommend a good DIY website service, let me know)

- Create better packaging and sew-in tags

- Create more business cards, FFS. I can't tell you how many times people approach me on the street or whatever about my hat, but I have nothing to give them. ::rolly eyes::

- Paint my dummy head for a more professional look?

What else am I forgetting? Oh! I've decided my newest goal is to get a couple stores selling my stuff. How could I go about doing this?

January 21, 2011

Guess who got their first stick of deodorant yesterday?

Yup, Kayden.

I bought it after the Cub Scout race and after he took off his scout shirt and handed it to me and it nearly made me die.

For all his shyness, he was just fine with picking out the deodorant and everything. I let him pick his favorite smell (he went with Axe) and at home, showed his briefly how to apply it. When I reminded him this morning, he said he'd already put it on.

<~~~~~~parent of a pubescent kid.

January 19, 2011

The Quarters Experiment: a fun (and lucrative) way to discipline your children

(Reposted from Examiner)

Like all parents, my boyfriend and I think our kids are practically perfect. But there is a whole lot of meaning stuffed into that word "practically". While they will (eventually) clean their rooms when asked, they do it with an "uhhhhhhhhh!" and a series of stomps or door-slams. And while they will (occasionally) get along, there is still plenty of bickering going on. While Kayden, the 10-year-old, has mostly mellowed out with age (perhaps reserving his power of rebellion for the looming teenage years?), Maia (at six years old) is quick to assume that life is unfair, that anyone who corrects her is mean, and that we all must hate her. Additionally, she has a habit of refusing to apologize and of glaring at you until your hair catches on fire.

It was with her in mind that the idea of an experiment popped into my head.

The Experiment

We handed over twenty quarters to each child, who put the money into their own pouches. We explained the experiment: any time a child broke a rule, we would ask for a quarter back. Simple as that. Whatever was left in their pouches at the end of the week was theirs to keep. And what were the rules?

  • No saying, "Uhhhhhhh!"
  • No saying, "It's not fair!"
  • No saying, "But Kayden/Maia got to __________!"
  • No bickering.
  • No slamming doors.
  • No glaring.
  • No tattling.

However, this wasn't going to be just a doom-and-gloom experiment. There would be a way to earn their lost money back. If we spotted them doing a good deed (especially for the other child), we would give them a quarter back.

We made the kids recite the rules back to us. They both acknowledged their understanding of the rules. We explained the goal of this experiment: to get them in the habit of not whining or complaining, to make them think about consequences before arguing, to help them cope with what they perceive as unfair, and to simply make them stop with the bickering already. And so the experiment began.

Day #1

Within an hour of explaining the rules, Maia lost a quarter for saying, "It's not fair!" She replied tearfully, "But I didn't know it had already started!" She glared (lost a quarter), then repeated "It's not fair!" (lost a quarter), before calming herself. By the end of the night, she was down by $1.00.

Day #2

I arrived home from work the evening of the second day. Upon entering, both kids rushed to greet me, yelling, "We haven't fought all day!" I was pleased, but not surprised. With the experiment being so new, the kids were sure to be on their best behavior. During dinner, neither child whined about having to eat all of their food in order to get dessert. After dinner, I asked Kayden to sweep the kitchen for me. He responded with a pleasant "Okay!" But then, a most unexpected question came from Maia: "can I help him?"

Okay, now that surprised me. I planned to give her a quarter after she finished, but she curtailed that idea by saying, "Can I get my quarter now?" I explained, "Maia, it's not a good deed if you ask for something in return. Keep this in mind: you'll never get a quarter if you ask for a quarter. Help him because you want to help him, not because you want the quarter." She promptly stopped helping.

Day #4

So far, so good. At one point, I had to raise my eyebrows at them when they started to bicker at bedtime. I said, "What could you do right now to avoid losing a quarter?" Kayden quickly apologized to Maia. I looked at Maia, the girl who would rather forego dessert, would rather chew off her own hand (don't worry, this hasn't actually happened yet) than apologize. She said, "Um, apologize?" I nodded. She hesitated then said, "But I don't know what you want me to say." I said, "Maia, you know how to apologize." She looked at me and said, "I'm sorry?" I replied, "You're not apologizing to me." Then, I watched with shock as she turned to Kayden and mumbled, "I'm sorry." And it didn't even seem to hurt her or make her weaker.

Day #5

After several close-calls over the past few days, my boyfriend and I decided it was time to cut out the warnings: the raised eyebrows, the "uh-oh"s, the chance for the children to redeem themselves. From now on, they would lose a quarter immediately upon breaking the rules.

Maia was down by $2.50, which was still impressive given her temper and her stubbornness. However, she actually earned back $0.75 by helping Kayden clean his room and by consciously stopping an argument that, at any time, she would have fought to the death to win. This was monumental.

Day #6

No quarters lost.

So far, I considered this to have been very successful. With Maia, she was apologizing more quickly than ever, she hadn't thrown a tantrum, slammed a door, or screamed all week. That being said, there were a couple of glares and the usual "You just hate me!" outbursts. However, considering it had only been a week, I was impressed with the abrupt change in behavior.

Day #7

Kayden lost a quarter finally. This morning, he and Maia started bickering. Even though we had agreed that there would be no more warnings, I still said, "Are you guys...bickering?" They immediately stopped and said no. But before I even turned away, they began arguing again. I took a quarter from each of them. I could tell it really bummed him out.

This marked the final day of the first week. After dinner, we asked the kids to bring us their pouches. In all, Maia had lost about $2.50; Kayden had lost that single quarter. We all discussed the experiment, as well as our observations of the children's behavior over the week. Despite Maia losing half her money, her behavior had taken a major turn for the better, and we told her as much. While Kayden--being older and more focused on keeping his money--had not lost much, but we had noticed he too stopped arguing, stopped complaining about chores.

Overall, we, the parents, were impressed and very excited to begin the second week. As for the kids? Maia mumbled, "I don't like it," but later decided she wanted to try again. Kayden said, "I liked it a lot...but it got a little scary at times."

As of today, we are now three days into the second week...and only one quarter has been returned to us.

              Keene and I picked out a baby name.

              Antonio Lickwell. I said, "We'll never decide whether its last name should be Keene or Petersen, so I think it should be Lickwell."

              Not that we're planning to have a baby, but if we ever had an accident, you know, it's good to be prepared.

              January 16, 2011

              I chewed out Keene yesterday re: Kayden

              See, here's the thing: I am very self-sufficient regarding Kayden. Anything he needs for school, I do for him. I do the fun stuff with him. Keene basically will do something with both kids or Maia...but not really just Kayden. On the other hand, I will do stuff with just Kayden or just Maia. It's not because he doesn't like Kayden. It's that he tends to 1) not think about it, 2) be too busy working on music stuff or playing with Maia, 3) get kind of intimidated by Kayden.

              Now, the only time I really ask him to do something for Kayden is for Cub Scouts. Like building a boat or building a car. Because he's really good at that and because I am really not.

              So, the Pinewood Derby is coming up. We've had the materials for over a month. I keep reminding Keene that it's coming up. He only started working on it (after I got upset with him about procrastinating) this week.

              Sunday at 5pm (last night) was the deadline to check in the car. By 2pm, Keene was still playing computer games. The car didn't have wheels and needed some other important details. I said, "You don't seem like you're really into this car thing." He shrugged and said, "Not really." Yeah, I got upset.

              We went to the room to talk about it. I explained (albeit with tears and raised voice) how frustrating it was that he can't even summon the enthusiasm, when he rarely has to do anything for Kayden. I said it wasn't just about Maia...if I had to be a step-parent, he had to be one too. He admitted I was right and that he had to make more of an effort. After that, he worked with Kayden to finish the car. Later that night, Kayden had a couple friends over and Keene helped them make some Halo movies with their toys.

              January 14, 2011

              Soul Body Thing

              Did the soul body thing...it was actually pretty cool.

              So, to preface, I would say that I'm an open-minded skeptic. I want to believe that stuff like this works, or I think that if someone believes in it, it can work...but I don't necessarily think it'll work on me.

              I joined a group of people upstairs. Jonette explained about how Soul Body Fusion works and how she wants to do some tests for her new book. She had just met a kinesiologist (I think I spelled that right). He was going to test our "calibration" before and after she did her stuff. So, the idea is that your something-something calibration is between 0-1000, with 200 and under being like just really bad people and 1000 being like Jesus. (I am summarizing...I may have it wrong.) Like, the low end of the scale are for "dark" people. The high end is for spiritually-conscious people (but not in the religious sense).

              I got something like 278, which was kind of embarrassing. What you have to do is hold your arm straight out. Hot guy pushes down, while you push up, while he asks questions. It's weird: I felt strong as can be at times, but at other times, I couldn't keep my arm up for the life of me. He made a joke about how I didn't have to wrestle with him. I was like, "I will fight for a higher number."

              So, then I sat down with Jonette, closed my eyes, and she just kind of held my hands for about five minutes, sometimes talking, sometimes quiet. I was trying very hard to be open-minded and to feel for any kind of electric currents like the other participants said they felt. However, I didn't really feel that. Instead, my entire left arm began feeling very painful. My entire upper body began feeling like it was twisting and that it was bound (like with ropes), all around my shoulders, back, and chest. After a while, much of my body just went numb, heavy, like I couldn't move.

              As soon as we finished, it all went away. Weeeeeeird. Now the area that felt bound by ropes is really achey, but I do kind of feel energetic. I can't type well because I'm kind of buzzing.

              Oh, so then I went back to the kinesiologist and he retested me. Again, I tried so hard to push up, but I just couldn't. I think my score improved by two points and is supposed to improve steadily over the next few weeks. He mentioned that my score is probably that low because I've never done anything like this before.

              I just hope I don't get fired for having such a low soul-being calibration score.

              Oh, workplace, you slay me.

              My boss just intercommed down to me. He said, "Hey, Jonette (his wife) has a little project for you. Has she talked to you about it yet? No? Okay, I just wanted to give you a warning. She does this thing called Soul Body Fusion. She has a guy coming over who is a master at muscle . They are going to do some tests on your muscles and energy and consciousness. Then, they'll run through about 15-20 minutes of the Soul Body Fusion, then test you again, to see if it has had an impact."

              I laughed and said, "You know, when you said Jonette has a project for me, I was thinking something like typing. I should have known better."

              Yesterday I worked on taxes. Today I take a soul ride on the consciousness express.

              January 10, 2011

              Tooth Fairy Fail

              Kayden's molar came out yesterday. At some point, he said, "I wonder how much the tooth fairy will give me. You probably don't believe in the tooth fairy, do you?" I replied, "Oh, I don't know," because we were in the middle of something. So, I'm pretty sure he doesn't believe either, but I still planned to give him some money for the tooth.

              Yeah, I totally forgot about the tooth. I only remembered this morning on my way to work. Kayden hadn't said anything about it. My plan is to drive home on my lunch break and put some money under his pillow...maybe kind of off to the side so if he HAD looked this morning, he could have missed it.

              Ack. It's silly, but I feel bad. Like the time I totally forgot about Easter. ::rolly eyes::

              January 3, 2011

              Hallway Fort

              The kids built a fort in the hallway. Or rather, in the ENTIRE hallway.

              This morning, after getting dressed, I opened my bedroom door, dropped to my hands and knees, and had to crawl my way out to the living room.

              I think we'll help them move the fort to a less awkward location tonight.

              Arts and Crafts and Inappropriate Paper Dolls

              I am determined to ruin the lives of my children. I do this in subtle ways: by not letting them watch television, by not letting them eat entire candy bars in one sitting, and by making them do creative activities rather than playing video games.

              And so it came to pass one Saturday morning. Keene was at the store, probably spending an hour deliberating between which kind of bacon to buy. You see, I will adamantly not eat regular bacon. But the kids don't like my turkey bacon. And Keene, well, being from California, likes that weird non-bacon, non-meat Play-Doh-looking stuff.

              He calls it "faken," rhyming with "bacon."

              But that's not the point. The point is that while he was gone, I decided to ruin Maia's life by not helping her look for her lost Nintendo DS. Instead, I introduced her to the concept of paper dolls. And not just paper dolls, but...wait for it...homemade paper dolls.

              With cardstock and coloring pencils, we got to work on a Maia paper doll. Complete with colored feathers in her hair. After I sketched each piece of clothing, she colored it to her liking. Once Paper-Maia had a sizeable wardrobe, we made hangers and a bar for her dollhouse closet.

              Oh, and hey, Paper-Maia even has a Frogger hat:

              After eating breakfast, I went out for some lunchtime drinks because hey, it was a Saturday. I came home, drank some more with Keene, because hey, it was still Saturday. Then got back to work on the paper dolls.

              This is Paper-Maia, from the Heist series:

              "This is a stick-up!" yells Paper-Maia, before pistol-whipping the bank-teller, as she sports trendy cutoff jean capris and an '80s-style striped tee.

              At this time, I decided Keene also needed a paper doll. I sketched and erased and sketched and erased...

              By the time he returned home from wherever he had been trying to run, I was finished:

              I proudly showed Paper-Keene to Real-Keene. Who said, "Am I really that chunky?" I looked at Paper-Keene and back at Real-Keene. "It's not chunky!" I said, taking offense. "I think it looks just like you!" He replied, "Okay, but could you at least get rid of my gunt?"

              **Note to readers: if you do not know what a gunt is, please do not ask anybody. Especially not your boss or teenage daughter. And especially do not Google this. It is nothing you really need to know and you most certainly do not need to see.**

              I erased the offending lines and Keene warmed up to his paper-self.

              He even mimicked Paper-Keene's happy frollicking:

              After all the merriment at having a paper-twin had died down, I determined that Paper-Keene needed some clothes. But not just any clothes...he needed some groovy, rico suave clothes:

              And detachable mustache, of course.

              But as night descended upon us, Groovy Paper-Keene morphed into...

              Monster-Paper-Keene! RAAAAARRRRR!!!

              And that, my friends, is what a typical Saturday with me is like. You just never know when or where or how the fun will strike. Will you even consider it fun when it does strike? Or will it just be semi-awkward laughing and cringing and wishing I would fall asleep already?

              You. Just. Never. Know.

              January 1, 2011

              A Matter of Personality: Selecting Your Lenox China Set


              Whether you are planning your wedding registry, replacing your aging dishes, or simply wanting a change, picking out a new china set can be a fun (and occasionally stressful) event. To ensure you choose the best set for your home and for yourself, there are a few things to consider first.

              What is your personal style? Now, how about your partner?
              While your heart may palpitate at the sight of the ultra-feminine, pinkish-hued set, you must also consider your partner’s taste (if it will belong to both of you). If you have varying preferences (such as you like flowers, while he likes, well, power tools), try to think of a common hobby, color, or motif upon which you can agree. One Lenox customer said about her china set, “We registered for it when we were getting married. [We] picked it out together. The colors remind us of the ocean, which we both love. ”

              Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
              One of the main problems you may encounter while shopping for china is that everyone else seems to have an opinion about it. A standard “rule” is to pick out something classic, something that will not go out of style. However, what if your personal style is trendy or loud? Think about what you like, not what you should like. If bright colors are more your speed, look into such vibrant Lenox china sets as the Chirp pattern or any of the Kate Spade designs.

              How do you plan to use it?
              Will it be your daily dinnerware? Will you only break it out for fancy dinner parties? Or will you only use it during the holidays? Lenox has varying china sets to serve any purpose. For example, if you plan to use it every day, think about choosing a pattern from the Simply Fine line. These dishes are safe for use in the microwave, freezer, dishwasher, and even the oven. Additionally, they include a chip-free guarantee. One china owner stated, “We just bought some plain white plates to build up our supply for holidays…my family is bigger than an army,” while another one said, “I actually prefer Christmas china to regular china, but regular china is so much more practical.”

              Decide on a budget.
              Figuring out what you plan to use the china for can also help you set a budget. If the set will be used sparingly, the pieces are less likely to receive damage. Therefore, you may decide to spend more on those pieces, whereas your daily set may not warrant as high a price tag. There is a wide range, price-wise, of china at Lenox. “I chose a moderately priced style: Lenox Eternal,” said an owner. “I specifically chose this because it's very simple and classic, so it'll never be dated and [it] will go with any table setting.” On the other end of the spectrum, a woman told me, “The only set I have ever liked was $200 per plate—not for the whole place setting.”