Still Stitching After All These Years

It all started innocently enough. My friend Becky, the fabulous @hellohahanarf on Twitter, tweeted this picture and her need to own it.

A lady always speaks her mind.

A lady always speaks her mind.

I took one look at it and knew that I could whip that up in nothing flat. Once upon time, back in the stone age of my high school years, I used to do quite a lot of cross stitch so I told Becky that I could do it for her. I hadn’t done any stitchery in years but this was so simple I probably could have done it without a pattern and just the picture for reference.

But where’s the fun in that?

As I lay falling asleep one night, my brain gifted me with the perfect design ideas – ones that would make the whole thing more perfect for Becky. See, she loves sunflowers and daisies. So why not replace that generic floral accent with ones that will make Becky happy every time she sees them? And then I thought about fonts and how the word ‘lady’ should clearly be in a fancy font. I tucked these ideas away and went to sleep. The next morning I created this:


I think Becky peed a little when she saw it.

The great thing about the internet having been invented since I’d done any real needlework is that there are now websites that will take an image like the one above and translate it into a cross stitch pattern for you. It will also give you all the colors you need to make the pattern. I used this website to produce a pattern I could use to stitch the piece. I had some issues with it and I’m not sure I’d use the same site again but I’ll get to that later. Anyway, it took my design and gave me this:

Now that's more like it.

Now that’s more like it.

I didn’t particularly like the way that it gave me multi-color lettering when the original image had black lettering but I figured I could fudge it as I sewed and still get a serviceable look. I trotted off to JoAnn Fabrics with my pattern in hand to purchase embroidery floss, aida cloth, and a hoop. I ended up choosing 22 count aida as opposed to something larger like 14 count. I knew that I would end up with a smaller piece (which was very good in the end) and a finer look if I went for the larger square count.

Then I came home and set to work.

All the supplies I would need.

All the supplies I would need.

The piece of aida cloth that was in the package was pretty large. I knew that if I centered the project on the whole piece of cloth I would end up wasting a large portion of it. So I cut the cloth in half and then centered the design on one of the resulting pieces. (To center a design, fold the cloth in quarters and mark where the creases cross. Then find the center point of your design – easy with a numbered grid – and start stitching.)

Blank canvas, ready to be transformed.

Blank canvas, ready to be transformed.

After a couple of days of work, I had the lettering complete.

Oh so many mistakes.

Oh so many mistakes.

It took me quite awhile to fudge the lettering pattern enough to get uniform letters. This resulted in A LOT of mistakes and I hope Becky forgives my errors. They were made with love! But it means that every singe ‘e’ in it is just a little bit different. OY.

The flowers were more time consuming. The first problem was that working from the pattern blown up on my computer screen became problematic after about 3 colors. It just got too confusing. Luckily, we have reams of graph paper around here so I pulled some out and started using it to graph out the patterns I needed for the flowers. It was kind of a painstaking and time consuming process and this is one of the reasons I might not use that pattern site again. If I could find one that would produce a pattern with symbols that would be a HECK of a lot easier.





However, once I had it all graphed out, things moved along more quickly.

Looking Good!

Looking Good!

I admit, those daisies are a wee bit off. But they don’t look half bad when you take in the whole thing from more than a foot away.



Given that it’s been at least 20 years since I did this sort of thing, I’m really, really pleased with how it came out. There are plenty of mistakes it in and I had to pick out and redo at least one section but in the end, it’s not so bad. Plus, it’s way better than the original design (I think) and it is really perfect for Becky. The finished design fits rather nicely into an 8×10 frame. I honestly had no idea it would be that big but that’s how it worked out so I’m rather glad I didn’t choose the 14 count aida!

Everything looks better with a matted frame!

Everything looks better with a matted frame!

I have another piece of cloth and TONS of floss left so I could easily make another one should anyone want it!


Employed Again

Guess what? I got a j-o-b!

The seeds were planted many months ago. One of my closest friends, Dawn, was telling me about her husband’s office. He’s a psychologist who he practices independently and was needing help with some of his billing. I said “Dawn, I could do that! And I would be cheap!”

And there it sat. I didn’t really expect to get a job out of it. It was a conversation between friends about life frustrations, not a job interview.

So, imagine my surprise when Dan approached me a couple of weeks ago and asked to talk to me about this very topic. His current methods weren’t working very well anymore for a number of reasons and it was time to look into other possibilities. I sat down with him one Sunday to discuss his needs, my experience, my schooling, my schedule, etc. I walked out of that meeting with a job.

I will still be finishing school. I have one semester left to go that I’ll be registering for in the next few weeks (as soon as the new online learning platform is up and running). My work schedule is going to be very flexible so I will still be able to be home with the kids when I need to be. There is some work that I will be able to complete from home as well.

I sat down last week with the person currently doing this work and got started learning the ropes. I’ll be sitting down with her again on Saturday. I’m eager to get up and running with this because I feel like there is a lot of good that I can do here – billing, organization, records – they all need attention and I can totally get that in hand.

I’m not going to be bringing in a whole heap of money but it’s a place to start and a foot in the door. I get an enormous amount of flexibility about my work schedule which is worth its weight in gold (if such a thing could be weighed). I’m excited to be able to help my friend and her family by regulating some things in their lives.

So, there it is. After a decade home with the kids, I am suddenly employed again and I owe it all to Twitter!

All Aboard The Vaccination Express

By now, I’m sure most of you know that I do not just support vaccination but am vocally opposed to the anti-vaccination movement. I’ve talked about the issue before and I’ve made any number of points that are scientifically backed and based.

Science never works. It just doesn’t. People who refuse vaccination believe that I’m just an idiot that has swallowed The Big Lie hook, line, and sinker. They are far more educated than I am because they refuse to accept the basic premise that scientific research is not a hoax.

And so I am left with my rage at people who act like they are superior while they are putting their communities at risk. Five babies at a suburban Chicago daycare now have measles. FIVE. IN ONE DAYCARE CENTER. All under the age of one and thus too young to be vaccinated.

It’s happening, folks. Herd immunity is breaking down because vaccination rates are falling. And because all the science in the world will not convince anti-vaccinators that they are being stupid, perhaps being shamed will. I’ve rounded up a bunch of things I’d like to share on the subject. And away we go!

As always, Jon Stewart nails it to the fucking floor. (I tried to embed the video but couldn’t get it work. Blerg.)

This post is amazing. And to make sure you actually read it, I’m going to copy it in here AND give you the link.

I’m an Anti-Braker

Guys, I wanted to let you know about a personal decision I recently made. I don’t really feel like discussing it, but I want to put my position out there. Please be respectful. This is a really long post, but please read the whole thing.

I’m taking the brakes off my car. This isn’t a rash decision, so please listen up.

A few weeks ago I saw a car accident – two people went through an intersection at the same time. Both slammed on their brakes at the same time and collided. Fortunately no one was seriously injured.

But then it occurred to me – if they had just gone through the intersection, they wouldn’t have collided. The brakes CAUSED the accident!

So, I decided to do my own research and what I found was *staggering*: Hundreds of people every year are seriously injured by unnecessary braking. One time, I was driving in the snow and I just lightly tapped my brakes and it caused my car to COMPLETELY LOSE CONTROL. My brakes could have very easily gotten me killed. Even more astoundingly is how often brake pads will warp and distort rotors, causing bumpy rides and squeaky wheels.

And you know what? I also found that decades ago brakes weren’t even used! People would control their vehicle’s speed with downshifting and engine braking. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but back when engine braking was used there were almost no automotive fatalities. There were NEVER brake caused car accidents.

After doing some more digging, I found a nefarious plot – Mechanics: The very people who we trust to work on and care for our cars – get PAID to install and change brakes! You might THINK they care about our safety, or our cars – but they’re just in it for the $49.99 brake pad installations.

So I talked to my Mechanic about taking the brakes off my car and I was disgusted by how poorly he treated me. He accused me of being ignorant, when I was the one that looked up how much rotational torque brakes can put on your rotors. He didn’t even know how much torque a rotor can take before being warped!!! He said “rotors are designed to be compressed, that it isn’t actually a problem” just completely dismissing me.

Then he had the NERVE to say that my personal choice had consequences, that I would affect everyone around me. Well I’ve had it with him, I’m looking for a new mechanic. The problem is that so many mechanics are bought and paid by the automotive industry that ALL of them are insistent about my car having brakes. Most of them won’t even look at my car for other reasons, saying that a brakeless car could cause damage to their shop and other cars. What a bunch of bullshit, they just don’t like those who believe in alternative braking techniques.

Now of course big government is getting involved, saying that I *MUST* have brakes. That this isn’t just about me, and that I could hurt people. What happened to personal freedom? What happened to liberty?

So all I’m saying is, do your research. Don’t just listen to the NTSB and big automotive. I made a personal decision for my family, we just said no to brakes. We’ll be using natural remedies like Gravity, and putting our feet on the ground to stop. After all, if that was good enough for me when I was on my bike as a kid, it’s good enough for my children in my car.

It’s one of the best analogies I’ve seen. Refusing to vaccinate your children makes about as much sense as taking the brakes off your car.

Then there’s this chart:

Hmmm, how's that organic diet working out for ya?

Hmmm, how’s that organic diet working out for ya?

Because let’s all remember – how to vaccines cause Autism?

And how about this t-shirt design? If I lived near Disney Land I’d own a hundred of these and just hand ’em out.


Even Hillary Clinton wants you to vaccinate.



One of my favorite children’s authors – Roald Dahl – lost a child to measles before the age of widespread vaccination. He wrote powerfully on the subject. He wrote that 30 years ago. It saddens me to know that it is once again becoming reality.

Still questioning whether you should vaccinate your children?  Have a flow chart!


Last, I would like to address those people who make the argument that even if their kid is dying of a preventable disease, at least they don’t have autism. That argument is offensive beyond measure and I have only one thing for you.

o-BILLY-570If you don’t vaccinate you should be ashamed of yourselves.


Tremendous Ten

Last week Liam turned ten. My oldest baby. The one who introduced me to motherhood. A decade old.

I am so proud of who he is, I could burst. He’s funny, sweet, caring, and kind. He is tough and determined; smart and hardworking. I am so, so lucky to be his Mom and I hope he knows that I’m trying my best to be a good parent. I hope he forgives my (many) bad days.

When I was first pregnant with him, I thought I wanted a girl. It’s what I knew; my family has a lot of women in it. I wouldn’t trade him for anything. He’s my boy and I’m his Mom and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. Getting to watch him grow up and turn into a young man is the greatest thing.

My wish for him is that 10 is a year of happiness and joy. Happy Birthday, Liam! I love you.

Yes, that's a pink cake. He requested it!

Yes, that’s a pink cake. He requested it!

5 Quick Takes: The “I Couldn’t Think Of 7” Edition

1. Continuing the theme of catching up on the goings on around here, way back at Thanksgiving, Jamie’s kindergarten class put on a puppet show about the first Thanksgiving. It was really cute. I was worried that Jamie would get really nervous and have a freak out because of all the strangers watching but he did great! I was really proud of him.

peeking out from the back row

peeking out from the back row

Also, check out these cookies for the refreshments afterwards!


2. Occasionally I manage to capture sweet family moments on camera. I don’t remember what they were watching on TV, but I found Liam and Scot like this on the couch. Gosh, I love them.



3. I like to humiliate my dog. What better way to do that than to dress her up as a tauntaun?

Why are you doing this to me, Mom?

Why are you doing this to me, Mom?

Seriously. Why?

Seriously. Why?

4. Molly is loving all the snow we’re getting. She was made for this weather and she loves to go out and romp around in the snow. Ellie likes it, too, and they play and chase each other like crazy with snow flying every which way. Also, it is MUCH easier to photograph a black dog on a background of snow!



Molly Bloom Whitesocks in her natural habitat.

Molly Bloom Whitesocks in her natural habitat.

5. School. School is going well for me. I am nearing completion of my 3rd semester of classes – I take finals this week. I had wanted to take them last week but it got a wee bit insane and I decided to listen to the universe and put them off a week. I have to be done by February 12th so I still have plenty of time to get them done. After that’s done, I’ll have a break of about a month as the online program I’m in is migrating to a new learning platform. But, in mid-March I can register for my 4th and final semester of classes. I look to be done by the end of June. Then, it’s time to weather summer vacation with the kids and work on job searching. I’m a little nervous.