13 months!


Seren is 13 months old today!


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Some stats:

She still only has two teeth. She is flirting with walking – she will take two steps and then sit down. She is still OBSESSED with Daddy. She coos to him and squeals when he walks in the room (don’t we all?). She is communicating more and more every day. She likes to play clapping games. She says “hi” when she means “bye” and vise versa. She loves bath time. She is not shy about screeching to let everyone in a five mile radius know when she is displeased. She can melt your heart with a glance.

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A sensory board for when her senses are bored

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I recently went down a things-to-do-with-your-baby wormhole I found on Quirkymama’s Facebook page. I tried to find the exact post, but it was already buried by millions of other similar posts that make me want to cook and craft and parent until I explode. (In a good way.) One of the projects was a lift-the-flap book that used old diaper wipe tops as the flaps. Genius! Another project was a sensory board that had different textures and carpet squares glued to a board. Cool, but kind of blau to look at. I decided to combine the two and make it cute!


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The whole thing cost around ten bucks and the result is a big hit with the little people. First I bought a piece of plywood ($5.00) at a home improvement store. While I was there I grabbed a sheet of sandpaper for the roof ($1) and I raided the sample squares in the carpet department ($0). I got several different textures of carpet, including fake grass. Next stop was the craft store for textured paper. I bought a woven style for the house, a shiny yellow style for the sun rays and I lucked out and found a tree bark style for the tree trunk! Each sheet was on sale for a dollar ($3).

I painted the board blue and sealed it with Modpodge. I glued the house and tree and sun rays down, glued on the sandpaper roof, cut out carpet samples to look like tree leaves and hot glued them as well. I added pom pom apples for extra texture. The grass was simple – I just cut the sample into strips and glued them along the bottom. I printed out photos of each family member, protected them with clear tape, and placed them on the house, then glued the diaper wipe cover “windows” and “doors” over them. I wanted the clouds to be washable because they are fluffy scrap material, so I glued them to cloud shaped pieces of plastic (yogurt lids) then glued Velcro pieces to the back of them and to the board. (In theory I will be able to wash them gently and stick them back on the board.) I had a battery powered touch light collecting dust in the garage so I attached that to the board as the sun. If you have to buy one they are under $5.


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 photo sensorytextures_zpsd0255aea.jpg  So much fun to touch!

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The flaps looked kind of naked to me, so I printed out a door and hot glued it to the “door”. Now the windows look weirdly blank, but I don’t know if I’ll get motivated enough to find cool looking windows to print out and glue on. I’ll wait and see if Seren tries to pick at the door. So far so good.


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All in all Seren is a big fan. Not even the man of steel can resist the allure of The Board.

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A moment of reflection

This is my friend Vanessa. She is a wonderful, funny person; a wife and mother; an actress and comedian and many other things. She is a “starving artist” as so many of us are, yet she does things like what you are about to see in this video. I wanted to share this with you guys as a gentle reminder to share. Share kindness and compassion and good will.


I remember one time Vanessa came to class at Second City on a rainy day. She was dripping wet. I asked her where her coat was. She said she gave it to a homeless man because he didn’t have one and he was cold. Yes, she gave a person the coat off her back. She has true compassion for her fellow man.

She did not ask me to post this. But I’d like to pay it forward with a plug for her book. It’s a memoir. She wrote it in the hopes of helping others who may be navigating through the difficult heartbreak of surviving a loved-one’s suicide. (See a theme? Vanessa likes to help people.)


 photo leftbehind_zps91c37393.jpg(click the book to go to the Amazon listing)

Thank you, Vanessa, for reminding me to stop and pay attention to those outside my personal bubble. You are an angel among us.

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Where is Liam Neeson when you need him?

No, Internet, I have not been Taken, or Taken 2 or even Taken 3. Can you believe that they made two more Taken movies and didn’t come up with more clever names than just 2 and 3? What is wrong with Fox that they didn’t have a little fun there?

I have been very busy. My parents came for a visit to take my niece/sister to Disneyland. (That always seems like it needs an explanation. My parents adopted my sister’s baby, thereby turning my niece into my sister. Legally she’s my sister, but in my brain she will always be my niece, and my children’s cousin. *shrug* Regardless of what we call her, she’s a neat kid that’s probably only days away from growing taller than all of us.)  She is turning twelve and opted to go to D-land with her cousins over having a birthday party. My dad generously bought us all tickets ’cause he likes to roll like a baller. (Seriously, thanks Dad!)

After they left I spent a day toddler-proofing my house. My hatred of cabinet locks knows no bounds, but they are a necessary evil. I also stuck pool noodles over the sharp edges of the fireplace. Seren promptly pulled them off again. I need to find a stronger adhesive. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Lastly, I have started a 21 day training program, so I’m so sore I can barely move. I have to really psych myself up to make a trip upstairs. If I sit still for too long the excruciating pain of getting moving again is such a bummer. Do you see how much I love you Internet? I am willing to sit at my computer for twenty minutes or so to write you a blog post, even knowing full well that when I try to pry my ass from this seat I will feel the BURN.

Alright. I will hopefully have a fun post for you soon. It will feature adorable crochet stuff, or maybe mermaids, or perhaps even Christmas card ideas… See? These are the things that actually occupy my brain space.

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Free Yoda hat crochet pattern


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A few of you expressed interest in making your own crochet Yoda hat so I thought I’d post my pattern. It fits a baby/toddler head. (Seren’s head is 18 inches) You can use a larger hook or add rows to make it bigger if so desired.

G hook, WW yarn

Ch = chain, SC = single crochet, DC = double crochet, PC = popcorn stitch (The popcorn stitch is what gives the hat bumps like Yoda’s bumpy head)


Row 1: Ch 4, in farthest ch from hook 7 DC, join. Ch 3

Row 2: 2 DC in each stitch (14) join. Ch 3

Row 3: 2 DC in each stitch (28) join. Ch 3

Row 4: DC 3, 2 DC in next stitch… (35) join. Ch 3

Row 5: DC 4, 2 DC (12) *PC, DC* 3 times, PC.  2 DC, DC 4… to end, join. Ch 3

Row 6: DC in each stitch until 1 before first PC of the row above, then PC, DC, PC… each row add a PC to outer edges. Continue to 10 rows.



Row 1: Ch 16, in second ch from hook SC, SC across, ch 1, turn,

Row 2: SC across, ch 1, turn,

Row 3: Decrease first and last stitch in row, ch 1, turn,

Row 4: SC across, ch 1 turn,

Row 5: Decrease first and last stitch in row, ch 1, turn,

Continue in this pattern until the ear comes to a point. Fasten off. Slip stitch around edge of ear. Fold wide ends of ear toward the center. Attach to hat.


I glued poly-fil behind each ear to look like wispy tufts of hair.

Enjoy your Yoda hat I hope you.

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Halloween pictures!

November is here, Internet. In honor of that, I give you Halloween pictures! I know I posted a costume review a while ago and said I was going to be Daenerys, Mother of Dragons from Game of Thrones and Seren would be a baby dragon. We may still do that next year, but this year I went with a way easier idea. Jesse and I binge watch shows on Netflix as a way to unwind after the kids go to bed. (Every night is date night for us!) We recently binge watched The Killing. Every night we would laugh and joke about how closely the main character, Sarah Linden, resembled me. It wasn’t her face – it was her complete lack of style and effort that went into her wardrobe. Most of Sarah’s sweaters were itchy looking wool turtlenecks with a yoke. In my thrift store treasure hunting I had acquired a fall-themed sweater with a yoke, and while it was lacking a turtleneck, I thought it would be perfect for a Sarah Linden costume. The only thing I needed to do for the costume was dye my hair red (a disaster that ended with me having orange Ronald McDonald hair *shrug* whatever… it will grow out) and print out a visitor’s pass and a pack of Nicorette gum. Done!


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In keeping with the low budget, favorite-binge-watching-show theme, Jesse went as everyone’s favorite serial killer, Dexter! He already looks like Michael C. Hall, so I just made him an ID badge and he held a box of donuts. Done!


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The kids wanted to go as Star Wars characters. Brecken had Luke Skywalker hair, so that was a win. He took the role very seriously.


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Karis has hair that’s totally long enough to do the iconic Princess Leia buns, but she wore a wig anyway. It was adorable.


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Last but not least, Seren was Yoda! She’s still too little to demand a store bought craptastic costume, so I crocheted her a Yoda hat from scrap yarn, and she wore neutral colored clothing she already had, so the total cost of her costume was zero dollars!


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The kids had a blast trick-or-treating, and us parents enjoyed it too, the highlight being the excitement of it sprinkling on us. Eventually it full on RAINED!!! I kept the window open so I could hear it all night. It was the sweetest music.

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Free books!!! FREE. Zero dollars.

Usually new things drop on Tuesdays. I’m getting a jump on things and launching mine on MONDAY. Are you excited Internet? You should be, because today and tomorrow you can download my newest book, Strawberry Wine, FOR FREE. That’s less than the price of a cup of coffee.


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Strawberry Wine was my first attempt at writing a full length novel. It’s a sweet coming of age story about first love and consequences. Yes, there’s sex. Some would argue there’s statutory rape, but they would be wrong. Nobody was raped in the making of this novel. I dare you to read it and not fall in love with the characters. They are a delight. (And there’s GOATS! Everyone loves a nice goat. Goat’s are great company.)


Also of note, and also FREE is my novella The Stormclyffe Affair. I spiffed it up with a new cover, and it will be free from now until Halloween, so if you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, now’s your chance. And really, who wouldn’t want to read a Halloween mystery with GHOST SEX and a stuffed weasel? (To be clear, the ghost sex is with a person, not the weasel. I do have standards.)


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So there you have it, Internet. My Halloween gifts to you – two free sexy-time novels! Please like and share this blog with anyone that you think might enjoy any of the following:

Goats, stuffed weasels, ghosts, cowboys, hot teachers, prune juice, painting, Pride and Prejudice, historical house restoration, Rocky Road ice cream, beaches, oldies, Halloween parties, psychics with dreadlocks, seances, mysterious tragedies, art galleries, blood donation, wine, quacking duck aprons, Banksy, birthday cake, a plain old damn good story.

If you are inspired to leave a review on Amazon I will consider it an early Christmas present, and you’ll be off the hook for that too!

I love you guys, thanks for reading.

(To access the books just click on the title links or click on the pictures of the books on my sidebar)   →


UPDATE: There seems to be a bit of confusion about the whole Kindle thing. You DO NOT need a Kindle to read these books. Simply download the FREE Kindle app from Amazon and you can read them on your computer or device of choice.

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Little pumpkin

I never got a shot of Seren amid pumpkins last year. I couldn’t let that happen two years in a row!


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A year in faces: Seren


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A few years ago I took a picture of the kids every day for one full year. I used several different cameras throughout the year, and most of the pictures are red-eyed and messy. I made a point of not editing any of them. It was a quasi-photo documentary. Brecken’s video is here, and Karis’s video is here.

I thought it would be cool to do the same for Seren for her first year of life. Some of the photos were taken with my Canon, and some with my crappy iPhone. You can tell the difference. It’s damn near impossible to take a non-blurry picture of a kid with an iPhone.

I really like the end result. A lot of these pictures are edited, but mostly just light levels and stuff because often I would take the pictures in low light and they would be too dark and grainy. I find it fun to watch the baby grow from a spotted, wrinkled little grub into a sweet toddler.



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Seren is officially one

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My baby girl has been all the way around the sun. Yesterday was her first birthday, and we celebrated with Aunt Dani and Apple Josh coming over for cake and her favorite dinner – pasta and broccoli. We had a star theme for her party. The kids watched me make the cake, then played with the left over fondant until the back patio table was a sugary mess and Brecken had eaten enough to fell a horse. Gross. Here is the result of our efforts:


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As I was decorating it I overheard Karis telling Brecken about the symbolism of their first birthday cakes. (She came up with this all on her own – I never really thought much about symbolism in cakes and party hats.) Each of the kids have a party hat that I add a decoration to every year. Karis’s decoration happens to be flowers because I had a bunch of them and thought they’d make a cute hat. Brecken’s decoration is dots because those were easy to cut out of felt, and seemed masculine to me. Karis’s first birthday cake was my first foray into fondant, and I decorated it with flowers because that was the shape of the cookie cutter I had. Brecken’s first birthday cake was an adorable rubber ducky. I’d show you a picture but there are none. So. Anyway, this is the conversation I overheard:

Karis: “Seren’s cake and hat have stars on them because her name means ‘star’. My cake and hat had flowers because my name means ‘grace’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘love’ and that’s what flowers stand for. Your cake was a duck, I’m not sure why, but your hat has spots on it because your name means ‘freckles’.”

Brecken: “Really?”

Karis: “Yup.”

I just laughed quietly to myself and kept cleaning up the kitchen. I don’t know where that child comes up with this stuff, but I love watching her thoughts unfold.

Enjoy these photos of Miss Seren experiencing her first birthday cake!


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And last but not least the picture I forced Jesse to take at exactly 3:01 PM. “Hurry, hurry! It’s three oh one! Take a picture of us!”


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Happy birthday, kid. I’m so glad you picked us to be your family!

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