Archive | July, 2011

On a lighter note: WHAM, POW, KAZAM!

29 Jul

Super Man, Super Mama ... safe diff.

Following Comic Con I’ve been all about super hero worship (I guess I’m still on a Spider Man high), and I was psyched to find that offers some rad super hero embroidery machine patternz in addition to the Thomas Train ones I already picked up the other week. Even better, they’re all super simple and use just a few different colors, making them quick and easy to stitch. Plus, they make the perfect size patch for baseball hats, hoodies, backpacks – you name it.

FYI: It’s about to get *real* super up in here!

36 designs for $7.50. Kapow!



No, really – what would you do?

29 Jul

A simple reminder to the *&^$! father screaming at his newborn baby to shut the hell up.

I have an aggressive mouth. And an equally aggressive spirit when it comes to protecting kids who are being abused or hurt in some way. But yesterday I witnessed something that I wasn’t quite sure how to handle because I didn’t want to jeopardize the well being of my own children. I’m wondering what you all would have done about it …

We were at Target yesterday afternoon when I overheard a man screaming (yes –screaming) “SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” over and over again in a violent manner. A few seconds later I found out who he was yelling at: a weeks-old baby who was crying in the animal-like cry that newborn babies make – not loud, but incessant. One of those things you learn to live with in the early days of parenting.

The guy wasn’t hurting the baby … but from the rage in his voice it felt like he easily could. A few moments went by, and another mama shopper came over to me and asked if I heard what was going on, and what we should do about it. For the first time I wasn’t sure.

Normally, I would go into my Chihuahua attack mode and approach the guy (see Pregnant Vigilante causes public disturbance; willing to cause more …) to whatever end I could. But being that I had Blake and Rhett with me, I didn’t want to risk the situation going badly. This is Long Beach, after all. Even if I moved them to a “safe place” before I approached the guy … they could safely end up seeing me get shot for intervening in someone else’s affairs.

As it was, my sister mama and I just stood there in near tears, continuing to hear the screaming man and not knowing what to do. What I mean to say is: we did nothing. Even though it went against every natural inclination in my body. Because we didn’t know what we could or should do.

I can only imagine what the baby experienced when she got home, out of the public eye. It weighs on me that she went home with someone already on the verge of violence. So – seeing as how this will likely come up again for an outspoken mama living in the ghett-o, please tell me: what would you have done about it? I need to know how to fix these kinds of situations without jeopardizing my own kids’ lives while I’m at it. I need to be able to sleep at night.


Super Blake hits Comic Con …

26 Jul

Blake Dean on the Comic Con prowl.

This past weekend, we took Blake down to San Diego for Comic Con – the international convention for all things super-hero/comic book/overall rad. Granted, we didn’t actually have tickets. Instead, a good friend, Doug Kline, (author of the Unauthorized San Diego Comic Con Survival Guide and the geek behind, was good enough to share inside info on all the free events happening around the venue that an almost-3-year-old would love. He didn’t disappoint. The experience was pure heaven for Blake Dean, who walked the event fully clad in his red Super Blake cape, making beautiful memories at every turn.

Darth Hottie. Er, Hot Vader. Whatever. Blake was happy.

Super Blake and his friend Doug Kline of

I have to admit – I’m not really into comic books. But that point is so irrelevant when it comes to Comic Con itself, where there are costumed people, parties, and mayhem at every turn. My favorite moments:

People watching: Everywhere we looked, we saw super heroes and icons, from Spider Man and Darth Vader to Dexter victims and Beetlejuice. There was never a dull moment. We could have watched the madness for days.

Spidey! (This sighting earned me Top Mom honors for sure)

Getting people-watched ourselves: Blake’s cape won him some adoring fans; he got photographed numerous times for different FB pages and blogs, which of course made my mama tail feathers fan out in pride. Someone even asked which comic Super Blake is from. Um … the one where Blake puts a home-made cape on! :)

Super Blake with Joker

Trucking it
: The super-hero themed monster trucks at Marvel Monstergeddon were amazing

Monster Truck heaven.

Biting it: Blake could have watched folks fall off the mechanical shark at the Shark Night 3D event all day long

Super Blake = shark bait.

The swag: We got fun free food, stickers, tattoos and toys at every turn, including a rad Transformer and stuffed Angry Bird plushie

Storm Trooper

And the best part: Seeing Blake’s eyes light up literally everywhere he looked.

Taking a break with Super Blake

It was an amazing weekend and just what we needed to remind ourselves of all the simple sweetness all around us. (Special thanks to Nancy’s Vacation Rentals for having such rad pads.)

View from our Comic Con bat-cave.

Thanks, Comic-Con – see you again next year. I already know what I’m going to wear … (I’m pretty sure I already have that skirt and those boots ;)

Astrid: How to Train Your Dragon (a.k.a. Me at next year's Comic Con)


The man behind the [embroidery] machine …

25 Jul

I absolutely love finding sweet (but affordable) ways to make my son’s eyes light up, and one of the easiest ways to do it these days is by adding Thomas Train to any possible piece of clothing. I recently found an amazing set of embroidery machine designs that make that even easier. Even better, they work well and look absolutely beautiful once stitched. (The designer must have a kick-ass digitizer because that isn’t always the case.) It’s the perfect way to turn a pair of thrift store shorts or plain hoodie into a cherished treasure. Total cost? Less than $5 bucks for the patterns and scrap material to stitch them on. Hells, yeah.

Oooo, and I totally just scored some other rad designs from the same company’s website: super heroes and Bob the Builder. Best. Thing. Evah.

Thomas Train

James and Thomas ... all aboard :)

Google Minus

18 Jul


"Mr. Brown is so short, his grass always needs cut." - Clint & Jessi's Zany Joke Book, circa - 1980-something

When we were little, my brother and I made a book of zany jokes titled (aptly enough) “Clint and Jessi’s Zany Joke Book.” In it, we made really dorky jokes about our teachers and our family. Some of them were funny, for sure. Others were probably only funny to us (a problem I still deal with today …). Regardless, they were all a good example of turning boredom into creativity – and I’m pretty sure that book never would have been made if my brother and I grew up today, rather than 30 years ago.

In (my fave book ever) Simplicity Parenting, the author talks about the importance of letting your kids be bored. It’s in those quiet, bored moments, he says, that kids use their imagination to find something “else” entertaining to do. When they aren’t being entertained, they will make a concerted creative effort to entertain themselves.

Growing up, my brother and I did that a lot. Not having a lot of money, or a lot of awesome toys, we made do with what we did had – our imaginations. We played sports that never existed (hanger hockey, anyone?) … we made our own music videos (recorded with … nothing) … we wrote songs … wrote letters to the members of KISS … walked three miles to the mall when my parents weren’t home just to say we did it. We used our creative muscles to make the time pass. That’s something kids these days don’t often need to do.

These days, I’m worried that Blake will try to bypass crayons and fingerpaint for computers and smart phones. He’s already started asking to sit with me at the computer so he can see pictures of trains and dinosaurs. I literally find myself setting limits of five or ten minutes of computer time a day, concerned he’ll decide one day that he doesn’t want to draw his own dinosaurs, or ride on real trains, or play guitar and write his own real music.

I’m a technology girl. Clearly, I love using FB to keep up with people I care about. I love using YouTube to share once-in-a-lifetime moments. I love being able to text someone when I’m thinking of them just to let them know. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my concerns about what technology could do if all of the other creative, real-life stuff is bypassed.

I guess all of this is coming up because of the talk of Google+ lately. When I first heard of it, all I could think of was, “Really? Something else?” There is already Twitter. And LinkedIn. WordPress, and YouTube. And all of the other things we’re supposed to be using to keep in touch and advancing our careers and businesses. Do we really need one more? Seriously, how much time can we really devote to social networking before we’re actually becoming socially and creatively inept?

When it comes to Google+, I’m going to be a Google- at least for now. If it suddenly surpasses FB as the spot where everyone is (much like FB did to MySpace back in the day), I’m sure I’ll switch over. But until then, just like I’ve found myself setting limits for B’s intake of technology, I need to do so for myself – even just to retain a bit of quiet and sanity for our household … and to make sure I keep socially networking with the people that count the most – my monsters and my husband.


Blake Dean’s Super Bad Guy Repellent flying off the shelves …

17 Jul

With safety ... sleep shall follow (I hope :)

So … for the past week or so, Blake has been waking up with nightmares, concerned that he’s seen sharks or dinosaurs, or any other assortment of scary things in his bed. The fear in his cry is enough to tell me he’s actually really scared – not just looking for attention. So following a friend’s recommendation, I decided to make some anti-monster repellent to see if it might help him through the night.

In this case, I decided to go with a repellent sprinkle (baby powder) both because 1) it was available and 2) it smells nice. It’s also super easy for Blake to see a clear white line of safety around his bed and surrounding area.

This is the first night we’ve used the Super Bad Guy Repellent, but he was surprisingly excited about it. He sprinkled his entire bed, his bed’s perimeter, and even sprinkled some on himself, me and Daddy for good measure. Now we all smell good, and hopefully we’ll enjoy a nice night of sleep, as well.  Fingers crossed.


On the town …

11 Jul

It’s always exciting when I get a night out. And usually when I do, it involves both drinks at Pike Bar (4th & Hermosa, owned by a former member of Social Distortion) and a night of music somewhere in the region (this time being Alex’s Bar a.k.a. Fangtasia). Saturday I had a chance to see one of my fave bands/singers – David Bazan from Pedro the Lion. Below is a clip to one of his songs – “When they really get to know you, they will run” – I recorded at the show. Pardon the jumpy-ness – I have a tendency to shake it during shows. :)


Hoodie Goodies

11 Jul

Trailer Bash! Baby Hoodie :)

So – I’m pretty obsessed with hoodies, both for myself and for my own kids. One of the reasons I love them is that they allow tons of opportunity to decorate and adorn to add a bit of personal style. One of my fave things to do after Blake was born was to create personalized hoodies for him … and now that Rhett’s a bit bigger I can start doing the same for him.

First off is an RV/camper inspired hoodie … simple orange hoodie ($4.50 at Target) + 1/4 yard of fabric ($2) + embroidered gas station inspired name patch ($0, on scrap) = tons of cuteness.

Airstream dream.

Some of the other hoodies I’ve done in the past are below. Being a mama is fun :)

Cowboy CoutureGet punk'd


Get punk'd

God Knows

7 Jul

When I was younger, the imminent and ongoing arguments with my older brother usually went something like this:

Jess: “Mom, he punched me!”

Clint: “No, I didn’t!”

Jess: “Yes, he did!”

Clint: “No, I didn’t!

repeat … repeat …

Jess: “Whatever. God knows.”

“God knows” was literally the only way I, in my young mind, could bring closure to an argument that could never otherwise be won – either because there was no evidence on my side, or because the other side was willing to fight until the bitter end to defend himself. Lately I’ve been finding myself reverting to that phrase a lot, even in my much older adult life.

I don’t care if it’s Casey Anthony, Ratko Mladic (really? you kill thousands of people and it’s inhumane that you can’t wear a hat during your trial?), the guy I found abusing his kid in our alley, or my low-rent neighbor trashing our laundry room – there are so many things that amazingly upsetting, and yet completely out of my control.

This is dedicated to all of the people out there doing sucky things. No, I can’t change it. But you can count on this: God knows.


“16 Kindles” (a.k.a. “Truth is Better Than Fiction”)

6 Jul

Me with Blake and his great-grandmother.

A long while back, my grandmother – who is still alive – wrote a book about her life. Being young, and an idiot, I hadn’t focused on it too much at the time. As the years passed, however, and I began to realize how much our grandparents have to share with us, I decided it was time to take another look. There was a line that stopped me in my tracks, and it went something like this:

“My mom would always tell people that she had 15 kids. Try as I might, I would count, and count, and count, but I could only get to 13. I never knew where the other two kids went.”

Later in the book, she explains that my great grandmother came to the United States from Slovenia at age 13, and married shortly after. She had two children – Anthony and Carl. But after being abused by her husband, she decided to leave him – and her children – behind. Per my grandmother: “I believe it had to be a drastic reason to leave her children because I know how much her kids meant to her – every single one.”

My great-grandmother went on to have 13 more children with my grandmother’s father, who died when my grandmother (the youngest of the bunch) was 18 months old. My head can barely wrap itself around this story. And yet there it is – and I haven’t been able to forget it ever since.

For awhile, I thought about writing a novel based on my great-grandmother’s life. It was going to be called “16 Kindles,” with the concept that the daughter (my grandmother) – or maybe even her daughter (my mom) – tries to find the extra (in this case three) children that her mother had been forced to leave behind. (The fictional family would have been named The Kindles … clearly, I came up with this concept before the Kindle bookreader was created ;). The idea has been in my head for years … until it suddenly hit me that it would probably be a lot more interesting to try to find that side of the family for real, rather than simply writing about what would happen if I did.

So, over the holiday weekend I got a membership to I’ve been sifting through census records, marriage records, obituaries, draft cards … I’ve taken the names my grandmother wrote down and researched how they may have changed over time … I’ve been taking what I’ve learned to Facebook to reach out to people who might be related to me, starting each message, “This is going to sound random, but …”

I haven’t heard back from anyone I’ve reached out to yet, but I’m really hoping I do. I don’t know what I’m expecting to find, but I think at the heart of it, I want their families to know exactly what my grandmother said: their mother loved them very much. And she wouldn’t have left unless she really had to.

This post is dedicated to Anthony and Carl, who – like me – didn’t get to know my great grandmother. From what my grandmother has said (and sung) about her, however, she was a strong and amazing woman. I hope I can help bridge that gap for their children and grandchildren should the opportunity ever arise.

Below is a song my grandmother wrote for her mom. The lyrics speak volumes, so I’m including them here.

I’m thinking tonight about my mother.
She’s the one who knew us best.
She has gone beyond to help another.
With her love, she passed the test.

She’s gone to heaven to be with father, who left us many years ago.
We never thought she’d ever leave us because we all needed her so.

When the lord took from her my dear father
She was left with loved ones to rear.
The lord left her love and much guidance.
So we’d never have evils to fear.

God must be happy to have her near him.
For the sky shines love down from above.
This dedication is for my mother.
To my mother I send all my love.