Monday, April 29, 2013

A very fruitful weekend, if I do say so myself

Yet another competition this weekend. Josh did AMAZING, despite some hiccups along the way. Okay, to be truthful, he wasn't the only one dancing on stage, but everyone did great. He received 3 platinum trophies for all his routines, plus 1st place overall for clogging, and 2nd place overall for the boys hip hop, and judges awards for each of the hip hop routines. We had a lot of fun and even got to shop! Mom took us to St. Cloud so we could visit a quilt and yarn shop that we had seen advertised every year.

Both of us were like kids in a candy store. And we both bought new projects while we were there. I could have done some major damage in that store.

Well, I need to get working on this scarf. It isn't going to finish itself.

Don't forget to stop by the blog hop!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mom's Monday Mingle #52

Would YOU like to "Co-host"

with us?

Booking now for May!

1. Please FOLLOW each hostess (They are 1-6 in the link up)
2. Leave a comment if you are new and want us to return the follow.
3. Grab the button and display it on your sidebar or link it to the post.
4. Have fun and meet new friends!

Friday, April 26, 2013

So ready for the weekend.....

Sorry I haven't blogged the past couple days. Things have just been hectic.

With that said:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Diets Don't Work Today

I had an epiphany today. I wonder why diets don't work. Especially for me.

With all diets I've read about, you need to change your eating habits. Cook nutritious food. In those three words, what is the one word that sticks out? Cook. I do not cook on a regular basis and I honestly do not know a single family who cooks at least 5 days a week. Heck, not even 4 days a week. We live in a world of school activities, after school activities, a full-time and a part-time job. Our cooking consists of popping a ready-made meal in the microwave or reheating leftovers from a fast food restaurant.

So it is a wonder that diets don't work. Most diets tell us not to shop in the "processed" food aisles and buy more "natural" food. And of course, cook it. But who really has time to cook with all the activities we put our kids in? Josh is only in dance with the occasional dance competition and band concert, but he dances 3 days a week. I can't imagine some of these families that have activities every night of the week.  Nonetheless, I do try to "cook" at least on the weekends. During the week we have scrambled eggs, Chef Boyardee, leftovers from the weekend, soup - pretty much anything that can be cooked in a microwave. Except eggs - those are cooked regular. :)  But that needs to change. I need to eat better so my son eats better and learns better eating habits. So, I need to learn how to cook something that isn't out of a box. Have you seen the sodium levels in some of these foods?

First things first - get rid of the food in the apartment. That way I can start from scratch. And start buying new, more wholesome options. Like whole wheat spaghetti.

Let's see how this works. :)

Don't worry. I still have Jimmy Johns on speed dial. And a favorite on the computer.

Monday, April 22, 2013

It all comes down to dance and my son

It truly does.

If I didn't have my son, I'd be pulling more days like today. Today I worked almost 11 hours. If it weren't for the fact that Josh has dance Tuesday through Thursday before 5 pm, I'd be pulling more of these shifts. And I can't work late on Friday because I will be on my way to another dance competition. Can't work this weekend because I will be at a dance competition.

I am a workaholic. I know this. It's why I have my Etsy business. That, and I love creating, but I am a workaholic to my soul. Always keeping busy. So if it weren't for my son, I'd have no social life. Don't get me wrong, the money is great when I can work this overtime. But I do like it when I get to clock out and come home to my little guy.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekend wrap-up

This weekend was another competition weekend. Josh did fabulous. High gold for clogging and gold and the best costume award for hip hop. He did very well on an individual level - no major mistakes. He needs to work on getting his knees up and keeping his fingers straight, but he knows these things and is always working on them. Just need to step up the little things practice, I guess. And the energy. Energy is always a big issue for the routines. I would love to see his routines to get to the next level by the end of the year - platinum for clogging and high gold for hip hop. I've already spoken to one of his teachers about getting some  extra help with his round-offs. I compare him to the other boy on his hip hop team, and this other boy's are just better and more powerful. A little extra help won't hurt.

I do compare Josh to other boys his age who dance. I know Josh isn't the best boy dancer in the country. He tries and he improves every year and that is what matters. I do want him to be the best boy dancer at our studio and I know he is close to that. He is the oldest competitive boy we have at the studio and he mentors a lot of the younger boys we have in his hip-hop class (not the one he competes with).  We have a little work to do before regionals next weekend.

On another note, I've been furiously working on this Dr. Who scarf for my customer. My hands are a little sore today, but I am finally past the point where I had stopped and tore everything out. Tomorrow will be a long 10-hour day at work followed by a couple more hours of knitting. Life is never dull!

And I just found out that not all of my blog followers are showing up in my follower count. The follower count only counts those who follow my blog through GFC and who subscribe by email. I'm really, really hoping that I have more than 58 followers with Google+ and Bloglovin'. But right now I can't figure out how to look at my numbers for those. So, if anyone uses these to track followers, let me know.

Well, I'm off for the night. If you have not signed up for the giveaway, please do. It is for a fabulous prize - a $20 gift certificate good towards the purchase of anything in my shop.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 19, 2013

Giveaway!!! Giveaway!! Giveaway!!

Yesterday we hit 50+ followers! I can't believe it has happened so quickly. Thank you everyone who reads my posts and is willing to take a look into my wild and kooky life.

To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway. The winner will receive a $20 gift certificate good towards the purchase of an item (or items) from either my Etsy shop or my HandmadeArtists shop. Disclaimer: Total cart purchase must be equal or greater than $20.

Liz at Funny PostPartum Lady is gracious enough to help promote my giveaway. She has an awesome blog and hosts blog hops regularly on her website.

So, thank you, thank you, thank you to all my followers. Here's to another 50 followers and hopefully I won't run out of writing material. If that happens, I might have to bring out some of my stories. :)  Or more pictures of the little man.

Here's an easy way to get entries: What would you buy if you won?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Perfectionist in Me

I am notorious for ripping out rows and rows in my crocheting when I find a mistake. It is the perfectionist in me. I dislike adding stitches unless the pattern calls for it. Even if I am halfway through a project, I can and have ripped out an entire project and started over.

The same is true for my knitting, but I can't just rip it out to the spot where I made the mistake. I am just not that good of a knitter yet. So, instead, I rip out the entire thing and start over.

I did this tonight. I was getting along good with this Dr. Who scarf for my customer. I made a mistake and I tried only ripping it to a point just past the mistake. Yeah, that didn't work so well. So I kept ripping until I started over.

What can I say? I'm a perfectionist in most aspects of my life. This means when you buy something from me, you know it is as perfect as I can make it. It might take me a little longer in some cases to finish the project, but that's the price I pay for who I am.

So, I've gotten some input for my giveaway to celebrate having 50 followers. I am going to give away a gift certificate worth $20 good towards the purchase of anything in my Etsy or Handmade Artists shop. Look for a Rafflecopter contest to come your way soon.

On another note - it is snowy and windy in Minnesota tonight. Drive safe my Minnesota friends.

Woohoo!!!! We did it!!!!

We have 50 followers! It has taken a lot of hard work and a lot of blog hopping, but we did it! Now I just have to keep the followers. :)

So, I said a long time ago that I would have a giveaway when the blog hit 50 followers.  But I have no clue what I'm going to giveaway. Suggestions?  I guess I could always give away a pair of Flip-Furs.

What would be your dream prize from my lovely little shop?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Aaaaand I did it again

Good evening fellow evening bloggers and readers. You might be asking - what did Jen do again this time? Am I paying homage to Britney Spears? Did I ruin another computer? Did I once again fail in my attempt to catch a kitty in a playful position with the camera for a wordless Wednesday post?

Okay, yes to the last. They are never being playful when I have my camera out. Why is this?

But no to the rest.

No, tonight I pushed my hands to their stress point in trying to get this scarf done for a customer. It is an 8 foot scarf. And I have been crocheting since about 5 pm. I always seem to be doing this. Whether it is from crocheting or knitting or typing or pointing and clicking with a mouse. I always seem to push my hands to their stress point, making it more difficult to perform the task I am doing.  Okay, I actually miss the days when my hands would hurt from typing or writing all day. Stupid writer's block.

This is part of the reason why I drink at night. The alcohol dulls the pain so I can push further. I don't drink to get drunk (does anyone over the age of 30?). But it makes the edges a little fuzzy, the pain a little less noticeable. But tonight I was out of alcohol and so I stopped a little early tonight because I was getting to the point where I couldn't hold the knitting needles. Strangely, typing is stretching them out a little, but they are still sore, so I won't push anymore. I think my body is telling me it is time for bed.

So, here's my question - if you craft, do you suffer from arthritis (like myself) or fibromyalgia (like myself) and does this prevent you from crafting as much as you would like? Honestly, I can't tell what is acting up tonight. I blame the weather - we are supposed to get a snowstorm tonight and tomorrow. Everything hurts.

Good night, and happy crafting.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Weather and Acceptance

I live in Minnesota. This means I can count on winter lasting from mid-November (and sometimes earlier) until mid-April. We had a wonderful snowstorm last week that dumped quite a few inches of snow all over our budding green grasses. We are supposed to get more snow this week. And everyone I know is complaining.

Yes, we have rarely seen the sun this spring. There is talk about filing misrepresentation papers on a certain woodland creature. Our baseball home opener had the fans standing in line for free cups of coffee and hot chocolate and crowding under warming lamps. While this is not normal spring weather, it is hardly abnormal. Minnesota is known for its freak April snowstorms. Now, when you get into May, then it is cause for concern. But we still have a little time. I know, last year we had 80 degrees on St. Patty's Day. And this summer set a record for the number of days over 100 degrees. Thanks, I'd rather have a cold, sloppy spring over a warm one.

But I used to be one of the masses complaining about the cold. Maybe it is the extra layers of flesh I have accumulated over the past couple years. Maybe my time in Alaska has toughened me up a bit. But I really don't mind the wintery weather. I have a great car that can go through anything Mother Nature throws at us. I have an apartment where I don't have to turn on my heat because my neighbors crank theirs up. Besides, I enjoy being inside. I'm not an outdoors girl. And I've been too busy with work and dance and my crafting to go outside to walk (even though I should).  I'm allergic to mosquitoes and I don't just burn in the sun despite a healthy layer of sunscreen - I crisp like bacon. Hot weather makes me crabby. Maybe after all these years, I am turning into a northerner after all.

I can't change the weather. So why should I stress about it?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Being a kitty mommy

Being a kitty mommy means that I have toys all over the floor, two unintentional heating pads at night, and I'm greeted at the door whenever I come home to half an hour of meowing. And the meowing whenever I go in the kitchen or get up from my chair. Doesn't matter if they have a full food dish and water or I just gave them treats. I get meowed at. Then, when I try to pet either kitty, they run away. And meow some more. My son knows I need some decompression time when I first walk in the door from work. Why can't kitties understand this?

I can accept that I will have kitty litter tracked through the entire apartment and ground into the carpets. I can even accept the fact that the kitties will chew on power cords and shoelaces. I trained them not to chew on my yarn, after all. But for the life of me, I can't train them not to meow at me for half an hour. They don't meow at my son when he comes home. Only me. And they will cuddle with everyone else. But not me.

Why? Does anyone speak kitty? How do I get them to stop?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

House Hunting

I am searching for a house. The truth is, I need a bigger place. I would like a 3 bedroom or a 2 bedroom with an extra family room or a loft. The extra room will be my office/craft room. And I would like a townhouse. I have enough things going on that I do not have time to work on a yard. Plus, the thought of someone else plowing my driveway is just too good to pass up.

So, I've been looking through listings. I've seen a few nice properties with 2 bedroom and a loft. I can't truly commit now because my credit isn't high enough. But, I'm working with a program who will help me get my credit score up so that when I am at the end of my current lease, I can get a decent rate. I'm going with a loan through the VA. With the VA, I don't need a down payment, there is no PMI and I just might get a better rate than a conventional loan. Sometimes, it pays to be a veteran.

The VA says it does not have credit score requirement, nor does it have a credit history requirement. However, banks are less likely to lend to you if you don't have a minimum score of 640. VA loans are designed for veterans and service members, some of whom don't have a great credit history. Most of the programs out there who help veterans get these loans have a secondary program designed to help veterans raise their credit score. Often, these programs are free.

I look forward to sharing my journey to homeownership with you.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mommy Mondays Link Up

Welcome to Mommy Monday, a day where we celebrate our motherhood. This is a link up, so share your story and link up with other bloggers. On Saturday, I shared the joys of being a dance mom. Today, I'm going to share some wonderful pictures of my son.

This is Josh. He is my light and my world. Yes, he is a dancer, but he is also a geek and a natural storyteller. He will tell you the entire story of any movie he has seen, plus little extras. He reads with such comprehension that he can tell you what is in a book, but not in the movie.

Here he is with his kitty, Huggy Bear. Huggy sleeps with Josh every night and will let Josh carry him around the apartment.

Okay, this isn't a picture of him, but a picture of what he builds with his Kinex pieces. He loves making pyramids like this.
 And of course, I have to have at least one dance picture in here. Here he is at Nationals last year when he was picked to be in the Standout Dancer routine. The three lovely ladies with him are dancers at our studio who were also picked for the routine. They all did outstanding!

 Yup - that's a rare picture of me. In purple, too! We went to a Vikings game with my mom.

And here's a more recent picture of my special little guy. He's helping me model some hats I made.

I love being a mom to this guy. He is so helpful around the apartment. He does the dishes, cleans the bathroom, cleans out the cat boxes, vacuums, takes out the garbage, folds and puts his laundry away. He's a great kid. I am very, very lucky to have him.

Link back up to Simply Just Lovely with your post about being a mom.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I am a dance mom

I am a dance mom. I am a rhinestone embellishing, car pooling, crafting fool at times. I support my son and his "girls" 100%. I may have a boy dancer, but I know how to put up fake hair. I am a master of zip-ties and hair gel.

Yes, I do think my son is the best boy dancer at the studio. He works hard and thrives being the center of attention for his clogging line. He works that much harder to make sure he does not let his girls down. I may be a bit crazy at times (I won't deny it), but that's because I want him to do his best. But he's not only a dancer, he is a student as well, and school always comes first.

My son dances 3 days a week, unless you count extra practices. I bring my crafting to the studio. Being at the studio during class allows me know of changes in the routine, announcements and learn what my son needs to work on in his spare time. I am also a member of the booster club board (though, I won't be doing it next year), so if parents need to know about fundraisers, I have all the information.

Most of the time, the moms (or dancers) will come up to me as I'm working and ask "What are you working on today?" I love talking about my work, and they will often ask if I sell my work. This is the perfect opportunity for me to hand out a business card. I never miss an opportunity to promote my business. I always have a stack of cards with me. This has brought me a number of referrals for rhinestoning. I rhinestone studio jackets. Just adding a little sparkle to make the girls feel a little special.

My son wears sparkles and sequins. I don't apologize for this. He only wears them for competition and he doesn't mind. I did rhinestone his jeans this year for clogging, though. I asked his permission, and he agreed. I think he secretly loves the sparkle. Nothing wrong with that. He loves his jeans, so I might have to do it every year from now on. I'll put the other ones on Ebay when he grows out of them.

This weekend marks the start of competition for this year. With two routines this year, and me being line mom for one of them, this is going to be a challenging and rewarding year. Frankly, I think I'm more nervous than my son, but I always am. He was born to be on stage. He has a million watt smile and a charm that makes the judges fall in love with him.

So, here's to a wonderful season and the best of luck to all the studios out there.