Monday, March 30, 2009

Yum!

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I think I have mentioned this previously, but before I was a bootie ladie {sounds so bad, doesn't it?!} I worked as a personal chef. Actually, what happened was that Robert and I were both students. I was taking graduate classes and working as waitress at an Italian restaurant. Right when I decided it was time for a more serious job, 9/11 happened and no one was hiring. When I worked waiting tables, I would sometimes take the Joy of Cooking and flip through it. {I read cookbooks like a novel--cover to cover.} Anyway, that sparked some conversations about food that ended with a job as a pastry chef. I made a whole lot of tirimisu, as well as my own recipes which included lemon mascarpone cake, raspberry truffles, cappuccino creme brulee, and lots more. From that, I decide to start my own small business {called Deliciae} and offer a small selection of cooking classes. This in turn led to my position as a personal chef, as well as catering jobs, the largest of which included a wedding for 200. So, I know how to cook. Although, these days, it feels more like I used to know how to cook, since throwing Bertoli in a pan is hardly cooking. {Though it's not too shabby with a crusty baguette, some aged parmesan, and a good bottle of red wine.}

Now I have traded in my spoon for needle and thread selling booties on Etsy. {I still chuckle about it--baby shoes, who knew?} Anyway, I hadn't really considered Etsy as a venue for food, but I recently discovered some wonderful little boutique bakers and confectioners. So, the next time you need a unique and inexpensive gift, think pumpkin pie caramels, homemade chocolate marshmellows, and honey lavendar shortbread. Not only do these all sound and look amazing, prices for these start at $6!

Chocolate Caramels. Not only are these fantastic, Rachelle, the owner of Caramel Jubilee is a lovely individual.
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Earl Grey Sandwich Cookies. I have made Early Grey ice-cream, but never had it in a cookie like that. Yum!
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A sampler box from Whimsy and Spice, which includes shortbread cookies (honey lavender, chocolate orange cardamom, and brown sugar gingerspice), a mini half pack of chocolate chili cashew biscotti, and one espresso brownie laced with Dulce de Leche.
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Now I'm off to make a cup of tea and look for something sweet. On a side note, I have less than half of my new items listed. More to come!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cherry Blossoms Tutorial

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Before we moved to Houston, we used to live in Holland, Michigan in a hundred year old house. It was a little scrap of a house on a yard the size of a postage stamp, but there was so much life and color in that tiny little yard. We had viburnum and lilac, lavendar, herbs, an apple tree, a full grown cherry tree, and huge raspberries bushes that yielded big red berries. The house had an alley in the back, with some sort of cherry blossom tree that would give beautiful, fragrant peachy colored blooms every spring. While we have the blessing of year-round flowers here in Houston, I miss those huge branches of flowers in the spring. So, I have a quick and easy decorating tutorial to make the lovely branches of flowers in the pictures. I use the term"tutorial" quite loosely, as it barely needs any instruction.

Here's what you need:
branches (alive with leaves, or nonliving w/o leaves)
flowers from the dollar store (make sure the flowers are small)
glue gun

Plug in the glue gun. White it's warming up, cut all the flowers off of the stems. I have to say that I hate cheesy, fake flowers, but because the branches are real, it won't matter for this project. Glue all the flowers to the branches, put them in a vase, and that's it! For a dollar or two, you have beautiful bunches of flowers that will last a long time.

Cut live branches, if you change the water once a week, will keep for about a month. You could use dry branches with no leaves, and the arrangement will keep indefinitely. I love this because I can cut 2 or 3 foot branches and create arrangments with huge impact that are not only super inexpensive, but beautiful and lasting. Hope this gets you in the mood for spring!

Here are a few more pictures:
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Making the Most of Your Morning Winner

"I have always been delighted by the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting behind the morning." -L. Priestly

Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts on how to make the most of the morning. Now that I have all of you thinking that I mill around in my bath robe all day, let's talk about the ideas shared and the winner, of course. I must say, it was entertaining to read people's suggestions, which included everything from tough love {suck it up, "no excuses"} to the hamster dance to the chirping birds alarm clock to the perfect cup of made-in-China, instant coffee. *snicker* As I was thinking about this topic, I compiled a list of top 10 suggestions, some my own and some from the comments posted.

Making the Most of the Morning Tips:
1. Do some light picking up the night before. Personally, I don't find it realistic to do deep cleaning every night {and by every night, I mean ever}, but it only takes a couples minutes to do some picking up and put any dishes in the sink or dishwasher.
2. Start the day with a prayer, even if it's only 3 minutes. I used to spend a lot of time in prayer. Sadly, it's very hard to do so now. However, I think beginning the day by inviting God into my life sets the tone for the entire day. Usually I ask for help to be a good mom and to be open to whoever God might want me to minister to today.
3. Have the coffee pot ready to go the night before. Press the button and....
4. Jump right in the shower. Immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do it now. If you're really brave, take a cold one.
5. Lay out the clothes {for everyone} the night before. Getting dressed can take a lot of time. Maybe I am the only one who digs through 5 baskets of clean laundry looking for my favorite sweater or spends 20 minutes trying on practically everything in my closet, only to put the very first outfit back on.
6. After getting showered and dressed, feed kiddos and write a to-do list. After you wrote your list, if you have any children under the age of 3, take half of what you just wrote and cross it out. Maybe two-thirds.
7. Turn off the computer. {Errr, just not right now!} I know a lot of you said that this is how you like to start the morning. At work, I agree. However, when I am at home, between emails and blogs and researching new materials and visiting inspirational sites... Well, it can be a vortex of time. I find it much better to do tip 8 first.
8. Before taking any time to surf the internet or some other relaxing thing, do an activity with the kid(s): read a book, play a game, take a quick trip to the local park, etc. I find this makes me feel a lot less mommy guilt when it's time to relax later.
9. Schedule an appointment, not just errands, to get out of the house dressed and ready to go at a reasonable time.

........ and when all these fail, number ten comes from the contest winner, "My Name is Heather" who basically says:

10. Relax, enjoy the kids, and keep a light-hearted attitude because the days are long but the years are short. Maybe today I won't be efficient, I won't get a lot done, and I won't feel the deepest sense of accomplishment. But hopefully I cuddled, nurtured, and enjoyed my kiddos in this fleeting stage of their life!

Heather, please send me an email with your address and whether the headband is for an adult or child. Thank you again, everyone, for your contributions! Also, I have a very easy and inexpensive spring decorating project that I will post later today, so be sure to check back!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy Spring

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I had intended on posting some of the pictures of the new peep toes {in the post below} being worn, but Mia and the weather have not been cooperating. I had Mia in her little brown and white seersucker dress size 3-6 months {yep, still fits} and the Josie shoes, but all she was giving me was a lot of this. The forecast today is for thunderstorms, so it will probably be another day or two until I get those pictures. The little peep toes really do look cute on, so I hope to get some decent pictures for you. The little yellow shoes are the Amelia.


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The lovely blue birdie dress is by my friend, Hana, of Mae Belle Originals. Thanks, Hana, for the lovely little dress! It's adorable! Anyway, time is ticking away here, and I have a ton of emails to answer. So, here are some more pictures....

Mia in the red poppy headband.
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And the new matching shoes, which are coming soon in purple, by the way.

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Playing around with textures.
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I'll be posting these later today:
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These little shoes are made from one of my favorite fabrics, an organic eucalyptus. These shoes are not about color but texture: the soft and fuzzy eucalyptus, the sheen of the flower made from vintage white velvet, and the opalecent beads. They are great for a wedding or baptism. These are super hard to photograph! Here's another picture with a better angle of the flower:
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I really have some great innovative patterns for boy's shoes. I've always had a harder time with boy things, but I think/hope you'll like some of these new designs. These shoes are for little baby Jaxson. And happy birthday early to Tasha :)
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So, as promised, I'm doing another giveaway, but not to the first person to post a comment. I need your help. I am not a morning person--at all. It takes me about an hour and two cups of coffee to wake up. If pressed to get going quickly, I have even been known to take my coffee with me in the shower. (Sad, isn't it.) I have a hard time being efficient during my mornings. It's not too uncommon for 10:30 am to roll around, and Mia and I are still kicking around in our jammies, and self-loathing sets in. Before I know it, the day has gone by, and I feel like I don't have much to show for it. I know this is something a lot of moms struggle with. So, please share with me your best tip for making the most out of your morning. The winner will get a poppy headband {sized for either mom or baby} in a mystery color. You have until 11:59 on Thursday, March 26 to make a submission, and the winner will be announced Friday. Looking forward to your suggestions--I need them!

-CONTEST IS CLOSED-
Thank you for your submissions. The winner can be found here!
Sunday, March 22, 2009

Peep Toes

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Running out the door, more on these later....
Saturday, March 21, 2009

Best Buds

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My commentary on this post is going to be short because, well, it's almost 2 am, and I feel tired. This is Aidan and Jack. They are best friends, and it is just so stinkin' cute. Look at that smile on my boy's face--could he be any happier?! Houston weather is at its peak right now, so we get gorgeous sunny days with no humidity where everything is in bloom. It's a lovely day for the park, so that's exactly where we went.

This is Jack. {Aidan calls him "Jackie."} I unintentionally caught some lens flare, then decided to go with it. It's so fun to photograph a little guy with such gorgeous green eyes.
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This is the park we went to. It has dinosaur bones the kids can climb on and a sand box
so they can excavate "archaeological findings." Fun and educational.
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Aidan climbing. Note his hair. He hates getting his hair cut with a passion so vehement it makes a trip to the salon impossible, thus I am his beautician. Poor boy.
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A's profile against the blue sky.
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Jack's brother, Luca, from the birthday party.
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And his Mia Joie sandals he was wearing, hard at work, as you can see.
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Two handsome brothers. Aren't they sweet?
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One last pic of Jack digging in the sand.
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I know I said my next post would be a giveaway, but I didn't have any daylight left to get pictures. So, I hope to have them up tomorrow. :) Oh, one last thing, check out this YouTube video my SIL forwarded to me; it is both helpful and disturbing. Oh, and one last, last thing, I will reply to my emails--I promise! It's just taking me a little to get to them. Heather (C), it was so nice to hear from you! I'll be in touch soon!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fresh and Eco-Friendly: Step into Spring with Mia Joie

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Remember those boots, way back when? Well, I love them but I was concerned about the wrinkling of them. Also, they are a real bear to make. I shutter at the thought of making just one pair and if they went over well, I'd be up there struggling with that fabric all night long. This is because the little shoes above are made from plastic. Yes, plastic. How is that eco-friendly, you ask. The plastic is made from 100% recycled milk cartons. Further more, they are lined with eco-friendly felt, too, or even organic cotton if you prefer. So, they are stylish and resourceful. Plus, I love the colors. And they are damask, and you know my love for damask prints.

Here they are in pink.
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The great thing about them being made from plastic is that the shoes don't show any wear and are by nature water and stain resistant. The plastic gives them an interesting textural quality. They also feature a lined insole and my new woven labels.
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They come in blue. Pictured with the butterfly skirt, which I will be selling soon... I swear.
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And green, as shown with the Mommy's Little Helper Apron.
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Here's a knockout photo. Yes, I give my shoes names. I have to. A few weeks after I first started selling them, a customer asked for the shoe with the pink flowers and toile. At the time, that could have included three different shoes. I almost made the wrong ones. After that, they all got names.
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Here is the pink again with the Mommy's Helper Apron in jasmine with coordinating skirt.
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I was playing with textures here, but in a lazy sort of way. The picture is slightly over exposed, but I didn't fix it. I like the one shoe and the green leaves sprouting. It reminded me of spring... even though I think that's actually a weed. *snicker*
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As for listing my spring items, I am planning on doing so this week. I was going to today, but things didn't go quite as planned. Actually, if you are reading this post and want to see some of the new styles come back or are looking for a particular color of shoe, please post that here. It will be helpful. Thanks!
Sunday, March 15, 2009

Take a Tip from a Preshooler

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When it's time to rest, it's time to rest.
Friday, March 13, 2009

A Birthday Party and the Psychology of a Biter

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Above are pictures of Aidan at a birthday party. There was a super cute little fish cake and about 40 goldfish throughout the house. I wonder, Steph, are they all floating belly up today? ;) Birthday parties are always an event to me. You see, when Aidan was a toddler, he was a biter. He has always been aggressive {pinching, hitting} but the biting was the worst. It started when he was around 16 months and carried well into his third year. He bit Robert and I countless times: on the nape of my neck when he didn't want to take a nap, on my shoulder when he wanted to be in the big pool not the kiddie pool, on Robert's cheek when he was trying to discipline him. It was awful. It's also one of the reasons I have dreaded birthday parties for years. If I didn't personally know the parents, I would probably just not go, but if I did, I would follow Aidan around walking on eggshells... watching. A gymnastics party about a year and a half ago was also when I realized how behind Aidan truly was in his language. {He couldn't follow instructions at that party the way the other children did. He played on his own or would re-enter the group only to try to hit another boy and take his ball or scooter.} Like I said, I don't like birthday parties.
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Thus, this birthday party on Thursday was significant to me for several reasons. For one, Aidan wedged himself into the middle of the social boy train that was zooming throughout the house. He was talking and participating, not just observing or following. {After Aidan's assessment, these are details I observe carefully.} He was not aggressive and highly social. To me, these are not autistic behaviors at all. If you are just reading now, you can read about Aidan's autism assessment here. When we got home, Aidan knew all the children's names and talked about what they did and how he felt. And we made it through the entire party with no biting or hitting. Okay, there was a little bit of screaming, but Rome wasn't built in a day.

Back to the biting, it really was a terrible parenting experience. On one of the worst occassions, we were in a toy store. Aidan, then 3 years old, was playing with this marble tower, when a 5 year old zoomed up out of nowhere and grabbed marbles out of his hand. I was probably 2 feet away, but Aidan bit down faster than I could intervene. The other boy let out a blood curdling scream, which sent his mother and a store attendant speeding our way. I didn't see the bite, but heard a frantic cry from his mother: "it broke skin!!!!" The little boy was rushed to the bathroom and treated with with a first aid kid. I sat there, holding back tears and not knowing what to do. The owner of the toy store said he thought the little boy would probably need a tetanus shot. Then the mother came out with the little boy. I told Aidan to say sorry to the boy, and he echoed, "Say sorry to the boy." The mother was angry with me at which point I couldn't hold back the tears. I scooped up Aidan and rushed for the door.
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At some point when I have decades of perspective on the toddler years, I would love to study the psychology of a biter and write a book about my findings. If you are ever in a situation with a biting toddler, go easy on the mom. We told Aidan over and over and over and over that it was wrong with time-outs, spankings, and logical consequences all to no avail. I believe that it was his method of communication. When that 5 year old grabbed his marbles, Aidan was saying no--with his teeth. He knew it was wrong, but he was still going to put the "NO" message out there. I don't think there is a discipline solution for a biting toddler. I have had parents swear up and down that biting back works. But, not only did I not have the gumption to bite back hard enough to make it hurt, Aidan was not to the point to understand empathy. No, the only way to "cure" a biter, is to give the child words. So, at 4 years, Aidan is finally speaking in complete sentences, and the biting is behind us. I think.
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This whole history of biting is one of the reasons I posted what has to be my 5th profile picture of Mia this month.
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I took her to with me to my MOPS meeting yesterday. Ususally I put her in the nursery, but it was a relaxed meeting, so I let her mill about the room. She traveled from person to person, wearing my SIL's purse on her sholder and greeting everyone with kisses and toothy smiles. With Mia, it is so different. With Aidan, I was constantly on the alert. The muscles in my neck were proverbially tight. With Mia, she kisses and hugs everyone--and I can actually relax. So, I love the picture of her above because it reminds me of that difference, of the immense pleasure I feel in her sweet little disposition. I do, of course, love my Aidan, and I admire his intensity and know God will use his passion. Nonetheless, it is nothing short of wonderful to have a baby that gives kisses and hugs in place of nips and chomps.
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The picture above is little Luca and his birthday gift. He's a real doll, as you can see. Anyway, I need to get the kiddos going this morning. I will add that I did eventually see the bite Aidan gave the little 5 year old at the toy store that "broke skin," and it was barely detectable... in fact, I have seen paper inflict greater suffering, thank goodness.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Model, I am Not

I promised I would post the womens shirt I made. Can I just say, if I start selling more womens items, I will definitely get a model. Yes, it's a major hassle {fit, time, cost, etc.} but I am best behind the camera, not in front of it. I am not photogenic--truly I am not. I don't know how to pose, and I feel like a major cheese ball taking a picture of myself. The only time I really ever took a picture of myself was as a kid, you know, when no one was looking. Then someone would get the roll developed, and there was that one picture... with the nose twice the normal size, since it was taken from only arm's length away. {Hey, you might laugh, but don't lie--we've all done it.}

Nonetheless, to sell clothes, they really need to be seen worn. I don't think I'm going to jump into womens apparel with both feet, but it's fun to do something new. When I first started making shoes, I really didn't know much about sewing. I had made some roman shades and slip covers before, but all I really knew how to sew was a straight line on a twenty year old machine. Now, I have a digital machine and a serger {thanks, GG ;) } and an arsenal of sewing know-how at my disposal. It's exciting to think that I really could make my own clothes, and make them well, if I had the time, patience, and inclination. Patience is key. I get impulsive and rush. The best things are made slowly with careful consideration at ever step in the creative process.

So, here's the shirt:

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It's made out of a really comfortable brown knit and the sash is a crepe back satin. And here is my cheesie, cheese ball self-portrait. Notice I cropped, edited, and texturized the living daylights out of it....
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I have all the materials I need to sell this same style of shirt in a cream organic herringbone that is really soft and great for summer. I definitely want to make that jacket, but it will fall far second to some spring baby/toddler shoes. Have I mentioned that I have 8 new pairs half completed? I just need to arrange time to finish and photograph them.

On a personal note, Robert and I have been taking dance lessons, a gift he gave me a long time ago that we are finally using. It's been fun and a little like therapy. We have to learn a lot of non-verbal communication as a couple. Also, the man always leads and the lady follows, which is romantic and sometimes contrary to daily life. {I can *ahem* be a little assertive.} So, here are some lovely quotes about dancing for you to enjoy:

"Some people ask the secret to a long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candle light, dinner, soft music, and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays." ~Henry Youngman

Okay, that one just made me laugh. Here's another one that's really lovely and from a book of poetry that Robert got me for Christmas.

"But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of heaven dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls." ~Khalil Gibran

Hope your week is off to a lovely start and that you're finding a little romance and whimsy amidst the hum drum of every day life.
Monday, March 9, 2009

Yum

I was making dinner while Aidan was pleading for the biscuits I was making. He was starving-- starving--and couldn't wait. So, he decided to take matters into his own hands and snack on the nearest available thing. Can you make him out reclining in the background? This was a full stick before he got to it. Am I the only one whose children drink out of the dog bowl, find snacks in the garbage, eat the petrified french fries between the car seat, and fork down half a stick of butter when no one else is watching??
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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Snap Happy

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Like I said in my previous post, I was just snapping away yesterday in the backyard. I think this picture might be my new favorite of Mia... the sunshine and the lighting. Wait until you see the picture of her brother *snicker.* See the whites in Mia's eyes just below her pupils? That's me! I was wearing a white tank top, and it's quite visible in the larger image. {If you're curious, you see just the reflection here.}

So, here are some more pictures of the Dolce Headband; as I said, it's hand-dyed and made from organic eucalyptus. I actually spoke to the manufactuer of this product, and it's pretty amazing; it's made in an entirely green facility. Very cool. Anyway, here are more pictures.
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This one is pretty dark but I like the bokeh (blurred out part) of the ruffles.... I hope I get around to making the rest of that dress. It hought it would be nice to sell for Easter.
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A new headband, the Jasmine.
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It's made from the fabric Sweet Jasmine by Amy Butler.
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This picture was just me playing around with angles. I love the trees, but Mia was clearly fatigued of the all pictures.... her look to me says, "Really, mom? Another one??"
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Lest he be left out, here are some pics of Aidan. He kept telling me to take pictures of Mia. He was making his guys fly and singing A Whole New World from Aladdin {the movie du jour}. As for an update on Aidan, I think we are going to make some changes to his school. I just heard a speaker discuss her encounters with autism, and they were vastly different from our experiences with Aidan. While there were some similarlities {delayed language, preference for routine, tantrums}, her child would self-stim {i.e. bang his head on the wall, roll on the ground, twirl, etc.} Aidan doesn't do these things. However, some of the other children in his class room do, and he's coming home telling me it scares him. I didn't observe any of this when I visited the class. We're scheduling a meeting to make some changes. Please keep it in your prayers!

Anyway, my little man.
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What was he doing while Mia was having her photoshoot--well, take a look.... BOYS!
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I've gotten a lot of emails asking when I will reopen. They are always nice to read. :) As it is, I spent two days this week up until 4 am. I've realized that I am much much more efficient at night. This is especially hard, now that Aidan has to be ready for school by 7:30 am. I feel like even though I'm not open, I've still been working hard. Mia is so sweet and growing so fast, and before I know it Aidan will be in school. I don't want to look back with regret... wishing I would have read one more story, savored one last cuddle, made one more trip to the park. On the other hand, quite honestly, there are plenty of times where the inefficiency and, well... mess, of this age drives me absolutely batty. The creative, tangible outlet of Mia Joie is what keeps me sane. On top of all that, I am still working on a big business project. I'm trying to prayerfully weigh it all and be wise.

Finally, true to my word, the first person to leave a comment saving they want it wins a striped Mia Joie tie! Can't leave out my moms of boys! Have a lovely weekend!
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