Leaf Ninjas


autumn-temari-largeYesterday when I got home from the chaos of the kids’ parties at their respective schools, I pulled in my driveway and noticed something odd. Kind of puzzled for a moment, I looked around- something’s differnent- but what? My yard looks… nice. Oh MY GOODNESS, someone raked all my leaves!!

It took me a second to register, because really, it just looked nice, and couldn’t put my finger on why. But there it was- all raked and tidy. When I got inside, I could clearly see out the back door to a dozen piles of nicely raked leaves, and my emerald grass peeking out again. I hadn’t seen green since I got home from California two weeks ago.

Leaves are my nemesis. I adore my deciduous trees- the canopy of summer, the home for my butterflies, the bird’s nests they harbour, and the fantastic color they give me in the fall. But the leaves, when they do fall? Bad, bad news for asthma and allergy sufferers. So the leaf-raking has always fallen on my husband… and well, now, that’s not really an option. I’ve been looking at them with dismay as the layers grew deeper and deeper.

And then the Leaf Ninjas showed up.

In my mind, I rolled over who it might have been. Friends? People from church? My neighbors got sick of my yard? A boy-scout project? Hmmm….

Then the rest of the night got crazy and I didn’t think about my leaves anymore. Until this morning, when I was getting ready for the day, and my doorbell rang. It took me a moment to get to it- and by the time I answered, there was no one there. But in my driveway was Mo and her entire family, gloves, rakes and leaf bags, ready to go. They live about 45 mintues away- and they had driven out here yesterday, worked, then come back this morning to finish the job.

Friends sure do make life a better place. I’m humbled by the constant stream of goodness being directed my way- so many people have reached out to me, in small (and grand) ways lately to let me know they love me and my children. I am so grateful.

All Funned Out

vintage_jack_o_lantern_man_stickers-p217214251393238416qjcl_400My nod to Halloween was orange eyeshadow and an orange sweater. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got this year. Today held two kid parties at two different schools, dragging Abby to both of them, three hepped-up kids from piles of candy, then our church Trunk-or-Treat party tonight. By about 7:30, I was done. The kids weren’t, but I was. Our bishop decided to make homemade doughnuts after the chili cookoff contest, (which was awesome and made the building smell fantastic- but I can’t have doughnuts anymore!) and then Abby spilled not one but two cups of hot (lukewarm) chocolate on her Snow White dress, getting some on (oh NO!) Beanie’s costume too, and the meltdown that ensued pushed Mama over the edge. Done and done.

Officially half-past-Fun, I coralled Bean and Abby on the stairs to the stage and went looking for Jeff. It is freaking hard to find an 8-year old boy in a stake center filled with costumed trick-or-treaters. By the time I got back, Abby had touched Bean, and Bean had dropped his doughnut and was hanging from the cliff of another complete meltdown. He maintained until we got in the car, then his candy bag snagged on his booster seat, spilled, and that was all she wrote…


Post Office Mayhem

If my computer hadn’t crashed and I could still upload photos, you could see my dining room table absolutely sagging under the weight of patterns being packed. You could see shipping boxes stacked, and maybe even a shot of the little hand-written note of thanks I put in each box. You could see Abby helping me load the packages in the Suburban to take to the post office, while wearing her new hand-me-down Lellie Kellie shoes, of which she is preposterously proud.

You could see me, balancing my purse, keys, phone and a three-year old while I try and carry ten boxes into the oh-so-helpful post office, and then you could see Abby pulling on my arm whining that she has to go potty right now. You could see me dragging the postal cart out to my car, in the rain (of course) to unload the rest of the boxes to ship, and then you could see the postal lady tell me I had not used the flat-rate shipping boxes, and it was going to be $25.14 per box, unless I wanted to unpack and re-pack them in the flat-rate boxes.

Then you would see Abby pee on the floor of the post office, and me sopping it up with wipes from my purse. There might be a photo of me, now disheveled and messy, kneeling and re-packing my boxes with a pair of kids scissors and the roll of flimsy tape the post office lady loaned me, because the flat-rate box was only $14.25, and I had ten of them. My math skills are not good, but even I could see that was a no-brainer.

Then you would see my whole purse dump out on the floor at the post office while I tried to find my debit card, just as the lady who owns the print-shop that does my pattern printing walks in, and she wants to chat, as I stand amid mutilated cardboard boxes, torn tissue, and pee-spots on the post-office floor.

If only I’d had a camera…

Everything shipped today. Onward and upward…

Random Crap: Halloween Edition!

vintage-halloween-little-girl-witch-pumpkin-black-cat-card1I hate carving pumpkins. It’s true. I do. I hate pumpkin guts, and the way they smell is just vile. I do like pumpkin seeds, but I can buy those in a nice little bag at the store. I’m hoping the kids will just forget about the whole pumpkin-carving thing this year and be happy with the plug-in Jacks on the porch.

Last night my old RS president brought me over three Kerr jars full of pie filling she made. Guess what I’ve been eating? That, and Boursin. The grocery store had Boursin marked down to $2.99- so of course I had to get them all. Added to the three-pack my friend brought me from Costco.

It’s  a Folding and Stuffing party at my place tonight- just as soon as I get the kids in bed! Shipping drop d-day is tomorrow, no ifs ands or buts about it. It’s exciting. I pick up the rest of the job from my printer this afternoon.

Our church Halloween party is Friday night, and all I have to do is show up. There are some seriously wonderful hidden benefits to being a member of my church. Free Halloween is but only one…

Beanie is into spilling the Nog of Egg lately. Yesterday, he dropped a whole jug on the floor in the dining room- which caused many tears and great consternation. Then today, at the market to replace said jug, he drops the carton on the frozen food aisle, and it splits wide open on the side seam. We are clearly not meant to have eggnog.

The kids had their first visit last night with their dad since the divorce. It went surprisingly well- with not a lot of emotional post-visit fall out. Yay for tender mercies.

There are about three feet of fallen leaves in my backyard. If I wasn’t deathly allergic to black leaf mold, I would be out there- but playing in the leaves is a guaranteed trip to the ER for me. I even have to strip the kids’ clothes if they play in them, and immediately wash ’em.

I am SO not ready for the holidays this year- despite the stores yelling at me that I should really be hanging the mistletoe already. And for the record? There will be NO mistletoe in this house this year!

I’m thinking of boycotting Fakey Fakerson this year and opting for a real tree. Mr Fakey is nice and all, but his smell leaves something to be desired. At least he’s not pink.

By the way, I’m changing my last name back.

Why are there only ho costumes for women in the stores? You can be a witch ho, a devil ho, a maid ho, a princess ho, a pirate ho, a space alien ho, a cheerleader ho, a fairy ho, a medieval ho, a hippie ho, a frankenbride ho, a ghost ho, a vampire ho, a zombie ho,  ho ho ho…

Have a Happy Halloween at your house too!

Folding Stuffing Shipping


This afternoon I picked up the first batch of my patterns to ship from Houston.  It’s exciting and a lot of work- but this is busy work- Folding, stuffing, shipping, and hopefully, repeat.  And repeat again.

I’m hoping there’s some good TV on tonight, because I’m going to folding for a long time… That’s a good thing. A very good thing. Keep placing orders, all you stores! I promise, if you make a sample, you will sell scads of my stuff!

Plastic Fingers

Before I left for Houston, I went to get a manicure, and the sweet lady at the salon talked me into getting acrylic tips. I was an easy sell- I was nervous, and I wanted to look pretty. My nails have never been a hotbed of good looks- seriously, anyone who does the amount of things with their hands that I do cannot have a nice manicure for long. So I bit. And oh, boy howdy, did they look pretty! A French manicure is always classy in my book, and my hands suddenly looked… well… feminine. It was nice.

It did find I poked myself a lot. They weren’t that long- it’s just that I’m used to relying on my hands to be something besides pretty. I had trouble typing, dialing the phone, opening a diet cherry Dr. Pepper (egad!)  and even texting on my old skool phone. But I sure did feel pretty when I wrote something or shook hands with a new friend. Beauty is painful, right?

It’s been three weeks, and I noticed they were growing out and starting to look a little bedraggled. I needed to either get them fixed-up again, or take those suckers off. The kick in my decision direction came on Sunday. I needed to sew something, and I went to put my thimble on. WRONG! Nope, no thimble with nice nails. Not gonna happen. Then, at church, there was a lady I did not know sitting in front of me in RS, and she had these insanely long, obviously fake dragon-lady fingernails. But they were also French manicured. And that did it.  Is that awful? I don’t want to be the Thimble-less Dragon Lady.

So last night I sat down and chipped, peeled, hacked and gnawed those suckers off. Aaaaaaaaaaah. The relief is palpable. My fingers thank me. My fingers are SO happy they feel like Sally Fields. I can type quickly again, I can wipe bums without stabbing anyone, I can pick little noses and dial my phone- I can do all kinds of things, and I CAN use my thimble again! Hooray!

So my foray into being a fancy girl was fun, but ultimately, for me, plastic finger-extentions were more pain and handicap than they were worth. It sure is nice to have my ten little friends back… and we’ve got to get to work!


HOLY COW! You have NO idea what my weekend has been like. Criminy. My computer crashed Saturday morning. In the middle of creating invoices for all the new companies that picked me up in Houston. Super-crashed. Kaput. Kazam. I was updating, and then it went all crazy, and words and whonky noises started coming over the screen, and like any sane, right-brained woman, I panicked and hit the power strip. I’ll never know if that was the death knell of old Bessie, or if the deal was sealed before I took a flying leap for the plug. Either way, I lay on the smoldering pile of Dell remains, and promptly had an anxiety attack.

Did you know yelling and crying and pleading with your computer does NO GOOD? Seriously people, NO GOOD. Especially if it’s already gone on to the great silicon beyond.

So first, I cried. I went out in the garage to be alone, and I cried. Then, it started to sink in how utterly dependant on my little Bessie I have become. My two web-guys who are building my website live on the east-coast. I cannot even call them- we only email! The people who are hosting the website, in Arizona? Same thing. The techie guys are waiting on picture files from me for the website and- OH MY HELL! They are ALL in Bessie. MY PICTURES!

I cried some more. (But I did not, this time, throw a shoe at it, or kick it. I have matured.)

I cannot even TELL anyone that my computer crashed! Because I need a COMPUTER to tell everyone. OH. CRAP!!

My poor kids. Mama’s having a melt-down in the kitchen. My phone still works, right? Oh thank goodness! Ok, who can I call? What? What’s that kids? It’s time to go to the ice-cream social at church? ICE CREAM SOCIAL? What the heck is that? Can’t you see MAMA is melting down? OH, fine, get in the car, let’s go. The computer OBVIOUSLY isn’t going to do anything. I think my sarcasm was lost on Bessie, and the kids too, but it made me feel better.

While I was gone, a friend came over and tried to see what he could salvage. When I got back from the ICE CREAM SOCIAL (?), my friend met me in the garage, with the same look a surgeon has when he’s giving bad news in the waiting room. Hangdog look. I raised my eyebrows in a quizzical hopeful looks, to which he shrugged and shook his head. RIP Bessie.

I resort to texting. To be clear, I have an old Skool phone- it is so FAR from being a smart phone, I have to hit the number 7 button four times just to get an “S”. Oh. Yeah. So I text my web-master on the east coast to let him at least know I’ve invoked heroic measures on Bessie to try and salvage some of her organs. Hopefully, with some luck, I can get the photos’ out. What ever happened to good old photo-albums? Huh? That’s what I want to know.

After the ICE CREAM SOCIAL, I realized my kids also had a Halloween party to go to at 6. Forgot ALL about it in the middle of my Very Important Existential Crisis. Beanie and Abby already had their costumes, but I had exactly 45 minutes to make one for Jeffrey. And I did it too. In 45 mintues, I made him a linen tunic and a floor-length Jedi robe, as well as an Obi sash. I scrubbed some eyebrow powder on his face to give him a beard, and he was a passable Quai Gon Jin, Jedi Master. Only with red hair…

The kids went off to the party, I had two hours to cry over Bessie, and I managed to spend almost all the two hours with Comcast. It’s not Comcast’s fault, just so you know- Nothing, no matter what, is their fault, and they will spend two hours on the phone with you proving it. Just ask them.

It was a long, dark, cold night with no computer.

Anyway. Then the Primary Program was today. With kids all hepped up on Halloween candy from last night. It was awesome. I’ve never come so close to wanting to eat my daughter as I did today. The boys did fantastic, picking their noses on cue and making sure to wave in great giant flapping arcs, just in case I was looking elsewhere in chapel while they sand their little off-key hearts out. Meanwhile, Abby flopped around on the floor like a beached Bass, kicking me and everyone around her and talking loudly about the potty and poop, her two new favorite subjects,  right after Sweeeping Dooty and Snow White. Which, now that I think about that…

After church the big tech guy shows up, with a bag of tricks and a flashy things that boggle my mind. He even has a whole new computer with him, which is about 1/16 the size of Bessie, but he informs me has 216 times (216!) the memory of Bessie. Show off.

He left and came back. Twice. Through some magickmee-foo, he was able to coax all of my photographs, my invoices and all of my business files out and onto a teeeeeeeny-tiny little thing he called a thumb-drive. When I laughed at it, he said it had more memory than my whole computer. I’m getting that memory is a big deal with these tech guys…

So. He left me a computer here to use. It was one he said he built himself in about 30 minutes. Let me say that again. Dude built a computer in 30 minutes.  Like, from pieces, like I would throw together a dinner of leftovers. Or a quilt. Dude makes a computer. That, THAT boggles my mind. As easy as creative stuff is for me, the IDEA that dude MAKES computers for fun, and just can drop-off a spare one, HE MADE , while he attempts to recover more junk from Bessie’s carcass? Blows my mind.

Bessie is dead. Long live Bessie.


braveryThree banks. It took three different banks for me to open my own account yesterday. But it’s done, and I’m with a credit union. That’s a good thing. I’m not naming names or anything, but all you big banks? The ones bailed out by my insane tax dollars? You all can bite me. Yay for little credit unions and free checking! A bank that rhymes with Schmace wanted to charge me $25 annually for a DEBIT card. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!? Yeah. Walked out.

Working on business contacts and trying to keep my name in the forefront of people’s minds post Houston. Also, I have two web gurus working on a website and design for me. I’m thinking of some changes around there, and am thinking really hard about launching under my own name. My design work has been under the name Eye of the Needle, and I do clothing and diaper bags under Dandelion Mama, and obviously the blog. I’m Tracy M at all of them- but I’m thinking of making Tracy M the umbrella, and making EotN and DM subsidiaries under the umbrella of Me. It’s a big step- but I’ll tell you why…

I’ve worked hard for other people in my life- for two companies, back in my career days, I gave my blood, and both are still using work I designed/wrote/styled and drew. They are still making money, in their names, ten-plus years later, from my work. That’s fine- that’s the way it works when you are a salaried employee- I get that. But after the last one, I swore next time I worked that hard, it would be under MY name.

So, do I keep a shell-name for my companies and remain a somewhat anonymous Oz behind the curtain, pulling all the strings and making all the decisions? Or, do I pull out all the stops and brand myself as the Name? I’m leaning, substantially, toward the later.

But… but… but nothing. I can do whatever I want. Scary things don’t scare me anymore.

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Settling In

t’s hard to know what the new normal is. Unlike when you are a kid, and you think adults know stuff, being an actual adult lets you in on the big secret- there are no answers. There is no big book of knowledge that cues you in on how to handle difficult questions, answers that suck, days that grind you down like a steel rasp, and dawns that take too long to come. Sometimes, things are just hard.

My children look at me and plead for answers I haven’t a clue how to give. My eyes well with hot, biting tears, and I hope telling them how much I love them is enough. Their eyes brim and overflow, and with the tears come more questions I cannot answer. I am the mama. I am the buoy. I am who will keep this fractured ship afloat. And I have no idea how.

Taking it day by day is even laughable. Really, its hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute. Waves of feeling strong wash over me, and I am renewed with conviction that I CAN in fact do this. Then the sun sets, the kids go to sleep, and the demons crawl out from under my bed and torture me with their unanswerable questions and demands for a future I cannot see and never planned on having.

Today was hard. I need small victories, tidbits and breadcrumbs to keep me moving forward. Today was a famine.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll eat.

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