Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fine Doodles review

When we decided to have kids, I knew we'd have messes in our house. I knew there would be toys and other kid paraphernalia strewn about, but one thing I never thought about was artwork.

Since then, I've learned that preschoolers create a LOT of artwork. Logan brings stacks of it home from school every week, and spends a lot of his free time at home drawing as well. The result is a LOT of paper all over our kitchen.

So, what to do with all that artwork?

One can only keep so much. Most of it, I must admit, ends up in the recycling bin. I just CAN NOT store 617 pictures of monster trucks or 485 portraits of our family. We simply don't have the space.

Logan's artwork goes through a filtering process. Some of it, like the really generic stuff he does in preschool, goes straight to the recycling bin within a day or two of him bringing it home. Pieces he really likes might be displayed on his bedroom door for a while. Certain pieces I really like might spend some time on our refrigerator, and the occasional really special or meaningful project gets a place in the "To Keep" folder. Not many make it that far.

Occasionally, I'll send a piece to his grandparents, or capture it on the digital camera. I suppose if I got a digital photo frame, I could take pictures of all his art and have a slideshow on the frame. Big pieces from preschool are sometimes used as gift-wrapping paper. But, in the end, most of it is recycled.

This might sound harsh, but really, it adds up. All Logan's drawings are special to me because HE drew them. I love them. I think they're adorable. It's just not feasible to keep them all.

But sometimes, there's just something about a picture. Something that, when I look at it, makes me FEEL something. There was a drawing he did when he was three that I fell in love with the second I saw it. It was just done on a cruddy piece of newsprint, but he took markers and drew a bunch of the most precious little cats and dogs I had ever seen, along with some random markings that, to me, looked like clouds and lightning. I have always, in my mind, called that drawing "Raining Cats and Dogs." It immediately got a spot in the special folder, to be kept forever.

Well, the folder is just a folder and over the past year and a half or so, that drawing got a little wrinkled around the edges. I wanted to do something special with that drawing before it ended up ruined. Frame it or something. But I could never decide just how to do it.

Then, I stumbled upon Fine Doodles and it's the neatest thing. An artist, Summer Myers, takes your child's original drawings and turns them into real ART--An acrylic painting on canvas.

But oh, it's so much more than that. You have to see her work to believe it. She takes those precious scribbles and turns them into something truly fantastic.

Here's how she does it:

"I look at each drawing and discuss it with my husband first. He helps me interpret indecipherable scribbles as well as decide on appropriate colors and backgrounds. Then I paint the background, digitally resize the drawing, and transfer it onto the panel with graphite paper. At first I tried just re-drawing the picture by hand, but over-trained and over-analytical adults just can't recreate the composition and line quality of children. A graphite transfer is much more true to the drawing.
I then paint over the transfer, adding color, texture, dimension, pattern, and sometimes a few small, new elements - always trying to be faithful to the child's intent. There is artist interpretation involved, too, and that's why I leave space for both me and the child to sign. We work together to make a Fine Doodle."

I knew the instant I saw Summer Myers' work that I had to have her turn "Raining Cats and Dogs" into a Fine Doodle.

So, she did. And I ADORE it!

Here is the original drawing I sent her

And HERE is the Fine Doodle. (I feel like my photograph doesn't do it justice!)

Logan said "That is so, so cool! Look at them! They're flying!" He loves his painting. Sorry, buddy. It's mine!

Check out some of the detail, though. It's so awesome. Look at how she transformed these little critters.

Even the crazy one-eyed cat looks awesome!

In addition, each Fine Doodle comes with a certificate of authenticity that Summer has signed, and there's room for your child to sign it too. The certificate includes a scan of your child's original drawing.

Here's a little more about Summer:

"I took art in school just like everybody else, did A.P. Art in high school, and then went to Brigham Young University for the four years it took to get a Visual Arts degree. Art has always been a part of my life, though - my father has been a career sculptor for decades, and he works from home. My brother has taken the same path. I don't do the sculpture thing, though - I'm a painter. I love oils, but they're messy and a little toxic, so I haven't used them since we started our family. Acrylics are the next best thing, and watercolor is fun, too. I also do a lot of digital work, and I'm currently working on putting together a portfolio of my digital illustrations. I would love to illustrate for kids' books.

What is it about art that I love? How do I even answer that? I just can't stop making it.

I actually got the inspiration for Fine Doodles from my husband, who saw a series of works by BYU art professor Joe Ostraff based on kids' drawings. My husband poked around the internet looking for similar work and found Dave Devries' project At the time, Monster Engine was more about rendering children's fears to make them look silly. My husband encouraged me to do my own take, but it took until a figure drawing class in college to get around to it. We were assigned to do a self-structured "interpretive" project based around the human figure. I chose to take my nieces' drawings of people and render them in Rembrandt-like sepia pencil. They turned out a little creepy, but my family loved them. They urged me to sell them. I found that painting the drawings in colorful acrylics made them less creepy and more cute."

Summer has completed about 35 Fine Doodles so far, with more orders pending, and she's only been doing it since November. You can see a gallery of some of them on the website. Right now, it's a part-time job as she raises her one-year-old son (she paints while he's napping) and prepares for the arrival of her second child in late summer. At that time, she'll have to take a break for a while, so if you want to order a Fine Doodle of your own, sooner is better!

Summer is also looking into offering greeting cards with the Fine Doodle printed on the front and plans to have a Fine Doodles blog up and running soon.

Before I forget, I should add that Summer did my Fine Doodle at a discounted rate because I was going to review it here. In NO WAY did that impact the way I feel about my painting. I just can't wait until Jordan is big enough to do some drawings so I can have a Fine Doodle made out of his work, too!

If you're a parent with a little artist in your home, I urge you to head over to the Fine Doodles website and take a look around. Perhaps you, too, can have an original piece of art in your home!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Getting dizzy is fun!

Before Jordan got sick this weekend, he discovered, as most kids do at some point, that spinning in circles to make yourself dizzy can be lots of fun.

One of THOSE nights

As I sit writing this column, it’s Monday morning and I am coming off one of THOSE nights.

I’d have to imagine most parents experience these kinds of nights once in a while. They’re pretty rough. They leave you fuzzy-minded and cranky, with glowing red eyes that feel like you’ve been crying. Later in the day, I’m sure, I’ll be rummaging through the pantry looking for a quick pick-me-up, or craving a pop, which I don’t usually drink.

The kind of night I’m talking about?

The kind when your kid has a high fever and you end up holding a steaming hot, inconsolable baby all night long, watching the minutes and hours tick away on the clock, knowing that daylight is coming and you’re going to have to function whether you sleep or not, but you can’t sleep because you’re too worried about your baby.

I don’t know what law dictates this, but it seems like high fevers always strike children—MY children at least—at the very moments when a doctor is most difficult to reach. Holidays, weekends and, of course, night. Fever is always higher at night, that’s a fact that my pediatrician told me. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but it is definitely a rule my kids seem to follow.

Well, this time, Jordan’s fever struck at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday. He’d been cranky for a couple days, and maybe even a little warm, but he’s been cutting molars left and right, so I just assumed it was more teething. All of a sudden, I came home from the gym and he came crying to me. I picked him up and he just kind of sacked out in my arms. He NEVER just falls asleep in my arms. He felt really hot, too, so I took his temperature and it was 103-point-something or other.


I gave him some medicine to bring his fever down and then decided to call the urgent care office to see if they thought I should bring him in. They asked me a few questions and then said he should be fine at home but to take him to the E.R. if he got worse.

Gee, thanks.

I kind of think they just didn’t want to invite any more patients right before closing time on a Saturday night, but who knows?

So. Fevers. I don’t know about you, but they make me nervous. I mean, a fever means SOMETHING is going on with the kid, but what? Is it an ear infection? Strep? Something else? Something more serious?

It’s so hard to know what to do in these cases.

It was obvious, for example, one time when Logan was about Jordan’s age. He got a sudden 106-degree fever and just wasn’t with it. He was basically unconscious. I took him to the urgent care and found out he had strep, and they dosed him up with both acetaminophen and ibuprofen and then had us stay there until the fever came down. I liked that, because I wasn’t the one in charge. Someone with actual medical knowledge was there instead of just a mom and the internet.

But this weekend wasn’t that clear-cut. 103 is still considered a “normal” fever and isn’t in “dangerous” territory.

So, I decided to keep Jordan at home and gave him medicine all weekend, but this fever just doesn’t want to go away. It will get down to about 101 but it doesn’t want to go much lower than that. He doesn’t want to eat, he begs to be held but then when you’re holding him, he’s whiny. The kid obviously isn’t feeling well.
So, of course, today we’ll head to the doctor’s office.

I wonder, though, if I had gone to the urgent care anyway on Saturday, what would I have found out? For example, if he requires antibiotics, they could already be working against whatever is making him miserable. Should I have gone? Would he be feeling better by now if I had?

Motherhood is such a guessing game sometimes. I guess we just have to hope that we guess right most of the time.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Varicella? Very confusing.

So. I have a decision to make.

Do I get the kids their varicella (chicken pox) vaccines or don't I?

I have thought about this before. The health department sends out the kids' vaccine schedule regularly, highlighting the ones we haven't had but they think we should have, and varicella is always on there.

I do get my kids vaccinated. I don't delay the schedule. I just do it based on how my pediatrician's office recommends it. And I am not looking to debate this here.

However, I'm confused about what to do on the varicella vaccine.

Before Logan entered preschool, I talked to the pediatrician about it. He basically recommended against it because it requires boosters and it's a newer vaccine. It's better, he said, to just have them get chicken pox.

The nurse did add that my husband should get the vaccine since he's an adult and has never had the chicken pox and it can be pretty bad for adults who get it. I told him that but he hasn't done it.

After that conversation, I decided to sign the waiver for the vaccine at Logan's preschool and we went on with our lives.

Well, I signed him up for kindergarten this week and basically got a bunch of REALLY disapproving looks from the school people and they told me that if we do the waiver and a child in Logan's class comes down with chicken pox, he won't be allowed to come to school because he's not vaccinated. I didn't think to ask how long this suspension would last.

Basically, they were acting like I was dumb as a box of rocks for not having him vaccinated and saying, in so many words, that they would discriminate against my child because of it.

It made me think, though.

I guess where I stand is I DON'T KNOW if I should get my kids that vaccination. I can't seem to find CLEAR evidence that it is better or worse to do so. There doesn't seem to be CLEAR evidence if it has any impact on, for example, getting shingles in adulthood.

One one hand, I don't want to be bullied into getting it by school officials.

On the other hand, I DO believe vaccines have a place. I know the chicken pox sucks because I had it. Also, I worry about my husband. If one of the kids come home with a case, it could be really bad for my husband's health. In addition, I have heard that chicken pox can be pretty bad for kids with conditions like eczema, and Jordan had problems with eczema for the first six months of his life.

SO. What I'm looking for here is not any sort of debate or argument. If it turns into that, I'll simply delete offensive comments or even this entire post. I know vaccines can be a hot topic, but play nice.

What I want to know is how you feel about the varicella vaccine. Did you or would you get it for your kids? Why or why not? Please let me know!

Thanks for your input.

Green stuff

Had a nice, but short visit with Dad. He got us burgers and beer for dinner last night. Mmmmm! I made him and the boys breakfast this morning and he's off to do some business before heading back to the Great White North.

There are signs of spring everywhere. It's good AND bad. It's only March, so there's a good possibility that the temps will plummet and there will be lots more snow and that could mean the buds will come off the trees and flowers that have come up will freeze and that could mean no flowers, fewer leaves, etc. Oh well, we'll see what happens.

The chives are coming up in my yard. They're always the first thing. That means some sour cream and fresh chive redskin potatoes will be served with dinner in the next few days!

It would also appear that the strawberries I planted last year have survived the winter. Yay!

The tomato and lettuce seeds we planted have sprouted. Still no peppers, but they take longer. They're living in the window for now.

I made my own mustard! Woo is it hot! It's tasty, though. My dad just brought his food mill for me to borrow so I'm going to use some frozen tomatoes and try making my own ketchup next.

And finally, the "crunchiest" thing I think I've done yet... I am growing my own alfalfa sprouts! I love those things but never buy them at the store because there are always bacteria warnings. I had no idea it would be so easy to grow my own. I got a sprouting jar with a mesh screen top at Whole Foods and some alfalfa seeds. You just put them in the jar with some water and soak overnight, then rinse and drain them twice a day and keep them in the dark. On Day 4, you put them by a window for a few and the sun turns them green, and they're ready to eat! Yum! I adore them on salads, sandwiches and just plain. It's been fun watching them sprout and four days? I call THAT Instant Gratification gardening! :)

Just sprouting.

What they look like today.

Tomorrow is Day 4, so I get to taste them! Yay!

That's about it for me for now. Have a good day and a great weekend!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yay! My dad's coming!

I'm excited. Later today, my dad is coming to visit and he's STAYING THE NIGHT!

This is a big deal.

My dad hates coming downstate. Ever since he moved to the Upper Peninsula, he has hated it. I don't know what the deal is. He hates the traffic for one thing. When you get used to being up there where you can drive for hours and not see a traffic light, some regular road traffic can get to you, I guess. Usually, he will drive down and do whatever business he has to do and head back home the same day, even though it's a 5-6 hour drive (5 the way he drives, 6 the way I do!) ONE WAY!

But anyway, he's coming and he's going to either take us out for dinner or order in (I'd guess order in, since Hubby probably won't be getting home til 6 or 7, and that's kind of late to take the baby out to a restaurant) and then he's going to stay. I can't wait to see him. I miss my dad.

That's about all I have to report. I am very very sore from doing negative pull-ups yesterday at the gym. I did notice when I was doing them that I was able to lower more slowly than the last time I did them, when I was basically just falling like a rock. I am still unable to do one unassisted, but I know that has a lot to do with weight, and I bet if I lost five pounds I'd be able to. I'm close. Hopefully I will meet my goal of being able to do 5 by my birthday in mid-June! That would be awesome.

So, I just plan to use the day to make sure the house is cleaned up. I have to pay some attention to the basement, which has become a catch-all for STUFF. I need to at least "shovel a path" so he can sleep down there! :)

Ok, so, I'll leave you with a really funny photo I found of Logan when he was a baby. My neighbor Lauren took this photo at her house. If you can think of a cute caption to go with it, leave a comment. Maybe I'll send you a prize! I'm not sure what that prize might be, but whatever. It will probably be something like one of those free boxes of four cheap crayons that kids get at a restaurant or in a birthday party goodie bag. Shut up. I'ts free! Leave a comment anyway. I don't get many comments and I love reading them!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless(ish) Wednesday: Laughter

I could sit here for hours watching you smile and laugh.

Showing off all your pretty new teeth.

The giggles and squeals that come from you mirror the joy in my heart.

You are so silly. I am in love.

And to think, all I have to do is tickle these.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ranDUMB ramblings

Happy Tuesday!

Well, I don't seem to get as much time as I would like to have for writing anymore. I am kept busy with my newspaper column and then trying to update this blog every day. I am also now the Lapeer County Green Parenting Examiner for, though I've only written four articles. I don't know how much I'll be doing for the Examiner, since it all has to have local ties and all has to have a photo. I enjoy writing the articles, but if I actually got paid (I'm sorry, but I don't consider a penny per page hit to be "payment") maybe I'd do more. Still, I like keeping my news writing skills fresh and it's another thing for a resume, so I'll do it. Check it out, and if you're feeling kind, subscribe. I promise you won't get pelted with six articles a week, and also, you might get something out of it. Just ignore the local ties if you're not local! :)

Anyway, back to not having time to write all I want. I got a list going of things to blog about, and I just don't know if I'll have time to blog about it all, so I'm just going to do a sort of scattered random post here. I guess that's probably what most of my posts are anyway, unless they're a scattering of photos!

On to the randomness.

TODAY is my hubby's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONEY! (He probably won't read this, though!) He is 34 today. I love him so much. He is a wonderful husband and fantastic father and he takes such good care of us. I appreciate him every day.

Last night I had the weirdest dream. I was getting married (in this hideous beet-red dress that kept turning orange) but it was to the wrong guy. I kept insisting that it wasn't the right guy but people were just getting mad at me, calling me a spoiled brat and stuff because I wouldn't just walk down the aisle and marry this guy, The thing is, I was talking to him and he knew he wasn't the right one but was willing to marry me anyway, even though he didn't love me and I didn't love him. We were just friends. Not even friends--acquaintances. My dad was refusing to go to the wedding if I was going to cancel it, my mom was yelling at me for making her work on the invitiations and then backing out. My bridesmaids were already at the altar and I was on the phone with one of them and she was like "We can't cancel! We're already up there!" I was so upset and I was begging someone to please find Chris because he was the one I was supposed to be marrying. Very strange dream.

On Friday afternoon, there was a murder-suicide just about a mile and a half away, at my great-grandma's old house. I am SO UPSET that her house was tainted. I have so many memories from that house. As a matter of fact, I still might do a whole blog post about it. We'll see. Anyway, another annoying thing about it is that it happened on a Friday afternoon only about a mile from the local newspaper office, yet they couldn't be bothered to even get a photo and a brief about it into Sunday's paper. NOTHING. None of the other newspapers or news channels covered it either. Not. One. Word. FOR TWO LIVES LOST! Grrrr.... This bothers me so much because when I was the local crime reporter I would have put in as late a night as I had to in order to get something in Sunday's paper, and you know what? I probably wouldn't have had to work that late at all. It wouldn't have taken that much effort to drive over there, snap a photo, go to 911, listen to the call that came in about it, and then talk to a couple neighbors for comments. Our local paper has become a sham and it sucks. I loved that newspaper. I started reading it when I was three and loved writing for it. Blah.


I am sick of being stuck at this doughy weight. I started counting Weight Watchers Points yesterday. Success on Day 1. Today I plan to work some dessert in after dinner, which will be shepherd's pie. I hope I can get this pudge budging, because I would really like to wear shorts once it gets warm out.

Yesterday's eats:
banana before my 30 min jog and 10 mins of weights

breakfast (before taking Logan to school)
coffee w/ cinnamon and skim milk
a whole wheat mini bagel with light garden veggie cream cheese

mid-morning (while Logan was in school)
3 egg whites with diced tomatoes and italian seasoning
half of a huge apple

a soup made with a can of diced tomatoes, chopped purple cabbage and lots of spices

a slice of cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread with peanut butter
the other half of the huge apple

barilla plus spaghetti with hot turkey italian sausage in the sauce
salad (romaine, carrots, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, safflower oil and spiced vinegar)

I very much did not go hungry. In particular, the two bowls of ZERO POINTS soup I ate filled me up to discomfort for a while. Thanks cabbage. TOOT! Plus, I think I did very well on getting in plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, milk and good fats! Yay me!

Speaking of apples, if you haven't ever had a Pacific Rose apple, you have to try one! They are the best! Hard to find and only around at certain times of year, though. Right now I can only find them at Wal-Mart, but they're a good price. They are so sweet, Hubby actually thought they weren't as good for you as regular apples. But they're just a different variety. They're big and a really pretty pink color and they're sooooo sweet, but still crisp. Perfect apples.

Even though I am not happy with the way I look right now, I splurged this weekend on a new skirt and two tops--two very girly, frilly tops--so I will have something nice to wear to church as it gets warmer. I love them. I wore one of the tops, a very pretty sheer fuschia one, to church on Sunday (alas, with pants) and Jordan had a peanut butter cookie and was dropping crumbs all over me, and I noticed yesterday that my BRAND NEW SHIRT is covered with big oil spots wherever a cookie crumb hit. I am so mad. I NEVER buy myself nice clothes. If the spots don't come out I'm going to cry.

Here is the skirt and the other shirt.

The last day of winter was nice and breezy. Logan spotted the kite the Easter Bunny had brought him last year, sitting unopened in the top of his closet, and asked if we could fly it. I had never had much success with flying kites before, but I took him to the park and by golly, it flew really well! I had low expectations for a $1 kite from Wal-Mart, but it flew and didn't even rip, so we can use it again! Logan loved flying it. Oh, and no, that's not electric wires you see there. That pole in the background is a light for the baseball field and he was definitely far enough away from it.

Jordan signed "milk" three times this weekend. That's only his second sign. "More" was first. It's my fault. We don't work on them very much. He doesn't say much in terms of words. He stopped saying "mom" but I know he can do it. He calls Logan either "oga" or just "g" (the hard g sound). He still says uh-oh. He kind of says "yes" and "cheese" and he says the "k" sound for "book." Brown Bear is by far still his favorite. It's getting REALLY trashed because he hauls it around constantly. He has also been carrying around stuffed animals lately. He loves Snoopy and Elmo and My Pal Scout. He hugs them and kisses them and then throws them on the ground and body slams them. Quite cute.

Oh, and he's a total paci addict. He was walking around the other day with THREE that he had swiped out of his crib. He had one in each hand and one in his mouth, and every so often he'd switch them around. I want to take them away but it's going to be SO HARD! Plus, he's sleeping decently now (only for Hubby. Never for me) and I'm afraid it will throw that off.

Juggling three pacis

Running... Instead of getting easier, it seems to be getting harder. I get all these foot aches and pains, and hubby does too. He said he's not sure he's going to even be able to run that half marathon in the fall because he seems to have developed plantar fasciitis too. My inserts seem to be helping with mine, but now my feet ache in a different way from fighting against the inserts when I run. I think maybe my body will like me better for running when I drop the extra 15 pounds. My feet probably hate me and call me nasty names when I'm not listening.

Oh, well, I'm sure there's more to ramble on about, but I have gone on enough for today.

Everyone have a great day!


Monday, March 22, 2010

He'll be fine, but will I?

This is a big week. I have to do something and I’m just not ready to do it yet. It makes me want to dig in my claws and resist as hard as I can.
I have to take my baby, my firstborn, my Logan, to kindergarten round-up.
Just thinking about it makes me well up.
I know he’s ready. Academically, he’s beyond ready. Socially, I think he’s good. I don’t think being away from me all day is going to be a really big deal for him, especially since he gets to pick out his very own lunch box and probably a new backpack, too. He’s pretty excited about it, actually. He keeps wanting me to drive past the elementary school where he will likely be attending kindergarten—the same one, I might add, that I attended. He checked a bunch of books about kindergarten out of the library and he got to tour a kindergarten with his preschool class as a sort of in-house field trip.
But me, oh, I’m dreading this, the transition from preschooler to full-fledged school kid. It’s a huge step in his life—a huge step away from me. He’s going to become so much more independent. He’ll be influenced by other kids and he’ll see and hear (and probably do) things I don’t want him to see and hear and do. I lost my first tooth in kindergarten. I was teased by the first-graders on the playground. I kissed a boy in the coatroom, for pity’s sake!
Oh, I know this is part of parenting. I know it’s technically my job to have him grow up and away from me, but it isn’t easy. Hubby and I have been his main influences for his entire life, and now we are going to get a chance to see if what we taught him is going to stick.
Will he be a hard worker? Will he be polite? Will he be kind to the other children and respectful to his teacher? Will the other kids be nice to him? Will he, a notoriously slow and picky eater, actually ingest anything of nutritious value at lunch, or will he simply eat the snack and toss the rest?
The thing is, I’m not going to know the answers to these questions unless he or the teacher tells me. It will be somewhat out of my hands. That makes me nervous.
I don’t have doubts in Logan’s ability to be a good boy, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that for the first time, I’m not really going to get to be there to direct him. He will be making his own choices.
Oh, sure, he’s done some of this in preschool. Preschool has also helped teach me to let go a little bit. I guess that’s what it’s for. But preschool is only a couple hours, a couple days a week. Kindergarten is longer, and it’s more often.
So, this fall will begin my baby’s actual school years.
That means I really need to suck the time up this summer. This is the last summer before my baby becomes a school kid.
Darn it, I’m crying again.
Well, I guess I can look at it this way: Jordan will get some of the one-on-one time with me that he deserves. Logan had so much of it when he was a baby and toddler, and Jordan has had to share me his whole life. It will be nice to be able to focus on him when Logan is at school, and I am sure we’ll both be looking forward to the time of day when Logan gets home from school.
It’s going to take me a while to get used to, though, so if you see me in the store this summer with a big five-year-old kid, standing in front of the lunch boxes sobbing my eyes out, don’t mind me.
I’m just trying to grow up along with my kid.
He’ll be fine. It’s me I’m worried about.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A beautiful dawn

Was up early this morning to go for a run, and I stepped out onto my back deck for a few minutes to enjoy the pre-dawn serenity before the boys got up.

The sky was a pretty deep blue as the sun started to chase the darkness away.

The buds on the maple tree stood in contrast against the sky, looking like little flowers. They almost reminded me of an Oriental painting at times.

The sky continued to brighten and change colors.

Until the glowing sun popped up over the trees.

Have a beautiful day!

Review: Adi & Soph

We all know I'm fashion hopeless. I know I've talked about it enough. But when I reconnected with a college friend on Facebook and he sent me a link to his wife's newly-launched online boutique, Adi & Soph, I knew I liked what I saw. This stuff is CUTE!

What's great for people like me, aside from the fact that this clothing is stylish and affordable, is the fact that they mention other items that will coordinate well with each piece.

Some of my current favorites are the Into the Blue Blouse

The 95% organic Very Green Blue Jean

And the Envy Me Tunic.

AND the ladies at Adi & Soph were kind enough to grace me with my very own Envy Me tunic! (I did not pay for it). I love the color and the fabric, and I think the scoop neckline is flattering.

I wanted to find out more about their business, so I interviewed them:

First, who ARE Adi & Soph?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph):

I grew up in Jamaica and moved to the United States in 1998 to attend college.

Adina (a.k.a Adi):

I’m from a warm tropical place, too. I came to the U.S. in ’96 to go to college.

Where did you go to college, and what did you study?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): Olivet college in Olivet Michigan for a BA in Communications and MSU for an MA also in Communications.

Adina (a.k.a Adi): Undergrad was in Computer Science & Sociology/Anthropology from Olivet College. I did my master’s in Telecommunications with a specialization in Digital Media Arts & Technology. I’m interested in and enjoy learning about different things.

How long have you been "into" fashion?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): I personally came into my own in terms of fashion in early 2001. I worked in retail for sometime between college and grad school and that’s when I really started paying attention to trends, fabrics, styling and fashion merchandising.

Adina (a.k.a Adi): I really don’t know how to answer that. I grew up with people around me who could identify the different types of chiffon! I’m not even close to being that good, but I can tell a quality fabric from a shoddy one. Trends are something that I feel. I’m a very visual person, so I pick up vibes from what I’m seeing in my environment. I love dresses, and I love to wear different types of tights. And I love to layer things. (I have to admit, I prefer the cooler seasons of spring and fall.) That’s not to say, I always dress “fashionable.” Most of the time, I can be found in jeans and a top. I guess, I now have to pay more attention to what I wear.

How do you know each other?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): We met at Olivet College. Adina was the first student I met when I got the campus actually.

Adina (a.k.a Adi): I just calculated, I can’t believe we’ve known each other for over 10 years!!

As for Adi & Soph, the business, when did you first come up with the idea, and how?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): Well we took a trip to Canada in the summer of 2009 and we checked out some boutiques. While browsing we appreciated the unique styles but the prices had us thinking twice about spending.

Adina (a.k.a Adi): We started talking about it on the drive back and sometime before crossing the border, we thought why not open our own store?

How long has it been a reality?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): we officially launched on January 10th 2010.

How would you describe it?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): We love that boutiques stock one of a kind pieces, what we do not love is the inaccessibility to someone with a limited budget. Our goal is to change that trend. We want everyone, regardless of budget to be able to look to us for unique and quality pieces. We are affordable and we are accessible.

Adina (a.k.a Adi): Adi & Soph is our way of bringing cute quality outfits to people at reasonable prices. It’s the type of store that we’ve always wanted to shop in, but couldn’t find anywhere. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that Sophie and I actually started and own this boutique. I hope we can give people what they want and I’m really thankful to have the opportunity to do this.

Is this a "side thing" or is it your main job? If not, what else do you do?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): This is a side thing. I work for an IT Staffing company.

Adina (a.k.a Adi): I’m a graphic designer. I work full-time at a university.

How has it been going so far?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): Things are going absolutely great.

Adina (a.k.a Adi): Fantastic! This is an amazing experience. It’s inspiring me to improve other parts of my life, too. I’m aiming for a more holistic lifestyle, one that’s balanced more towards things that make me joyful. And, I have to thank my friend Sophie for that.

How do you select the items you're going to sell, and where do you find them?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): The selection process is quite time consuming! We pick trends based on the season so we need to know ahead of time what we will sell. We work with various designers from various locations in the United States.

Adina (a.k.a Adi): We can’t really disclose trade secrets, can we? Actually, there are no secrets. We select things from various places. After the first round, we narrow down our options.

How would you describe your style?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): We are a combination of classic, modern and vintage inspired.

Adina (a.k.a Adi): Ditto.

How do you stay current on fashion?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): Fashion magazines J,

Adina (a.k.a Adi): That and, browsing photos from the fashion weeks.

Why should people visit Adi & Soph?

Sophia (a.k.a Soph): We have one of a kind pieces, we are affordable and we are more than happy to answer anyone’s question about our items if they submit via our website.

Adina (a.k.a Adi): We offer a very personalized experience. We’re small and we’re there. We personally answer all our customer’s questions. We handpick each of our items after a lot of thought. For example, before we buy a top for our inventory, we try to visualize how it will go with a pair of jeans or a skirt that might be already in one of our customer’s closet or how that top will work with some of our other pieces. We try to think whether the piece is versatile, whether it can be dressed up or down.

And yes, they wear their own clothes!

Visit Adi & Soph to find something adorable for yourself for this summer! Flat rate shipping is $7.99 during the month of March.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Paddy's Day photos

The weather here was so gorgeous yesterday. I spent the day playing outside with the boys. We put the swings on the swing set, played frisbee, went for a walk in town, ate ice cream in front of the pretty old courthouse, walked down to see if the river was green and went into the art gallery to check out a kids' art exhibit from schools around the county. Topped the day off with hamburgers on the grill. No green beer, but that's OK!

Of course, I'm going to share a few photos. OK, a LOT of photos. Whatever. It was a beautiful day! It felt like spring!

Me and Jordan


Frisbee time

Sliding and somersaults

Strolling downtown

The beautiful historic courthouse

Ice cream!

And the river wasn't any greener than usual. Just "gross green," as Logan put it.

Hope you had as nice of a day as we did!