Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Temperature Afghan Update!

The month of March was filled with completely starting over on my temperature afghan because somehow, I switched crochet hooks at an undetermined point, and it was going to bug the crap out of me if I didn't fix it. And I wonder why my kid is wailing at me, "It's not PERFECT!" when she can't do something.

Luckily I had the awesome spreadsheet I detailed in the previous post, so it only took me a couple weekends to re-do it and catch up by the end of the month. The bottom is the 1st of January and the top is March 31. Purple was originally "out of town" but next month I have to decide if it is OUT of town, or just "vacation" because we are staycationing at a condo 30 min from our house. What do you think? Does spending the night away from home count as out of town?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Bee Inspired

At the beginning of the year, I figured I would start some kind of "school" schedule or maybe a unit study habit, and that never really took off. I do agree with most who say that the only thing that's important at this age is a) books, and b) play. So for the first quarter of 2019, it's just been dance class, swim class, and a lot of trips to the Science Center and MOBOT to play with kids. I also cut way back on tablet/screen time because as long as that isn't an option, her imaginative play will occupy her all day long.

In the past couple weeks we've started to fall into more of a pattern, and while I'm still trying to avoid being Nathan (Rick Moranis) from the movie Parenthood, this kid is UNSTOPPABLE when it comes to books. At the end of a day of "benign neglect", I'm usually surrounded by books on the couch. She has memorized most of the Elephant & Piggie books that we own, and is working on the UBAM phonics box set. She "reads" those books every day.

She has also started asking a LOT more questions and showing interest in particular topics (she even sat through Disney College of Knowledge assessment with me today and says she wants to be a VIP tour guide when she "gets big".) And we are working on numbers 11-100. Uncle! I guess she is ready for Pre-K. So this week I am semi-reluctantly dipping my toe into a unit study. We're following along with the Kid Kit/Naturally Crated Bee Inspired challenge, which has a bingo board and weekly activities. I figure that with out regular classes and activities outside of the house, for the time being Tuesday & Friday will be at home school days. Dad is in charge of collecting up the books for our unit studies, because her book obsession is definitely a result of his consistent bedtime story routine.

Here's the beginnings of our Bee Inspired challenge! Our Bee Bingo board, the Bee Pledge, a bee we made at Little Sprouts class last year, a bee Paint By Sticker, and by total coincidence, a dandelion printable I had ready for today. We learned that dandelions are the bee's first food in the springtime, so leave them be(e)!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Reduce Your Use of Plastics

Over the past year, I've had one thought every time I throw plastic in the trash. "That _____ is going to be in a landfill FOREVER," I think. When you realize you're saying that about something every day, and then you hear a lot of municipalities are shutting down single stream recycling because China doesn't want our lazy, contaminated recyclables, and also take the time to think about how all that plastic is a petroleum product in the first place, well, it's time to look for better options. We've cut back on plastic in a major way this past year, and friends have asked for a list of our changes. Here you go! (Note, this blog does contain some referral links for which I am compensated if you make a purchase.)

#1 - No more disposable Swiffers. Yes, Swiffer dusters are great for pet hair. I really, really dislike using a broom for hair because it gets all tangled up and is just gross. But those disposable Swiffers are made of polyester (a coal and petroleum product) and are not biodegradable. I started crocheting a cotton version that works great!

#2 - We replaced shampoo bottles with Lush shampoo bars. The problem with bottled bath products is that you never quite get all the product out, and you could spend half an hour trying to rinse one out to recycle. So wasteful! Shampoo bars work every bit as good as liquid shampoo, last forever, and there is no waste at all. You buy it just like this in a paper bag at Lush (and they have metal, rust proof containers for storage).

Monday, February 11, 2019

Saying Goodbye to Another Hater

Yesterday I saw a Facebook post from an acquaintance saying "don't invite me to MLM presentations because they are a scam and no one makes money," and then referenced a couple direct sales businesses who are definitely problematic and tbh I'm thrilled they are being sued. Bad businesses exist in every sector. Seems like once a year or so I end up writing a blog about this just to get some things off my chest.

What really hurts me is that I have been with Jewelscent for almost 6 years, and people who say things like this have seen me paying bills, going on vacation, not paying a babysitter or daycare, and somehow I have time to work Jewelscent and run a travel business. So which is it, am I not making money, or am I scamming people?

I sell a product that is great quality and made by hand, in house, in California. You can buy it or not buy it. We get 20-35% commission depending on monthly sales. No minimum volume or auto-shipments. No expensive kit you have to buy. Where is the scam?

Is it a scam that the owner of the salon you go to rents booths to the person who does your hair or waxing? Is it a scam that my travel host agency takes part of my commission?  Is it a scam that your Realtor gets a commission for selling your house? IT'S SALES. It's a commission job. Why does "direct sales" make people turn up their nose?

Is it the fact that some of us CHOOSE TO build teams? Is it a scam when you get referral money from bringing friends to Ibotta, Little Passports, Dropps, Time4Learning, or literally dozens of companies I could list that will give you credits for bringing friends? That's what social marketing is. Some people are not good at it or are annoying and pushy, just sales people in every industry. That doesn't make the entire business model a predatory scam.

So. What is it, really? You are uncomfortable when you have to say no. I understand, I felt the same way when you, person who says my business is a scam, repeatedly asked me to host a spa party I have zero interest in. Can you imagine, if all those times I was asked bring you clients by hosting a party, instead of just saying "that's not really for me,"  I had posted on Facebook about how your business is a joke and a waste of money? Thankfully, I know that "no" is just a word, and I'm fine with saying it AND hearing it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Morning Box

There is a space of 30-45 min in the morning between when Lilly wakes up and hits the ground running, and when I am cohervent enough to feel like going downstairs. Sometimes she gets books out and "reads" to herself but more often she just whines to go downstairs.

The idea of a "morning box" is not uncommon with homeschooling, but yesterday I saw an Instagram post where the mom talked about them as something available to keep the kids occupied while the parents slept in and THAT was a light bulb moment. Before bed last night I filled a dollar store shoebox with:

* a sticker page torn out of one of her books
* a lacing card from Target
* a notepad and twistable crayons
* a Vampirina pen
* rubber bracelets, and old watch, & sunglasses

This morning she noticed the box and acted like Santa had come when I said it was for her. She opened the box and went through the treasures, which, you'll remember  she already owned,  and kept saying, "oh thank you, thank you so much! I love it!"

So far she has done the lacing card and then used the lace as a fishing line while chatting with imaginary friends, and now she's checking out the notepad & pen. I think now I will be the one telling her it's time to go downstairs and she will be the one who isn't ready!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

February is the worst

It was such a relief to hear I'm not the only one who felt like January was a year long. It's not that it was bad, but there were a lot of challenges, and I feel like I ran a marathon and have been in recovery the past few days. I'm tired & I miss sunshine. 

The past couple weeks I've had that voice nagging in my head, "you said you were going to get back to writing this blog and you wrote two entries and abandoned it. AGAIN." It's not that I forgot or gave up again, I just haven't had any energy. 

Sometimes I just have to remind myself that depression and anxiety doesn't need a cause. There is no why. It's just brain chemistry and lack of sunshine for me this weekend. I had events keeping me indoors while the weather was unseasonably warm. Luckily I will have the opportunity to play hooky tomorrow and I can't wait to soak up some vitamins d.

I found a picture of Lilly from her first feis, before she even took a single lesson, where she was so determined to dance in stage that she was harassing volunteers for a number. May she always go for the no like that. There are a couple pictures of her where I see how fierce she will be and it reminds me to keep swimming. I'm going to lay in bed feeling my feelings tonight, but tomorrow I'm going to dust myself off and seize the day. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Hygge Fever (To the Tune of Boogie Fever)

Has anyone else noticed that hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is freakin' everywhere this winter? It's not the first year I've heard of it, but 2018-2019 is the winter of white people loving hygge. If you've been in a cave (or not on Instagram), hygge is a Danish word used to describe a cozy, charming, or special feeling. #hyggehome #hyggelife #hyggestyle #hyggelifestyle #hyggehomeschool #hyggehygge (those are all honest to god from Instagram, the last one has been used over 9000 times.)

Ok I'm being silly but honestly, who doesn't love coziness in the cold and dark months? I absolutely hated winter when I worked in an office, but now that I'm self employed I am ALL OVER this hygge business. When I was picking out yarn for my second annual attempt at a temperature blanket, I kept going back to the Red Heart Hygge yarn, because it's just so darn soft and cozy! 

The idea behind a temperature blanket is that you crochet (or knit) a row every day that corresponds to the high temperature for that day. I started one last year or the year before, and the major mistake I made was thinking that I live in a temperate climate with a clear "rainbow" of temperatures from winter to spring to summer to fall, and I picked a literal rainbow of yarn. The problem is that I live in St Louis, where January is mostly in the 40s, with some snow, but we could have a cold snap below zero, and some 60-70 degree days in the dead of winter. Using a selection of yarn that looks lovely as a rainbow looks UGLY when you're mapping St Louis temperatures. It was really awful.

So I abandoned that approach and decided that I would also work out a new "temperature gauge" this year, with less colors. Here's a screenshot of my spreadsheet (thanks to my friend Jennifer for the build): 

The other issue I ran into the first time was that I was using too many colors for narrow temperature ranges, and the turns/color changes were making the ends really fat. I think having one color for everything "below freezing" and one for everything "above 90" and then everything else falling into 3 groups is going to greatly improve the aesthetic. The ONE other piece of advice I have for you, if you're going to try this, is to check your gauge and do the math on blanket size. I already had to start over after week 1 because I realized I was going to have a 3'x8' table runner. 

Now I just have to keep up with it all year! And plan lots of vacations for those purple stripes!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Missouri Botannical Garden on the Go Pack

Check out what we found on a quiet day at Brookings Center! Usually Lilly is too busy playing with kids for us to get into a lot of the learning stations, but yesterday it was DEAD. I guess everyone thought it would rain all day, but the afternoon was gorgeous. We were talking about cacao, which is in the Climatron, and looking at seeds and a seed pod on this desk, and we noticed these cool backpacks! We took the Art one out into the garden and had a great time hunting for sculptures.

This pack had a guest book (we added our interpretation of the Chihuly sculptures in Climatron), an activity book with writing and drawing prompts, a set of laminated color cards, and a set of laminated cards about the art in the garden, as well as crayons, colored pencils and markers.

There's enough activity in the bag for multiple trips with a small fry like Lilly, and a solid afternoon or two with older kids. The folks working in the Kemper Center had never seen them before, but the guestbook in the backpack had entries going back a couple years. So, I'm not sure if these are NEW new or if they just got new bags recently. In any case, we look forward to many more afternoons of exploring!

Monday, January 7, 2019


This morning I woke up from a weird dream I don't remember now. It was 6:30 in the morning, a rainy Monday, and the house was so dark and still. Francis was probably at the gym.

I thought about picking up my phone.
I thought about how much work I could do before Lilly woke up.
I thought about how I could be productive.

But instead I told myself that I don't have to be busy every second of the day! I'm self-employed, not a slave.

Cosleeping is definitely my favorite parenting choice I've made so far. It makes me all Care Bear Tenderheart and the hearts just shoot out of my belly. A rainy, dreary Monday is the best time to snuggle up with a toddler who will spend 12 hours talking singing once she wakes up. So that's what I did. <3

Saturday, January 5, 2019

New Year, Fresh Start!

I am not a New Year's Resolutions person and believe there is no time like the present to make a change, but this year I had some personal revelations that happened to coincide with the New Year.  At the end of 2018 I realized that Facebook had essentially become a replacement for smoking, which I quit 6 years ago. I was just a little mouse in a Skinner box, hitting the bar for a pellet of attention or amusement. Most of the time I was reaching for my phone for reason at all, interrupting all of my productive activities. I know a lot of people who know me will be like, "ya think?" Shut up, I'm admitting it.

Honestly, I have really missed blogging but I was so in my own head about "fixing" this blog. This is the same thing that messed up Craves, Caves, & Graves for me, and I've been having a lot of  conversations with myself and others about why that is. No matter how good or bad I am at web design, I've always had blog followers. Sometimes a lot of them! So I must have done something right at some point, right? My "resolution" is to just to do what I love with this blog, love myself as I am, share what I want to share, and not fuss about how it looks or how many people read it.

Here's where we are for 2019: We want to downsize from Franceth Manor to Franceth Cottage or Franceth Bungalow. We want to learn more about sustainability and urban farming and the ultimate goal (maybe not in 2019) is a net zero house. I have a goal to earn my Ruby Team Manager rank with Jewelscent, and I also want to earn my IATAN card for my travel business. We are learning about homeschooling! And in general, we just want to learn new skills, learn to support ourselves, and share our knowledge with others. So that's the Franceth Manor blog mission statement!