CPSIA Stay: Great News! But We Need To Keep Fighting!

Here's the CPSIA's press release.

In a nutshell, from Etsy’s blog:

We are so excited to announce that the Commission has voted for a “Stay of Enforcement of Certain Testing and Certification Requirements of CPSIA” — which means that the burden of lead testing and certification has been suspended for a year while they take more time to review the rules and plan enforcement! All of your hard work has paid off (for the time being at least!). You don’t have to pay to do the certification and testing, though you are still liable if your products are found to have lead. We are so pleased that artisans and vintage sellers got their voices heard. Your hard work is not over; we must continue to play a role in advocating for small business people throughout the coming year.

“The action taken today provides breathing space to get in place some of the rules needed for implementation, but it should not be viewed as a full solution to the many problems that have been raised.” —U.S. Consumer product Safety Commission

Here's Overlawyered's take on it all. I love this guy.

And here's how my My New Favorite Senator is trying to help.

And here's a cool "Save Handmade Amend the CPSIA" badge for your blog. We still have a lot of work to do.

CPSIA: Good Idea Gone Horribly Wrong

I am participating in the CPSIA Blog-in today. Here is the post provided by Etsy forum member chichiboulie.

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association 

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.” Article from The Wall Street Journal

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent Article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law


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"Stained Glass" Valentine Heart

Help your child decorate the windows with a beautiful Valentine's Day Heart! When the sun shines through, it looks just like stained glass. 
This craft is perfect for kids 3 and up. Kids love this craft because they get to “paint” with liquid starch and play with colored tissue paper – what could be more fun?

Disclaimer: There will be no doubt that you are the coolest, craftiest parent on the block as all your neighbors stare in awe at your child's Valentine's Day masterpiece. Don't blame me if everyone wants to be your friend after they see the Valentine Heart in the window. I really can't be held responsible for your immediate fame.

Also, if you want some major family bonus points, make a few so that your child can give one to the grandparents as well. You're welcome! :)


Materials Needed:
Red, purple, pink, and/or white tissue paper
Red construction paper or card stock 
Wax paper
Liquid starch (not the aerosol kind)
Foam sponge brush
Red or white sequins

Prepare Your Materials

Tear the tissue paper into large (2-3 inch) pieces.

*Tip that you might not even care about: I can almost guarantee that if you give your child more than one color of tissue paper, she will want to use more than one color of tissue paper on her Valentine Heart. This technique will make a pretty mosaic-looking Valentine Heart. If you want a solid-colored version, you might want to give your child only one color. 

Fold the red card stock in half and cut out a heart. The pictures shown are from the instruction sheet included in my "Stained Glass" Valentine Heart Kid Kit. Your template does not need to have a black border. Open up your heart template and place a sheet of wax paper on top of it. Make sure the wax paper is on top of the red heart template.

Pour some liquid starch into a cup. It’s a good idea to place the liquid starch cup on a plate. That way, if you accidentally spill it, you won't lose any liquid starch.

Create Your “Stained Glass” Valentine Heart

Use the foam sponge brush to “paint” a light layer of liquid starch on the wax paper. Fill in the outline of the red heart with tissue paper. Use the sponge brush to wet the tissue paper. It’s best to dab at the tissue, since a brushing motion may crumple or tear the tissue. Add one or two more layers of tissue paper to your Valentine Heart. The tissue paper should be completely wet with liquid starch when you are finished.

*Tip: Make sure to completely fill in the heart outline. If there are gaps in the tissue paper, there will be holes in your Valentine Heart and it won't be very sturdy.

Remove the red heart template from underneath the wax paper.

Let the tissue paper “Stained Glass” Valentine Heart dry overnight.

Finish Your “Stained Glass” Valentine Heart

A parent may want to do this first step, as it requires some fancy scissor and finger skills. Place the red heart template underneath the wax paper and use it as an outline to cut out your Valentine Heart. Very carefully, peel your tissue paper Valentine Heart off the wax paper.

Troubleshooting: If some of the tissue paper starts to peel away from your Valentine Heart, fix it by dabbing on a little white glue.

Fold the red heart template in half and cut another heart along the inside of the first heart. This will make a heart frame for your Valentine Heart. Dab a little glue around the edge of your “Stained Glass” Valentine Heart and attach the heart frame to it.

Decorate your Valentine Heart by gluing on the sequins. It’s easiest to dab glue onto the Valentine Heart and then place the sequins on the glue.

*Tip: Sequins are slightly bowl-shaped. Stick the bottom of the “bowl” to the glue for best adhesion. Sequins will stick to the oil on your fingers. It’s easy to put your fingertip in the “bowl” and then place it on the glue.

Use tape to attach your beautiful “Stained Glass” Valentine Heart to a window and let the sun shine through!

Go Ahead! Make One Yourself!

If you want to make a really pretty grown-up version, use black card stock to make a heart frame - it's so pretty and sophisticated!

Bonus Craft

You can decorate the middle of the red heart template with crayons and/or any leftover sequins and give it to someone you love. If you have a wooden craft stick lying around, you can glue it to the back of the heart and stick it in a plant for a pretty decoration.

Conversation With A 3-year-old At Midnight

Ella has been getting in and out of her bed and monkeying around since bedtime 3 1/2 hours ago. I walk into her room (for the 50th time) and find her on the floor with a new diaper in her hands.

"Ella, you need to go to sleep."

"Me change my diaper. My jammas wet."

And yes, she has been known to change her own diaper. Every so often she will disappear into her room in the middle of the day. Just when I start to wonder what the heck she's doing in there, she'll emerge with a naked fanny and walk over to the trash with a wet diaper and a used wipe in her hand. My son never did anything like this, so it's quite amusing. You would think this means that she is ready to be potty trained. You would be wrong. I was. Anyway...

"Did your diaper leak?"

"No, from water."

I feel around her pajamas and find they have exactly one small drop of water on them. As we're changing her diaper anyway:

"Ella, you need to stay in your bed."

"Me got your nose!" (Pretends to grab my nose and eat it.)

"Ella, if you get out of your bed again, I'm going to turn off your Tinkerbell Light." (Which is actually a light-up TinkerBell Christmas tree topper that somehow migrated into her room when the holiday decorations were put away.)

"Okay!" (Big smile.) "Try get your nose back!"

"Ella," (serious Mommy voice) "You need to stay in your bed or I will turn off your light."

"Okay! Try get my nose!"

"No, it's not playtime."

"You try take my tongue!"

"No, Ella, I'm not going to take you tongue."

(Squeals with laughter) "That's funny!"

(Wraps her arms around my neck, pulls me to her and lands a huge wet kiss on my forehead.)
"Look at your forehead!"

"Honey, I can't see my forehead."

"Look at forehead!" (Pushes my face up with her sweet little hand so that I can see my own forehead.)

(Me, giving up a little.) "Oh, I see, it's all wet."


I put Ella back in her bed.

"Stay in your bed and go to sleep."

(Wraps her tiny arms around my neck and pulls me to her.) "You know I love you, right Mama?"

An hour later Ella pretends to walk like a penguin as she enters the living room.

"Me have fuzzy in my mouth, me need my water. See?" (Opens her mouth as wide as possible so I can see invisible fuzzy.)

"Your water is by your bed."

"Mommy! Want to tell you secret!" (Penguin-walks over to me and whispers loudly in my ear,) "Me walk like penguin. See?" (Penguin-walks back to her room and goes to sleep.)

Sometimes 3-year-old cuteness can be overwhelming. I need to remember this night the next time she's in her bed screaming, "YOU COME HERE RIGHT NOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!"

It all evens out.

Spider Eulogy

When I was little, my brother, cousin, and I would visit my Grandpa. He lived in the high desert and always had a small insect population living in his house. Whenever we would find a spider, pincher bug, or other harmless bug, my Grandpa wouldn't even bother getting out of his chair. "Oh, that? That's my friend, Charlie (or Frank or Herbert)." We thought he was hilarious. A bug for a friend? Silly Grandpa! Eventually we would persuade him to get rid of it, but really, I don't think he minded sharing his home with a few bugs.

I'm a little different. I have a general Insect Rule: Bugs can live outside. If they come inside, they're going to have to die. It's not my fault bugs make bad decisions.

When my insect-rights activist husband is around, he makes every attempt to carry the stupid thing outside so it can live. When he's not around, I go straight to the nearest magazine, shoe, or paper towel to extinguish its stupid little life. I hate bugs. I understand that we need them for the balance of blah, blah, blah.... If you come into my house, sorry Charlie, you have to die. 

So when my kids see a spider, usually in the basement playroom, they call me to "Get it! Get it! Get it!" Right before I kill a spider, we respectfully say "Good-bye, Spider!" And then, afterwards, my kids inevitably want to see the evidence. It's weird, right? "Let me see! Let me see! Let me see!" Really, why do you need to see dead spider guts? Just to make sure Mommy really killed it and she's not going to release it in your room later? Whatever helps you sleep at night, kid.

Anyway, this last time, Peyton decided to add  a little something extra to our "Good-bye, Spider" send-off.

Peyton: Good-bye Spider! Have fun with Baby Jesus! Mommy, are there toys in Heaven?
Me: Yes, everything you could possibly want is in Heaven.
Peyton: Have fun playing with the toys in Heaven, Spider!

I went ahead and let him believe that all bugs go to Heaven. Even though I'm pretty sure only butterflies are allowed up there, and ladybugs, and maybe dragonflies, but that's it.  

Winter Storm

I took this picture outside my front door as the current winter storm came rolling in. It does freak me out a little to know that two days ago there was a 100 degree temperature difference between California (where I used to live) and Iowa (where I live now). I mean, that is a little crazy, right? But when I see the sky like this, I feel so lucky. I never would have been able to experience this had we not taken the long journey to live in Iowa.

It's freezing freakin' cold, yes, but it's a wonderful adventure.

Stained-Glass Valentine's Heart Kid Kit

I just finished making this Valentine's Day Kid Kit and I'm really happy with the results. My kids loved playing with the liquid starch and torn-up tissue paper. Really, it doesn't get any better than to be allowed to rip stuff up and get it wet. That's top priority fun in Kid Land. As a bonus, the results are stunning in the window. 

This craft kit creation also marks the first time Ella tried to stick something - a red heart sequin - up her nose. Peyton never put anything up his nose, so this is a brand new trick in our house. We're very proud.

How to Buy Yourself 2 Hours of Free Time

When we first moved into this house, we were thrilled that the previous owners had decided to leave a backyard playset behind. It had a slide and a couple of swings and it was a little worn, but our kids loved it. Unfortunately, our backyard backs up to a large field and we get these super strong winds that rush through during the spring. Despite the 11-inch spikes that anchored the playset into the ground, within 5 months of moving in, it toppled twice. The second time we found it 20 feet from it's original location and it was pretty much destroyed. You would think we lived in tornado alley or someth... wait, never mind. Anyway, we threw the wood pieces away, but kept the plastic slide and swing pieces just in case we wanted to be great parents and make the kids another playset. Those stupid pieces have been in our garage for 8 months.

And here's the part when my husband James really impressed me. He secretly brought the slide in and positioned it at the bottom of our basement stairs. He put a bunch of pillows at the end of the slide since there is wall about 3 feet from the stairs. If he didn't put the pillows there, the kids would probably be smacking their heads into the wall each time they slid down. Peyton might have enjoyed crashing the first couple times, but I bet it would've gotten old pretty fast. Also, I would have had to do some actual parenting to make sure they stayed safe. This way, Peyton and Ella can be all crazy if they want and they are protected by a mountain of cushion. And I get to watch soap operas and eat Bon-Bons. Okay, I don't really, but I totally could!

The first time they saw it, they played on that slide for 2 hours, and I'm not making that up. It's 5 degrees outside, and my kids are out of breath and sweaty playing on a slide. Ever since then, every time I ask them if they want to go play on the slide, they screech, "Yeah!" And then I'm rewarded with at least half an hour of free time.

James just got some major bonus points. Which is good, since I start his bonus points at zero at the beginning of each new year. Just kidding - I love you honey!

Did you notice that my kids decided not to wear matching socks today? If you did, you also get bonus points. Your friends and family should be proud.

Deliciousness - New Year's Day Recipes

Our New Year's Day traditional feast centers around chili dogs. My husband's family started it, and even though we don't see them every New Year's, we have faithfully kept the tradition alive. The side dishes don't matter, it's the chili dogs that are the strength of the tradition. And I'm not talking about fancy homemade chili or anything, either. I'm talking canned Hormel turkey chili with beans, diced white onions, yellow mustard, and shredded cheese. That's right baby. Chili dogs. Here are some recipes I tried out this year to accompany our feast.

I found a recipe on a box of Town House crackers for Cranberry Orange Cream Cheese Deliciousness, and I thought I'd give it a try. If you ever see me at a party, I'll be by the dip. It doesn't even matter what kind. Sour cream, cream cheese, salsa, guacamole, cheese - the base doesn't matter, I'll be there. And honestly, I don't ever buy Town House crackers, but the picture of the dip on the front of the box looked so good, I bought them. 
I've changed the recipe a little bit to match what I had on hand, and I changed their recipe title too, because Cranberry Delight Spread is a dumb title. If you add Deliciousness into any title, it makes it better. No joke.

Cranberry Orange Cream Cheese Deliciousness

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice (just cut a slice of the orange you used for the grated orange peel and squeeze it)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

1. In small mixing bowl beat cream cheese, orange peel, orange juice, sugar, and cinnamon until fluffy.
2. Stir in cranberries and pecans (if using). Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve with crackers.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

There's another tradition in James' family. When we lived in California, once a year we would drive an hour to dine in a restaurant called Clearman's North Woods Inn. It looks like an old log cabin with a fake snow-covered roof. While you are waiting for your table, they give you peanuts. As you eat the peanuts you get to throw the shells on the floor. It's kind of awesome. Peanut shells everywhere! How can you not love that? Anyway, with your meal, they serve you garlic cheese bread,  iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing, and red cabbage salad. If you ever see Clearman's Original Cheese Spread in the grocery store - get it - it's what they use to make their garlic cheese bread and it's seriously delicious.  And if you like sweet and sour food, you'll love it this red cabbage recipe. 

When I was pregnant with Peyton, I craved balsamic vinegar and tomatoes. Although I love tomatoes, they were really just a vehicle to get the vinegar into my mouth. I love vinegar. I love the smell, I love the taste. Any kind, it doesn't matter. Needless to say, just thinking about this salad makes my mouth water. You are supposed to let it marinate for at least 48 hours, but we've eaten ours after only 7 hours and it was wonderful. Which is good, because having to plan a salad 48 hours in advance is a ridiculous idea. 

Northwoods Inn Red Cabbage Salad

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 head red cabbage

1. Whisk together oil, vinegar, dijon mustard, sugar, salt, Lawry's, pepper, and onion powder in a large bowl.
2. Shred half of the cabbage finely and the other half coarsely. Add it to the dressing and toss well.
3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 48 hours or until cabbage turns deep red, softens a bit, and flavors meld. It's even better after a few days.

Happy Eating!