Sunday, March 30, 2014

New Bluetooth Headset

Someone forgot their fancy Platronics bluetooth headset at our Legislative Day event at the AZ state capitol building this past Wednesday.   So instead of letting it gather dust in lost and found, I paired it with my phone and tried it out.  The thing has a thousand times better signal with my iPhone 5 than the one I currently have (which has such terrible range that if I put my phone in my pocket, or turn my head away from my phone, the signal cuts out).  I honestly didn't think I could get a bluetooth headset that would work better than the pathetic marginal connection I've been dealing with for over a year.  So I never looked.  Okay, it's not like I am just the type to accept something that has such poor quality, I had one before that had just as bad of a connection and range, and I also find the same issue happening with a couple of bluetooth speakers I've used.  I just thought, bluetooth must just not work too well with the iPhone 5.  Whatever.  And I love the idea of having a discreet little headphone in one ear so that I can listen to podcasts, NPR, an Audiobook, all without having the hassle of interrupting others or dealing with cords getting caught on things.  So I've dealt with the crappy signal.  Made sure to stick my phone in my bra (great signal there), or tuck it upright in my right back pocket (works well unless I bend down to pick something up), or in my armband on my right bicep (which, believe it or not, also loses signal quite regularly).  And I've trudged on...continuing to listen to my broken up podcasts or books, hoping the next iPhone would work better (and by next, I mean the iPhone 6, or whatever it'll be called).  Until I paired this Platronics Voyager Legend bluetooth.  No signal was lost with my phone in my pocket, or if I turned my head, not even when I put my phone behind my back and sat smothering it into the office chair at work.  So I decided all hope wasn't lost.  Maybe I just needed to research this more.  Finding pretty much the same reviews and mediocre possibilities as I now remember finding last year when I purchased the bluetooth I have, I decided to just walk around Best Buy and ask one of the people who are paid to know things like this.  She knew nothing.  Pointed to the platronics one I was borrowing from the lost and found (it's freakin huge and bulky, I'll post a photo...)
I mean, the microphone is just ridiculous, especially considering I don't ever intend to use this to make phone calls, unless it's too inconvenient not to.  So I had a little birthday money stashed away and figured, since that annoying Best Buy employee can't point me in the right direction, I'll just buy bluetooth after bluetooth until I find one that works this well.

I'm SOOOO happy I did.  The first try was the winner.  The box said something about having a range up to 300ft...sold.   It's a Motorola Boom and I did actually see some positive reviews for it during my research.  I'm so glad I made that choice.  When i finally figured out how to get it to work (I kept expecting it to have a little light show up when plugging it in to charge it but it turns out, the light is so tiny, I thought it was a speck of paint on the volume buttons...there's a much more appropriate looking spot on the outside that isn't actually a light).
So once I realized it was actually working fine, I paired it with my phone, and feeling a bit nervous, slid my phone into my pocket to test it out.  Expecting the typical break in signal, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I can have my phone in any pocket, turn my head in any direction, even walk into another room, and this thing never loses signal.  It does when the microwave is on (duh), or if I walk too far away, or have too many walls between my ear and my phone, but I seriously couldn't duck behind the couch before without missing most of what Ira Glass was saying.   So obviously I've been listening constantly.  I finished One More Thing by BJ Novak...which was less entertaining, in my opinion, after the halfway point.  Caught up on my favorite podcasts (Books on the Nightstand, Studio 360, some other NPR ones, I Should be Writing, All Write Already, Writing Excuses), started 'Dark Places' by Gillian Flynn...whenever I get back into doing something like this (which feels like a break for my brain while my body is doing something unpleasant, like folding clothes), I get all forgiving of myself for not doing everything I want to do with my life.  For instance, I haven't been writing much at all since I finished editing my book for the second time.  And this afternoon I decided, it doesn't mean I'm not a writer. It doesn't mean I'm giving up on myself.  I can take a damn break, for crying out loud.  The reason doesn't matter.  So I'm upset with my writing right now...that doesn't mean I need to quit for good.  I need to be okay with myself before I force myself to write when I don't want to, which will make it feel even more forced and horrible.

Okay, this was a lot more detail than it needed to be to get the simple point across that I got a new bluetooth, and it's awesome.  So, if you're like me and you like listening to talk radio, podcasts, audiobooks, and you have a smartphone (seriously, how did I exist before my iPhone?), and you want a good Bluetooth...try this one out.  It's freakin awesome.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ahh...that's better

Wanted to get past that 113th post.  So here I am, the 114th.  A nice, safe number.  I got good feedback from another reader of my manuscript, but she also thinks my book has a lot of room to grow.  It needs to be stronger in character building, also the relationships between the characters, especially between the protagonist and her parents.  I actually look forward to writing a couple of brand new chapters to start off the book.  I don't know exactly what should happen in them, but it's real writing, not just editing.  Then, of course, the rest of the damn thing will need to be edited again, but I can't just give up on this.  Right? ...

Ick...the 113th post...I hate the number 13

So let's just tear this post off like a band aide.  I don't like the number 13.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Parenting is Rough

I took my baby to daycare today for the first time.  I've been back to work for a few weeks but we were on a waiting list for the daycare so she's been going to an in-home woman for the waiting period.  The first time I dropped her off there I didn't shed a tear.  This morning I cried from the moment I put PB in the arms of the impersonal 'teacher' at the daycare to the moment I finished my commute to work (about a 30 minute drive). 

The place itself is great.  Great atmosphere, an appropriate number of happy babies rolling around the floor, crawling through clean and safe padded tunnels, not a crying baby to be heard.  But handing her off to a place that has rules so strict (she can't sit in a swing for more than 15 minutes at a time, no car seats can be left on the premises, her bottles need to be completely prepared and labeled and taken home overnight, you have to put BOOTIES over your shoes if you want to walk past the entrance of the room, you have to report to them how many diapers AND how many wipes you're dropping off for her, I could go on and on...) makes the whole thing seem uncomfortable.  She'll be  not so much.  At least with everything else, I feel completely fine with her being there.  Other than the fact that she probably won't nap for the first week or two (she's used to comfy warm car seats or swings to sleep in...they have a crib with a thin mattress, no sheet over it, and that's the only place she's aloud to sleep). 

So this whole experience had me thinking on my way to work this morning.  Some of the hardest things I've ever had to do have involved two little people younger than four.  I'm 31 years old and the top five most heart wrenching, emotionally and physically exhausting, seemingly impossible things I've have to handle have involved one or both of my daughters. 

This is number one on my list of most difficult things I've ever been through.  Seriously.  Above labor for both kids (because I wasn't alone during labor...I didn't have to handle it by myself):
1.  Cleaning vomit off my 3 year old daughter at an airport, two hours before the five hour flight to Arizona, while being sick myself and having to use all my will to keep myself from throwing up...then doing it all again in a coach passenger seat twice during the flight.  Poor little girl. 

2.  Finding out our younger daughter might have Cystic Fibrosis (she doesn't, but her newborn screening was abnormal for it, so for about 4 hours we were terrified she might really have it). 

3.  Steve's grandmother's passing.

4.  Labor with my older daughter.

5.  Labor with my second daughter.

6.  Taking my older daughter to daycare the first day (and the build up).

7.  Taking my second daughter to daycare today.

That puts it into perspective.  It's the 7th hardest thing I've had to face in my life up to this point.

8.  Flying to Spain at age 20 to study abroad.

So not even in the same realm of difficult as the top seven on this list. 

9.  Sicknesses the older daughter has had (stomach flus, strep throat, etc.).

10.  Sicknesses I've had (same as daughter).

I'll stop here.  They just get more and more pointless after that.  I'm very lucky to say these are the hardest things I've lived through to this point.  I'm also an idiot for listing them (like I'm just asking for the worst kind of jinx).  I just wanted to point out how extremely difficult it is to be a parent.  How much of my heart it takes to do the things they need.  For someone who is already a little too emotional, it's like a roller coaster on a daily basis (especially my 3 year old...I can go from thinking she's the most amazing and adorable little girl one minute to yelling at her and putting her in her room the next.  She pushes our buttons and tests her limits constantly now that she has to compete for attention).

This definitely isn't a new concept.  I guess I'm just having one of those days where I need to get these thoughts out of my head in order to function normally.

I really hope my little girl is okay during the day.  I'd call, but I'm afraid they'd yell at me and say it's against the rules to check on our kids.  Dicks.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Jewelry Shop

I'm getting really anxious (a sort of good kind of anxious) to open my jewelry shop again.  There's a new type of metal clay I've ordered that I look forward to trying out this week, and that, along with catching up on a couple of projects I needed to do, has been making me feel confident that I can do this again.  Even with the full time job and the fact that I have twice as many children now as I did when I started the shop, I still think I can spare the time to work on the jewelry shop again.  I've thought about it and this time of year especially is usually slow in orders, so it'll give me a chance to ease back into it (and if I have an influx of orders, it's never a bad thing).

Some of the things I'm going to do when I open the shop (my ETA at the moment is around mid-April)...

1.  Go through all the processing times, shipping information, pricing, etc.

I'd like to believe I can still get things ready to ship between 2-3 weeks but that isn't realistic now, and I don't want to add that unneeded extra stress.  I'm going to go through the listings I want to activate and make sure each one has an updated description with something that says 'read the shop banner for processing time' so I don't have to worry about changing each one in the future.  I want to make sure all my pricing makes sense for the time put into the piece, the product itself, and the supplies needed to create it.  Some prices may go up, some may go down.

2.   I'm only going to activate a limited amount of items to start.

Some of my more popular items will be back, for sure.  A lot of the less popular items won't be reappearing, and one or two of the most popular things won't be back just yet (one of my most popular, the men's fingerprint band, won't be back until I have enough supplies to make it a less challenging piece...with the techniques I was using before the holidays, it was the most stressful item in my shop and also the most popular).

3.  I'm going to try narrowing down my niche.  

Fixing up my categories is long overdue and I'll work on making the shop easier to navigate overall.  I feel like it was just a mix of several types of jewelry before.  When I reopen, I want to focus on meaningful pieces, like fingerprint jewelry, puzzle jewelry, and handwriting jewelry.

4.  I want to look into adding new pieces (ones that fit into said niche)

More keychains with white copprclay (depending on how hard it is to fire the new metal clay, which worries me).  I also want to figure out a way to make charms for the pandora bracelets.

I want to come up with another way to make jewelry with a lot of personalized meaning.  One of the only souvenirs I get when I travel is jewelry; it makes it easier for me to be reminded of the fun times I have, even if  it doesn't necessarily represent the place I'm visiting.  I know I purchased that item in that place and I remember most of the important parts of that the weather outside, how I felt on that particular day, who I was with, etc. But I haven't been able to narrow these thoughts down to anything I can represent in a piece of jewelry.

5. Add to the puzzle jewelry line. 


And that's about it.  So there are things I look forward to doing with the shop, I just want to take it slow and make sure I can offer quality items.  There is nothing worse in the whole world than having an unsatisfied customer.  I mean, obviously there are worse things in the world...but I guess when it comes to things that aren't earth shattering (something to do with family/friends...job loss...illnesses...things like that would be worse).

Anyway..I'm excited, but also very anxious.  I didn't know if I'd want to reopen after having been closed as long as I have been, but I'm pleasantly surprised to find that I really, really miss that creative part of my life.  My husband has been urging me to reopen often (the extra $ never hurt) but I wanted to wait to see when I was ready.  And I'm almost there.

Off to make a few charms.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


This baby girl has been a piggy.  She definitely weighs more than what I think an average 2 month old should weigh.  Our older daughter got comments like 'she's so small' and 'look how little she is'...this baby gets shocked and fast remarks of 'what a big baby' she is. And I can't help but agree.  She's a heavy kid.  I just did a little research and found that the average baby of 2 months (boy or girl) is 10 pounds.  This was after really loose research...and I know my peanut butter was already 11 pounds at at least 6 weeks old.  She turned 2 months this past Monday and I think she weighs at least 13 pounds now.  Probably more.  And nothing but breastmilk has given her that poundage.  She has never had a drop of formula.  I love that she's getting so big off of purely eating what I provide for her.  I felt that way about her sister, but her sister had formula for a little over a week of her life.  I don't regret that, and I think if I'd have known better, I still would have had to formula feed her in the beginning.  She had a terrible bruise on her head from a vacuum during the birth, and they say that bruises can cause jaundice.  Jaundice can cause drowsiness, and drowsiness prevents the desire to eat...and eating can help bring down the billirubin levels.  It's a bad cycle.  And with peanut butter, I pumped for a few days before the birth (to try to induce labor), which I think helped my milk come down easier, and she was still borderline jaundiced and almost needed to be kept another night for it.  She ate every 2 hours and her levels were still that high.  I wonder how any mother is able to get their baby to breastfeed enough to expel all that yucky billirubin filled marconium (I'm probably spelling all these words wrong) in enough time to get discharged after a day.

So there you of the quickest ways to stop a mother from breastfeeding...pressure her into formula feeding during the first 24 hours because of the billirubin levels.  We think, automatically, we must not be doing something right.  And I have no clue what the real right answer is.  Was I just the anomaly?  Do I just produce jaundice-prone babies?  Or is this possibly one of the reasons a lot of moms out there decide not to breastfeed?  I would have given up on it with my first if I weren't so obsessed with making it work.  So I'm so glad we got it to work, me and my first daughter.  If we didn't, I probably wouldn't have had it so easy with the second, and I'd be formula feeding for both.  The reasons why I am so glad they were/are both breastfed are so plentiful that I'll have to save that for another post, but I will say that it's my favorite part about this stage of my children's lives so far.  I love my toddler girl...but there's a connection I had with her while she was breastfeeding that I just won't ever get again.  A closeness I can't describe with words.

Like I said in an earlier post, you'll hear a lot about breastfeeding over the next year and change.

Time to go to bed, because peanut butter will surely be awake in about 3 hours to eat.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A New Toy for Writing (Asus t100)

I have wanted a MacBook Air for over a year and a half...longer, even.  My main reason--I wanted a portable way to write using my favorite writing program, Scrivener.  Scrivener has been promising an iOS version for over a year now and though I still look forward to that, I stopped waiting patiently a long time ago.  Since the MacBook Air costs a bazillion dollars and I really couldn't justify my desire to stick with the Macintosh operating system just for a more portable computer (my husband recently purchased an iMac, so I'm getting my Apple fix with that)...I have been searching for a more affordable alternative.  I saw a commercial a few weeks ago with something that sounded close to the answer I was hoping for.  It was for an Asus 2-in-1 tablet/laptop that apparently provides the full version of Windows 8 (I didn't particularly like Windows 8 on the 11 inch Asus I already had, but I loved that computer and the fact that it has been reliable for over a year).  After a few days, I did a google search for more specifics on the product (I'm a sucker for good advertising).  I found what I am now writing this blog post on, and it is more fitting for what I want than the MacBook Air could ever be. 

This little guy was affordable (about a fourth of the cost of the MacBook Air), it separates from the keyboard (something the MacBook Air definitely doesn't do), it can handle Scrivener (the RT version of Windows would not, neither, yet, does the iPad), and it gives me the chance to have the convenience of a regular computer in a tiny little size (why were netbooks so unpopular?  I never got my hands on one, but I wanted to).

And I really, really love it.  I got the Scapple program from Literature and Latte and it works really well with the touchscreen (actually, I'm using the trial version...I'll buy the full when it's over though, it's a great way to brainstorm). 

I used the tablet at work today to try and open a couple of difficult pdfs (it didn't work) and it was so easy and natural, I can see me using it more often there and here. 

I wanted this post to be more fun, but it's so hard for me to put into relatable words why I want something like this. Probably because I have an unhealthy addiction to technology (as I sit here and have, from left to right in my view, an iPhone, iPad, this thing, 1TB external hard drive, Bluetooth keyboard, Bluetooth mouse, and a me, I started feeling ashamed at the second 'i' device), but maybe I crave all this stuff for my writing.  Well, the external drive and mouse have nothing to do with writing...nor does the iPhone...and the kindle is for my love for reading...but the iPad and this little guy...and the Bluetooth keyboard, those are all for writing.  Not that I have a boatload of confidence in the writing...more like it's a hardcore hobby, and I take my hobbies very seriously (have you seen my jewelry shop?).

So I hope to be back, writing blog posts more regularly.  And I want to start a new writing project...I've already started outlining it.  I had another I wanted to start first, but for whatever reason, this one took precedence.

My Earths Project queries haven't received a response yet but that's still better, in my opinion, than the form rejection letters.  And I need to go back and reedit it....which sucks...but I started it, and I have to get it right.  Maybe this is all for not, but I'm not the only one out there who has this kind of writing obsession...and even if it's always just a hobby, it's worth it to me. 

Guess I'll close up this long, drawn out post now.  I'm watching Breaking Bad while I type, so I'm distracted.  Plus, my 2 month old just finally fell asleep at 8:20, so I had to juggle doing this and watching that at the same time.  We're on the final season...a poor kid just got killed at the end of this episode.  Sucks.

Off to bed.  Sorry for droning on.