Saturday, October 30, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's Caterrific blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Today: donuts, pumpkin carving, Little Sis, festival!

(And all we've done so far is #1, so I should probably get busy!)

Friday, October 29, 2010

One year of running!

I realized this morning--yesterday was my one-year anniversary of running!

Yesterday's run was rough--very rough. I had to turn around and walk home, because this one area that keeps bothering me (my IT band) started bothering me again. I am going to a rehab place on Monday to get it checked out, and hopefully with some professional help it can be resolved completely.

I'm almost glad I didn't realize at the time that it was my one-year anniversary run. That might have frustrated me even more! But with a good night's sleep and a plan of action that involves someone who knows what they're doing, I'm feeling pretty optimistic this morning.

And I want to focus today not on this particular struggle (which I plan to get past!) but on how far I've come. It's pretty exciting that a year ago, alternating 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking was challenging. (That was what I did for the first week of Couch-to-5K.) A year later, I challenged myself with a 9-mile run last weekend, and completed it! Finishing that half marathon (13.1 miles) in five weeks will feel very, very good.

I love running. That's what keeps me motivated. (It's also why I get so frustrated and anxious when I have minor injuries.) Would we have fewer health-related problems in 2010 if more people found a type of exercise that they love? Maybe it's unrealistic, but I think that most of us can probably find that if we try enough different things. I'm just glad I discovered that I (the one who always said I wasn't athletic) can run, and can love it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Parental discipline choices

We had a playdate yesterday at the home of one of Chickie's good friends, who we'll call Billy. (Billy's mom is one of my good friends too, so we get together a lot!) After lunch, Chickie and Billy got in a little tiff, and Billy's mom sent them both to the couch for time out.

Chickie got up, grabbed some toys, and went back to her time out seat. Billy's mom took them away, making it clear that it's not okay to play with toys during time out. When she left the room, Chickie got more toys. (I think this may have happened more than once.) When I heard Billy's mom taking the toys away again, I said, "Chickie, we're leaving."

And all heck broke loose. Chickie immediately embarked on one of those awful preschooler tantrums, screaming and crying and asking repeatedly for "just one more chance!!!"

I realized that things would have gone much more smoothly if I'd given her a warning. ("Chickie, you have a choice. You can stay in time out without toys, and when time out is over we'll play a few more minutes. Or you can grab those toys again, and we'll go straight home.") She probably would have obeyed. I would have made it clear that I was serious, and she wouldn't have been so surprised by her consequences that she launched into that awful tantrum.

So I was left at that crossroads that we parents encounter not-too-infrequently. I hadn't made the best choice when setting a consequence, and I had to decide whether to change that consequence, or stick to my guns.

There are times when I threaten something and then, realizing I wasn't being reasonable, change what I said. I want my kids to admit when they've done something wrong. So it makes sense for me to admit it too. "Chickie," I might say, "I got angrier than I should have. You're not grounded all day; you're just grounded from the TV until lunchtime."

But this wasn't one of those times. Chickie wasn't respecting our rules, and the rules of the house we were visiting, and she repeatedly made the same bad choice. Knowing my daughter, I probably could have made the process go more smoothly, but it really wasn't an unfair consequence. I'm the mom, and it is my job to decide when it's time to go. When one of my kids is being disobedient, it's okay for me to say it's time to leave.

The biggest reason I didn't want to change my mind, though, was because of Chickie's tantrum. I didn't want to respond to her in a way that validated her screaming. She's still learning to handle her emotions; I understand that. One way she learns is by seeing that tantrums don't result in her getting her own way.

I definitely don't have a perfect grasp of when to change my mind, and when to stick to my original words. There are times when I give in and shouldn't, and probably times when I determinedly follow through when extra grace would have been more appropriate.

I'd love to hear the input of other parents reading this. Do you ever "change the rules" when you realize you weren't being as reasonable as you could have been? How do you decide when to back down, and when to stand strong?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shoes shoes shoes!

I've now been running barefoot for over 3 1/2 months. But I'm not always barefoot. Often I'm in minimalist shoes--shoes that have thin soles, minimal-to-zero cushioning, and no built-up heel. These shoes encourage me to keep my barefoot running form. I've gotten questions about the various minimalist shoes I've tried, so I'm going to write reviews of them here.

1. Homemade huarache sandals (Made by me for under $15 in materials plus the cost of a reusable leather punch.)

(Click the photo for DIY instructions.)

I wear these a lot as casual shoes and even get compliments on them! If you like going barefoot but don't want to be barefoot at, say, restaurants and grocery stores, these are a great option.

However, I've only run in them for a few miles and really didn't love how they felt. Because I used thin leather for the soles, they are a little "floppy." Also it feels a little odd to me, running in sandals. They were secure, but my brain told me they weren't. I may later make them with different soles and try running in them again because sandals are great for summer if you don't like hot feet.

Many people have great experiences using Vibram rubber soles for their huaraches. You can buy Vibram Cherry material on ebay. Or you can buy whole huarache-making kits or pre-made shoes (all with Vibram soles) from Invisible Shoes or Barefoot Ted.

2. Zem Booties (Original Round Toe Low) (Retail about $30)

These Zem booties (which I got free from a giveaway, but was not required to review) are made for beach use, but a growing number of barefoot/minimalist runners are using them. I did walk with them at the beach once and got sand in them; I'd prefer the high-top ones if I were using them often on the beach. (I have skinny ankles, and Zems are unisex, so they didn't fit tight enough to keep sand out.)

I loved running in my Zems!! But I'm not the most gentle runner. I'm working on running with less friction, but I have a lot of room for growth. Because the soles of these are so thin, they started to wear out very quickly. But boy did they feel great to run in--so flexible, plenty of room for my toes, super-thin soles. I particularly liked wearing them with socks, as my feet sweat a lot in them without socks!

Jimmy Hart, a barefoot/minimalist blogger, has suggested using PlastiDip (a paintable coating in Home Depot's paint department) on the bottoms of the shoes. I did get some and used it once, after they had started to wear out, and if I were to get brand new Zems again, I'd use it from the beginning, "repainting" them as needed, to strengthen the soles.

I got a sore spot on my foot that required a little more cushioning for a couple of runs, so I added old sneaker insoles to my Zems. Unfortunately, the insoles were big, and put a lot of stress on the heel seam. The upper separated from the heel on both shoes. Oops. I was going to get more use out of them with PlastiDip, but they're pretty much shot now.

I think Zems are great for runners who only use minimalist shoes occasionally--and even then, I'd suggest painting them with PlastiDip. Or, Jason Robillard suggests on his blog that he might like to get Zems just to use at a race. I think that's a great idea. Many barefoot runners like something on their feet at races so they don't have to be distracted by watching the ground so closely for hazards. At $30 a pair, that might be worth it for a serious racer.

Jimmy (the blogger mentioned above) is working with Zem on a running shoe that will address the sturdiness concerns. The experience of running in Zems is fantastic. They're the most comfortable "running shoe" I've used. that I'm really looking forward to seeing what they come up with when they release a shoe designed with runners in mind!

3. Vibram Five Fingers KSOs (Retail about $85)


Yep, I got the weird "glove shoes" that you may have seen others wearing...Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs)! These are probably the most popular shoe with minimalist runners, even though, as someone at the Barefoot Runners Society pointed out, the black ones look like "teeny tiny gorilla feet." I paid full price for them at REI. (Don't expect to find them on sale; REI is having trouble even keeping them in stock because they're so popular.)

So...why the weird separated toes? Well, our toes aren't really meant to be all squished together inside tight shoes. Your toes can splay and move naturally when they're in VFFs. I'm still trying to decide how much I like the separated toes (as opposed to a single toe box that is roomy, like on the Zems.) I didn't think I'd like the toes, but when I tried them on I found that they're a lot more comfortable than I expected. My toes actually feel, well, cozy in their little separate compartments.

I'm surprised how well these fit my toes, which are pretty short and square. A friend commented that she tried some on, and her toes (which are more rounded) didn't fit well. So VFFs won't work for all foot types, and I definitely suggest going somewhere to try them on instead of purchasing them online, sight unseen.

I've run in my VFFs twice and really like them. Unfortunately, we're having an abnormally warm October, and these feel too warm on my feet. But I think they'll be great once it really cools off. The uppers are made of a very breathable fabric.

There are some seams inside, and one of them chafed me the first time I wore these. I put some medical tape over the area for my next run, and that worked well. I'm hoping as I wear them more the seam will soften and my skin will toughen. (I didn't start feeling the chafing until several miles into a long run.) Overall, though, these are quite comfortable for running, though not as minimalist/flexible as the Zems. And I've ordered some Ininji toesocks for use when it's cold and if I'm dealing with chafing/blistering on longer runs.

Aren't they cute?! I did order plain black ones too, for when I'm feeling less sassy.

Overall, I think the VFFs are a great combination of comfort, minimalism, and sturdiness. The Vibram rubber soles are flexible but very strong I've heard of runners getting 1,000 miles out of one pair! These aren't the cheapest minimalist shoes, but even if I get 600 miles out of them, they're a better deal than many traditional running shoes. And I know they look weird, but I'm wearing them out in public for non-running activities too, because they really are comfy.

Please comment here or email me if you have questions or comments! (If you comment with a question, be sure I have a way to contact you with the answer.) And if you want more info on other minimalist shoes, the Barefoot Runners Society Gear and Footwear forum is a fantastic resource.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One more $100 giveaway!

Well, it's time for the last $100 Visa Gift Card giveaway sponsored by BlogHer & Kellogg's! To read my last breakfast post (about my Blueberry Streusel Bread, which is famous--in my own mind, at least), click on over to my giveaway blog! (Oh, and there's a cute video of Chickie in the post too!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

New snack

The kids and I have discovered a new healthy snack.


We got this Materna GoGo Squeez Applesauce on the Go at Costco, where they were giving free samples. It's in these little squeezable containers. The lady giving the samples was telling us, "You can even eat it in the car!" and I believe her. A kid could still make a mess, but it's designed in such a way that the applesauce stays in the packet until you suck it out. (Or, I suppose, until you drop it and step on it with the cap off!)

The two ingredients are apples & apple juice concentrate. I wish they'd made it with just apples and water--while I like the sweetness of it, I think applesauce is sweet enough without extra sugar in it. But I do like that it's all-natural, and I'll admit I love the extra-sweet flavor!

At Costco it was $6 and some change, for 12 servings--a little over 50 cents each. That's more expensive than applesauce in a jar, but really not too pricey. And Chickie likes the novelty of it, so she's excited to eat it.

This isn't a sponsored post; I just wanted to share!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

9 miles!

Well, I did my longest run ever yesterday...nine miles! I wrote an extensive blog post about it at my running blog. But here's the nutshell version of what I'm learning as I increase my distance as a barefoot/minimalist runner.
  • It seems that taking short little breaks in the middle of my run is a good way for me to get re-energized...and also to massage out any sore spots. Stop lights are natural places to take breaks on training runs! I will probably take short breaks at a few of the water stops during my half marathon (on December 5.) It's all about finding out what helps me reach my individual goals.
  • If your body gets sore for any reason (working out, fibromyalgia, sleeping wrong...whatever), I've got to recommend this book to you:

    It's all about how to find "trigger points" (basically tight spots in your muscles) that cause pain, and how to massage them yourself to get rid of them. It's a method many have found to be very helpful, and I am loving it!
  • I'm really feeling empowered as I learn ways to overcome obstacles that could stop me from running. I'm learning better how my body works, and how to take care of it. What would I have done before the Internet?!
Next weekend we have a family race. The kids will run a 1K (0.62 miles), and The Engineer and I will run a 5 mile race. I'm looking forward to the first race our whole family will be participating in!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's Caterrific blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Eleven o'clock; still in my pajamas.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chop chop!

Long hair doesn't last long on me. I get bored with it, and then something like this happens....



I loooove it. I think it's my favorite haircut (on me) ever. Let's hope it still looks good when I style it myself!

Unfortunately, the cut ponytail may not be quite long enough for Locks of Love, but the stylist is either going to send it anyway, or give it to a beauty school where they can practice coloring techniques on it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is it really that good?

A few weeks ago I posted on Twitter,

Decided it's time for me to determine if it's really as divine as they say.

By way of explanation, I posted this photo:


That's right, I continued my tradition of picking up on trends mere years after they become popular. I bought Nutella.

And you know what? The stuff is good. There's something both decadent and comforting about the hazelnut/chocolate flavor combination. Chickie loves it too. Sometimes we put it on toast, but my favorite way to use it is to dip fruit in it. Apple slices and Nutella are delicious.

At Costco yesterday I noticed something--two (larger) jars of Nutella, sold together. A twin pack of tempting tastiness. Now that's a dangerous thing to have discovered.

Have you tried Nutella? What do you think of it?

This is not a sponsored post. Although I'm not-so-secretly hoping that the Nutella folks will see it and offer me a free lifetime supply. That would rock.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Real kids, real life

In a way it would be nice to shelter our kids from the rough parts of life. But that's not possible (and really wouldn't even be healthy.) Eventually kids are confronted with harsh realities.

People get sick.

People die.

People do evil things.

People get divorced.

That last one confronted our family this week. On Monday evening I got a call from a close family member letting me know that he and his wife have decided to split up. My heart is aching for them. I hate the fact that they are going through this painful time.

After the call, I shared the news with my husband, then sat down with the kids. Zoodle is too young to really "get it," but Chickie listened carefully as we talked. The main points I wanted to get across were...
  • Sometimes married people decide not to be married anymore.
  • You won't be seeing Jane when we visit relatives, because she won't be married to Jack anymore. (Names changed here.)
  • Daddy and I are always going to stay married.
I know there's an element of risk in telling your children you'll always be married. Many, many divorced parents have probably told their kids that in the past. But all I can count on is who we are right now, and who we've committed to be in the future. Unless one of us chooses to change who we are, we will stay married. With God's grace, that's a commitment we will keep.

But as I mulled over all of this, something struck me. I can tell my kids that Daddy and I will stay married, until I'm blue in the face. But what's really going to convince them is not what I tell them, but what they observe.

Are The Engineer and I treating each other with respect? Are we making conflict resolution a priority instead of just letting conflicts grow and fester? Are we showing our kids that we love each other instead of simply surviving everyday hassles and busy-ness?

I think we're pretty good at the second one (conflict resolution) but honestly--I want to show my husband respect and love more consistently. I want my actions to reflect my commitment to him, not just my emotions at the time.

That's what will help us have a strong marriage. And that's what will convince our kids that we're in it for the long haul.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Steaming, scrumptious soup...and a $100 giveaway!

It's time for this week's $100 Visa gift card giveaway from Kellogg's and BlogHer!

This week's topic is about foods we like to eat from bowls...and mine is about my love affair with soups. It comes complete with a link to my new favorite, Cheddar Chicken & Rice soup. Yes, it's just as good as it sounds...if not better!

Click on over to check it out...and good luck with the giveaway!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Micro: Encourage

Hello gorgeous. Are we singing together tomorrow?

That's what my (female) friend L posted on my Facebook wall Saturday. L and I both sometimes sing backup vocals on the worship team at church.

It was just a few words, but it encouraged me! I loved knowing that L (who has this awesome voice) wanted to sing with me. And it never hurts to be called gorgeous!

This is a short blog post, so hopefully you have a few spare seconds now. If you do, think about this: What very simple thing could you do to encourage someone today?

I'll be thinking about it too.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Six Word Saturday: Great discount at my Etsy shop!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's smiley blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

The early shopper gets the discount!

I started getting a little worried recently--what if a bunch of people contact me on December 20, needing custom hats by Christmas? What can I do to avoid that last-minute gift rush?

And then it hit me: I should use one of my favorite parenting tactics.

Bribery. Uh, I mean...rewards. Yeah, that's it. I'll reward you for starting your holiday shopping early and making my job easier!

So here's the deal with my 15% off, Holiday Pre-Order Special.
  • Order a custom hat at C. Beth Crochet by October 31. (You can purchase one of the customizable listings already set up, or if you don't see what you want, just convo me, and I'll set up a special listing just for you. Feel free to check out photos on this blog of hats I've made.) In the message field when you check out, put the discount code "EarlyShopper15."
  • Normally a custom hat would be sent in about a week; your hat will instead be shipped in time for the holidays (by December 1.)
  • In exchange for being willing to wait for your hat, you'll get 15% off!
  • Don't pay for your order yet! I'll invoice you through PayPal when the hat is ready, and I'll give you the 15% discount.
  • There's no limit on how many times you can use this discount by October 31.
Now get shopping, and enjoy the discount!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A ghoulish trip to CVS

I needed to pick up a couple of things at CVS Pharmacy today, and we ran into a little problem.


It wasn't the ice cream that was the problem. (After all, how could ice cream be a problem?!) It was the photos. I'd uploaded them and ordered them online, for in-store pickup.

Apparently our store is stuck in 1995, and hardly anyone uses that service. The pictures were ready, but the (very nice) cashier didn't know how to ring up the purchase.

"Evelyn," she called through the in-store paging system, "please come to the cash register."

We waited a little while, and then she paged Evelyn again. "Evelyn, please call me at extension 5525." After that, Evelyn, another (very nice) cashier, showed up in-person and started to try to figure it out.

"Okay..." she said. "Let's see. Hmm, online orders. Hmm. Oh, here they are. But how do we find yours? Okay, let's try this. What's your phone number?.... Okay, thanks. What's your last name?.... First name?.... Okay. Oh, I need your phone number again.... And your last name again?... First name?... Oh, here you are. But, why's it asking me this? No, you don't want to buy any photo books or collages or photo mugs. How do I get to the pictures?"

All this had already taken several minutes, and a high-pitched voice at my waist-level started saying, "Mommy, I need to go pee pee." I assured her we'd be leaving soon.

Back to Evelyn. She was taking my photos out of the envelope, and at the back of them was a sheet that conveniently listed the number of photos and the price. (And my phone number...and last name...and first name.) "Oh, look!" I said. "There it is!"

"Yes," Evelyn said, "but the computer still just keeps asking me if you want a photo collage, and you don't."

I realized that my "we'll be home soon" promise might not be fufillable, so we headed to the bathroom. When we got back, Evelyn looked up.

"I found it!" she said. She rang up my ice cream and my pictures. "Okay," she said cheerfully, "your total is $6.66."

666...the number of the BEAST! No wonder there was such trouble buying the photos. I considered holding a photo exorcism and burning them, but let's be realistic here. I don't want to go through what it might take to print them and pay for them again. I'll take my chances with the beastly pictures...and chalk it all up to Halloween arriving early!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm a mouse...

...among giraffes.

I'm honored to have been chosen to work with Kellogg's for the Love Your Cereal campaign/giveaway and for this trip...but I'm not sure how it happened! I've applied to do other campaigns with BlogHer (who runs the ads on either side of my page), but have never been accepted. Usually the "special stuff" goes to bloggers who have a lot more readers than I do, and understandably so. There must just have not been a lot of applicants this time, I thought.

But I arrived here and realized...I'm a mouse among giraffes. Many, if not all, of the other bloggers here--the giraffes--have blogs a lot bigger than mine. And with their high giraffe viewpoint, they have such a wide view of the blogging world. I've never even been on a blog-related trip before; many of them have been on several. It's natural for them to network with other bloggers and companies.

Just like I find myself--the mouse--getting holed up in my house, enjoying the comfort of my familiar surroundings, I also get holed up in my own little Internet sphere of influence, having fantastic conversations with a relatively small number of friends through Twitter, blogs, and Facebook, but fairly unaware of the majority of the hugely successful mommy bloggers out there, and of the marketing opportunities that exist.

Here's the thing--there's nothing wrong with being a mouse. I am really, really fond of the friends I've made as a mouse! But being around bloggers who have been doing this longer than I have, and have made more connections than I makes me wonder. What do I want to be? A mouse or a giraffe?

I'm not sure. I think what I want is just to be more aware of what's out there. To be inspired by the bloggers around me, and to "up my game" by thinking more about what my blogs are, and what they say, and what direction I want them to go. And then to let the chips fall as they may, whether I end up as a (slightly-more-connected) mouse, or as a giraffe, or as something in between.

What about you? If you're a blogger, are you a mouse or a giraffe? What do you want to be?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

$100 giveaway time!

It's time for the weekly $100 giveaway from Kellogg's & BlogHer! Click on over to my giveaway blog to enter the giveaway and to read about one of our favorite we eat when we really want a treat!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Micro: Heigh ho, heigh ho, to Michigan I go!

Early tomorrow morning I'll be heading to the airport for a whirlwind trip to the Battle Creek/Kalamazoo area. I've never been to Michigan, and I'm excited! This is a trip sponsored by Kellogg's, connected to the blogging series I'm doing over at my giveaway blog.

I'm really looking forward to getting away by myself for a couple of days! I also can't wait to run in the area on Wednesday morning--assuming weather cooperates. I think it's fun to experience running in areas away from my normal corner of suburbia.

I'll be home Wednesday night. My blogging may be somewhat sporadic this week. "See" you again soon!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Six Word Saturday

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's wonderful blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Is it reversible? Reversible it is!

(And it's only $15 at my Etsy shop!)

In the mood for horizontal ribbing or vertical ribbing?
Photobucket Photobucket

Get a texture change just by flipping the hat inside-out. (Or is it outside-in?)
Photobucket Photobucket

Designed and stitched by C. Beth.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Homemade closed-toe leather sewing required!

So...I made some shoes today.

"Why" (you may be asking) "in the world" (you may be adding) "would you make your own shoes when there are zillions of places selling shoes within a few minutes' drive?"

And that is a very good question.

First reason--it's just fun. If you like doing crafts, you'll understand that one.

Second reason--I've "gotten to know my feet" better since I started running barefoot. I've realized some things. First, I think my feet widened a bit through my pregnancies. My size 7 shoes tend to be squeezing my pinky toes. Problem is, my whole foot isn't wide, just the forefoot. My toes are pretty "square" and don't fit well into shoes that have narrow and/or too-tapered toe areas. Homemade shoes can fit my skinny ankles and my wide toes! Also, I've realized just how much I love minimalist shoes, with no raised heel, and very flexible, thin soles. Those can be hard to find.'s fun. It's a big enough reason to warrant mentioning it twice.

And they turned out cute and comfy!


Here's how you do it. (No sewing required!!)

Gather your materials.

1. Thicker leather for soles. I used a bag of leather scraps that I bought at Hobby Lobby in the leathercraft section. It's about 1/8 of an inch thick, nice and sturdy.

2. Thinner leather for the uppers. I used an old leather skirt that I got as a hand-me-down and haven't ever worn. It's pretty, but just didn't work for me, so I decided it was time to repurpose it. Before buying new leather, check thrift stores for old leather clothing! It can be stained or ripped as long as there's enough usable leather for your project!


3. Really strong glue. I used this industrial-strength "E-6000" glue with about 700 warnings on it about using it in a well-ventilated area. (I think there are probably much more environmentally-sensitive choices out there....)


Then cut out foot-shaped pieces of the scrap leather. (Trace your foot and round the edges, making sure there's a little extra room for your toes to relax and wiggle in there.) For the outsole, I used two pieces of tan-colored leather, which goes smooth-side down. For the insole, I used two pieces of non-matching leather, which goes suede-side up. I labeled them all "L" and "R" so I'd remember which was which!


Then I was excited and "in the groove," and I didn't get photos of these next steps.

Cut good-sized rectangles of the thin leather from the skirt, for the tops of the shoes. Put your foot on an insole and stretched the leather across it, then cut a curved part so it won't be stretched straight across your foot. Here's the curved parts on the finished shoes:


I did the curved part for one shoe, then traced it on the back of the second piece of leather for the other shoe so they'd be fairly symmetrical. You can always go back and cut more later if you need to adjust.

Now pull the leather across one foot and figure out where it needs to be glued onto the bottom of the insole. Glue it. Mark the other shoe to make sure you're gluing it in the same place, and glue it too.

Now you'll need to carefully glue the rest of the piece around the top of the shoe. This is going to take a lot of trial and error to get it smooth. Mine wasn't very smooth, and I ended up pulling it up, trimming it close, and re-gluing. It got a lot smoother then. This part is the hardest part of making the shoes, but taking plenty of time leaves you with a more professional-looking result.

It doesn't need to look pretty on bottom!



Now cut more rectangles for the back part of the shoe. Put one foot in the insole and figure out where you need to glue the top part of the back leather, overlapping the bottom part of the front so:


Repeat on second shoe, making it as symmetrical as you can.

Now trim and glue, getting the rest of the back part glued to the insole. Be sure to put your foot in there to fit it before gluing. I wasn't nearly as much of a perfectionist on the back of the shoe as I was on the front.


You're almost done!

Glue the outsoles onto the bottom, making sure to use plenty of glue. Remember, the smooth side of the leather points down; it will be what strikes the ground. Weigh the shoes down with plenty of books or whatever works for you so that the glue can fully cure.

When the glue has set...enjoy your flexible, custom-made shoes!





Care Calendar

Are you familiar with Care Calendar?

It's a fantastic way to set up meals and practical help (childcare, house cleaning, etc.) for someone in need. We use it a lot at our church when someone has a baby. A friend at church was recently diagnosed with mono. She has four kids (grade school and younger.) Add her husband and her mom (who lives with them), and it's a full household. That's not someone who can afford the down time that mono recovery requires!

So I set up a Care Calendar to help with meals. I've organized meals before, and I'm not generally that great at it. I remember the last time I organized meals for a new mom, I didn't make any reminder calls, and not everyone remembered their assigned date. Oops.

So I've been thrilled with how easy Care Calendar is. Once I had my list of email addresses, it took just a few minutes to set it up, and since then I haven't had to do anything! It even sends out reminders. My friend was able to send the link to her friends that I don't know, so between the ladies at church and other helpers, the calendar filled up in just a few days.

Care Calendar is free, though they do accept donations. If you want a stress-free way to help someone who is ill, has a new baby, or just needs a hand, be sure to check it out!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My artist

"Mommy," Chickie called to me yesterday, "how do you spell 'elephant'?" I spelled it for her slowly, and she followed it up with another question. "And how do you spell 'heart'?"

Later, I found this:


(If this isn't the work of a four-year-old genius...don't tell me, okay? It's my job to believe that her talent is incredible!)

(Oh, and I don't know what significance "LFU" holds. The Engineer has a theory that she was trying on her own to spell "elephant." Further evidence of brilliance. Or at least evidence of parental bias!)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Crying over spilled macaroni

The awful ragweed season we're having has been wreaking havoc on my energy level and my quality of sleep. Sunday night I was finally sleeping well...until Chickie woke me up at 4, having had a rare bed-wetting accident. It took The Engineer and I awhile to clean it up.

Sure enough, that missed sleep messed up everything. I got up on Monday, and it wasn't long before I was feeling genuinely sick. Congestion and exhaustion combined to make me a tired, frustrated mess.

I spent quite a bit of the morning getting the house straightened up and cleaning the tile, wanting a decently clean house so I could relax for the rest of the day. At lunchtime, I made macaroni and cheese. After we'd sat there eating for several minutes, I started hearing it.

Sllllap. Sllllop. Slllip.

I looked at Zoodle next to me and realized he was purposefully dropping cheesy macaroni on the floor.

And I decided to let leash my frustration instead of having self-control. "NO!" I yelled. "WE DO NOT DROP FOOD ON THE FLOOR!!"

Immediately I felt terrible for yelling at him. My voice came down to a normal level, and I said, "Zoodle, I'm sorry I yelled." I began to cry. "It's just that Mommy doesn't feel good, and I cleaned these floors today, and I didn't want to have to clean them again!" I continued tearfully explaining my frustration to the kids, who thankfully showed concern (Chickie) and remorse (Zoodle) even if they did feel a little confused about why Mommy was crying about a messy floor.

I got a good nap that day during Zoodle's naptime, and that night I slept very well. Yesterday I woke up feeling much better...and able to evaluate what my reaction had been to Zoodle's naughtiness.

I wish I hadn't yelled. That's not what I want to teach my kids. On the other hand, I don't regret crying in front of them when I was sick and frustrated. I want my kids to see me experiencing and expressing genuine emotions. That's how they learn to pay attention to the feelings of others. If I let them see that their actions upset me (minus the yelling), they learn that their actions affect others. And there's nothing wrong with them seeing that mommies are human too, that we don't have unlimited energy and patience and health.

But now that they've had the chance to see Mommy at such a rough's nice to be back in a state of mind that doesn't leave me crying over spilled macaroni.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another $100 Visa Gift Card giveaway!

This week's Mom's Breakfast Club post (sponsored by BlogHer & Kellogg's) is about how we handle busy mornings. Be sure to head on over to my giveaway blog to enter to win a $100 Visa Gift Card!

This is the last month of the breakfast series/giveaway. So get over there and log your two entries...and GOOD LUCK!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Micro: Newest design

This convertible earflap hat is size 2T-4T. The flaps can be buttoned up, and the straps can be attached to the inside of the hat, so there are plenty of style options! It will be posted on Etsy soon.

Designed by C. Beth.

(Click to enlarge photos.)

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

zipfizz winners!

Well, the zipfizz giveaway was...kind of a flop. But you know what? That's great news for the four people who entered, because you ALL win! Each of you did a poem (which I thoroughly enjoyed) as your entry, so you all had equal entries. helped me to "draw" one of you for the grand prize (3 tubes of zipfizz), and instead of two first prizes, the other three of you will all get the first prize (1 tube of zipfizz each.) tells me that the grand prize goes to...

Commenter #1, Amanda! Amanda, I don't have any way to contact you, so please email me at with your address!

And the rest of you--Eternal Lizdom, Call Me Cate, & Tia--can each choose grape, pink lemonade, or orange soda, and I'll get your tube of yummy energy in the mail for you. Just email me at with your choice and your address.


Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's witty blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Keys lost in abyss? No more!

I know I'm not the only one who loses my keys in the abyss that is my purse. So today when I was at a fun outdoor market I picked up one of these nifty hook/keychain thingamabobs.

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My mom has one and I've been wanting my own. Now I just have to unhook my keys from the side of my purse--no more getting lost in the darkness and clutter!

Friday, October 1, 2010

A little slacking is good for the soul (and body)

(I wrote this yesterday evening.)

I was going to run tonight, but I'm going to skip it. Not reschedule it, not shorten it--SKIP it. I haven't done that in months.

The ragweed levels today are the highest they've been since a local TV station started measuring them in 1997...something I could have (hoarsely) told them. I'm not sick, but I'm hoarse and my energy isn't the greatest. I could totally run, but I'm not going to.

The main reason is because I think I need to prove to myself that the universe won't implode if I skip a run. I've gotten compulsive about not skipping runs. I have a strict schedule to get myself to my first half marathon on 12/5, and I've considered each run to be too important to skip.

But you know what? That's really not a healthy way to think. My running schedule is conservative enough that if I skip today and go back to my normal schedule afterward, I'm not going to suddenly get injured because my mileage jumps too much next week. It might even help me because I'll be giving my joints, muscles, tendons, and bones a longer break than they've had in a long time (no runs between my Tuesday run and upcoming Saturday run.)

I've been afraid that if I skipped once it would become too easy to do it later. But I've got to find a balance. I need to be able to listen to my body enough that I can be flexible...that's how injury and sickness are prevented. I don't think that slacking off tonight will make me want to start skipping runs every week; I love running too much. But maybe slacking off tonight will make my whole body healthier, and that's one of the purposes of this running thing anyway.

Exercise is addictive, in a good way. At least when you find a form of exercise that you love. It took me over 30 years to find running, and once I did...and fell in love with it...I realized I didn't want to stop. The endorphins are fantastic! But I've got to be balanced. If "taking care of my body" becomes such a compulsion that it's bad for my body, that sorta misses the point! So tonight I'll "take care of my body" by sitting on my butt. And I'll enjoy it!