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Actue Designs

All Things Remembered

jenni from the blog

a sorta fairytale

mrs. stephanie t.

The Curly Cues

hi, baby.

Growing Up Geeky
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some things

  • No reason for posting this picture besides the fact that I really like it. I recently got Rad Lab and love all of the new editing options it's given me. A little FYI, it was 80 degrees out, I'm on my patio, and wearing a Yo Gabba shirt and sweats under this. 
  • Gosh, a lot of people shop on black friday and the weekend following. Business is busy at Mama Mandolin and although I've been using every second of free time to fill orders, I love it. Seriously, love. it. I've realized recently how much I love this little shop of mine and being creative. 
  • The boys have been playing SO well together recently. Not a lot of fighting. The week of crying non stop and clingyness has thankfully ended. PRAISE BABY JESUS.
  • I can't wait to go home for Christmas! Chikezie is going to be able to stay the whole time which means I don't have to fly with the boys alone!! That fact alone makes me super relieved about the whole trip. I also recently realized we'll be home for my brothers' and sister's 16th birthday...they're getting their licensees. Holy poop.
  • This weekend I bought the Starbucks Christmas Blend and it is pretty freaking good. I pair it with some peppermint mocha creamer and it's holiday bliss in a cup every morning.
  • I did bath time with the boys this morning and definitely decided to switch baths to mornings now. I have so much more energy and it doesn't seem like such a daunting task waiting for me at the end of the day. They love bath time but it's a lot of work for me and I usually dread it. Morning time for the win.

the dudes know sign language

The boys have been really taking a lot of strides with their communication skills lately. As I've talked about before, they're a little behind on vocabulary and I've been really working at teaching them how to communicate. At almost 21 months, here are the words they know:

  • chicken (ba-ba), mama, dada, bye, vacuum (va-va), Isaiah (Eye-ya-ya), banana (na-na), naked (na-na) 
They also do this weird tongue/noise/word thing when something is yucky: 

They've also been picking up signs pretty easily and one of the biggest things is that they're starting to use them IN context, not just when I ask them to say the sign.

Here's a (kind of shakey) video of them doing a few signs last night:

Here are all of the signs they're currently doing:

  • Up, down, bye-bye, hi, touchdown, thank you, milk, more, book, bird, monkey, giraffe, hat, shark, butterfly, car, eat, all done, baby, and we're working on help and please right now.
The sign language has been an amazing tool. They're starting to learn how to really ask for things they need and communicate with both signs and words. A lot of people falsely thing that signing discourages speech but it's more like a stepping stone, a lot like crawling is to walking. Kids are never too old to learn sign language and there are so many good books and resources to help you teach and learn with your baby/toddler/kid. 

We use this book and this one (which is basically the same thing). Here is also a good website with pictures and videos to help you understand the signs better. 

Do you use sign language with your kids?

shop update

I wanted to give you all a little heads up at some new things I've got up in the shop (along with the Black Friday discount still available)

Even though I live where I can't really wear these goodies, I really wanted to make some things for winter. I've added a couple of cowls and a circle scarf to the list of fun stuff in the shop. I seriously LOVE making these.

this crochet cowl (made in pretty much any color you wish)

this knit cowl (made with the same yarn, available in all of the same colors)

and my favorite new addition
this flannel circle scarf/cowl, also made in a variety of colors and patterns. 

I've also decided to run the Black Friday special through Wednesday, so if you haven't checked out the details on the deals going on in the shop yet, GO HERE to check them out!

sunset at the beach

We had such a great Thanksgiving. Chikezie's sister came down from San Francisco area for a few days to celebrate with us. It was nice having a visitor and treats and lots of laughs. 

Saturday afternoon we headed to Laguna Beach to enjoy the beautiful weather we've been having. We ate dinner at Rudy's and holy cows the boys were AMAZING. Seriously the best they've been at a restaurant in a very long time. I think they were tired. No fussing, squirming, whining, nothing. It was so enjoyable. 

Isaiah was extra cuddly after having slept for a few minutes in the car. I loved every second.

And he warmed up to Auntie Answer very quickly.

Julian and Chikezie thoroughly enjoyed the stickers.

Afterward we went across the street to the beach and got there right in time to see the sun set. It was gorgeous. We also took advantage of the opportunity of having a 3rd person there to take a much needed family picture. Not very often can you get all four of us in a picture, looking at the camera. 
Isaiah looks so tall!
Chikezie took some pictures and I chased a little boy around. He was trying to get away from the ocean. He still hates it (after us putting his feet in during the 4th of July in Santa Barbara).

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving (and weekend!)

Don't forget today is the last day for the crazy awesome Black Friday discount over at my etsy shop! 

GO HERE for the details!


OMG it's Black Friday!!!

(I don't shop at stores today.)

Anywho, I'm offering discount to everyone for the weekend!
Any necklace and earrings combo for $12.50. Basically you're getting the earrings for free. Boo-Yah. You can get any of the options shown currently in the shop, and there are also a bunch of new fabric options on the listing Go HERE to check them out.

AND...yes, there's more....

 As a special gift to all of my bloggy blog readers, I'm offering 30% discount on the holiday wreath:
enter the code: blackfriday30 

YEEEE! Let the holiday season begin!


I could write a typical thankful post about the most obvious things in my life to be thankful, friends, home, etc. and mainly these:

I mean, let's face it, they are THE BEST things I have going for me. But there are some other things I'm thankful for that make my life a good one.
  • I'm thankful for my cell phone. With it, I'm able to spend countless hours talking with my family and friends who live forever and a year away. And text friends when calling doesn't really work due to screaming children.
  • I'm thankful for Facebook chat, where I spend late nights up past my bedtime chatting with my bestie:
Yes, she really is that good looking.
  • I'm thankful for the nice weather in California because it allows us to go anywhere, pretty much anytime without worry of weather interference.
  • I'm thankful for the crafty side I've discovered of myself. I've always had it but have really been able to put it to use this past year.
  • I'm thankful for this blog and the outlet it's allowed me and the wonderful people I've met through it. 
  • And lastly, I'm thankful for the friends I have at home in Iowa that no matter how far the distance or how long we go without catching up, we still manage to pick up right where we left off.  I know some good people. 

for your door

I kind of wanted to start a little tradition with my Etsy shop each holiday season by creating a new wreath every year and putting it up for sale. Last year I made this for a friend back in Iowa:

Except I only had one for our door and made only one from my shop. 

This year I really wanted to share this with more people. I was thinking of doing a tutorial on how to make this but a lot of people aren't crafty or really don't have the time to make it themselves.

So this year I'm offering this wreath made to order in my Mama Mandolin etsy shop:

I'm selling these cute little wreaths for $30 and I'm am giving a guarantee that within a week or so of placing your order, the wreath will be done and on your doorstep. I want you to be able to enjoy it before Christmas for as long as possible! 

GO HERE to get yours...or one for a friend...or tell your friends. :)

getting in the spirit

I'm not one for trying to celebrate Christmas before Thanksgiving has even happened but this year I really felt the need to get into the spirit a little early. I think it's because we'll be traveling home to Iowa for the holidays and I wanted to have some Christmas spirit at my house now to make up for the time we'll be gone.  

Also, I really have to WORK to get in the Christmas mood where I no longer experience cold weather or snow. That's a big one. 

Chikezie accidentally broke our little tree from last year (which I discovered when I was taking it out of the box) so I had to buy a new one. I decided to go with a 7.5 footer that was pre-lit. I didn't want to mess with untangling lights. Plus, we have vaulted ceilings so we have the vertical space for a taller tree. 

How is having a Christmas tree up with 2 20 month olds? Not too bad! I put most of the ornaments up higher so they're not tempted to mess with the tree. There is some light touching/poking/hitting of the branches but let's be honest, there are a lot more fun things to play with than a pokey old tree. I can usually distract them with something else and they forget all about it.

My mom used to go all out decorating for Christmas. Although the boys are young and won't ever remember it, they'll see pictures. I loved putting up decorations with my mom and I loved a house full of holiday decorations and holiday music on the radio for a good month. This is how I will be. 

As we enter into the holiday season (I include Thanksgiving in this season) I want the boys to remember the most important part about this time of year and it's the spirit of giving, of thoughtfulness, of appreciation, of love, of celebration, of peace and of family. 

And to use the holidays as a reminder that these things don't need to be celebrated and practiced only once a year; they should be continued on through the new year.

crying babies, handmade sweetness and getting things done.

Do you ever have so many ideas you just don't have enough time to start making them all a reality? This is like, the story of my life. I've been writing them down the past couple of weeks and this weekend I'm really determined to get some things accomplished. I'm determined to have a bunch of handmade ornaments ready for our tree to be put up next Thursday. This, plus like 800 other things.

The boys have had other plans for my life lately. Julian is going through some hardcore separation anxiety issues, maybe because he's teething. Seriously? Both boys are working on a whole mouth full of molars. There has to be at least 15 teeth coming in at once in this house right now. Every time I even go down the hallway to go to the bathroom, Julian does this:

Thank you to my awesome husband for getting some fro-yo for us last night and making my hell of a week a little sweeter. Did I mention to you guys that I cut out all grains and processed sugar from my diet a little over a week ago and have lost about 6 lbs so far? Well, except for the necessary and very much needed Friday treat. So there's that. 

Anywho. Back to the dreaming big dreams thing. (Sorry this post is all over the place.) I'm getting shizzy done this weekend. I wanted to post pictures of all the pairs of earrings I made for the blogger meet up last weekend but ran out of time. I was really hoping to add all of the new earring designs to my shop... Look at all of these beautiful ladies wearing Mama Mandolin handmade sweetness:

You guys have no idea how much joy I get seeing something I've made bring other people happiness. It seriously made my week. (If you got a pair at the meet up I want to see pictures!) Head on over to my shop if you'd like a pair of your own (or to give for the holidays!) 

Time to put on a pot of coffee, get my little men out of bed and start getting shiz done around here. 

P.S. Did you guys see the new header? And some new stuff on the sidebar? I did it. My photoshop skills are very, very basic but it looks good, no? 

10 favorite

Every now and then it's nice to have a little reminder of the individual and special things about both boys. When you have two kids the same age, doing all of the same things, it can be easy to think of them as a pair and forget about the traits that make each of them so unique.

10 favorite things about Isaiah:
  1. His determination. He doesn't give up when he wants something (even if it means making his brother cry in the process. Got to give the kid some credit.) 
  2. That one random long curl by his right ear. 
  3. The growl he greets me with every morning when I open their bedroom door.
  4. His obsession with books and how he puts a book in your face until you read it to him.
  5. How his run looks more like a hop/bounce. 
  6. How he laughs his hardest laughs when he's playing with his brother.
  7. His outgoing personality, especially around other kids. He'll walk up and babble his baby language like everyone can understand.
  8. How he has to do the "car" sign every. single. time. he sees a car. Except the sign looks less like he's driving a car and more like he's pulling the reins on a horse.
  9. When he squishes my cheeks together and laughs at my squished mouth.
  10. How he calls me "Ma" instead of Mama. 

10 favorite things about Julian:
  1. This half open mouth stare he gives when he's listening.
  2. His playful nature. He always wants to start a game of peek-a-boo or do something silly to make everyone laugh.
  3. Those cute little turned in feet that make him so clumsy. He can be standing in the middle of the room touching nothing and manage to twist and fall in some weird position.
  4. How when I ask him to get his brother he yells "Ah-Ya-Ya!"
  5. Although I hate it sometimes, I'm cherishing his recent attachment to me. I can't leave the room without him crying. It's hard sometimes but some day he won't want me around.
  6. How he just likes to explore and doesn't like to be held or contained.
  7. When he hisses like a snake, the air doesn't come out of his mouth, it comes out of his nose...with lots of other nose treats.
  8. How he stands at the bottom of the stairs and yells "Da!" for Chikezie, at all hours of the day.
  9. When his little fingers fiddle and pick at things when he's just relaxing on the couch. He's always messing with something.
  10. How he always needs to put his feet up on my lap when we're sitting together, even if it looks like the most uncomfortable position.

Totally Rad

I got an email a couple of weeks ago about a free trial of Rad Lab which is a new feature from Totally Rad (Photoshop Actions) where you can basically see all of your pictures previewed in a photoshop action. There is a 30 day free trial of Rad Lab, which includes 78 actions and pretty much endless possibilities. 

After just 5 minutes of messing around, look at these fun edits:

I love all of their funky/fun actions and am excited to play around with it for the next 30 days. No, this isn't a sponsored post...just a mama wanting to share a fun new toy.

Also, please notice my bitchin' new glasses courtesy of Warby Parker. Well, not courtesy of them, I paid for them but $95 is pretty reasonable for a pair of glasses, especially when you're as blind as I am.

These are the Prestons and I love them (and Warby Parker).  I placed the order last Thursday and they were here on my doorstep (free shipping) this morning. Fantastic. And even better? For every pair of glasses bought, they donate a pair to someone in need. You should probably get some. 

That is all.

thoughts on bed sharing

I try to avoid weighing in on these controversial subjects but this is one I thought I'd throw my two cents in.

This week, the city of Milwaukee introduced a quite controversial campaign on bed-sharing:

This ad has obviously pissed off a lot of parents, especially those who've co-slept with their children, specifically through bed sharing. First, I want to point out that co-sleeping can mean many things, from bed sharing, to baby sleeping in his own co-sleeper or pack 'n play next to the bed, to sleeping in a crib on the other side of the family bedroom. This ad is focusing on the bed-sharing aspect of co-sleeping. 

We co-slept with the boys, mainly with them in an arm's reach co-sleeper next to our bed, and at times there was one boy in the bed next to me. I took the pad off of our mattress, kept him on my side (not between Chikezie and I because he's a heavy sleeper) and had no loose bedding or blankets around him. The boys stayed in our room until they were 6 months old. Through our experiences I do feel strongly about the benefits of co-sleeping. However, I did my research, had many options and did what I thought worked best for my family. 

This is not the case for every household. 

Research has shown that the risk of SIDS is increased in bed sharing situations. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
"Epidemiologic studies have not demonstrated any bed-sharing situations that are protective against SIDS or suffocation. Furthermore, not all risks associated with bed- sharing, such as parental fatigue, can be controlled. Therefore, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend any specific bed-sharing situations as safe. Moreover, there are specific circumstances that, in epidemiologic studies, substantially increase the risk of SIDS or suffocation while bed-sharing. In particular, it should be stressed to parents that they avoid the following situations at all times:
i. Bed-sharing when the infant is younger than 3 months, regardless of whether the parents are smokers or not.5,7,31–34  
ii. Bed-sharing with a current smoker (even if he or she does not smoke in bed) or if the mother smoked during pregnancy.5,6,34–36 
iii. Bed-sharingwithsomeone who is excessively tired.
iv. Bed-sharing with someone who has or is using medications (eg, certain antidepressants, pain medications) or substances (eg, alcohol, il- licit drugs) that could im- pair his or her alertness or ability to arouse.7,37 
v. Bed-sharing with anyone who is not a parent, including other children.3vi. Bed-sharing with multiple persons.3 
vii. Bed-sharing on a soft surface such as a waterbed, old mattress, sofa, couch, or armchair.3,5,6,31,32 
viii. Bed-sharing on a surface with soft bedding, including pillows, heavy blankets, quilts, and comforters.3,38   "

According to the city of Milwaukee website:
"Between 2006 and 2009 there were 89 infant deaths related to SIDS, SUDI, or accidental suffocation.  Of these, 46 (51.7%) infants were sleeping in an adult bed at the time of their death."
SO MANY families in this country bed share safely but just because they did so without incident  doesn't mean the risks are any less for the rest of the population. Sadly, not every parent just "knows the rules" of bed sharing. If you don't know how to do it safely, you ought to not do it. Co-sleeping in a bed next to yours is just as good, and safer for those who don't know the proper precautions. 

This ad even gives a number for parents to call to receive a free pack 'n play, and the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the City of Milwaukee are encouraging co-sleeping in that way. With the number of infant deaths in bed sharing situations their city, I believe they have every right to err on the side of caution by telling parents to place their babies in cribs at night. In Milwaukee, the risks of bed sharing are outweighing the possible benefits safe bed sharing.

This ad might anger many parents who've shared a bed with their children with no problems, because in their experience, bed sharing was a positive experience. However in the city of Milwaukee, 46 deaths in one year of babies sleeping in bed with their parents is 46 too many. I'm sure one of those parents who lost a child would tell you if they would have known how to bed share effectively or had been able to purchase a bed for their baby to co-sleep in next to them, they would have done it in a heartbeat.  

Many SIDS deaths are in lower and lower middle class households where the access to proper information or funds for safe bedding are unavailable. Regardless of the controversy surrounding this series of advertisements, it has already achieved it's goal; to bring awareness. Whether you agree with it or not, it's intent is positive and will hopefully save a life.

For information on the City of Milwaukee's campaign for safe sleeping go HERE.

For the latest SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment publication by the American Academy of Pediatrics go HERE.

So Cal Blogger Meet up Pt. 2

One more post about the blogger meet up. I promise after this you won't see anymore...until the NEXT meet up. Muahahaha!

Beautiful Del Mar, and if you look closely you can see the ocean back there. It kind of blends in with the sky out here!

The girls setting up at our cute little location.

The yummy treats in everyone's gift bag. 

Awesome location Sip at Flavor Del Mar. 

Balloon girl, Mrs. Stephanie T.

Lots of chatting. Summer, Tammy, (Olivia in the back) Stephanie and Kelsey

Amanda and Stephanie. 

To see some more (actually good photos) of the meet up head over to Karina Irene Photography

AND, if you're one of the lovelies who went to the meet up and posted about it, go link up HERE.

I had a ton of fun and can't wait until the next one!