So you think you can write

Next month I’m attending my first ever blogging/writing-related conference – the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Ohio. It’s an event for humor and human interest writers. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also a little unsure about the whole thing. There will be people at this event who get paid to write – for blogs, media, books. They are legit and profesh. I, on the other hand, have written more than 10 blog posts about a masked baby doll.

She's pretty much my third child at this point

She’s pretty much my third child at this point

A very large portion of my brain has been questioning this decision since the moment I registered. I think that’s why I’ve had a mild case of writing paralysis lately. I love to write and I love to laugh, but it’s hard to justify that as something worthy of a cross-country trip with travel expenses, not to mention 3+ days away from my family. Especially when I have never left my kids before and OMG I HAVE NEVER LEFT MY KIDS BEFORE.

But at this point I need to quit doubting myself and embrace reality because I bought a non-refundable plane ticket. Ain’t no stopping me now.

The main reason I’m going to the conference is to learn and be inspired. I tend to look at writing as my guilty pleasure. My secret pastime. My excuse to tell fart jokes on the internet.

But the truth is that I often enjoy writing silly stories more than I enjoyed my 13-year career. And I invested a lot of time, effort and energy in that career. So why not put a little effort into my writing? After all, maybe there’s a better way to tell a good fart joke?

Ok, so perhaps I’m a little confused about why exactly I’m going to this conference and what I will gain from it.

But I do know this – writing is and has always been a passion of mine, and I blog because it’s fun. Going to this conference feels indulgent and selfish and weird and exciting, but I’m not going to overthink it or beat myself up for being a small fish.

Instead I’m going to soak it all in, appreciate the opportunity to meet and learn from people with similar interests, savor the chance to get a full night of UNINTERRUPTED sleep, and enjoy meeting fellow bloggers in real life for the first time (including Leigh Ann, who convinced me to attend. If it sucks, it’s all her fault. I kid!).

And if I start to doubt my reasons for attending, I will remind myself that I do have at least one legitimate, non-Creepy Baby piece of writing to author.

A few months ago my mom mailed me an obituary she had cut out of the newspaper. It was for a woman named Margaret who passed away at the age of 92. I didn’t know Margaret and neither did my mother, but she sent it to me because she thought it was well-written and peppered with an appropriate touch of humor. She wanted me to see it for reference, to serve as an example of the tone and content she would like in her own obituary – which she has tasked me with writing.

To be clear – my mother is healthier than I am. She just has a deep appreciation for good writing, a morbid desire to plan ahead, and a disturbing fascination with tributes to dead strangers. I don’t foresee needing to pen her obituary anytime soon, but given how important it clearly is to her that I get it right when the time comes, I think it’s only prudent that I attend a workshop on ‘human interest’ writing.

So you see? I kind of owe it to my mother to attend so I don’t let her down. And because I couldn’t find a conference for obituary writers.

Pumpkin pushers

Pumpkins. What is their allure, anyway? I’m not referring to the pumpkin spice latte revolution, or the intoxicating effect of a pumpkin muffin, or blessed be, the coma-like bliss that follows a piece of pumpkin pie.

I’m talking about the pre-slaughtered pumpkin in its unedited form. The one we travel miles to procure at the nearest pumpkin sweatshop patch, where we fight the crowds to capture a single photograph of our precious children looking like Autumn Angels amidst a bunch of relatively tasteless vegetables (those delicious lattes and muffins AREN’T EVEN MADE FROM REAL PUMPKINS YOU KNOW).

And it works! Those photos never fail to please. Even the most rotten child would look like a saint sitting next to a pumpkin.

Look at this precious image:


You would never know that my oldest daughter is actually in the midst of a Turd Ferguson-style temper tantrum and just told me I was the “worst mother ev-er.” All you see is tenderness, gentle souls, and pumpkins! Ahh pumpkins. Gourds of glee. It’s impossible to resist their enchanting ways.

Even Creepy Baby looks like an innocent cherub when flanked by pumpkins.


I’m so pleased with this setup that I’m going to leave her on my doorstep like this until Christmas.

Sew what have you been up to?

HELP. My mother-in-law is coming to visit on Friday. It just occurred to me that I have not sewn anything – NOT. ONE. THING. – since my initial success with doll pants and a tiny toy bin. I can’t even remember how to thread my bobbin. (Is it just me, or do I sound kind of macho when I talk about my bobbin?)

At a minimum, I’ll dust off that $400 sewing machine she bought me so it doesn’t look quite so neglected. But I know she’ll want to see other signs of progress. I’m thinking I can throw a few fabric scraps on the floor, wear a measuring tape around my neck, and tell her I’m working on something “really big.”  I’ll also randomly measure everyone’s inseam because I specialize in awkward and overkill. Should be a great week.

That’s right, WEEK. Not a weekend. Not even a long weekend. No, no. We’re talking about an extended week here, people. The in-laws are flying right by the sacred one-week mark and staying two more days beyond that. Because why the hell not? So I’ve got 9 days of lies ahead of me. NINE DAYS.

I can’t really be held responsible for my actions during that amount of time. I can generally keep it together and make conversation for 4, 5, or even 6 days. But 9? What more is there to say? How many times can we talk about the garden or the weather? At some point we will HAVE to discuss my sewing.

I’m worried that in a moment of desperation, I’ll break down and show her Creepy Baby. “Hey, look what I made! It’s a ski mask that I cut out of a sock and put on a doll and then I take pictures of it and write about it on the internet and I need therapy.”

Poor Baby

My best friend meets my worst enemy

She’ll probably try to have me committed. Rightfully so. Rightfully sew.

Creepy Baby tries to be a trendsetter

Have you seen the babymugging meme? Ilana at the blog Mommy Shorts (who is incidentally one of my fave people to follow on Instagram) thought of it and it totally took off. Tons of people have now snapped pics of babies looking like they are in coffee mugs, posted them to Facebook or Instagram using the #babymugging hashtag, and it’s super fun and cute. It was even featured on the Today Show and Huffington Post. So clever!

I attempted to take one of my own kid.


But she was kind of squirmy and hard to capture. Boy, it would be a lot easier if I could actually stick her inside the coffee mug, I thought. AhahahaWAIT.

And then it came to me. Like a beacon in the fog.


I shall call it – #babymuggermugging. Talk about meta.

I don’t know about you guys, but I was thinking maybe I should make a #babymuggering hashtag for anyone who wants to create their own Creepy Baby.

“No, Amy,” said the Internet in collective unison, “We do not agree.”

It’s like a play on words, but a play on a hashtag. You know, because Creepy Baby already looks like a mugger thanks to her ski mask. So you don’t have to do the coffee mug part. Just the doll. With a mask. Because then you have a babymugger.

“Ohmygod, Amy. If you have to explain it that much, it is not funny. Nor is it a meme.”

All you have to do is cut eye holes in an old sock, stick it on a doll of your choosing, take a photo of it in a humorous or menacing position, and share the creepy joy!

“You really need to let the Creepy Baby thing go before you lose your remaining 3 readers.”

Don’t worry. I’m not expecting an overnight sensation. I’ll drag this one out for a while – maybe Halloween? – so you have plenty of time to perfect your ski mask.

“You are the worst blogger ever.”

In case you need inspiration, below are some of my favorite Creepy Baby photos as a reminder. You can post your photos with the #babymuggering hashtag on my Facebook page or Instagram. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

“We all stopped reading three paragraphs ago.”

Creepy Baby collage

#babymuggering – it’s the next big Internet sensation!

“No. It’s not.”

When you need a change of scenery

Last week we went to Texas. It was a nice break from our norm. We swam in an outdoor pool in 90 degree weather. My children will never know this experience where they live.

We saw scorpions. In the house. No thank you.

Oh – and I got the worst sleep of my life since the newborn days. Holy mother why do I bother trying to travel with children before they are old enough to hold their own in a big bed? My neck is still kinked from rocking a 25 lb+ child to sleep 3-4 times/night. Les Miserables.

On the upside I took a cool lizard photo to add to my ever-growing collection of critter pics.


Hey National Geographic – call me maybe.

While it was nice to get away for a few days, I have an itch for a bigger travel experience. Sometimes I dream about packing up my family and moving to a foreign country to live for a while. I want my kids to experience a different culture. I want to look back and feel like we had a few solid adventures together as a family. I want an excuse to wear espadrilles.

But before I can entertain the idea any further, I am overwhelmed by how daunting the reality of that dream seems to be. We’d have to sell our house! Quit work! Find new work! And what about schools?

Nevermind. We’ll just stay put.

So I was fascinated when my friend, Erika, recently did this exact thing – but on a more flexible, short-term basis.

She was seeking a change of climate and perspective, and wanted to expose her kids to a new language and culture out of their comfort zones. She also wanted to start traveling with them at a young age so it wouldn’t seem so daunting later. Smart!

So she packed up her bags and her kids and headed to Big Corn Island off the east coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean to live for three months.

She’s there now, and I have been living vicariously through her amazing photos.

How did she do it? What are the costs?

She rents a house for $400/month. She pays a whopping $16/month for her kids to attend a private Baptist school. And they can take a taxi almost anywhere on the island for $1.

I don’t know why, but it never crossed my mind that you could do something like this without having to completely upend your life back home. She didn’t even have to leave her job – she is working remotely from there. Granted, she always works from home so that was probably easier to negotiate than most jobs, but hey – you never know if your boss will let you fly the coop for a bit if you don’t ask.

I just think the whole thing sounds dreamy, and I totally admire that she had the gumption to do it. Not to mention, what an enriching and educational experience for her kids.

She did mention that there is no hot water, she hand washes clothes in a bin in the backyard, and the language barrier can be bumpy to navigate at times.

But honestly – I rarely shower, I wear the same clothes every day, and the majority of my conversations are with a 16-month-old child who speaks gibberish. I have never been more well-suited for such an adventure.

Just in case I never get enough of my own gumption to travel beyond exotic Texas, my friend was kind enough to let me share her story and photos here. I was inspired and intrigued by the idea, and thought maybe someone else will be too. Plus I just love travel stories and photos – and her photos are gorgeous. If you ever need a photographer in the Montana area, check her out.






Whoa whoa whoa. Let’s steer clear of the lizard pictures, ok, pal? I think we know who owns that territory.

While the sunshine and ocean pics are lovely, hands down the best photo she has taken is the one she posted on my Facebook page with the caption “Creepy Baby sighting in Nicaragua!”


Holy hell if ever there were a baby in need of a ski mask, it’s that one. I’ll get right on it.

I did some stuff

Phew that last post had more views than any other post I’ve written. I’m not going to lie – I almost quit blogging just to make sure I end things on a high note. I don’t want to let the success go to my head, but I’m curious – how do I go about getting paid for that post? Will someone be sending me a cashier’s check? Is it via direct deposit, or ? If someone could let me know, that would be great.

Actually I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been attempting to be productive in other areas of my life. I know – it’s weird for me too.

I’ve fallen victim to the gardening trend and am trying to start one. Right after I finish pulling out the ten million weeds that have taken over this hellacious plot of dirt.


My back hurts just thinking about it. I was asking my husband some gardening questions the other night, which were apparently so dumb he thought I was joking. Am I the only person who didn’t realize that a pea seed would look like a pea?? Don’t answer that.

I also bought the ingredients to make some muffins…

And I’ve been working on my drawing skills. On Easter I made this rabbit.


Those were supposed to be paws, not breasts. I’ll keep practicing.

I’ve also been spending time outside enjoying an unusual stretch of sunny weather that makes me giddy. Mmmmountains.


But the real cherry on the cake of my achievements is again related to sewing. I know – it’s weird for me too.

I found this cute project for fabric toy bins. I thought I’d give it a shot. Dare to dream, you know?

I bought remnants at the fabric store – which, incidentally, is my new favorite hangout. The ladies who buy fabric on a Wednesday afternoon are the chattiest crew in town. And one of the saleswomen looks exactly like my grandmother. It’s uncanny. I wanted to stick her in my stroller (she would fit) and take her home. I still might.

I stared at the fabric for a week. Then yesterday while my daughter napped and my other kid made curtains for her dollhouse, I fired up the sewing machine and went guns blazing and made this!


I mean, seriously. Isn’t that cute??

Here’s another angle because I know you are curious.


That thing has lining, yo! And like, a whole bunch of stitches and stuff!

I am so impressed with myself I can barely stand it. Notice that the grainy photos of my family are taken with my cell phone, but I pulled out the nice camera to capture the color and magic of my Fabric Bin.

Next I’m going to make a bigger one for bigger toys. Then I’m going to make a set we can use for soup bowls. Christmas 2013: The Year I Gave Everyone a Fabric Bin.

My newfound interest in crafty things continues to creep me out a bit, but if I have some sort of innate talent – which, who are we kidding, I must* – then I figure it’s my duty to share it with the world.

In the meantime this bin has been put to excellent use.

My two greatest creations (not including my children, of course)

My two greatest creations (not including my children, of course)


*sarcasm, in case you are new here

Creepy Baby’s Oscars Special

Creepy Baby is red carpet ready! For tonight’s Academy Awards she is wearing a custom ski mask from my couture collection.


Creepy Baby’s friend, Hannibal, has joined her to watch the annual salute to cinematic achievement.


Creepy Baby first met Hanny after she saw him in Silence of the Lambs, which she was extremely disappointed to discover is NOT a children’s film. THERE AREN’T EVEN ANY LAMBS IN IT.

Once she recovered from a mild case of PTSD, she and Hanny became fast friends thanks to their mutual love of scaring the living shite out of people.

Please note that Hanny’s fava beans have been carefully diced to avoid a choking hazard. Because he is a baby, after all. And also that’s the only way to get the food through those metal bars.

Creepy Baby would like to thank Molly Field, whose apparent love of Jame Gumb, arguably one of the creepiest villains of all time, inspired today’s post. Creepy Baby would like to point out that she is not wearing one of Mr. Gumb’s skin suits, despite the striking similarity.

She would also like to thank my husband for taking time out of his Saturday night to help stage Hannibal’s photo shoot. Trust me dear, I am just as confused and worried about my latest hobby as you are.

Sew what?!

A few weeks ago my mother-in-law was visiting. She is an avid sewer, so in an attempt to find common ground and spark a decent conversation, I told her I had considered getting a cheap sewing machine to hem pants and make curtains.

I have no idea how to sew. Nor am I a domestic or crafty person.

But my tactic worked, and she proceeded to tell me about the costumes she made for her kids when they were little, showed me photos of dresses she made for her daughter…it was a nice bonding moment, which doesn’t happen often. Mission accomplished.

I should’ve known better. The next day she took me to the store and laid down $400+ for a sewing machine and a bunch of supplies to get me started on my path to Project Runway.

Oh f*ck. Good job, me.

You might be asking – Amy, why didn’t you just politely tell her no thank you? Because turning down her offer would have been perceived as an insult, and believe me – you do not want to offend this woman.

So here I’ve been sitting for the past several weeks with this damn machine staring at me from across the table. Mocking me. Haunting me.

My lack of sewing skills is the least of my worries at this point. Now I have the enormous emotional burden of knowing my mother-in-law will ask about my sewing progress – and rightfully so, since she bankrolled me – every.single.time I talk to her. FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE.

To say I am screwed is an understatement. I have already been perusing Etsy for things I can purchase and tell her I made myself because I know where this is headed.

I never bought a machine before because I knew I wouldn’t actually use it. I don’t do this type of thing! It’s not in my DNA.

And I resent the insinuation that I should do it just because I have two daughters. Both my mother-in-law and the sales clerk seemed to think I should spend the rest of my days sewing doll clothes and Easter dresses because duh – two girls!

Um, NO! That kind of antiquated B.S. does not apply here. I can be a great mother and role model even if I patch their clothes with masking tape and don’t know how to make pancakes (shush – I’m working on it).

But I went ahead and took the free introductory class to learn how to use the machine, so that at the very least I can understand the lingo while spinning my web of lies.

Then the other night my daughter asked me to sew some pants for her doll. Ugh. Seriously, kid? You don’t even know how much of a headache this is going to give Mommy. Not to mention how many hours, if not days, this will take. But fine, I’ll try.

So I dug around on Pinterest, found some beginner 101 level sewing projects, and 45 minutes later I had completed the MOST BITCHIN DOLL PANTS on the planet.


I couldn’t believe how easy it was, how well they fit, and how excited I was about my achievement. My favorite part is they are made from old pants that both of the girls wore as babies. Cost-effective AND sentimental value! Genius! I don’t want to brag but I also made those club foot socks and that itty bitty hat. Crafty Cathy in da house!

Today I pulled out more old baby clothes that I can re-engineer into custom doll accessories and attire.

cannot believe I just typed that sentence. What the hell is happening to me? Am I on a downward spiral toward making matching bonnets for my children? Will I start sewing patterns on my jeans? Heaven forbid – am I going to own a thimble someday?!?

Sometimes I think parenthood is laughing at me and my attempts at domesticity. Or maybe that’s just my mother-in-law cackling in the background.

Either way I will claim a small piece of victory knowing that my favorite creation is actually one that didn’t require a single stitch. I used the remains of a leftover sock to create a ski mask for one of the smaller dolls, and in so doing, I made the cutest, creepiest bank robber in history.


And now I plan to terrorize my husband by leaving her in random spots in the house. Like the fruit bowl.


Or perhaps on the kitchen counter, ready to greet him when he gets his morning coffee.


And this is why I should not be allowed to do crafts.

Do you have any entry level sewing project ideas I can add to my Pinterest board? Do tell! Otherwise I’ll just keep making ski masks and then we’re all in trouble.