Stocking Up

Sorry for the delay in posting. I had to wait until after Christmas to share this one since the stocking I made this year was a surprise…


Adam and I were enjoying our Christmas room (the only one that is really decorated for the season) and I asked him what his favorite Christmas thing was. He said “lights.” I am not sure if that really counts (Adam is outraged by this and told me my opinion isn’t Christmasy), but I know mine is our stockings. In fact, I love them so much they are up there in my favorite things category, not just favorite Christmas things.

My Grandma Ellie made my stocking for my first Christmas in 1982. It is knit and it is perfect. It spends most of the year in a little coffee can wrapped in Christmas paper.


When Adam and I got married Grandma Ellie sent Adam a Christmas stocking. More than saying vows in front of 200 people, or having a very grown up kitchen aid mixer (the quintessential wedding gift in my mind) the stocking made us official. It was the thing that truly made me feel like Adam was my family.


Seven years ago Grandma Ellie and I both went to Colorado for a little stocking retreat. She taught me how to make the stockings and I carefully jotted down the pattern as we went. I didn’t know how to knit anything with color and I think I had only made one pair of socks at that point, so I had a lot to learn.

Since everyone in my family has a grandma Ellie stocking (she has made hundreds), I had to test out my skills with stockings for the animals. Tess the dog, Ollie the cat, and Daisy the cat each got a stocking in their image—and I adjusted my gauge since they came out rather large.


Each of the boys has their own Grandma Ellie stocking; even though I know how to make them now there is nothing like an original.


But my brother and his girlfriend spent their first Christmas together away from home this year, so I had my mom send out my brother’s stocking and I made a matching one for Aunt Brenda. I enjoyed the challenge of replicating my grandmother’s work from 30 years ago.


I love that with a little bit of colored yarn we can all hang together in the most beautiful (and in my mind, official) way.



Word Up

Your post about reading couldn’t have come at a better time. I was actually going to write about reading this week too, mostly because I want to wait on some of the holiday posts and, frustratingly, Luke has another ear infection so we’ve been laying low without many activities to share either.

Selfie from The Last Bookstore, a total gem of a used bookstore in Downtown LA. It has a knitting shop inside and a tunnel made of books.

The best thing I did this holiday season is treat myself to an Amazon Fire on Black Friday. I’ve been reluctant to snag an e-reader for years. The traditionalist in me can’t seem to get away from burying my nose in a good book. But after trying, unsuccessfully, for 8 months to slog through the 800-page long book the Luminaries in my free time, I decided that an e-reader that I could one hand made good sense.

The other bonus, was when I thought about the upcoming flights on our horizon and the ways we could entertain our little bear with a tablet.

When I got the fire, I was surprised at how small it is. It’s right around the size of your average paperback but as I got used to it, I realize that’s just perfect. I’ve had it a week and already (re-) read a Dean Koontz book, which is one of my guilty pleasures from way back. I can cuddle my fussy, fever-ridden guy in one arm and when he finally knocks out, read with the other, it’s making my time in the rocking chair much more gratifying.

Our library has an amazing digital collection and you get the editions much faster than the hard copy. On my hold list are: the new Jhumpa Lahiri book Lowland, California by Edan Lepucki, Orphan Train, We Were Liars, And the Mountains Echoed, the third book in the All Soul’s Trilogy and Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend this Never Happened

Luke reading one of his favorites, “My First Book of Shapes”

I’m actually so out of the loop on books that I didn’t have a to-read list. I think that’s the first time ever. A quick stop by Barnes and Noble and I filled it right up, but, I’m ready for more suggestions!

I really want Lucas to love reading. He actually sits and babbles while turning the pages of his books so I think he’s trying to impersonate me. But, I think the best way to instill a love of books is to keep reading myself. I can’t think of a time when I’ve had less time to read, because even in college I would take the lit classes for an excuse to keep reading during the semester.

Surprisingly, I haven’t read the book that you posted, can’t wait to check it out and I can’t wait to trade more book suggestions with you — even if they are about trucks, trains and superheroes!

Bookin It

I finished a book today!


It took me almost 12 weeks to read, so I am calling this closure a Christmas Miracle. (Remember when we were in top Lit Major condition in college and we’d read three or four books a week?) Now a twelve-week read with a new baby in the house is rapid pace for me.

I loved this book. I picked it up on a whim at the thrift store, which was hopeful and delusional considering my track record with reading since becoming a mom. Unless we count picture books about tractors, trucks and diggers; I have read thousands of those in the past three years. I practically have an advanced degree in heavy machinery identification. You think everything is a digger until you have a little boy and you learn that there is a big difference between a front-end loader and a backhoe. But I digress…

But this book is about something that I am actually interested in: knitting. It is called Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously by Adrienne Martini. It was my kind of book: part memoir (she weaves her story through one project – knitting a Fair Isle style sweater) and part focused history of knitting. I love a good focused history, which is why I own the following books (their simple titles should let you know what they are about): Oranges, Salt, Bananas and Snow. Of course I have only read one of them (Oranges was fascinating) but Salt, Bananas and Snow … I am coming for you, someday.

Sweater Quest was funny and light and I learned so much about my own knitting by reading it. I am decent knitter, but I just kind of lucked into it without much knowledge of what I was doing. I just discovered that I knit “continental style.” Good to know. I learned that a lot of why I knit and how I knit is actually shared by many other knitters.

City Mama, have you read this book? I hope not, because I am sending it your way all marked up with thoughts and notes so we can “converse” about it. I am hoping that if you get to read it in the next 12 weeks (or hell, 12 years) you will mark it up and send it back to me.

Passing notes, mama style.

Christmas Comes to SoCal

I started to comment on your last post and realized that I had entirely too much to say. I needed my own run down of 2

I’ve been feeling self-inflicted pressure to start the “right” traditions this year for Luke. I have no idea why I feel like I need to get all of our traditions down this first year, but I do. I think we have a good start without to much pressure for upkeep along the way.

We also started a collection of Christmas books. We read books every day but sometimes Luke is well along the path to sleep before we get a bedtime story in, particularly during the week. I haven’t officially counted yet so I’m not sure if we have a full 25 but I think we’re close. I’m sure this is a tradition I’ll appreciate more in the years to come.

I bought Lucas some Christmas pajamas at the last consignment sale we frequented. He loves it when I say “Ho Ho Ho” while getting him ready for bed. I like thinking about buying him new pjs each year in anticipation of the holiday 1

Eric and I have a few traditions of our own that we’ll carry on with Luke. Each year we’ve been married we buy a Christmas ornament to commemorate the year. Usually we pick something up on a trip, but we’ve had a few “milestone” ornaments like the blue guitar we bought the year Eric put out his CD.

We always put our tree up the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and this year was no exception. It took 3 times as long as years past in part because we got a much bigger tree but every 30 seconds I had to stop and move Luke away from the 4

Next Sunday I’ll get together with some girlfriends to bake Christmas cookies. This is the 4th or 5th year, and it’s an all day affair, everyone brings a recipe and the ingredients, we bake and drink all day. And swap cookies at the end. My friend Kelli is an expert at cookie cut-outs and I’m confident that were it not for her, I would never come close to having cookies look so pretty. I like to think about Luke helping us in a year or two and eating as many cookies as he bakes.

In the next few weeks, I want to take him to see a holiday light display and (fingers crossed) to see Santa. The lines for Santa here are so long, I’m not sure it will happen and I promised Eric that if Luke cries I won’t make him do it. I love the advent season, especially at church, so we’ve been spending more time there than usual as well.

I learned in our first few years here that if I wanted to feel the Christmas spirit, I had to go searching for it. It’s to be 75 tomorrow and there’s not a pine in sight. But, with enough lights, holiday music and eggnog, when I squint my eyes and turn my head just right, I can almost feel the holiday spirit in all of its glory.

PS — I never saw that advent calendar. It must be kismet that you and Adam both had it.

Adventing our Holiday Traditions

We don’t dive into Christmas just yet. We will probably get our tree and decorate this weekend, but we did start our Christmas countdown with two child-centered traditions that I love.

The first is our 24 days of special books. Last year I spent all year picking up great Christmas books at the thrift store and now we have a great selection of special books to read, one each night. Last year we wrapped them all so that Ellis could practice opening presents. This year I just numbered them so we have a little more flexibility to change the order around to match our activities a little better. We can read Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree the night we go pick out ours. The Polar Express will surely get a read the weekend we ride the Santa Train.


20141203_091058 20141203_090922


The other way we count down to Christmas is with the Beary Merry Christmas Calendar. Adam and I both did this one growing up and it was really nice to realize we had an overlapping tradition. Was this an 80’s thing? Did anyone else do this one growing up? I can’t think of any other tradition from childhood that Adam and I share, so this is a really special one. My mom sent me the calendar and we started moving the bear on the search for Christmas. I used to have to take turns with my brother and I am looking forward to the time when our boys can share this tradition too.



A few years ago I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It is a book about personal improvement and happiness. It is not a “parenting book” but the chapter on parenting was one of the best I have read. The author talks about how the anticipation of an event heightens the enjoyment of it. She reminds herself to indulge in the planning of her child’s birthday party because that stage lasts weeks, whereas the actual event only lasts hours. This may seem like an obvious idea, but it really resonated with the planner in me. Preparing for an event is part of the process and part of the joy. So in the spirit of preparation and planning, we are already starting to savor Christmas a few minutes each day.

The Beat Goes On

Tomorrow is December 1st and I think we can almost officially say that Luke was sick the entire month of November.

My poor baby’s pneumonia just didn’t go away with the first course of antibiotics. Two days off of them and he was up again all night coughing and crying. Eric’s first day back from his conference and he took Luke back to the doctor. He now has an ear infection.

That was last Tuesday. So, we started him on a second course of antibiotics and a nebulizer and inhaler. It was rough going for a bit there and one night Eric and I found ourselves standing over the crib at 1am watching Luke breath trying to decide if it was time to go to the ER. I wound up holding him in the rocker while the medicine took hold and about an hour and a half later, we all finally got some sleep.

In the scope of illnesses, I know we are incredibly lucky to have a strong healthy kid, who is bouncing back well in spite of it all. But, it sure has made for some chaos in this house.

We had a wild infestation of fruit flies that were loving the leftover bits of baby food in the trash can. I was subsisting on cliff bars and pasta while Eric was out of town…and don’t get me started on the laundry. I was arriving a little late to work and cutting out a little early. Answering emails with one hand while I nursed Luke with the other. The work landslide only got worse when I had to stay home on Wednesday so we could keep Luke out of daycare.

Every Wednesday morning I have a standing meeting that I really didn’t feel right about missing. Eric was here, just getting ready for work. So, we juggled the baby while the three of us listened to my call on speakerphone for an hour and a half, my microphone on mute, me running to the bedroom to chime in with my report.

I’d love to call time out for a minute so we could all take a breath and catch up but we all know it just doesn’t work like that. Eric and I decided a long time ago (right about the time that we moved to LA) that our life would be chaotic, crazy and messy some times…but while we worked for the life we really wanted, it would make for a good story.

These are the weeks when I have to remind myself why we do what we do. Why we live far away from family, why we work the jobs that challenge us to the ends of our limits but are where our hearts lie, why we choose to raise a child in the middle of a busy city. And, I have to just shake my head and laugh because I know every situation has trade offs. To get the benefits of the life we live, we have to take the bumps and the bumps we face usually just mean a bit of a mess and some tired mornings. The payoffs are huge and usually come around just when I think I can’t push it any harder.

Still Smiling

The Thanksgiving weekend came at just the right time to remind me of everything we have to be grateful for in our life. Luke is on the mend and we’re back at the doctor tomorrow. We had a lovely long weekend, laying low, cooking and catching up on life. We’re a few weeks away from seeing family and friends, and our home is back in order–ready to lean on in to the climb for the next few weeks before a long Christmas break.