Nervous Knit Along?

City Mama had the great idea for our next knit along project.
This HRC hat (in the south they call this a Nasty Tobogan). I’m going to keep my nervous energy in my needles tonight while I watch the returns.

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I knit up one in line last night to see Hillary at her final election event. I cast on when I got in line at 7pm and I cast off right before midnight. Police told me that the TSA security would take my needles but thankfully that didn’t. By the time I finished I was packed in a stadium with thousands of supports so it was too hot to sport a hat, but I do plan on wearing it to the naug. I already have my hotel reservation. I made it in June 🙂

City Mama have you cast on? Lets do this thing!

Creepy Crafts

We are back from Iceland (a post or maybe posts on that to follow). And after 11 weeks my parents moved out of our house and into their own! We are settling back into living on our own after the vacation of a lifetime.

With just a few days to spare I wanted to share our Halloween decorating. We don’t go all out at Halloween, but we do get festive. I decorated at the beginning of October so we would have plenty of time to enjoy all of the spiders and bats.

Each year I like to add one homemade decoration, but this year I got inspired and added three.

The first are these felt sugar skulls that I embroidered. This was an easy nap craft. I was going to do bats too, but I gave up.

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The second was this sugar skull plate that I just free handed with a sharpie one night. I have two more orange tin plates that I haven’t decided what to do with yet. Now that I don’t have the creative outlet of the boys’ weekly photos I have to scratch the itch to draw sometimes.

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The third Halloween craft is my favorite because it is knit and pun-y. I never got into the Keep Calm and Carry On craze, but you know I love a good pun, so I couldn’t resist knitting up a Keep Calm and Carrion pillow. I got to test out my Iceland yarn so it was a win on all fronts.

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I usually start planning our Halloween costumes in August. As soon as I saw the Between Two Ferns with Hillary Clinton I knew I wanted that. However, Adam pointed out that I would never be able to convince the boys to be ferns. He also randomly shaved off his beard last week into a handlebar mustache and I don’t think he will be able to pull off a Zach Galifianakis beard in time. So this year the boys just want to be dinosaurs and I think we will probably go as their Jurassic Park style wranglers.

I will have to settle for carving a Hillary pumpkin instead. Eight years ago I carved these Obama pumpkins. I love a good political pumpkin.

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How are you costuming that baby belly? Pregnant costumes are my favorite! I was a treasure troll the only year I was pregnant at Halloween. Baby Ellis is in that bejeweled belly.

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We All Fall

img_7303It’s fall again and every year I complain about the heat. This year, being gigantically pregnant, I am whining even more so. I miss crisp fall days that smell like woodstove and decomposing leaves. Fall in LA means we get desert winds — Santa Anas — they drive up the heat, cause messy windstorms and we run the risk of wildfires.

There’s nothing quite like picking out a pumpkin in a tank top and shorts. But, I digress. Luke is really into Halloween this year. And, the timing is a little confusing at best being that we also keep telling him the baby is coming soon. Depending on who asks what he’ll be for Halloween his answer might be:”A shark,” “A big brother,” both..or…”I not dress up, I Lucas.”

This weekend we took him to get his shark costume and when he put it on in the store he had a total meltdown (which I can’t say really surprised me), and so I’m patting myself on the back for my annual tradition of grabbing a cheap backup easy-to-wear costume at the latest consignment sale we hit up and not ordering the cool $45 shark costume I saw on Amazon.

Now that Luke is in pre-school and not daycare, I’m trying to embrace all the work and cost that comes with affiliated school activities. Soccer practice after school. School pictures. Costumes for the school Halloween pageant (I can’t wait to find out more about this but if the latest dance moves at home are any indication it’s going to be spectacular). A mini pumpking for decorating in class. And non-candy give aways for school trick-or-treating and on and on and on. Pray for me come Christmas time.

On Saturday, I decided a little bit of holiday baking was in order. Knowing that my usual holiday cut-outs weren’t going to happen right now, I poked around on Pinterest for a suitable alternative that would be cute enough to take to a few parties while not requiring me to stand in the kitchen for very long.

 

 

These green eyed monster cookies were easy enough that Luke helped with most of the process. Given more time/forethought/energy, I’d have loved to split up the dough and made multiple colors. My only tip for anyone wanting to try this is that you need multiple packs of eyes and they’re pricey even with my 60% off one item coupon at JoAnns. I’m hoping to hit up some stores post-Halloween and grab a few packs for next year.

Pumpkin carving is on the docket for this week and this weekend brings a city festival as well. It’s our first year expecting trick or treaters…unless I snarf all of the candy…which at this right is a 50/50 shot.

I can’t wait to see your family costumes Country Mama, you always hit it out of the park. What else is happening at your place for Halloween this year?

Sending hugs

We did a quicky craft project in our house recently for someone we love a ton who is having a hard time. Sending toddler hugs across the miles along with some special treats was really easy and Luke got a kick out of looking at pictures of the project before we tackled it on our own. I highly recommend it!

 

Come Together (Right Now)

There is nothing like nesting in a new-ish home. We have been knocking out home projects left and right and I’m excited to say that some parts of our casa are really starting to take shape and feel like it’s our space and not just a VRBO that we’ve squatted in. Much to my delight, my thoughtful husband recently asked if there were projects we could or should prioritize in advance of the babe’s arrival.

Most of these places are in some sort of phase 1 purgatory where we’ve gotten the wheels moving but there are minimal design elements. Which is fine by me, Eric’s less interested in that stage anyway and it will give me something to play around with for my 3-ish months of maternity leave.

img_6970One of the first things we tackled was our front porch. The sellers had Japanese and Jewish heritage and had left Japanese art, vases, bamboo and a mezuzah in the entryway. They were lovely pieces but with no meaning to us, it didn’t feel like home and pulling up each day I was reminded that this wasn’t “our space” yet. Our stage one upgrades for the summer have included the addition of a lime tree, a wrought iron bench and outdoor throw pillow but we’re about to get a fall upgrade so I wanted to share this in the meantime. A little goes a long way for me in terms of making things feel like home.

img_7215Getting Luke’s room situated was another critical phase 1 project but we’re going to be swapping out the changing table and rocking chair and upgrading him to some other furniture before too long so this won’t be the state of things for much longer. I will say that he at least has decorations on the walls unlike 90% of the rest of the house.

This past weekend we finally secured a dining room set that will let me get started filling in the first official dining space we’ve had in more than 12 years of living together. This table expands to seat 8 and is a nesting must for me as I think about our growing family and the guests we’ll have in town for holidays this year. In the right of the picture is actually a matching bench that we can pull up to the table when guests are over.

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You’ll probably remember that we had sketched out a DIY farmhouse table and, in the end, the time/energy/effort alignment with all of the things on our plate just felt like it wasn’t the right time. When this beautiful set showed up in a Craigslist ad for the cost of our building supplies, I knew it was worth just moving right along. It didn’t hurt that the seller knocked off $50 when she found out I was knocked up. She even tossed in 3 table clothes that won’t fit the new set she purchased. Score! Plus, I’m not going to worry as much if marker, claws or other wear and tear of our daily life give this a beating for the next few years.

Other quick changes around the house are adding up:

img_7187Our den is slowly but surely becoming ours. My sister Megan painted us this picture for our wedding and just now, 8 years later, did I finally get my booty in gear to get it framed. The nook where the chairs are now sitting will be my workspace and the family computer area — just as soon as I find a desk I love.

img_7216Our bedroom is getting minor adjustments because we’ll plan on having the baby sleep there with us for the first several months. That’s why this picture is not center over the bed…as we shifted everything to accommodate for the bassinet. We’re also downsizing — fine, I’m downsizing — the amount of clothing in my life and think that it will allow us to get rid of some furniture that we have but don’t love and invest in some long-term pieces that are more meaningful.

Getting some of these areas squared away even left me some inspiration to decorate for fall. The glass hightop the sellers left in our kitchen just isn’t quite my style so until we have the energy and interest to grab a new one, a Halloween table cloth and some decorations we have had around the house make it feel a touch more like ours.

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Lots of work to come in the nursery, living room and master bath but all in due time. We’re all settling in to what really feels like it will be home for quite some time — Foxy included.

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Do you have any upcoming DIY projects you’re itching to crank out Country Mama?

Winter is Coming Hack

It is finally feeling fall-y around here. There is a crispness in the air and we are tossing sweaters on in the morning. I went on a bit of a boot bender last week. I love fall, but I also love winter, and sometimes I get excited about fall just because it means we are closer to winter.

Moving to the south means I am not among my people when it comes to winter-love. Southerners don’t really do winter. Which just means less competition at the thrift store for all the warm things! There are ample hats and mittens at the thrift store and I am unable to pass up a well-knit item, even if it might be in a yarn I would never use because it is just too rough or itchy. So what’s a girl to do when you have a pile of beautiful, but uncomfortable woolens? Line everything with cashmere of course.

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Ten years ago I picked up a soft grey cashmere sweater for $3. And for the past decade I have been cutting strips and stitching them into hats. It instantly upgrades a decent hat to a decadent one. I took it one step further and upgraded my warm, but itchy, wool sweater that I got for Iceland. I love the look and bulk of this classic lopapeysa, but the collar made it very uncomfortable. A little bit of cashmere and a lot of hand-stitching later and it is now the perfect sweater. Over the years I have added tan and black cashmere sweaters to my scrap stash and I find myself upgrading a few items each year.

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When it snows I bring out our (now rather large) box of hat and mittens for neighbors to wear because gardening gloves just don’t cut it in a snow storm. Full winter is still a few months off here, but this time next week I will be getting my winter fix in Iceland. I can’t wait.

Lady Baby?

T-minus seven weeks until we meet the newest member of our family. And, it may come to pass that we’re destined to be an all boy blog. Or maybe, we’ll find out that we get a new set of chromosomes in the mix to talk about.

Not knowing the sex of this baby has been less of a tease than I expected. It’s also made it feel like we were still early along in the pregnancy, which has made the pregnancy feel shorter. So that’s a win. Unexpectedly, it has given me time to really process both options in a way that I hadn’t yet and I feel genuinely excited either way.

To be honest, I always wanted to be a boy mom. I wanted four boys – ask anyone in my family. But, I also never expected to work internationally or co-own a recording studio so we play the cards we’re dealt and life comes to pass. In many ways taking us places we never imagined. After the challenges and trials of pregnancy that we’ve faced, Eric and I are very clear that this is our last one. We’re still open to the ways in which our family may grow in the future, but carrying our babies has been physically and emotionally too much of a strain for me. Not finding out the baby’s sex has been a way to draw out the drama of this pregnancy and I’m so happy we’ve decided to play it this way. The unexpected bonus of coming around to the idea of having a girl has been the icing on the cake.

Years ago, I had an interesting conversation with a friend who had recently had a baby girl. She was asking why I didn’t really want girls. And, I never really stopped to think about it but for a gut feeling that I would do better managing fist-fights, messy houses and stinky men than turbulent and hormonal teenage years. But what it boils down to is this. As a woman, I feel additional pressure to represent femininity for a little girl – and I don’t know that I’ve figure that out for myself let alone confident enough to represent it for someone else. In my mid-30s I still feel like I’m catching up on the things that other woman seem to have known all their lives. Everything from baking to decorating to hair, makeup and fashion. Fortunately, at this point, I’m comfortable enough to realize most everyone feels like this in some manner and I absolutely don’t have a problem talking about it.

When I was pregnant with Lucas, a colleague of mine was devastated to find out we were having a boy. He said, “You’d raise the coolest girls. There aren’t enough women who like football and camping.” And now, having parented for the better part of 3 years, I know I wouldn’t raise a little lady any different than Lucas who is learning about books and manners and cooking as much as sports and the outdoors.

I’m also in love with how amazing of a time it is to be a woman. We have our first female presidential candidate (and possibly/hopefully by the time this baby comes, our first female president). The thought of raising a little girl during that presidency makes me more giddy than I ever would have imagined. I heard a story on NPR about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s new book and thinking about the growth and change she’s seen in her life inspired me to think about how far things will come until this generation of girls takes to the workforce. I watched the season premier of Pitch the other night about a female major league baseball player and it made me excited to think about walking along side an ambitious young woman as she navigated life.

I’m not naive. As a young woman in management, I’ve certainly experienced my share of discrimination but I love the challenge of juggling this life and proving people wrong.

So, I’m happy to have held off on getting the final verdict of our family makeup just yet. Letting the mystery linger has been a fun and healthy exercise in ways I couldn’t have imagined. And, if I do indeed end up with my houseful of boys, I’ll be just as happy about that.

I can’t wait to meet this baby and learn all about the little person who is already there – hopes, dreams, personality and all.

Prepare and Protect

For the past four months we have been preparing to have a sensitive conversation with our kids. When their grandparents died we were so blindsided by grief that we didn’t tell them anything. We shielded them so we could have time to figure out how to do the conversation right.

Part of Adam wanted to wait a really long time to tell them. We never wanted their deaths to be a secret, but Adam wanted to spare them the pain of knowing. Someone wise reminded him that our job as parents is to prepare our children, not protect them. Awful things will happen to them and around them as they grow and they need to have the skills and knowledge to deal. The idea that we can protect them from everything is unrealistic. So when it comes to learning about death and their grandparents we are planning on preparing them (a post on that to come).

So while we’re preparing for tomorrow, I had a moment of pure Mama Bear protection yesterday. I sent Ellis out into the yard to let the chickens out of their coup. He came right back inside and said “Mom there is a huge snake in the yard.” We have practiced this report in theory, but we had yet to have a live situation. I was very grateful that my older articulate son who explores with his eyes, but is very caution with his hands, was the one to find the snake. As opposed to the younger, infinitely curious and grabby child.

We get some really big (like 5 or 6 ft) black snakes from time to time. The black snakes, although large and intimidating, are harmless and in some cases helpful because they eat rats and claim a territory that keeps the big bad copperheads away. I assumed this would be a big black snake.

It was not.

This snake was sand colored with darker hourglass shaped patches. It was almost invisible in the grass. It was a poisonous copperhead. In our backyard. In the middle of the day. With its head up and mouth open. And my curious baby was heading towards it.

I had to do what mamas have done since the dawn of time- protect my young at the most basic level. So even though I routinely rescue bugs from our house and release them back into the wild there was no middle ground in this situation. While I have been preparing for months just to talk about the concept of death, now I was going to give them a live demonstration.

I have vivid memories of cowboys killing rattlesnakes at the Wyoming ranch we would go to every summer. They would strike them with their thick rodeo belt buckles and then put the heel of their boot on the head and pull the body off. One time they tossed a rattle for my brother and me to keep.

So I channeled my inner cowgirl. I improvised with a shovel at first, but that turns out to be an advanced technique for a novice snake killer. So I stepped on its head and pulled off its body. To further complicate the idea of death the snake’s headless body continued moving for over ten minutes.

The boys were unfazed by the snake incident, but I was high on adrenaline for the rest of the day. Go figure. Protecting them turned out to be a way to prepare them for dealing with future snakes and future deaths. At the very least they (and I) know we can handle whatever slithers our way.

 

ELA Cribs

For two years now — sidenote: how is this blog almost two years old – I’ve wanted to write about Luke’s crib. Now’s the perfect time because it’s actually undergoing a renovation.


Early on in my pregnancy with Luke, Eric announced that he wanted to build Luke’s crib. I think there was something about a three week long backpacking trip that gave him time to ponder the ways in which he wanted to commemorate the birth of our child and if I remember right, it wasn’t long after he returned that this announcement occurred.

If I’m being honest, I was slightly wary of this proclamation. Eric’s made small things over the years but this felt like a gigantic undertaking that my nesting self was uncertain about. It didn’t help that anyone we mentioned this too through a raised eyebrow our way thinking we were basically going to put our baby in an iron maiden.  The more I thought about it though, and considered the alternatives, most of the store-bought cribs we looked at were made of particle board or fabricated in China and something we’ need to assemble ourselves anyway.

So, Eric’s massive project for our children was born. I had some insight into the design, but not much. And in the back of my mind, I always figured we could pop by target in a pinch and grab a crib to put together right quick.

Eric and I made a deal, the crib would be finished by the end of the year as Luke’s due date was the end of February. Life working out the way it did though, that deadline came and went. The life of a freelancer/entrepreneur means taking work when it’s there and so Eric was slammed through the end of 2013. Building a crib really wasn’t a massive priority.

So it was actually sometime around February 1st that the crib got started. Eric saw a post for free reclaimed wood on craigslist and hit it up to get the bulk of the supplies. Unfortunately, this meant a ton of additional work we didn’t foresee in terms of trimming, peeling, sanding and cleaning all the wood. But, my man is detail oriented above all things and so he stuck through it.

I have to say, having someone build furniture on a two bedroom apartment’s balcony was an interesting experience. Eric did some of the work in a local park, most of it on our balcony, at the home of a family friend, and toward the end when he needed special tools, in a rent-by-the hour workspace here in the city.

Along about mid February, we were at a routine doctor’s visit when we found out I was 4cm dilated. My doctor promptly pulled me from work saying “this baby is going to come so fast that if you hear crying, it’s probably yours.” The heat was on.

So, for the next two weeks, I sat on the couch, knitting, watching the Olympics and looking through the window as Eric slaved away on the crib.img_1561

After his penitent for details, Eric’s second-most prevalent attribute is thriving on a deadline.

One night, days before Luke’s arrival, Eric asked me to step outside. He was ready to reveal the headboard. And I was honestly expecting to see a carved A on the headboard, which would have absolutely thrilled me. My breath was gone and my eyes were filled with tears when I saw the scene he’d depicted. I absolutely had no idea that was coming and it was more perfect than I can say.

I still find Luke staring at it some morning and one of his first words was mountains thanks to the depiction on the crib.

We’ve had the plans for a toddler bed conversion for a long time, but our easy going firstborn has been content to hang in his bed and wait for us to come get him.

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However, we’re christening the new house and Eric’s building the conversion front. Destined to be shortlived, however, we’re also planning to move this crib over to the baby’s room after a few months sleeping with us.img_6977

I love the idea of both of our kids sleeping in something handmade and unique. I love the idea of this crib being handed down within our family in some form or fashion (too soon to be thinking about grandkids?). And I love that 18 years into our relationship, my partner still surprises me with his thoughtfulness, dedication and talent.

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Just a few more weeks until we have a new nugget to lay down in this sweet space and I absolutely can’t wait.

Funny s@#t My Kid Says

My kids have been cracking me up lately. I keep a book of their most quotable phrases. I just started Calvin’s. He only has one entry so far, not bad considering he only has about 60 words at this point. Calvin’s first funny line is he pronounces butterfly as “butt-pie.”

Ellis is as chatty as they come and I recently reread his book and thought I would share my favorites here.

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