It Takes a Village

Recently we visited DC to celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of the child that Adam used to manny for. It was a wonderful day and I was probably a little too hormonal to be witnessing any type of rite of passage (I was teary the whole time). The best part of the day was getting to see her whole “village” there to celebrate her transition into adulthood. Adam was an important part of her village when she was three years old and has remained part of the family. Watching the community of people that her parents were able to create for her definitely got me thinking and appreciating our little village.

We are fortunate to live near lots of family. Ellis’ grandparents live just a few houses away. Uncle Danny and “Uncle” Brenda are just down the road, And Uncle Andy, Aunt Stacy and Cousin Blake will become our neighbors in the next few months. But we are doubly blessed to have a lot of “like-family” people in our lives too. One of Calvin’s Godmothers, Maggie, is always available to hold Cal when we are down a set of hands and need to put big brother to bed. Our 88 year old neighbor is just steps away and she reads with Ellis every Wednesday (and I get to relax and read my own book during their reading dates). These small interactions are huge helps in our life. Our village is definitely instrumental in raising our children.

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Building our village hasn’t always been easy, especially since we live in the middle of nowhere and we moved here just before we started having kids. At the beginning of parenting we found our village in unexpected places. For a while when Ellis was little our village was the kind employees of the Habitat for Humanity store who would let Ellis push the dolly around when I really needed a break. I was very grateful for the kindness of virtual strangers on days that Adam was out of town for work and I just needed someone else to interact with my child for a few minutes.

Nowadays our village is more intentional. We ended up creating a great playgroup with kids from our local library. It is fantastic to have parent friends who are in the same moment of the trenches. I am sure that the couple of hours a week that Ellis is able to play with his peers benefits him, but truly playgroup is as much for me as it is for Ellis. I need to check in with other moms and dads to stay sane. It takes a village to raise a child and a mama.


Sick and Tired

It has been a long week in our casa.

Luke came down with a pretty heavy cold the Thursday before last. He was congested and coughing like crazy. It lingered for days but he never spiked a fever and was in a pretty great mood in spite of it all. Aside from not being interested in eating much, we figured it was a typical cold and that everything would run its course. When this Thursday rolled around and the cough was still hanging on and getting a little worse, we figured it was time to see the pediatrician. Especially after his day care teachers started complaining about him being cranky. It’s just not like him.

Eric was working on a few projects at home that day so he had time to take Luke in. Imagine my surprise when they called me to say that our baby has pneumonia! (I should probably clarify here that the doctor says “a little bit of pneumonia” but what does that mean really.)

It took all my restraint to not pack up everything and come running home from work. Which is no good logic because, it wasn’t like anything had changed since that morning and in fact, Luke was even better off because our doctor quickly started him on some antibiotics. Cue mom guilt. I just kept thinking “I should have known earlier” and on and on. Logically, I know that this isn’t possible. I don’t have x-ray vision into his little lungs and he really did seem just fine, but I’m nothing if not a champion of taking ownership where I really have none so it was to be expected.

Once on the medication, things have been slowly improving. We have a pretty intense regimen morning and night of steam, saline, suction and then…that’s when the fun begins. We basically have to hog-tie the baby to get him to take the bubble-gum pink goo. I do feel bad for the little guy, but man he makes it difficult. Our current process is to put him in the high chair and I hold down his arms and open his jaw while Eric puts the syringe way back in his cheek and injects it.

I had major work milestones that coincided with every day of this illness and, as was to be expected, I started getting sick myself over the weekend. Thankfully Eric’s been able to rise above it all but he leaves tomorrow night for a conference and a quick visit home. Luke and I are going to be flying solo for the weekend. Wish us luck, I have yet to figure out how I’m going to manage this process on my lonesome. I’m tempted to bribe the daycare teachers with baked goods to see if they’ll do it for me. Do you think Ellis would be willing to lend his newfound expertise?

Milk In The Batter

Ellis has a new hobby: baking. Almost every morning he wakes up and requests to put “milk in the batter.” His words for baking (from In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak). He loves to measure out all of the dry ingredients and then hand-transfer them to the mixing bowl. He usually chants the song from the book: “Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! We bake cake! And nothing’s the matter!”


I am not sure where this new interest came from because I really despise baking. I am not good at following recipes. And I don’t say that in an arrogant “I don’t need recipes” kind of way. I desperately need them; I just find them bossy and they tend to spark defiance in me rather than inspiring order. A few years ago I asked for Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas. I opened it right away to make crepes on Christmas morning. I got half way through the recipe and saw that I was supposed to refrigerate the batter for 4 hours! I abandoned crepes and that cookbook. Now with a toddler and a babe I really don’t have time for fussy or demanding recipes.



But Ellis loves to use “the machine” (as he calls the stand mixer). And it turns out baking is very compatible with toddler pace. If you have ever tried to dress a toddler then you are familiar with toddler pace. It is probably the slowest measurement of time on earth. When we put milk in the batter, sure it takes 15 minutes to hand scoop 2 cups of flour, but our treats actually end up tasting better for it. Our cakes are fluffier and our bread more scrumptious when it is mixed for 10x longer than the recipe suggests. I also don’t feel rushed and baking isn’t so bad when it goes slow. In the past few weeks we have made four banana breads, brownies and an upside down pear cake. We are getting to the point where we can actually bake cake like “nothing’s the matter.”



Luke’s First Hike

Eric and I try to make notes about our hikes, and I’ve saved this one about Luke’s first hike. Since this hike, we’ve gone out many more times with great success. Fortunately for us, Luke is always happy to be outside and tolerates the Moby and the hiking backpack really well. We’re looking forward to the day when he can pull his own weight up some of these hills though!

Location: Franklin Canyon

Duration: 2-ish miles

Elevation: 150 feet

Route Link:

Notes: The opening scene to the Andy Griffith Show was filmed on this trail


There aren’t too many people I know who would hit the trails with a six-week old in tow, but my parents took me camping at six-weeks, so I figured we were well within the limits of reason when we took Luke out early on. In fact, I’m questioning why we didn’t do it sooner.

Our good friend Chris decided to join us for the day. Sometimes I wonder why he continues to accept our invitations for these wild adventures, since we inevitably bite off more than we’ve assured him we are going to.

We popped Lucas into the Moby wrap and after a quick stop at the nature center, headed on our way. The trail starts off with (what felt like to me) a steep incline. The way up was nothing compared to the way back down. Unable to see my feet over the carrier, the loose dirt and crevice from the rain water made us all a little nervous about the likelihood that I would fall. By taking our time and getting a spot from Eric on a few occasions, we managed it just fine. It was just wild enough to allow us to make some jokes about what the grandparents would think of our adventures. Truthfully though, for anyone who hikes regularly, this would be a breeze. The peak gives you good views of the lake and the gigantic houses along Coldwater and Mulholland.

We dropped down into the ravine and then followed the path around the lake. I was thrilled to see so many turtles, while Chris and Eric were on the lookout for the iconic spot where Andy Griffith was seen fishing.

IMG_3312About halfway around the lake, Luke woke up from his nap and was ready to nurse. Our first mid-hike nursing experience was fine, but not the most comfortable I’ve had. Later, leaning up against a tree proved to be much more comfortable, and I’m sure with practice we’ll get better. The sooner we do, the sooner we’ll be able to take on some of our favorite 8-plus mile treks.

Toward the end of the hike we walked around a second small pond. At this point Luke was out of his carrier and getting lots of attention from other families and couples walking along. Everyone was concerned about his temperature even if they had conflicting opinions. “Isn’t he cold?” “He must be so hot with those socks on” “How old is that tiny baby?” I’m sure it won’t be the last time we raise a few eyebrows with our parenting choices.

A short outing for sure, and one I’d definitely recommend for other novice hikers or families looking to introduce their little ones to the outdoors.


The Finishing Touch

When we found out we were pregnant with our second baby I knew a big boy room was in store. The nursery is connected to our master bedroom and functions perfectly so I knew it would pretty much stay the same and Ellis would be moving into his own big boy room.

It took several months to collect the main pieces of furniture. The dresser and lockers were both purchased early and were really rough to begin with. I had been looking for a low mid century dresser for over a year. When I finally spotted this guy at the thrift store I literally jumped for joy and ran across the store to claim it.



I also had to give up my office for the big boy room, which was fine since I was going from being a work-from-home mom to a stay-at-home mom.

After I moved all of my things out we painted EVERYTHING in the room white since it is in the north corner of the house and it can feel dark. We weren’t going to do a theme other than things Ellis loves, which turned out to include tractors, boats, vehicles and animals. I was really drawn to a black and white pallet, but knew that realistically I couldn’t edit all color out of a kid’s room. Ellis has some colorful sentimental items (like his original Little Nemo comic strip, giant letter ‘E’, and the blue twin sized blanket I knit for him when he was cooking) that were going to be in his room too. Deep green and navy blue kept popping up so we went with that. And a ton of wood, which I really like too.

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Once we painted the lockers blue and added shelves and rehabbed the dresser and fixed the broken drawers the room was complete enough for Ellis to move in June. This is what it looked like back in June.

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Since then he has lived into the room some and we have made little tweeks to make it more functional (added a little shelf for his water cup, moved the rocking chair closer to his bed). Function was the most important aspect of the room. I get great satisfaction when things work well. Ellis’ toys and clothes needed to be accessible to him. He also needed to have a light that he could operate from his bed, but not break. Safety comes first here so everything is bolted to the wall or the floor. We are anchoring fanatics in this house.

More is more is my general feeling about decorating (check out the background of our picture on the About the Mama’s page if you need a visual of what that looks like), but I really tried to edit and stay minimal in this room. Things have slowly crept back into the space, but with all of the closed storage (thank you lockers) it is managing to keep a clean look.


Last week I finally found the final piece of the puzzle. This amazing vintage Turkish mohair rug (for $45!!!!). I am a terrible online shopper and paying full price is against my religion so I pretty much have to wait until the perfect thing turns up at the thrift store. And it finally did. I have been waiting to try a layered rug look for ages and this is the perfect spot to try that out since it is so slippery and shaggy. I think it is just what this room needed to bring it all together.



How does your space typically come together? Do you hunt down the right piece to complete your vision when decorating, or wait for it to turn up even if it takes months or years?

Making Holidays More Fun

Holidays really are for kids. Living far away from family, most holidays have lost their grand appeal. We may do something small but we never really find the spirit like I think I would if we were living closer to our niece and nephews. It’s one of the very many reasons I was so excited to start a family.

Picking Luke’s Halloween costume this year was easy. We referred to him as Little Bear since long before we had his name chosen. Finding an affordable bear costume was another issue…but thanks to a small gift card from toys r us and a modifying an existing costume a bit, I was happy with the results.


He tolerated the costume very well and looked especially cute crawling around and practicing steps covered in fur. We celebrated at church last week, with the knitters on Thursday night, and at his daycare on Friday. It was raining during trick or treat (and we were just going to go for a walk in costume) so we’ll save that for next year.


I got into the fun this year and dressed up with my team at work. We’ve been expanding like crazy lately, and after joking that we were infesting like ants, we had our costume picked. I didn’t have time to contribute much but everyone of them are crafty as well so they came up with some great concepts. While there was no official contest at work, I think it’s safe to say we won.

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I’ve already started thinking about what we’ll do to make Thanksgiving special since that’s a holiday Eric and I have usually celebrated on our own. I’m thinking Macy’s parade, pumpkin bread and mashed potatoes. Did you have any good holiday traditions when your little ones were this age?