June 29, 2013


a portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2013

Dancing in the rain before bed... sweet summer.

*part of Jodi's 52 project

June 28, 2013

Five Years

I'm not sure how it's possible, but five whole years have passed since we said 'I do'. So much has changed and we've grown up a lot... but we're also still those overgrown kids who make each other laugh. I can't wait to see what we come up with for the next five.

* here's celebrating four / and a quiet moment from the day

photo by erich camping

June 27, 2013

Their Garden

I have given up control of my beloved garden this summer, the boys are holding down the fort. This means that I have to laugh it off when the occasional weed is mistaken for a veggie and lovingly tended to until it is giant and dwarfing the kale patch, when radishes are left to grow as large as beets (aren't those beets?), and when the rows and hills are planted with some creative spacing... but it also means that I get to enjoy greens and peas and radishes (and hopefully much more to come) with hardly any effort and only a 'thank you' required in return... And I am thankful, so unbelievably grateful that with everything else he is juggling, James has made the time to maintain our little garden. It may not be the most prolific year, but stuff is growing and that's better than I expected! 

It's also a great chance for Little Smith and pop to share some quality time without any meddling from mama...

... okay maybe I checked in once...

... I'm asking if they thinned the carrots... they did not. Don't worry, I did it last week... but I've mostly, entirely given up all control... really.

Thanks to my fellas for keeping our garden growing, and allowing me to slack off and maintain some sanity as I grow this baby!

June 26, 2013

DIY: Bed on Wheels

We're gearing up for that transition from crib to 'big boy bed' (how time flies!), and after months of debating our options, we decided that in order to get what we wanted and come in on budget, we would need to DIY a bed frame. I had a substantial list of requirements for this bed; twin size, low but not too low, simple and clean, a bit of space for storage beneath, affordable, and no composite or particle boards. We also wanted something that would appeal to our car and wheel obsessed toddler without going for that literal 'race car' look. We love putting everything possible on wheels here, so a wheely bed was a natural choice. We found these great super sized industrial casters for half price on Ebay and worked backwards from there. We are all pretty excited by the end result, it's so much fun.

Once we determined how we wanted to construct the bed frame, the project was actually quite simple, used only a few tools, and could be tackled by anyone with modest DIY know-how. Of course you could cut the lumber yourself, but we ended up having our's cut to size right at Home Depot, just to make our lives easier and cleaner. The cuts weren't perfect and did require a little extra sanding in the end, but it still did save us time and hassle. It also means there's even fewer tools required to complete the project.

Tools: I'm really pleased with how minimal this list is!
  • drill, including countersink bit
  • screwdriver
  • wrench (for lag screws)
  • tape measure
  • sandpaper and sanding block (power sander would be even better)
  • level
Materials: The interior measurements of this frame are 40" x 76" to accommodate standard sized twin mattress (39" x 75")
  • 2x4 lumber (obviously not pressure treated due to chemicals) / 2-76" pieces, 7-37" pieces
  • 4x4 lumber (this is blocking for the casters) / 8-8" pieces
  • 1x8 finish board, we used poplar and painted it, but maple or any nice hardwood would look wonderful left natural / 2-76" pieces, 2-41.5" pieces
  • scrap 1/2" material for shims
  • 4-8" diameter industrial casters, two rigid and two swivel with brake (see above for source)
  • screws
  • trim head screws (for finish boards)
  • 3" lag screws (for anchoring casters)
  • bed slats (we got our's at Ikea, but since they aren't standard USA size we ended up having to add extra 2x4 blocking to make them work without risk of slipping through. standard sized twin slats would would perfectly, or plan for that extra 2x4 blocking.
  • wood filler (optional)
  • paint (optional) / we always use Benjamin Moore Natura for anything that is going to be around kids, it's zero-voc and far better than many other products which claim zero-voc's (but that's a longer discussion!)

Once you've purchased and organized all of your materials, mock up the frame to ensure that the measurements are correct and all pieces are accounted for. 

Lay out the long 76" 2x4's and use the shorter 37" 2x4's to span between them, spacing the middle three evenly. Sandwich two pieces of the 4x4 blocking in each of the four corners of the frame, as shown. Predrill and secure all of the members with screws (using the countersink bit so that the finish boards will be snug against the framing).

Shim the frame about 1/2" from the floor (we actually used Jenga pieces!), and lay out the trim boards. The short sides of the trim board will lap the long sides at the corners. Using the trim head screws and the countersink bit, predrill and screw the trim board into the framing using two screws (near top and bottom of the framing) at each location. Make sure to space the screws evenly so that they look nice and pretty, especially if you aren't painting the bed.

Flip the bed frame upside down and secure the casters in the center of the blocking at each of the four corners, using the hefty lag screws. We placed the swivel and brake casters at the head of the bed and the rigid ones at the foot. Flip the bed frame right side up, sand and sand and sand the corners until they are perfectly aligned. Sand the edges of the finish boards, just to ease sharp edges and corners.

If you want to paint the frame, fill each of the small screw holes on the finish boards with wood filler and sand it all smooth. Wipe everything with a damp rag and allow to completely dry, then prime and paint the finish boards. Place bed slats on frame, and top it off with your mattress.

We decided to go with an all cotton and wool futon that is 8" thick. It tucks nicely inside the frame and is high enough that you don't scrape your legs when sitting on the edge. If your mattress is any thinner, you will want to shim the frame more than 1/2" when attaching the finish boards, so that you have less of a lip at the top.

Little Smith was so happy when we finally unveiled his wheely bed. He keeps calling it his 'big daddy car' and talking about those red wheels, it's definitely a hit. We are waiting a few more months before actually making the big boy bed transition, but he already loves climbing up and snuggling with his favorite stuffed animals. It's also been convenient to be able to roll the bed as needed while we continue to work on the shared room. Do make sure to lock those swivel casters once you have it in place though, this baby can really roll if you want it to! Luckily it also stays put beautifully once the brakes are locked. 

June 24, 2013

Thirty-Three (Plus) Weeks

It's kind of amazing seeing these pictures (which look to me as though someone grafted two bodies together spliced just below the bust!), but even at this late date I still often forget that I'm pregnant. I can barely bend over, struggle up the stairs, and can't clip my own toenails... and yet I find myself trying everything as I normally would and just sort of confused as to why it isn't working. I'm constantly surprised when I bump into a wall because there's more of me than expected.

I think this is just part of a second pregnancy. I have another child to look after this time around, and lots to accomplish before our little girl joins us. I am trying to make a point to find a quiet moment each day (usually nap time) to just sit down and talk to this baby. I want her to know that even though we are all racing around and I'm not putting speakers full of Mozart and the Grateful Dead to my belly, which we did often when I was pregnant with Little Smith, we already love her so so much and can't wait to meet her. Hopefully she is getting used to the chaos of our noisy household and will feel right at home when she decides to show up.

She is still a mover and a roller. I am getting so little sleep that I'm nearly delirious, but it isn't for lack of trying. I'm mostly relying on chamomile iced tea, but nothing has really been working. It's also starting to get hot and humid. I have an AC unit in that Amazon shopping cart just waiting for me to pull the trigger. We have never slept with air conditioning and are big believers in fresh air, but as I said, I'm thinking this is going to be the year that I cave... maybe.

Little Smith still doesn't seem to understand much about this baby sister on the way, but he is helping his two indecisive parents whittle down our name choices. Of course everything sounds pretty cute when a two year old repeats it, but I think we've (almost) made a decision.

My next appointment with the mid-wife is a week from today. That was the visit where my high blood pressure showed up very suddenly with the last pregnancy, and I am a little rattled worrying that it's going to happen again. Everything has been so completely different this time around that I keep telling myself it's going to end more smoothly and this will be a full term baby. I was doing so well with that positive thinking, but as the date gets closer the anxieties are harder to push away. I know that whatever the path, the outcome will be a beautiful and healthy little girl and I'm trying to surrender to the fact that it's totally out of my control.

It's exciting to be getting close, I can't believe how quickly it is racing by. I just keep doing my best to savor this precious and fleeting time.


a portrait of my child once a day, every day, in 2013

Refusing to share. Sometimes that last apple is just too good to part with.

*part of Jodi's 52 series

June 21, 2013

Details B6.01

peas (yes we still have a garden!) tie-dye belly color father's day breakfast farm visit texture train play baking day filthy fist of flower collection

My record keeping has been slow in this space, but in life we are incredibly busy. The weather has been absolutely perfect and we are spending as much time outside as possible. James has done his best to keep up with the garden and I am pitching in when I can, but far less than is typical. We will see what's resilient enough to tolerate us this summer. We're also enjoying lots of cooking with fresh produce that is making its way to the market, and each night I have been slaving away on the endless stencil project in the new kids' room. I am finally almost done dabbing different colored paints in little squares. There will be a big sigh of relief when I can pack away those brushes.

I know that I should really be using this time to catch up on rest, but it's proving impossible so I guess it's just not 'me'. As I've mentioned, I battle with insomnia anyway and it's definitely a side effect I am feeling in this third trimester. Despite my best efforts, I'm up at 4:30 each morning with the birds. The circles under my eyes give away my secret.

While rest is escaping me, I'm making sure to soak in lots of quality one-on-one time with Little Smith. We are quite the team, and I'm very emotional about all the changes coming our way... although they are all wonderful changes and I'm also profoundly excited and grateful.

There's so much to share here; garden updates, a DIY on our big boy bed (which I am quite pleased with, and that's rare!), lots of family outings, and a yummy roasted vegetable pasta salad that I've been perfecting. I'm looking forward to wrapping up some of the projects we've been busy with around the house and finding time to sort through photos and thoughts. 

Thanks so much to all of you who check in with us, offer kind words and inspiration, and keep me motivated to update this space... even when life gets a little hectic!

June 20, 2013

Fast Toddler Lunches

*cherry tomatoes / pea snacks (trader joe's) / cheese / kidney beans with dulse flakes

*hard-boiled egg / brown rice with nutritional yeast / sliced steamed brussel sprouts / veggie pot-sticker (leftover)

*sourdough with cream cheese / curried kidney beans / roasted beets (cubed)

* avocado / cheese / veggie hot dog pieces / apple slices

*hard-boiled egg / soba noodles with nutritional yeast and sesame oil / zucchini and carrots sauteed with ginger 

Lunch time is one of my favorite rituals in our house. Of course there are those days where we are out and about and eat on the go (our favorite meal-on-the-run is peanut butter and jelly with a side of string cheese), but whenever possible I try to make it home for a mid-day meal. It's a time for Little Smith and I to sit together at the table, to babble in half sentences recounting the morning's activities, and hopefully to lay the ground work for a nice, long nap to follow. 

Although I want to provide nutritious and varied lunches, I generally don't have the time to do much cooking in the middle of the day. Leftovers are always winners, but lately those have been scarce (could be my 33 weeks pregnant appetite!). I look for foods that require little to no cooking and do my best to offer a fairly balanced plate.

Above is a week's worth of our fast and easy vegetarian toddler lunches... and generally I am eating some variation of the same ingredients. Often I will add a wrap or raw greens. Little Smith is open to many types of food, but can also be picky about textures. He won't eat raw vegetables, still likes his food to be cut into small pieces, and his fingers remain his favorite utensil. I keep his plate pretty clean and not too packed or else he gets overwhelmed and throws things around. He almost always requests seconds (especially with cheese) and we usually have a 'dessert course' of some fresh fruit too. He is a small kid but a good eater!

My must-have items for quick meals include:
  • eggs (LS loves scrambled and hard-boiled most)
  • beans (I like Eden brand, no bpa in the cans!)
  • frozen peas / corn/ brussel sprouts (for when there are no fresh veggies on hand)
  • carrots (they store well. so I keep a giant bag of these in the fridge and cut them small or grate them for a fast saute)
  • avocados (LS loves them, they're green and don't need to be cooked- score!)
  • hummus / bean spread (LS actually prefers white bean)
  • cheese
  • sunflower seeds / sliced almonds (we throw these in with rice and pastas)
  • soba noodles / quinoa / rice (quinoa is the best because it's so fast)
  • bread (toast is an obsession)
  • fresh fruit (we go through it like crazy, I wish it wasn't so pricey or was easier to grow here!)
I'd love to hear your suggestions for quick and yummy foods that are toddler friendly. Do you bother sitting down for lunch or prefer to grab it on the fly? I'm sure our routine will continue to change as Little Smith gets older and our family grows, but I'm the type that will always require a pretty filling lunch... or maybe that's just this growing belly talking.

June 18, 2013

Double Rainbow

On my first day of graduate school, a few people were wearing t-shirts that read, 'Welcome to the 17th Grade'... a dubious honor for sure. Although it's now been a good while since I graduated, I still spent the majority of my life as a student, and completed a full 20 grades- yikes! 

One thing that I learned in all of these years of study is that I am terrible, awful, hopeless at gauging how much time I'm going to need to finish a project. I was the queen of consecutive all-nighters, and while I always managed to pull out something presentable, it was also always a fraction of the grand plan I had in mind. This trend held strong as I entered the working world and routinely under-estimated my billable hours, which I continue to do to this day. 

I'm at my very worst when guessing at time on personal projects, maybe it's the emotional investment. I get something in my head, it seems so easy and I brush off reasonable warnings and skeptics because I know I can do it ... and then I find myself standing on a chair at midnight, 33 weeks pregnant, only a quarter of the way through stenciling a wall after a full day's work. Oops.

So if  you need me for the next couple of days, in that small sliver of time in which I am not watching or feeding a child, you can find me with a stencil brush in my hand... fending off tears and cursing myself for those grand plans. Some people never do learn!

*James took these photos last night. We had a hail storm followed by the most intense double rainbow, pictures really do not do it justice!

June 16, 2013


a portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2013

Very busy. I am forever grateful that this boy is so brilliant at entertaining himself... for surprisingly long stretches. I am told that I also had this skill as a tot, but maybe the fact that I was an only child had something to do with it. We'll see if he continues to amuse himself so happily when his new playmate arrives!

*part of Jodi's 52 series

June 14, 2013

Fairy Towers

My mother always taught me to look for fairy circles, little rings of whitecap mushrooms woven around the trees and moss. I built tiny towers out of rocks and collected flowers and rotted scraps of bark to lay out for them. I closely examined every butterfly and moth, just to be certain it wasn't 'the one'. And then one day, we saw a fairy. It was a fleeting second, but we both just knew it was real. An overgrown dragonfly? A strange unknown insect? Maybe. Still, I prefer to sit in a patch of grass, watch my mother and baby boy stack rocks, and imagine a fairy just might dance around that tower, drinking from buttercups, late into the night. Why wouldn't she?

June 13, 2013

Tent in the Mud

Our family camping trip got off to a late start due to a fairly brutal rainstorm. We did consider going for it, rain and all, but flood warnings and predictions of lightening finally appealed to our sense of reason and we waited until the worst had passed. I knew there would be mud, so I brilliantly packed galoshes and plenty of extra clothes and braced myself for the mess.

When we arrived we were actually surprised to see that most of the campsites were in good shape, nice and dry. Then we pulled into our site, lucky number 26. We reserved this site nearly a year ago and selected it for the gorgeous lake views. It was indeed a beautiful spot with easy access to the lake and there's nothing quite like gazing out of a tent towards the water's edge. However, it was also very low lying and the fire-pit and picnic table were a giant mud puddle. We pulled the picnic table to dry land and assumed that, since the storm was over, things would continue to dry out. Not so much, and once we realized that the mud puddle was spreading to our tent and being actively fed by a stream of runoff, we gave our site the affectionate title of 'a river runs through it' and embraced our life in the mud. Thank you rain boots!

Mud aside, Little Smith had so much fun. He is an amazing camper this year. He entertained himself poking at puddles and bugs, completely respected the dangers of the fire, ate seated in his camping chair with his plate balanced on his lap, and generally impressed me with what a big boy he has become. 

As for the belly, camping at 31 (and a half!) weeks pregnant was actually easy and enjoyable. I should clarify that we were car camping, meaning our site was only a short walk from the car and we didn't do any extreme hiking. The biggest challenge was getting a comfortable sleeping situation, and it was a challenge. 

We typically rely on very thin 1/4" back-packing sleeping pads. They roll up small, are light, and perfect for more ambitious camping trips... but this time I was looking for something a little more luxurious. After lots of air mattress begging on my end, James borrowed one from a friend. Luckily we also  brought our regular pads along as well, just in case. 

As it turns out, you need a little cap to hold all the air INside an air mattress... and that cap did not make it on our camping trip. James insisted he could solve the problem, no worries. After countless attempts to inflate this thing, many trips up and down a muddy slope from the tent to the car with a giant air mattress overhead (the pump plugged into our cigarette lighter), and an entire roll of duct tape... my love for the air mattress came to an abrupt end in the middle of the night when my head was swallowed up as it deflated. Little Smith was in a travel bed next to us and excited by the late night high jinks  James appealed for one more shot to make the mattress work, but sometimes a girl has to take matters into her own hands and call it a night. We went with our old thin pads... he slept like a baby while I tossed and turned my extra thirty pounds from side to side all night long. In fairness, I'm not sleeping so well these days anyway so it really wasn't too different from the average night. I would however recommend a properly inflated air mattress to all other pregnant campers out there, if one is available!

In the end, the trip really was perfect; good food, crisp air, warm tea, a crystal lake, and mostly clear skies. I'm hoping we will sneak in another before the baby arrives, there's just no vacation quite like camping!

*same campground last year here.