Thursday, December 31, 2015

Here we are. The last week of 2015 and 52 pictures later. I always think of the week between Christmas and New Year as a sort of dead week; an end-of-year twilight zone if you will. Not much happens and the anticipation (or dread) of new beginnings and resolutions loom on the horizon. 

On Christmas Eve we had friends over for dinner (I served this) and we chatted about our highlights from the past year. When it was my turn to share I really couldn't think of anything other than watching Amelia's milestones unravel through the months. Which is both exciting and terribly slow. For months I was fairly certain she might never learn to crawl. Then I was convinced she wouldn't walk until she was two. Both times she proved me wrong. And even though the last couple of months were tough, I'm so glad I continued to document the process of her growth via the 52project. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

As 2015 comes to a close I'm reflecting back on the goals I made at the beginning of the year; celebrating success and tapping into my "needs-improvement" category. It's funny how some of the things I set out to do I accomplished at the 100% level. While another, well, I came in at the 45% mark and some I completely failed at. But that's not to say I abandoned my goals altogether just because I wasn't perfect at all five goals. Sometimes I think the best we can do is set the same ambitions every year. Every week. Every day. I read once What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while. I believe that. And I remind myself of that sentiment often. 

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.


Friday, December 18, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Christmas Card Greetings

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Before I was married I would send out annual Christmas cards. Often they'd be homemade. The first two years of our marriage I honestly can't remember if we sent out holiday cards. I'm sure we did, but since we were still negotiating life as a couple I think we sent out separate store bought ones to family and friends and talked about having an annual Christmas card form letter (something I'm not a huge fan of). Last year we had a baby, which meant we had to ensure her adorable face was plastered on fridges across America. But the company I used last year ended up messing up my order, which translated to multiple customer service phone calls, and finally receiving low-quality cards that I wasn't happy with but sent out anyways because that was my best option.

This year, our fourth Christmas as a married couple, I feel like we've finally settled on something that works for us! A few weeks ago we had a friend take some pictures for us at a local park. Although the weather was chilly and Amelia was teething all three of us managed to be in the picture together. No small feat. After I sorted through the images I made the smart decision to use Pinhole Press for our Christmas cards since I'd had such luck with them earlier this year. And honestly I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. Not only did the cards arrive in four short days, it was such a relief to receive envelopes with removable sticker backings for an easy no-lick closure. Next year I just have to remember to order more! Do you send out Christmas cards? I know some people send out New Year's greetings, which is also a fun tradition. However you do it, I'm always a proponent of real mail!
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Friday, December 11, 2015

You guys, I'm totally phoning it in this week and using a picture from our Christmas card session with my friend last week. Which is probably a good thing because 1) Look how little Amelia was last time we had a legitimate photo taken together, and 2) This week she took a face dive off the front porch onto the cement (poor girl). So, you know, not exactly picture worthy. Also I can hardly believe we only have three more weeks until this project is over. 

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Special thanks to Alexis for taking this picture. 


Friday, December 4, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Currently | 12.1.2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

WATCHING: Ken and I watched Inside Out for the first time last night and yes, I cried. Have you seen it? Plus now that December is finally here I'm looking forward to watching one of my favorite Christmas movies.

EATING: I don't know what it is about the colder months but I find myself using my juicer more from October through February. My secret ingredient? Ginger. Also, I really want to find an excuse to make this cake.

READING: A fantasy book, can you believe it? And chuckling about the truthfulness of this piece.

ENJOYING: My new diffuser with cold-fighting essential oil.

MAKING: Thinking I'll make these fragrant neighbor gifts with my inordinate supply of jam jars.

LISTENING: My new favorite podcast.

THINKING ABOUT: What I want to accomplish in 2016.

REMEMBERING: Spending time with family in Georgia over Thanksgiving, where Amelia decided to tumble into the kiddie pool with all her clothes on (GAH!) and where we ate THE BEST breakfast ever.

HOPING: I can spend this month thinking about others and making time to practice random acts of kindness.

EXCITED FOR: Our annual New Year's getaway, this time in Nashville.

 Mural located in Athens, GA. 

Countdown to Christmas: A Children's Book Advent Calendar | 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Have you started your advent countdown yet? I know some folks started yesterday and others wait until December 1. But no matter when you begin counting down I can already feel the air abuzz with a festive vibe, can't you? While I get no points for creativity in coming up with the book advent calendar idea, I feel the execution has been years in the making. Fifteen years to be exact. Which is precisely how long I've collected children's Christmas books. What started as a hobby when I worked at a bookstore in college is finally turning into a holiday tradition! One I'm sure Amelia will appreciate as she grows older. We'll probably vary the selection each year as we continue to expand our collection, and it's likely I won't be so ambitious as to wrap them every year, but I'm a sucker for traditions and I love the idea of reading something festive in the days leading up to Christmas. And what better place to display them than on our little hearth! Can you tell I'm excited about this?
If you're curious to know what we'll be reading throughout December here's the list of our (mostly) Christmas advent books with a brief description.
  1.  A Child’s Christmas in Wales -The magical illustrations in this edition pair perfectly with the beautiful prose describing the celebration of the season, complete with presents, aunts and uncles, the frozen sea, and the wonder of unexpected snow. 
  2.  One Wintry Night - An injured mountain boy finds refuge in a cabin, where the woman of the house weaves the beautiful tale of God's creation from the beginning down to a humble stable. 
  3.  Baboushka and the Three Kings - This Caldecott winner reads like an old folk tale about a Russian peasant woman who encounters the three kings on their journey and is invited to join them. The song at the end is especially charming. 
  4. Merry Christmas, Curious George - I don't normally like many character Christmas books, but I do enjoy how George, the ever mischievous monkey, manages to provide Christmas cheer to children at a local hospital. 
  5. Red Ranger Came Calling - This is probably my first and favorite book. A young boy journeys to visit the hermit, Lord Sander Clos, whom he doesn't believe in, and explodes in his request for a certain bike, which is delivered on Christmas Day in the most unusual fashion. 
  6.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas - This classic story hardly needs an introduction, but I must admit it often reminds me how good singing is for the soul. 
  7.  The Legend of the Poinsettia - A Mexican legend that tells how a little girl sought out a special gift for the Christ Child and how the poinsettia came about because of that. 
  8. Auntie Claus - Sophie wonders about her eccentric great-aunt who always seems to disappear on a "business trip" right around the holidays. This is a must-read for any imaginative child. 
  9. When Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem - This is probably the most religious of all these selections, but the stunning illustrations mingle well with scripture passages.
  10. A Christmas Dress for Ellen - The tale of Mary Jeppson and her young family on the eve of Christmas 1927 is a reminder of simpler times and unexpected miracles.  
  11.  Olivia helps with Christmas - Ever hilarious, Olivia is the most lovable "helpful" pig, who takes celebration to a whole new level. 
  12.  Nine Days to Christmas - I love Christmas books that celebrate the culture and traditions of other countries and this Caldecott winner, about young Ceci and her piñata, is a true celebration of love and light. 
  13.  The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree - A heartwarming story set during the war, little Ruthie and her mother must ensure that Pine Grove, their little town, has a tree for it's annual Christmas celebration. 
  14.  The Night Before Christmas - The award-winning illustrations and tall rectangular size make this a perfect read-aloud for those cozy December nights. 
  15.  A Christmas Alphabet - The vintage illustrations in this book remind me of a Victorian Christmas, which makes it an old-fashioned favorite. 
  16.  The Message of the Birds - Singing far and wide the birds, who have not been heard, decide to spread the message of Baby Jesus once again. 
  17.  Christmas Eve at the Mellops' - I just added this to our collection about a month ago because it's so charming! Four brothers all surprise the family with a Christmas tree and then work hard to find a better home for them—a generous undertaking that is harder than expected. 
  18.  The Polar Express - I go back and forth about liking this book. As a child I found it so wonderful, but some of the magic has faded as I've aged. Still it stays in our collection.
  19.  The Christmas Candle - Thomas stops by a candle shop on his way home to find light for his journey. Through the night the candle proves to have powers of a particular kind. 
  20.  The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey - A downhearted woodcarver is touched by the simple request of a widow and her young son.
  21.  A Christmas Carol - We have two versions of this classic tale. This year we are sticking with the simple color primer board book edition. 
  22.  The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming - A latke on the run learns about other customs and traditions. A great way to introduce Hanukkah to children. 
  23.  P. Bear’s New Year’s Party - Although it's a little hard to come by I adore this simple three color illustration (black, red, and white) counting book. Perfect for ringing in the New Year!
  24. The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-ween - Set in Ireland this charming tale is about a young abandoned baby who grows into a woman that cares for the children and needs of others. The illustrations and sprinkling of regional language are perfect for children of all ages. 
Printable advent tags available here.

Ps. If you'd like more recommendations be sure to follow along on Instagram.


Friday, November 27, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.


Friday, November 13, 2015

This girl turns 15 months on the 15th. Holy toledo! I'm not really sure how that happened but it's been fun watching her little personality become more pronounced over the last couple months. This week she braved the little neighborhood park slide on her own. Then that's all she wanted to do. Her walking is getting better with each passing day (hooray for Gap socks) and her favorite word, apart from mama mama, is her best friend's three syllable first name. Ha! Clearly it's becoming harder and harder to get her to hold still for our weekly picture outings, girlfriend wants to move.
A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Growing Your Children's Book Collection

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Here's the thing, I don't buy books. For myself that is. In the last decade I can count on one hand the books I have purchased for my personal collection. Why is that? Simply because I can get most everything I want to read at the library. And I don't have a burning desire to grow my own library anymore. Also I don't own a tablet so all of my book reading happens the old-fashioned way, hefting heavy tomes or slinging lightweight reads.

But when it comes to children's books that's an entirely different story. True I had a handful of children's books before Amelia arrived, but now that reading has quickly become one of her favorite activities I am constantly on the lookout for new and notable selections. Here are a few ways I vet new picture books before adding them to our permanent collection.

1. Scout out the new picture book section in your local library. A no-brainer, right? Most libraries identify their new books by marking the spine with a sticker and designating them to a specific location in the library. Not sure where the new books are located? Ask your librarian.

2. When it comes to finding holiday books I like to check out a bunch of them at one time. This gives me a chance to take them home and read them without being rushed. Again, many libraries separate these books from the rest of the collection and will sometimes only make them available during the month of the specific holiday.

3. When I say new picture books that doesn't just mean recently published titles. It also includes new-to-me publications that could have easily been popular in say 1972. That said, it's always a good idea to look at award winning books (Caldecott, Geisel, Newberry, Mark Twain, etc.) and the nominees for a particular year.

4. Read reviews online. To be honest I don't do this as regularly as I should. Goodreads has a Choice Award section where you can locate top nominated picture books and even peruse previous years. Similarly the American Library Association (ALA) makes all kinds of online lists of award-winning picture books available. Also, The Read-Aloud Handbook has a list of tried-and-true recommendations. Finally, the New York Times features the 10 best illustrated books at the end of each year.

5. We live in an high density library zone. Meaning I have access to over a dozen libraries in a 15 mile radius, including one of the top 25 largest libraries in the nation. Which is kind of great! You may not have the same luxury, but if you do, or even if you have a couple in neighboring cities/counties, I suggest looking at other library collections. This is a great way to find children's books you might not otherwise come across.

6. Follow other bloggers and social media gurus to see what's on their children's book radar. I guarantee you'll find something you've never heard of before. Like from herehere, or here.

7. Request holds regularly. Meaning that if a library doesn't have what you want, simply ask them to get it for you. Amazing, right?

8. Host a children's book exchange. This may not exactly grow your collection, but it will expose you to different titles, which is all part of the process. Similarly, you can find a little free library in your neighborhood and take a book or leave a book. We've found a couple cute board books this way.

9. Ask your children's librarian what picture books they have read and loved lately.

10. Keep a list of what you've read. Rate it and save it until you're ready to buy it. I often put beloved children's books in my Amazon card until I'm ready to purchase a few at a time.

Bonus Tip: Do you have friends that are children's librarians? If yes, ask them to set aside a certain type of book when they are wedding the collection. I got a handful of great winter books this way earlier in the year.

When it comes to buying children's books, either for myself or as a gift, I am fairly particular. Luckily beautiful picture books are in the midst of a lovely resurgence. Implementing these strategies over the last year has been a great way for me to vet books before I buy them—kind of like taking a vehicle test drive. Do you collect children's picture books? Is your collection in a rut? If you haven't visited the children's section of your local library or bookstore recently I'd highly recommend it.


Friday, November 6, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

The Most Important Thing

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A few months before Amelia was born a friend gifted me The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I thanked her for it and then put the book on the shelf and promptly forgot about it. It wasn't until several months later when I remembered it again. Fortunately, I picked it up right around the same time I was getting tired of every board book in our collection. And what a game changer! We know reading to our children is important, right? But why does it matter? How young should we start reading to them? What types of books should read? At what age should a child read on their own? And should we stop reading to them once they can read on their own? All of these questions and others are addressed in this compelling book. Intuitively we know reading is essential in helping a child with language acquisition, comprehension, and development. Similarly, reading is a great way to establish a bond between caregiver/parent and child. But did you know that the reading habits of mothers directly impact a child’s reading test scores?

One of the best things about this book is being able to implement its practices almost immediately. For example, after reading about a mother who started to read picture books to her ten-month-old, while she ate in her highchair, I replicated the exact same practice. Not only did it vary our reading material, it helped me focus on creating an enjoyable dining experience where I could focus on the story and no longer worry about Amelia’s food intake. Another practice I’ve implemented is leaving books in every room in the house and also in the car. I love how effortlessly Trelease combines academic studies with personal anecdotes, proving again and again that reading to my child every day may be the single most important thing I do for her. As if the book wasn’t convincing enough in its research, the second half consists of a Treasury of the best read-aloud titles. Including everything from picture books to novels, wordless books, anthologies and fairy tales, marked with correlating grade levels. That said, you can bet I’ll be gifting this at many future baby showers.

Currently | 11.2.2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

WATCHING: Thanks to Katie we've recently started watching The West Wing, an entirely new to me show. Also, I polled Facebook and discovered that The Great British Baking Show is 100% worth watching and entirely addicting.

EATING: These pumpkin muffins are a favorite at our house—luckily it's perfectly acceptable to substitute the sour cream for plain yogurt. I also recently gave this soup recipe a shot and made a mental note to cut the cream in half next time or leave it out altogether.

READING: I've got two books to finish before the end of the year, both of them for different book clubs. The first is I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and the second is Women in Clothes.

ENJOYING: The fire pit Ken made for us in our backyard. Perks of being a homeowner!

MAKING: I just wrapped up making A TON of baby bibs, which means now it's time to turn my attention to a couple different advent calendars.

THINKING ABOUT: Pie Day 2015! Bigger and better than ever.

REMEMBERING: That little thrill of excitement when Amelia won Best Individual Costume at our ward trunk or treat. Also I already have a killer family costume idea in mind for next year!

EXCITED FOR: A road trip to Georgia for Thanksgiving.

About 1/3 of a giant mural located in Salt Lake City, UT. 


Friday, October 30, 2015

It's crazy to think that this is Amelia's second Halloween. Remember last year? Clearly this little cactus is already a seasoned candy scammer. Also, do you think she'll let me choose her costume for the next nine years? Hope you have a sweet weekend!
A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Six Sewing Tips from a Non-Seamstress

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I am officially declaring 2015 as the year I learned to sew. Kind of. I have vague memories of taking a home ec sewing class when I was in middle school (Utah's junior high equivalent), which likely resulted in a stunning pillow case. Then, in college, I remember cutting out the fabric for a full length lined pioneer style apron that a friend of mine so kindly sewed. And three years ago I even managed to crank out a lot of bunting for our wedding. So it's not like I've never sewn anything before.

But I don't sew. And I'm certainly not a seamstress. In fact I sort of joke that I don't even like sewing. In truth I'm still amazed that I managed to make two puff quilts a couple years ago with the help of a friend. And until recently I was pretty certain my sewing machine was stuck in the zigzag position. So that tells you a little something about my sewing qualifications. This year however something shifted and suddenly I thought Hey, I can do this. I'm not a seamstress but I can do this. 

Here are a few things I've learned over the last few months.

1. Right tool for the right job. You don't have to own a sewing machine to sew but it sure helps. In fact there are a ton of no-sew projects floating around the Internet, so technically you don't need a machine, but it would be a lot like learning to play the piano without a keyboard. Similarly you don't need a serger (the machine that finishes edges), but it makes sewing a little faster. I own a Singer sewing machine that my mom gave me several years ago. It isn't fancy but it works great. Other basic tools for sewing include: needles, thread, fabric scissors, rotary and rotary mat for quilting, pins and pincushion, seam ripper, and marking pen. When I decided I wanted to make Amelia some baby clothes this summer I purchased a loop turner and it made the job 100% easier. Once you have the basics all you need after that is fabric and project specific items (e.g, buttons, elastic, snaps, zippers, etc.).
2. Wash your fabric. This is pretty self explanatory but sometimes difficult to implement. The number one reason to wash your fabric before you cut anything is to avoid puckering later, which can happen when a garment shrinks. But I have found it also makes the fabric softer and easier to work with.

3. Needle down first, turn the wheel last. A friend of mine was helping me with a pattern a few months ago and she taught me about putting the needle into the fabric first then flipping the switch to lower the foot onto the fabric. This simple step has made a huge difference and now I view it as a deliberate action to get into the sewing zone. Similarly, I was always so frustrated by taking the fabric out of the machine because the bobbin thread would double up, snag, and get stuck. Which usually meant I would pull out the bobbin and re-thread the entire machine. What a waste of time! Now when I am finished I turn the wheel at the side of my machine to release the thread and it works like a charm. Two simple tricks that make sewing A LOT easier.

4. Use tape as a guide. Have you ever looked at an item of clothing and really studied the stitching? It always amazes me how straight and perfect each hem is. Granted these are generally mass produced items, but still it doesn't take long to realize that your stitching will impact the look and feel of whatever you are making. Which means aiming for a straight and consistent line is the goal. For instance, if a pattern calls for a 1/2" seam allowance, measure out from the needle and put a piece of tape as a marker on your machine. Follow that guide and move the tape around whenever you need to. (Washi or masking tape is great for this.)

5. Most things can be fixed. For years one of my mental sewing blocks was my extreme fear that the bobbin would run out of thread. Gah! I would check it compulsively to ensure that it wouldn't run out in the middle of a project and when it did it undid me. Then I decided to change my thinking. Because the thing about sewing is this: the bobbin is going to run out. It's okay. Take a breath. Change it and keep sewing. It's kind of crazy I let my own thinking make me so anxious about sewing. Luckily I got over that. Also, seam rippers are a lifesaver. Use them and don't apologize for it. If you think something looks a little crooked or off and your gut tells you to stop and unpick it, DO IT. On the flip side, some things can't be fixed. For example, cutting fabric so the pattern faces the wrong direction or putting snaps in backwards. That's okay. It's part of the learning process. Which leads me to my last point.

6. Practice and process. Like anything the more you practice the better you become, right? Truthfully I don't aspire to be a seamstress and that's okay. It's also likely that my sewing machine will remain in storage most of the year. However, I do want to be able to make an occasional Halloween costume, baby gift, or article of clothing. But sewing, for me, is all about the process. For years I was terrible at sewing. Now I'm a little better. Not because I have a black belt in sewing but because I've learned through doing. And I have had a lot of help over the years. My grandmother was a phenomenal seamstress. My mother-in-law made Amelia's baby blessing dress. Point is a lot of people really love to sew and are good at it. Learn from them. My one real piece of advice is this: make the process more important than the final product. Which I suppose is just a good life mantra.

Bonus Tip: Shopping for cute fabric is one of the best parts about sewing! In addition to places like Hobby Lobby and Michaels you can buy fabric online or at local quilt stores. Stumped for what to make? Try using a free online pattern from places like herehere, or here.

Do you sew? What other techniques have worked for you?


Friday, October 23, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.


Friday, October 16, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Four Picture Books We Love (Halloween Edition)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Looks like autumn has finally arrived and with it comes the inevitable appearance of Halloween. Although Halloween isn't my favorite holiday, I do enjoy decorating our mantel, scheming up baby costumes, and drinking homemade root beer out of a frothy cauldron. This week we scouted out a few holiday related reads at our local library and now I'm itching to add a few Halloween picture books to our personal collection.  

1.) Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor. This wee story is charming not only in its account of a little girl who locates a pumpkin to turn into a moonshine (jack-o-lantern), but also in its overall use of childhood adventure and a small lesson in manners. My favorite line is It frightened the goats! If you are familiar with any of Tasha Tudor's other books you'll love this one just as much.
2.) Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance by Keith Graves. This recommendation comes from a friend I went to library school with and one I think 3-5 year-olds would really enjoy. This quirky read manages to be both funny and a little gross at the same time. The overall message though is Do more of what you love even if nobody is watching.
3.) The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Diane Arnold. Illustrations by Brad Sneed. Farmer Joshua likes to run. And he gets his energy from regular servings of vitamin fortified pumpkins. He learns of a race from Melbourne to Sydney and decides to give it a try. Inspired by a true story this picture book almost made me want to go for a run. Although it isn't exactly a Halloween book per se, I think it's a seasonally appropriate selection. Because it's a little long I read it to Amelia over a few days time, mainly while she ate her vitamin fortified lunch.
4.) Only a Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee. Illustrations by Taeeun Yoo. Doesn't the illustration on the cover of this book make you think of Bewitched and Kiki's Delivery Service? Not only does the book boast beautiful woodcut prints throughout, it's a story of a young witch who listens to her heart, tries and fails, then tries again. Written in a poetic stanza format this book is heartwarming on many levels.
Other picture book we love. 


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Maybe the best part of leaving my little miss for four days was the fact that she started saying mama mama mama when I returned. Finally. Also, our great victory this week was singing If You're Happy and You Know It and teaching her to throw her hands up in the air for the SHOUT HOORAY! part. Pretty sure we've got a child genius on our hands.
A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

My Trader Joe's Shopping Trick

Friday, October 9, 2015

We recently had a Lucky's Market open up near our home. Which means I now have access to five different grocery stores within a two mile radius. And it's nice, really, because I'm rather fond of food. And unlike shoe shopping, I thoroughly enjoy grocery shopping. If you've popped into Trader Joe's in the last couple of weeks you have probably noticed the seasonal pumpkin explosion. Pumpkin everything! A flavor I fully support.

But you know what I do on a regular basis whenever I shop at Trader Joe's? I take a look at the end caps located nearest to the check out counter, then ask the cashier Have you tried those zesty nacho kale chips? or Are those chocolate covered sunflower seeds any good? And you know what? Nine times out of ten the cashier will offer to open up a package. Just like that. They'll usually say something like Would you like to try some?, to which I never protest. Because that's the beauty of shopping at Trader Joe's: They WANT you to try things. So I give them a little nudge, because you can't get what you don't ask for.

Ps. Those cranberries & pumpkin seeds pita crisps are ridiculously amazing. 


Monday, October 5, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Currently | 10.1.2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

WATCHING: Now that I've finished Portlandia Season 5, I think it's time to give Madame Secretary a shot. Especially since I've heard good things about it. Also, my new life mantra comes from this recent address.

EATING: Apples from our annual apple picking excursion. Also, making this cake is an autumn tradition at our house.

READING: This thoughtful post about dealing with trauma. My favorite line is I feel like we give out gold stars to people who get over things quickly. Isn't that the truth? Now if we could just allow ourselves (and others) the time and space needed to deal with the difficult parts. However long it takes. Also, I put a library hold on this book months ago and forgot about it. I plan on starting it this weekend.

ENJOYING: The fact that we finally have an Ikea in St. Louis. Cinnamon rolls while you shop? Yes, please. Also, aren't these pitchers adorable?

MAKING: More time to write.

THINKING ABOUT: A children's picture book exchange for Christmas.

REMEMBERING: What a gift it is to stay connected to the strong and generous girlfriends I have made in my life. Most of them live faraway, but oh how much I appreciate and need to stay connected to them.

EXCITED FOR: A weekend in Utah. By myself! No doubt I'll be popping into some of my favorite spots.

Mural located in Washington, DC. 


Friday, September 25, 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Funny story about our photo session this week. On Wednesday, after Lady J's morning nap, we hopped in the car and drove downtown to the very last exit before crossing into Illinois. Our mission was to find the two mile levy wall covered in graffiti. It wasn't difficult to find, but it also wasn't exactly in the safest part of town. Needless to say the tangle of colors and shapes was a HUGE statement piece. Complete with 4ft block letters, abstract lines, and pop culture (think Batman and smurfs) all rolled into one. Apparently Paint St. Louis is an annual event, that started 20 years ago, and draws artists from all over the country to participate in tagging the graffiti wall.

I skipped the first place I wanted to stop, leery of a suspicious looking black truck, but stopped further down the gravel road where I saw a man taking pictures. As we got out of the car Amelia was so happy to see someone else she immediately started waving wildly at the older gentleman. I looked over at him and realized it was the same man we had seen at the Botanical Garden a few weeks earlier, where he had even taken some pictures of Amelia, and also remembered the occasion. We chatted for a bit and he cautioned me several times to be safe. Bur really, what are the odds? Who knows where or when, but maybe we'll run into our friend Gordon again soon.
A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Making a Faraway Family Photo Book

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

This year we were fortunate to have not one, but two family gatherings. The first was in May when we surprised my mom in Utah for her 60th birthday. Then, in August, all of Ken's family (40+ people) gathered in Wichita for the first time in several years. On both occasions we hired a professional photographer to take family pictures. Since we currently don't live near any family I took the opportunity to take individual pictures of everyone on the same day we had our family pictures taken. Because I'm sneaky like that. When I told siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that I was working on a project for Amelia they were only happy to oblige.

Having faraway family means we have to find creative ways to help Amelia know who her extended family members are. Luckily, Pinhole Press makes it easy to do just that. Their Book of Names and Faces—which comes in either a spiral bound hardcover format or mini board book option—are the perfect way for little people to learn about faraway loved ones. For this project I opted to make the larger book so that Amelia and I can read and talk about each family member together.
Even though getting all the pictures took a few months, making the actual photo book only took about an hour. A definite win in my book! I particularly liked how easy it was to drag and drop images from my project folder into the design template. However, while I was making the book I ran into a snag with a couple images cropping out family members on the edge of the photo. Fortunately Pinhole Press has a chat feature on their website which allowed me to immediately talk with someone about my problem. After I contacted a representative they manually resized the image and formatted the background on their end and I didn't even have to worry about it. So convenient. As I was finishing the book I was pleased to discover that there were three remaining open slots before I reached the 24 image maximum. Which allowed me to include a picture of Amelia's immediate family and an image with each of her parents. After that I simply finalized my project and submitted it for printing.
Imagine my surprise when Amelia's book arrived at our doorstep two days later, wrapped with a thoughtful handwritten note. When I opened the book and saw the first picture of my mom holding Amelia a flood of emotions washed over me. In my hands I held a family heirloom that I had created without even realizing it. What added to my delight was seeing that the book was made from high quality paper thick enough for even the littlest fingers. Each time we open the cover Amelia points to different faces, excited when she recognizes the familiar faces of her faraway family.
Thank you for supporting the products that make it possible for me to create new and original content. 


Friday, September 11, 2015

We've been cutting molars at our house. Which makes for a clingy baby and a grateful mama. Why grateful? Grateful that we have a Walgreens 500ft from our house. Making trips for last minute pain relief nearly painless. Apart from growing choppers, Amelia is pulling herself up on anything that will stand still long enough for her to push her chubby legs into an upright position. I'm betting she starts walking SOON. Too soon if you ask me. Also, she's decided that my food is waaay better than hers. What a mooch.
A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015.

Four Picture Books We Love

Thursday, September 10, 2015

On Tuesdays I pack a canvas bag with all the return books, pick up Amelia, and together we walk across the street to the library. Did I mention the library is just steps away? If we're feeling adventurous we might drive to one of the other neighboring library locations. This is our ritual. Rarely do we make it to story-time, however I love the consistency of this practice. Since I'm pretty certain we've read every board book in Missouri, recently we've started checking out more picture books. These are some of our new favorites!
1.) Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Illustrations by John Parra. This award-winning multilingual book weaves the story of Latino culture and tradition through vibrant illustrations. While the glossary at the back provides a great primer for learning a handful of Spanish words. Plus who doesn't love a piñata?!
2.) Sun and Moon by Lindsay Yankey. This delightful picture book was just published this spring. The Moon is discontent with his place in the boring night sky and asks the sun to trade places just for a day. The sun agrees only on two conditions. I love the message of finding beauty and wonder in your current place, wherever that may be. And the illustrations are heartbreakingly lovely.
3.) Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty. Illustrations by David Roberts. Remember when we discovered this book about a month ago? Well Iggy Peck, Architect is another clever rhyming work by the same duo. For a moment I was sure Iggy's dreams and natural talent would be squelched by his teacher, but when the pressure is on he manages to pull off a heroic feat and saves the day.
4.) Don't Forget the Oatmeal! by B.G Ford. Illustrated by Jean Chandler. This book is almost as old as I am and was a gift to Amelia on her first-birthday. I LOVED this book when I was a child, likely because I also love oatmeal. Not only is this book a great way to teach children about the different items and sections found in a grocery store, it also gives parents a platform to talk about budgeting. Double win.
Need more book recommendations? Check out these board books and these going-to-bed books. 

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