Tuesday, January 20, 2015

That Thing You Do

With the whole two-small-children thing, our anniversary wasn't a big deal this year, but just so ya'll know, we just had our 3rd. Anniversary, not child. Lord help me. (Incidentally, today is also my parents' 25th anniversary, holla!!!) 




In light of that little milestone, I was chuckling about the timing of this post on pet peeves. I like to ask couples what habits they have that drive one another crazy - not to be divisive, but just because the answers are so funny. As I looked back at the little list I'd been keeping of my own pet peeves (particularly about things that Jonas does), I was happy to see that some of them aren't even an issue any more. 

Don't get me wrong, I still hate seeing the toilet seat up, but I've finally decided to be the bigger man and let him have it his way (I can say stuff like this because he doesn't read the blog). ;) Did you hear that Jonas??? I STILL NOTICE, and I'm just not saying anything anymore because I'm that awesome. Although honestly, I have noticed that now that I'm not making a point of chastising him for always leaving the seat up (and absolutely refusing to concede why I find it rude or gross), it doesn't needle me so much. I think I've more or less let it go. I'm patting myself on the back right now, for reals.

(I know the hate-the-same-stuff sentiment is a little cynical, but it's so nice to be on the same team as your husband or wife, isn't it?!)

Of course, I've moved on to being irritated by other habits. I promise this will be interesting, because not all my pet peeves are generic. The other day, my pastor talked about what it would be like if we tried to live a whole day without complaining about anything. BORING, I say! ;) I would have almost nothing to talk about. 

I'll start out with the generic spouse stuff - leaving drawers and cabinets open, leaving the shower curtain open and towels on the floor, not unbunching his socks before they go in the wash, etc. Then there's leaving pot and pan handles facing into the kitchen (as opposed to the side or back of the stove), which I find so dangerous, not to mention difficult to move around. That's pretty much the worst of it that I can think of when it comes to Jonas, so that's really not all that bad. Except when he finishes some special food in the fridge without consulting me. That really makes me sulk for a while. 

He used to leave the butter dish in the microwave and I would lose my mind because I could not find it ANYWHERE. As it turns out, he does that because his mom did that growing up, and she did it because they had a cat who always wanted to eat the butter. Strange as all get out, but made sense once I figured it out. 

To be fair, he goes crazy over some of my habits too, including leaving 20+ tabs open on our laptop, and in our old apartment, I never put the toaster away in the morning because I knew I would just have to take it out again the next day. My brother Bradley has a cow whenever I burp loudly, and growing up, my sister Annelise hated nothing more than listening to me clear my throat in the morning (I blame it all on Chinese polution). 

I asked an engaged (now married) friend what she and her fiancee found strange about one another's routines. She said that her husband always wants to rip the foil all the way off the yogurt container, and she leaves it on. For my parents, it's my mom leaving the microwave door ajar after she's used it. That is exactly the kind of thing that makes marriage so interesting, and sometimes challenging. A few months in to living with someone or seriously combining your lives, you start noticing little things and thinking, "who does that?!" It's weird how we assume that the way we do things is how everyone must do them. The little weirdnesses add up and then we have to put aside ourselves and learn to love someone for who they are, right? I know, I know, I'm getting a little Kumbaya here.  

I heard or read somewhere once (and I feel like I've blogged this before, so, sorry!) that in a good marriage, you fight about the same things over and over, and in a bad one, you find new things to fight about. Of course that's not true on every level, but I like that it acknowledges that we all have petty struggles. It makes sense that there are some issues that remain bothersome because simply by virtue of us not being clones, there will be deep-seated differences that butt heads in any relationship. On the especially deep seated issues, that same argument may come up forever. I think the secret must be to find middle ground or simply not let that issue eat away at all the good things we may have going for us in the larger picture. 

Ok, now here are my very particular pet peeves. 

1. Maybe my very biggest one is when people use the phrase, "great minds think alike." To me, nothing is further from the truth! What makes an idea great is that it stands out from the rest. A bunch of people have the same thought at the same time makes that idea obvious or a necessity, not some meeting of great minds. But I digress... (this one is particularly irksome because it's usually said as a compliment, but it only makes lava bubble up in my heart and almost out of my eyeballs). 

2. Salad forks (and tea spoons). I hate them. They feel so miserably inadequate for real food in terms of both length and weight, and I hate them. 

3. The way the radio ques some supposedly regionally appropriate ethnic music after any story that is well, regional. For example, tribal drums or chanting for Africa, twangy stuff for the American south, etc. It just seems so patronizing to me. Like I need a little melody to help me place my thoughts in a certain part of the world or something? I think it feeds into stereotypes in an unnecessary way. Individuals are more than where they are from. 

4. Oooh, this is another really good (and self-righteous on my part) one. People making their social media profile pictures photos of their kids or pets!!! This is both confusing and silly. Unless the account is all about said other creature and simply run by you, it's okay for your picture to have you in it. We're not all thinking you're vain for showing your own picture, and simultaneously, we also know you're proud of your kids without changing your photo to theirs whenever they do something especially great. I hate to say this (not really), but the cool-parent code strictly prohibits this practice (although it is acceptable to have your child in a photo with you as your profile picture). 

5. While on the topic of children, why does anyone with a faint interest in art and design and a not-terrible (but then again, sometimes terrible) idea think, "I should make this idea into a children's book, it will be easy!". That's why there are so very many abysmal children's books in the world. Please, spare us all and stop that thought process right now. Children's books are not easier to write - in fact, they're probably harder because you have to try and get across a solid idea that a child will understand in so many fewer and clearer words than you could get away with talking to an adult. Kids aren't stupid, but they are easily bored. And also, stop asking my husband to illustrate your children's book. He won't even illustrate stuff for me.... 


(one of my all-time favorite children's illustrations, from an unknown vintage book) 



6. I haven't looked this up, but I'm pretty darn sure that you use "a" before a noun beginning with a consonant (A kite) and "an" before a noun beginning with a vowel (AN airplane). That is all. 

7. Similarly, the word "especially" does not have an X in it. One need only read this word in print ONE TIME to realize it is not pronounced "exspecially". And yet, sadly, the english-speaking human race seems to have much better things to do than notice this small fact. 

8. And last but not least, please do not pick your skin or nails while sitting on the couch with other people. It doesn't matter how small the movement is, other people on the couch can feel the incessant quivers throughout the entire piece of furniture. Do not ask me how this is possible, it is simply true.   

All joking aside, I do prefer to spend my time being grateful for things. But don't we all love the occasional bug-eyed revulsion-fest we get to indulge in when we discover a shared pet peeve with someone (like our friend Greg sharing my belief that Iron and Wine is the WORST musical act). When you have a very particular stance on something, it's always kind of nice when someone else agrees with you. 

What crazy things get under your skin? What habit of your significant other surprised you when you started living in the same place? I'd love to hear, truly, I would... 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

December 2014

I try not to take this blog too seriously. I've been blogging for about 8 years now, and I've certainly hoped at times that it would make me wildly popular and famous (it's ok, I'm laughing too), but ain't nobody got time for the amount of effort that takes. I find I get the most out of blogging when it's an available platform for me to play with or share through, but it becomes stressful and stiff when I try and force it to advance my "career" or otherwise glorify myself. I would love to hone my professional writing skills further by practicing here, but I'm also really trying to focus on my real life. Taking care of real people, working hard in real life so that I don't just have to dream about a dream job falling in my lap because of my bloggy-hobby. I'm not going to make any official statements about how much I'm going to be blogging in the future (it seems to go in seasonal waves), but I haven't felt a big need to inhabit this space recently, thus the relative radio silence. Anyway, I greatly appreciate all of you that encourage me when I write, and keep coming back. With the exception of #7, I've found this list of reasons to blog to be pretty accurate, and as I learn to give blogging the proper amount of weight in my life, I'm even more excited about it. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, it will become something even more exciting somewhere down the road. :)

Now, on to a December recap...

Heard: This song, all the way. "Georgia" is definitely on my girl-name list, for many reasons, but this song is only helping its place.




Watched: Apparently my family likes to watch movies during the holidays. I saw so many that I'm just going to rate them rather than review each. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zussou (2.5 - too disjointed, but at least there was Cate Blanchett), ABC's Hannibal (5 - Obsessed. So beautiful, and I can't figure it out, which is a huge plus to me), American Horror Story: Coven (3.5 - Better than the other seasons, but over the top in the last few episodes), Netflix's Marco Polo (2.5 for lack of energy and awful accents, but 5+ for the opening sequence!!!) , How to Train Your Dragon 2 (3 - "Meh" compared to the first, but not your average sequel storyline), Guardians of the Galaxy (4 - Rockit forever! But the nemesis part of the story was weak, IMO), Joyride (4 - awesome if you don't know anything about it going in!), Labyrinth (2 - maybe you had to have grown up on this?!). // Also, Ayn Rand reviews children's movies. My favorite.





Tasted: I bought some sunflower sprouts at the SB farmer's market and really enjoyed them on sandwiches and in salads. I'd like to try and grow some! The best recipe I made was this cranberry cream cheese pound cake. Hearts for eyes!! Although I'm not a huge fan of drinking eggnog straight, I really like to put it in pancakes and coffee during the holidays. 

Browsed:
My eyes glaze over (in happiness) at things like this underwater Victorian ballroom

If you didn't already see these, check out junk food wastelands

Migrations creating patterns takes my breath away. 




Several of these cleverly staged photos are pretty impressive. 

This book looks very sweet - I still have some much loved (if ragged) items from childhood. I have a beanie-baby (but before that was a brand) turtle whose eyes are flat and scratched because I used to suck on its head. 

A fascinating article about how pronunciation changes. Did you realize that we all pronounce "skiing" incorrectly? I just eat this stuff up... 

Experienced: I was very, very busy in December, making gifts to sell and give away. I think I saved a lot of money, but it was pretty stressful. Jonas and I took the boys down to LA to spend the weekend with our sister-in-law and nephew while their husband/dad was away in Ukraine picking up their second adopted son. It was a fun little trip, and we especially enjoyed getting to know our nephew a little bit better. Christmas was pretty low-key, but spent with loved ones. My favorite part was seeing Ishmael so excited by gifts and enjoying having everyone home. We spent NYE with friends watching 80s and 90s movies in sweat pants (which I'm still grumpy about because I wanted to dress up ;)) and drinking some pretty darn good gin. 

Boys: Ishmael's leg hair is bristly now. I didn't expect this kind of thing to happen so early. He also swears like a sailor, though unintentionally. F-bombs right and left, which is both hilarious and embarrassing because we can not figure out what it is that he is actually trying to say or if he just came up with that sound on his own?! I love how uninhibited he is, he claps and dances in church (even if it's not a clapping song), claps wildly for everyone at Pampered Chef meetings, waves at Julia even if she doesn't wave back (because she didn't see him). He has quite the fake laugh, accompanied by exaggerated knee slapping, head thrown back, and the whole nine yards. He's also big into saying "n-n-n-n-nooooo!" and "stop!" if you do something he doesn't like. // Ira is growing in to some unique nicknames, including "cherub" (Annelise's name for him), "bean dip" and "virgil" (my mom's names for him), and "weebsie", which is what I call him (after weeble wobbles!). He's very drooly (pre-teething?) and grabbing at food. He flaps his arms wildly (but in unison, which I kind of remember Ishmael doing too), screeches loudly to let us all know that he exists, and stares intently at the stuffed pig I put in his seat with him. He has a deep "voice", which I like. // I tried to pick just a sentence to quote from this excellent article about why it's so hard to make mom friends, but the whole paragraph is just a big "yep..." from me. 
"Most of these women are cool individually. One woman at story time had these great sparkly shoes. Another is a midwife. One woman started her own company and is really funny. Another writes for the Times. Collectively, though, they are mothers. They park their goddamn strollers everywhere and they are alternately dressed like shit or way overdressed for someone who has nowhere to be at all. They’re either miserable or fake happy or smug. They’re lost, too, scrambling for affirmation that they’re doing things the right way, that their kid is going to be okay. Okay or a genius. They’re knee-jerk judgmental, compensating for their own lack of conviction, a little defensive, hiding their deep fear just below the surface. They’re tired. Their clothes don’t fit. They miss work, miss people, miss drinking. They have no idea what they’re doing and have spent way too much time reading about it on the internet. They are, I’m sorry to say, just like me."
Loved: Cranberries in everything, Christmas shopping. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reflections and Resolutions, 20014-2015 Ed.

The years are starting to fly by me... 

New Year's is probably my favorite major holiday other than Christmas, though it's not one that I usually celebrate with much fanfare. I just really like reflecting on the past and imaging what the next year might have in store. I'm forever enticed by the promise of a new start, but as I was thinking about it recently, I don't know why we can't make a fresh start on any day of the year! Even so, there's something about the official new year, and I'm working on trying not to set my expectations so high that regular life "ruins" things. 


Here are some of my favorite Instagram moments from the year (at least, what looked nice in sets of 9!). 

This year, we celebrated New Year's Eve with our friends the Gees and the Heucharts, eating finger foods and watching 80s and 90s movies in our sweats. I drank an entire bottle of martinellis by myself (oops) and we watched the ball drop in NYC, except we watched the 1999 into 2000 edition. Oh, and lots of kissing our significant others, of course!

I did a pretty lame job fulfilling my 2014 resolutions, but I also ended up accomplishing some pretty cool stuff that I hasn't resolved to do.


2014 goals:
  • Complete 2013's painting. (made more progress...)
  • Hang art and hardware in our home. (I never did do that, but we moved....). 
  • Learn how to buy and prepare different kinds of fish in at least 3 ways, including raw. 
  • Learn to be (or be intentional about being) open, obvious, and proud about/of Jesus as a pillar of my life. 
  • Visit the V.S.R. (that's a private one at this point, but I have to write it down to keep myself accountable. As you may recall, Toad - from Frog and Toad - can not even chase after his lost to-do list if that was not on his list of things to do). (lost the conviction for this, wondering if it will return)
  • Make my blog pretty. (ha.... anyone want to do it for free? -.- ) 
2015 goals:
  • Earn the Pampered Chef incentive trip to the Bahamas. 
  • Complete at least 3 more classes at APUS. 
  • Make progress with Jonas's school/our future situation. 
  • Build up a nest egg - have more in the bank at this time next year than we do now. 
  • Not let other's opinions be my standard - not that I don't care about other people's opinion at all, but not let my goals be molded to their goals for me. 
  • Focus on being a good listener.
  • Yoga 1x/week.
  • Visit a museum I've never been to before.
  • Have friends over for dinner once a month.
  • Cook something I've never cooked before from a hard-copy cookbook, once a month. 
And in very brief, non-exclusive form...

Best of 2014:
  • Tasted: Green Minestrone 
  • Watched: Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown
  • Read: The Cleaver Quarterly (I was published in print for the first time this year! :))
  • Heard [will remind me of 2014]: Jessie Ware's "Say You Love Me", King Cresote and Jon Hopkins, TV on the Radio's "Seeds" album, Beck's "Morning Phase" album, Lily Allen's bonus tracks on the album "Sheezus", Pharrell William's "Happy", MAGIC!'s "Rude", Jetta's "Take it Easy", Ana Carolina
  • Browsed: The Longest Shortest Time podcast/pages/community. 
  • Favorite instagram account: @justinablakeney 
  • Experienced: Ira's birth, 8/4/14/ 

May 2015 grow and stretch you, and be full of many joys, great and small. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dreadful Parenting

I am struggling as a parent. Perhaps just struggling as a person.

Sleep training Ira is failing, potty training Ishmael is failing, my general composure as an adult is failing. We might all just poop our pants into adulthood around here.

Although I've come a long way, and I'm proud of my progress, I do not feel particularly well cut out to parent young children. I expect them to be able to reason like adults, and they don't. I stay home with my kids because I believe that it is my role as their parent to coach them into functioning little humans, particularly in such formative years, but I find myself filling my stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) life with other things than my children because 24/7 childcare is mind numbing. Obviously, avoiding my children while at home really wasn't the point of quitting my other jobs to be with them. I thrash around against the fact that I can't do anything without being interrupted. Sometimes I just let my kids sit in their poop or cry uncontrollably while I do my own thing for a few minutes, and sometimes I think that's fine, but other times I feel guilty about it (God forbid someone else see me doing it!) and it makes me stressed out or try to rush through whatever I'm trying to get done because I can't handle the crying or the poop. I also feel guilty when I think that if I were doing a better job of training them, maybe they would be able to listen better or entertain themselves for a little bit while I make a phone call or try and do some other task that doesn't involve them. In the end, nothing is accomplished effectively, and something needs to change.

I know that most parents struggle with their role - it is a huge responsibility, and probably the most difficult job any of us will ever undertake, particularly because the subtle moments can be the most important ones. There is something very comforting about knowing that countless others understand the feeling of both the lowest lows and the highest highs in this business. Yet, in days or weeks when I can't shift my focus from the avalanche of "downs" I'm dealing with, I can't fathom how it came to be that so many people do this day in and day out. I see my friends who don't have children having more fun then me - there's no nicer way to spin that, they definitely do have more fun than I am having. My mom noted that the difficulty of parenting is probably a large factor in why people have far fewer children (or no children at all) in modern times than they used to.

A lot of people are disparaging about comments like, "I just want to feel like I'm putting my time to good use" from SAHMs, because raising children is a good use of time. I do believe that, but it's not always enjoyable and the reward is far off, which makes it feel less impactful than some other things I could be doing. Furthermore, the weight we are expected to bare as modern parents will so quickly result in burnout that it makes us into desperate and miserable people, and desperate, miserable people aren't the best parents. If we have no way to collect ourselves and instead feel constantly at the end of our rope, of course we can think of nothing else but how to get out of this job as soon as possible.

I know this is exceptionally Freudian, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed with frustration that I bite binkies. If I pick up Ira, I usually need both hands, but want to bring his binky along too, so I put the rim in my mouth to carry it. I find myself chomping down so hard on that rubber to relieve some tension. This is motherhood, people.

Parenting small children doesn't generally stimulate my mind, and that makes me feel like I'm missing out on adulthood. While I think it's good to realize that raising children truly is worthwhile, SAHMs don't need additional guilt over wanting to feel more a part of "real life". I think the fact that so many SAH parents can speak of little else but how defeated they feel says something legitimate about the state of parenting we're faced with. Personally, it gives me dreadlocks. I'm not kidding, I have two dreadlocks. I have been so frazzled and miserable trying to adjust to my new normal, so much that I've neglected my hair majorly. Large tangles got coached into dreadlocks, making me an officially a dreadful parent.

I have asked myself, "am I - and my peers - so pathetic that we can't handle what people have been handling for centuries before us"? I've been thinking about this for two weeks (rewriting this post over and over during nap times), and I've concluded that there are two main societal blockades today that make good parenting exceptionally difficult. I know this sounds so hippy-dippy, but the first thing that I think we've lost that majorly complicates raising small children is communal living. Most of you know that my husband and boys and I are currently living with my parents. This doesn't solve all my problems, but it's worlds better than when I was alone before, because I really was alone so often when we had our own place. My husband - like many husbands and wives - works 40, sometimes 50+ hours a week to take care of us, and on top of that, he goes to school three nights a week. The reality of this situation is that I am effectively a single parent most days. The pressure of being the sole care-giver and instructor of 2 small humans is crushing, and I don't think it was meant to be that way. When we're expected to go it alone and love it (or be good at it), it's a tall order. Looking at history, as well as many other cultures around the world, young parents have immediate access to large extended families as well as their larger community, in a way that many Americans don't.

I found myself so depressed when all my siblings went back to school after the holiday, because when they are here (along with other friends and family), my boys can bounce from one person to the next, not exhausting any one person, and yet still happy as clams and stimulated and loved to their hearts content. All that help allows me to accomplish a few things that I need to get done, as well as be calm and energized when the occasions do arise that I need to step in and discipline them. This segways nicely into the second component that I feel is missing from modern parenting - instruction.

I've really been wracking my brain with the question "how do we learn to parent?" In a healthy communal situation (which I realize is not available to everyone), you have the opportunity to learn from your elders who have experience parenting. So much of what I'm working through in this post is a result of my mom helping to train me as a parent (thanks mom!). Of course, the goal is not for grandparents or anyone else to actually raise your children for you, but their advice and knowledge is a resource that we have forgotten to tap in to in this day and age.

A side note on communal living before I continue: it is looked down upon in Western cultures because it's so often connected to grown people mooching off of others, but that's a broken communal situation. In a healthy community, people are responsible, but help share one another's burdens and get to share in one another's triumphs. Downright Biblical, if you ask me.

Back to learning to parent - is it overwhelming, or is it overwhelming?! No matter what information you absorb before having children, you can not truly understand its meaning until you actually have children, and then much of the time, you change your mind about what you heard before anyway. That, and have no brain cells left from hormones and lack of sleep, so you can't remember what you read.

The "simple" answer to learning to parent is to read about how to do it, right? That is hilarious to me on two levels - first of all, I am a person who loves to read, but have read approximately 2 and a half books since having children because I have at least 12 other exceptionally pressing things I have to get done every day before I could sit down with any kind of book. Secondly, do you have any idea how many parenting books are out there? Possibly a billion, not kidding. Along with the internet, there are so many options that I end up reeling back and closing my eyes instead. I can Google a question as well as the next person (but is what some stranger posted on a message board at 3am really what I want to use as parenting advice?), but then I also end up being bombarded by 10 mini parenting dilemmas a week (should I let my child refuse kisses during the holidays?!?) that I would not have been worried about at all had I not been presented with the question in the first place. Thank you, internet. For the record, I think that article is probably good advice, but I am up to my eyeballs in good advice these days, and sometimes it conflicts with itself.

(this is me right now) 



I have never read a "how-to" parenting book on any subject in its entirety. I'm wary of self help books because I don't believe life can be boiled down to a set of 3 things to remember or the number one thing to avoid. Multiple methods can be found to do just about anything when it comes to parenting, and my general strategy has been to avoid seeking written advice because every source seems to contradict the last, and if you look even one generation back, so many aspects of parenting turn out to be fads. Knowing all the possibilities before I'm faced with a dilemma only makes me more anxious about all the things that could go wrong. How am I supposed to be confident about what the right course of action is when I'm confronted with 10 options, many of which sound reasonable? I end up having to make a judgement call about whether I think what I read makes sense or not, but I don't feel like I have a good enough foundation as a parent to be able to gauge what good sense even is! I try and look at things critically and ask myself, "do I agree just because it's logical or counter-cultural or well written, or is this something I truly think is a good idea"? Ultimately though, I have become unsatisfied with doing nothing because I don't know what to do. Not whole-heartedly pursuing how to be a good parent ends up making my life more difficult because, for instance, sometimes I don't even realize that whatever behavior or situation I'm dealing with is a THING, with a name, that happens with other people's kids too, and therefore I'm not aware that there are tools out there to help me deal with said behavior.

There seems to be no 1 (or even 2 or 3) main schools of thought on parenting today (I feel that there was, when my parents were young). Well, actually, what I've gathered is that there is attachment parenting, and then there's everyone else. I fall somewhere in the "everyone else" category, because I believe that letting your child believe they are the center of the universe doesn't do anyone any favors. It makes me feel like I'm dying when I structure every moment around my children.
I do need to make training them my utmost priority, but not let them control me through my responsibility to them. I realize that's a pretty pointed statement (many, many of my friends do attachment parenting), which leads me to the overall parenting philosophy I hear, which is "do what works for you". I think this is a nice sentiment, but let's face it - not everyone's kids are really that great, so "whatever works" probably isn't true or just isn't actually working. I often hear that "whatever you decide to do, stick with it", and I do believe that children crave consistency. However, I also used to think that that basically meant that all (well, many) parenting roads lead to relatively healthy adults, and it only takes about 5 seconds in the real world to realize that that is a filthy lie. Some people make it, and some get really messed up, you know? It's not like you can just cross your fingers and hope for the best with kids.

A further note on attachment parenting - I'm not saying that I think attachment parenting necessarily leads to entitled or otherwise messed up adults, but I do think giving your child everything they want when they want it will leave with you with no self left, only a slave to your offspring in the body that once was you. Of course that makes people miserable. I also think that attachment parenting has the potential to rob marriages because when everything is child-centered, there is no room to invest in your spouse. Similarly, I think that living in hatred of your role as a stay at home parent can chop your marriage off at the knees (who wants to come home to a constantly miserable, exhausted and spent zombie?), and that's one of the many reasons I'm trying hard to turn this ship around.

Back to parenting philosophies. When people say, "do whatever is right for you", isn't that a thinly veiled "what you're doing sounds wrong to me"? I hate millenial bashing, but seriously, oh millennals, why must we all be so offended by... everything? (This trend actually got a name, it's called outrage porn). I got home from a play date with a friend and her two kids the other day and found myself wondering, "when I was saying how hard it must be to feed her daughter several times a night, did she think I was judging her"? I'm constantly trying to tip toe around every parent or would-be-parent or non-parent that I know, trying not to offend or impose my ideas. Similarly, I find myself getting all bent out of shape when people try and tell me what I should be doing differently. Here's the thing: sometimes we need to be able to hear good advice and consider changing aspects of our parenting, other times, people are crazy and we need to let their crazy roll off our backs. Give me a call if you figure out a no-tears system of telling those two apart.

When it comes down to it, I can be quite confident in some of my parenting choices, but inevitably, someone else thinks it's the most heinous choice I could have made, and then I either question myself or live in fear that other people will think I'm ruining my children. I think the line between "it's none of your damn business" and accepting constructive criticism is made out of spider web silk. I want to be someone who doesn't isn't swayed by every passing breeze, but I also think people who never listen are so arrogant.

Sometimes I crave a situation in which someone would just tell me exactly what to do. But, only stuff I like and agree with. Basically, do all the leg work for me and make me think it was my idea. Wouldn't it be great if there was a step by step, foolproof guide? But I know that if I had that, I'd challenge it and balk at formulas.

What I've come up with so far in parenting 101 is that first of all, you have to come to the conclusion that you have no idea what you're doing and that you need change/help. I have been parenting one situation at a time (which was my intentional parenting philosophy at one point!), but that becomes a problem once your child is a toddler, because they start getting a bit smarter and you have to preempt their behavior rather than run around putting out fires all day. I feel like trial and error is so dangerous when parenting, but even when I do have a plan, I can not dictate my child's every move, and so there remains an aspect of trial and error.  I'm becoming much less of a fan of going in completely blind, though, because you only get one chance sometimes. I can think back to some words that were said or things that were done in my childhood that may have been no more than a passing thought spoken aloud on behalf of the adult speaking to me, but their words or actions shaped me and have stuck with me into adulthood. When I think about that, I'm often terrified that my boys are picking up everything I say and do, and some things that I may do without thinking are sinking in very deeply. Nothing feels more "ready or not, here we go" than parenting.

I'm beginning to see that not having a strategy to follow or a specific goal to reach results in meandering parenting, where everything takes me by surprise, and then the moment is gone and I've lost the chance to teach my sons how to be a responsible, loving, pleasant human beings. Instead, they learn that if I haven't made up my mind about what to do, it's up to them to make the rules. I'm trying to learn to think more long-term and address the myriad issues of each day in such a way that I'm instilling character ("we need to be good stewards of our property and not be wasteful") rather than making ten thousand small rules ("do not stand on that book. or that one. or that one.") to try and corral them into obedience.

Small fixes are at best temporary, because children never agree to stay the same once you've figured them out. I find that when I'm wrestling mightily with my boys' behavior, it reveals my own inner ugliness and my own shortcomings as a parent. I become so lost and frustrated that I want nothing more than to escape my role as a parent, when the real remedy is to lay down my own adulthood where need be, and pour myself in to raising them to be less selfish than I am. My adulthood will resurface eventually, but we can't get their formative childhood years back later. As they are molded into more disciplined beings, I predict that I will feel less compelled to escape them.

I've already realized the truth in this when it comes to disciplining Ishmael. When I am trying to deal with every little situation instead of the behavioral heart of the matter, it is impossible to tell him "no" about everything, so he gets away with a lot, which reinforces to him that anything goes. Eventually though, I become frustrated enough to discipline him after he's disobeyed multiple times in a row. Not only is it unfair to him to discipline on some occasions and not others, it also leads me to discipline out of frustration, and he experiences me losing my temper. Not that I use excessive force or anything, but I've always held that disciplining out of anger is wrong, yet I couldn't see a way around it until understanding that I need to focus on the bigger picture and remain calm and firm when he tests me, rather than letting things slide (because seriously, most of it really isn't a big deal) and then swooping in and laying down the law every 10th incident.

Another major tenant of mine in learning how to parent is to seek the advice of parents with children you admire. My friend Cara told me that we feel like our own situation is the most challenging because we aren't dealing with other people's situations. My friend Jessa assured me that I don't have to find playmates that are exactly Ishmael's age in order for him to be benefited by the company of others. My friend Heather suggested I take Ishmael to the library to help him learn to sit in a group quietly. She also taught me the HALT acronym to run through during a child's meltdown - is he Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? She even suggested a book to me that I might just read. ;) Many people have commiserated that going from 1 to 2 children is the most difficult jump there is.

My husband kindly reminded me that it is okay not to enjoy parenting all the time - the point is that I do it anyway, and that's what makes a good (and perhaps 1% less selfish?) parent. Similarly, a wise woman at my church told me that I do not have to feel like a good parent, only strive to be one. I do not have to live under the burden of trying to feel happy or accomplished as a parent all the time. How I feel doesn't change the fact that my boys are loved and cared for at the end of the day.

While there is a grain of truth in this, I can be haunted by the notion that if my child does something wrong, it's my fault for not teaching him otherwise. In reality, it is my responsibility to equip my children to know right from wrong, and then it is their responsibility to make the right choice.

Lately, the concept of grace has been presenting itself to me everywhere I look. Simply the idea that I can never be good enough - or even good. But I don't know how to stop trying. I don't know how to divorce the doing the best I can from relying on my own strength, and frankly, the struggle gives me dreadlocks. Although I think I understand the concept of God's grace, I don't understand how it's free to me, because free stuff always feels stolen to me, in some sense (yet so good...). You know what I mean? I always feel like I got the best of someone when I get something for free, and it seems wrong to do that to Jesus, even though I know he's powerful enough not to be robbed by me.

For today, I combed out the dreadlocks and only bit a binky a little bit. That's a good start, right? And I keep trying to remember this: Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. {image credit}

Monday, December 1, 2014

November 2014

I take notes throughout the month so that I don't forget anything important when I look back on my month, and November had so much packed in to it! Some of it feels like it already happened a long time ago. Parenting has had some rough patches this month, and it can be hard to get even the simplest tasks completed, thus the lull in general blogging. I always make sure to do these end-of-the-month posts though, because if nothing else, this blog is my journal.

[winter sketchbook image, even though it's been in the 70s here]

Heard: I am crazy about TV on the Radio's new album, but pretty much everyone is. Here's one of my favorite songs.



Watched: I managed to watch a lot of things this month! Before I forget, the documentary Fruit Hunters is now available on Netflix, and you should go watch it. I watched it in parts on Youtube last year, that's how much I love it. // We got "A Million Ways to Die in the West" from Redbox because the trailer looked hilarious, but it was a total dud. The humor was so low-brow, that is just wasn't funny enough - we didn't even make it half way though the movie. // I watched The Rabbi's Cat, which I quite enjoyed! It's based on some comic books, which helps explain some plot jumps in the movie that were a little abrupt. One of my favorite parts was when one of the characters, a painter, explains to the cat that "painting nature feels like eating a bird: the original was better, but you can't help yourself". This movie has a lot of cultural, relational, and spiritual (as well as cat-ty :)) topics that is incorporates. I liked how it showed friendship between people of so many different backgrounds in a tumultuous part of the world (at least, we in the west think of it as tumultuous, rather than realizing that most days are normal there, most likely). The cat itself cracked me up. // Similar to Chicago, and adapted from Broadway, I bought the movie Nine because I love parts of the soundtrack, but the story was a little bit slow. Marion Cotillard was as stunning as ever, Kate Hudson can't sing, and Sophia Loren looks quite elderly. // Edge of Tomorrow: Live, Die, Repeat almost lost me in the first 10 minutes, but then it suddenly got remarkably entertaining, and stayed unpredictable enough throughout the entire film. In the last minute or so, they wrap everything up in a way that makes absolutely no sense, but the majority of the film was good enough to merit a watch if you haven't seen it before.

Tasted: For Thanksgiving, we cooked an Indian feast! Instead of mashed potatoes, we had samosa. Instead of stuffing, we had biryani, etc. It was a fun twist on things. I made a cranberry pavlova for dessert, which was a little tricky, but I'm hooked on the idea of pavlovas in general! The best new recipe of the month was this creamy ham and rice soup, all the better for being very easy to make. I'm also helping my sister Annelise plan her wedding menu, which I love. I went to a Pampered Chef dinner and had an amazing fall risotto as well as a pepper-pecan brie dip.

Browsed:

Experienced:
  • On the 9th, we celebrated Ira being 100 days old (a Chinese tradition) with friends, family, food, and a pinata. It was lovely. 
  • A friend from church commissioned me to make some Christmas decorations in Hebrew and Arabic for her, and I ended up selling some more to help raise money for my classes as well. 
  • I almost got scammed on Craigslist by someone trying to buy my parent's pool table, but figured it out in time! Beware of cashier's checks, that's the take away. 
  • I voted for the second time in my life, though I didn't have particularly strong opinions about anything this time around. 
  • I started a second-hand shop on Instagram called Retro Riot. Follow me to see all the cool stuff I'm selling. It's also my favorite way to buy awesome clothes for my boys. 
Boys: Ishmael loves bugs to death, quite literally. He calls them "cuuuuute!" when he finds them, but they end up squished from all the love. He's starting to say his own name sometimes, but it can sounds more like "acho" than anything else, at times. He calls Ira's binky the "pink", and when you play hide and seek with him and he pops out of the blanket, he says, "I found me!". I realized that I often ask him to do things rather than tell him to, because he now says "no" (so I have to rephrase it as a non-negotiable). Potty training has basically failed. // Ira now imitates people when they blow bubbles or make some other shapes with their mouths. He's very ticklish, enjoys playing with over-hanging toys in his play pen and the singing mobile, and likes peek-a-boo. He's fascinated by anything flavored that you put on your hand to let him suck on. 

Loved: Having multiple occasions on which to guzzle Martinelli's, having my siblings home from school, and being able to eat dairy again (especially since we're in to the holidays now!). 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Etsy Gift Guide

Too early for Christmas trees? Um, yeah. But not too early to start strategizing about gift giving! This year, I thought I'd share some of my favorite Etsy stores to inspire your holiday shopping, and in true Karissa-fashion, nothing over $50. People love handmade gifts, right? I'm giving them my best effort yet, this year. I'll probably write more about that in another post if my projects go well.

Marbled stuff is a bit of a fad right now, but it is awfully pretty. The shop Natalie As Is has some beautiful marbled stuff available, such as these ribbons. Perfect for the decorator or hostess with the mostess in your life (she'll use it to tie gifts or make a photobooth background, for starters). Five ribbon patterns for $15.


Tea towels ($10-16) from Girls Can Tell are perfectly unisex. They will add personality tucked in to the apron of any friend who loves to spend time in the kitchen.



I don't know very many people who would actually use these, but edible decorations from Andie's Specialty Treats are truly incredible. They could be a perfect gift for a bride who may not want to drop $50 extra dollars decorating her own cake. I think the ferns are my favorite, though they break my gift guide price rule. 50 buttons for $42.50.



I've loved these rock poems from Cori Kindred for ages! I never buy one though, because I know I could make one for myself that would be completely customized to my tastes. I love her idea of using a stone and a word to convey a feeling - how easy to DIY for a friend and make them feel so loved that you put thought in to who they really are. They're about $25 if you don't want to make your own.


Let's not forget something for your cool college-age brothers from Deck Stool! $30 for a wall hook made from an old skateboard.


Another genius gift for guys, $35 for a set of custom grilling rubs from Purpose Design.


For the modernist in your life, consider this lovely decorative bowl (only $15!) from Etco.


Bertie's Closet has a bunch of fun cases for electronics, a great gift for the students in your life. I really like this city-apartment fabric.



If you know anyone with little kids, I guarantee you they will love a fancy tote from Love Joy Create to store their kid's toys in so everything looks a little less hit-by-a-tornado. That's worth $34, right? (Or get them for like $10 at TJ Maxx, just sayin'). Another gift for kiddos that I really like is these custom sheet sets!


And finally, if you like to give a Christmas ornament every year, here are two beautiful options. One from One Clay Bead (they have some other fabulous items as well) and one from Yevginia (another favorite shop).



Do you have a gift buying strategy this year? Share with me your favorite Etsy shops, too! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

October 2014

With 4 birthdays in the space of 1 week in our family, October really kicks off a fun time of year for us. Plus, people stop focusing on fall and start talking about Christmas - fine by me! ;)

Heard: I love a creative cellist.



Read: I'm attempting to read every children's book we have (many, many) to Ishmael, and reviewing them here as we go along. I also had my first article published in print in the Cleaver Quarterly! Honestly, I think it's far from my best work, but I'm so honored to be a part of the magazine and I'm already working on bettering the process so that my next piece will be stronger. Here's a picture of the cover of my issue (Issue 2). Can you guess which of the stories at the bottom is mine (click the image to enlarge)?

Watched: I'd been wanting to watch Belle ever since I saw the trailer months ago, and while I'm glad the story is out there, it wasn't all that entertaining as a movie. It was very Pride and Predjudice-y, which will make many of you want to run and go see it (and you should! :)), but sometimes those movies leave me rolling my eyes that I just spent 2 and half hours watching conflict over whether a woman is going to marry for love or money. I at least appreciated the added aspect of abolition in Belle. // I also started watching the new show "How to Get Away with Murder" and I love it! It's been quite a while since I binge watched anything out of excitement, and then I dreamed about the show all night! I'm really enjoying the way they're showing you strands of several story lines at once without revealing how they're all related yet.

Tasted: Of course we only discovered this the day before we moved away, but the tacos at El Taco de Mexico on Broadway (near the corner of Jones street) are BOMB. The staff and pricing less so, but I'd still go again just for those tacos. // We also did a DIY Korean BBQ night for the first time with the Gees which was a lot of fun.

Browsed: 
1. These photos of the underground railroad route at night make that journey seem so much more real to me. Look at them slowly, and imagine yourself in the scene.

2. I love the way ink dropped in water, chocolate stirred into batter, or barely mixed paint looks. Feast your eyes!



Experienced: This month, it's kind of like, what didn't happen in our lives? At least I feel like I'm getting into a routine again though, which feels great.
  • First of all, we moved out of our apartment of two years and back in with my parents to save money to finish school. No big deal. The move was pretty stressful, but the living situation is great. 
  • Shortly there after, I quit my office job of 5-ish years to stay home with the boys, though I continue to do small jobs from home. 
  • I got to be a part of my sister and her fiance checking out a venue for their wedding in the Santa Barbara area that they decided to go with in the end, so that's exciting! Annelise also found a wedding dress she really likes on that day. 
  • I met a new mom-friend, Heather, from a Facebook group we're both in for fans of a parenting podcast we listen to. She just moved up here from LA and I'm really enjoying her company and insight. Yah, the internet age! 
  • I attended my first PCPA costume sale. Wasn't quite as wonderous as I was expecting, but I bought a coat that is in the wash after a DIY dye job as I type this - we'll see how it goes. 
  • I road-tripped with some Pampered Chef ladies to a meeting in Oxnard and got pretty jazzed up for a new kind of show we're doing. I've been working on getting back in to the swing of the business after having Ira. 
  • Halloween got rained out, but no one minded too much because it was our first rain in over 6 months. I saw some great costumes on Facebook and was secretly happy to have an excuse not to have to dress up or dress my boys up. There's so much pressure to have an amazing costume and I'm never into it, even though I like to dress up in general. 
  • My dad turned 50 and Annelise turned 22! 
  • Ishmael turned 2, and it was such a wonderful day. We took him to the zoo which he seemed to enjoy, but cake and presents that night were a total joy-fest all around. I made him french onion soup and grilled cheese for dinner (so he could dip all he wanted), watermelon, and a popcorn cake. He was so thrilled about the candles and kept asking us to relight them so he could blow them out again. Punch balloons were also a hit. My heart melted all evening. Jonas bought him a drum which he plays excruciatingly loudly quite early in the morning, and I got him a backpack, which he likes to put on and then say goodbye to me. I had been planning a watermelon themed party for next year, but something better came up, so I used the watermelon stuff I'd already collected this year. I'll have a picture of the table set with all the watermelon stuff, but lest it go to waste, here's a little inspiration board of the watermelon themed things I'd been collecting. I think it's a really cute theme, especially for a kid who loves watermelon, like Ishmael! 

Image credits: watermelon vans, watermelon favors (brilliant craft, I want one), watermelon pinata, watermelon (or strawberry?) balloons, frozen watermelon on a stick (I want to try this), adorable cake-pops. Oh, and of course you'd want to have a watermelon eating contest too. :D 

Boys: Ishmael address everyone by name now ("mom! mom! mom! mom!.... ball" when he wants me to play ball with him). He loves watching hockey on TV with my dad and the other day he came downstairs, still groggy in the morning, went up to my dad and whispered in his ear "hockey...". I giggle every time I think about it! He sometimes asks to hold Ira and then puts a blanket over both their heads, mimicking me situating my nursing cover-up. When Ira was crying the other day, he ran upstairs and got Ira's binky. Potty training isn't going great, but it will eventually happen, right?! When he's upset, he runs funny - either he gallops or crab-steps away from you. He's as sweet and rambunctious as ever. // Ira went through another pretty fussy phase, but had/has the most amiable personality on either end of that spell. He hiccups when he laughs, and I love the shape of his nostrils, like little commas. He was sleeping through the night for a while, but we're back to some middle of the night feedings. // 1. One of my favorite foodie companies, Mouth, launched a collection for moms! What a great gift idea! 2. 50 reasons your toddler is awake right now is pretty hilarious.

Loved: The heat wave, followed by the first rain.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Love Letter to Our First House

I realized as I was thinking of a name for this post that this place isn't even our first house! Well, it is our first house, not our first home. When Jonas and I first got married, we lived in the apartment upstairs from this place, and then moved to a larger apartment downstairs right before we had Ishmael.



I forget that we ever lived upstairs - the downstairs apartment is where we brought both our sons home from the hospital, where we painted the walls, where we bought our first couch. This home had a lot of love poured in to it, and I will miss it very much.

My brothers came over for a visit recently and remarked that driving up the alley makes you feel suddenly like you're entering a third world country. The road is unpaved, there are dumpy wooden shacks full of trash, wild plants, stray cats, a cat's cradle of electrical wires...and our house. It was in a neighborhood that was thought of as sketchy, but we were set far off the street and though our [almost worthless] cars were broken into a few times, we never had any trouble with our home, even when we accidentally left the door open all day when we were gone at work once.

Here's a picture of the outside of the house. You can see all the windows upstairs in our first apartment, and then downstairs, our front door was up the steps on the far side of the bay window. The door in the foreground led to our laundry room, but we didn't use that door often. You can see the gate to the side yard and then one of the windows into our bedroom with the red curtain. The bay window looked into our living room, and the window to its left looked into our kitchen.


The house was a farm house, built in the 1920s I think. I so wish I could have seen it as one big home (it had long been divided into three apartments when we moved in), and I do hope that I can go to the library or public records office and find some old photos of it someday. The home is so old now that although it's address is Broadway, it's no longer on Broadway because buildings have been built between it and the street. This made it very difficult to find on GPS.

The shops right around our house were a smoke shop (with police constantly outside), a Spearmint Rhino club, and a tattoo parlor, though it was run by a very cool couple from our church. We were also right around the corner from a fire station, so there were constant sirens. Once, a car crashed in to the bank sign on the other side of the fence from our house in the middle of the night, which was terrifying. There was also a neighborhood taco truck (which I never saw) that had a very eerie song that it played. We were in a prime spot to hear midnight mariachi bands at the dance hall across the street (the police ended up showing up for that too), and mere steps from the curb for every manner of Santa Maria parade. A block north was the Santa Maria farmer's market, which I miss greatly.

I loved living in an old home, and I definitely want to own a home like it someday. Especially in the apartment upstairs, there were so many storage nooks and crannies of the weirdest shape built into all the tilted attic corners and backs of closets. Right before we moved in downstairs, our landlord refurbished the downstairs apartment and paid Jonas to help him. They replaced the original windows, which were beautiful, but not very efficient and took out this custom made fruit drying system from under the house. Apparently it was decrepit, but I wish I'd gotten to see it first, it sounds so cool!

In the kitchen downstairs, there was this skinny closet door that opened up to let down a wooden "breakfast nook" table. It was so very charming. Another of my favorite aspects of the house were the very tall ceilings. The few things I didn't like about the house were the teeny tiny Jack and Jill bathroom (with no storage and no ventilation) and that the kitchen was so separate from the living room.

It never looked as good as it does in these pictures while we lived there - I spruced it up for the camera and sent the children out of the house. The walls were plaster (hated that) which made hanging anything on them an ordeal beyond my DIY skills, so they are sadly lacking of picture frames.

For everyone who never got to visit while we lived there, here's a little tour.

When you walked in the front door, this was the view. To the left of the desk is the kitchen door, the door in the back led to our bedroom. I bought the antique white desk for $80 out of the money I made working as a graphic design intern at Hardy Diagnostics - my first real job. The shelf-lamp is shoddily covered in some Japanese-character printed paper from the San Francisco Japan Center that we got on our honeymoon. The cowhide rug is from Ikea, and the couch as pictured here is two end pieces of a vintage sectional that I bought off of Central Coast Exchange.


This is more or less the same section of living room, but viewed from the kitchen doorway. From here, you can see the doorway into Ishmael's room and part of our grey accent wall. The original doors had been taken out, but the door jams were still pretty solid.


Here's our study area behind the couch. The glass desk never looked that clean in real life - it was just a place for my "piles" as Jonas calls them (papers, projects in the works) and I did my actual studying in bed. I like that little laptop desk though, it's from Ikea. Jonas actually did use his drafting desk to draw. The neon chair was one of my half-finished projects. You can see that I colored coded our books, which was pretty, fun, and surprisingly easy to navigate. My "inspiration board" is made from string pulled across a large embroidery hoop.


From behind the couch, facing the front door, you can see the mid section of our couch, which fit nicely in the curved window bay. We rolled the blinds all the way up and I nailed those Ikea curtains to the window frame because I didn't want to hang curtain rods. I liked my little basket of "show quilts" (blankets too pretty to use) next to the couch, but it was generally used to hold the curtain back or Ishmael would sit in or and/or dump everything out of it. The antique desk was Jonas' gaming station. You can also see partway into the dining area in this picture.


The original fireplace in this house was taken out, but I wanted a mantel so bad, so my friend Jessa found this white "mantel" for me at a thrift store. I really liked fresh flowers and artwork up there. It was also a handy spot to store living room toys, and before Ishmael was mobile, I styled all those little shelves too. You can see in this picture how our front door didn't seal very well, which allowed a bunch of dust from our unpaved driveway to constantly drift in.


Below are a few of my favorite details from the living room and Ishmael's room - original hardware on Ishmael's closet door, the pulls from the antique desk, and the gold animals from our wedding parading across the doorway into Ishmael's room.


Next is the dining room/kitchen. I'm so bummed I didn't get better pictures of it because it was one of my favorite spaces in the house. It was also the hardest to pack though, so by the time I got to packing it, I was out of time to get it looking perfect and take pictures. I didn't take pictures of the laundry room (which never really looked great) either. Here's the view from above our kitchen table, pulled from a blog post about painting that table. The lower left hand corner of the photo points toward where the doorway into the living room is. Then there's a window in the upper left corner, the grey door to the laundry room, and the rest of the kitchen is to the right of this photo. Our dining room chairs were a wedding gift from my in laws from World Market.


I spent so much time in this kitchen. I actually wasn't a big fan of the remodel or layout, but there are still a lot of great memories here. I bought that Dio De Los Muertos paper garland to make that huge space above the stove - which used to be more cabinets - look less bare. From there, the whole kitchen took on a bit of a Mexican flare, which I loved. People were always asking me about all the bunches of chilies and other stuff hanging up and drying, and I loved that little burro pinata, too. Those alcoves built into the walls were amazing - the one shown here had lotus pods from my wedding bouquet in it, as well as a Turkish tile trivet. The China cabinet was something I had before I got married and one of the few pieces of furniture I cart with me everywhere I go. It was so nice to have a dishwasher in this apartment, even though it didn't work all that well.


This picture was taken right before Ishmael fell off the counter and hit his head - one of the scariest parenting trials so far. The boys were dancing up there after seeing me hop up to take a picture. Oops. :( The left window and doorway were shared with the laundry room (which was mostly windows and a door leading out the side of the house) and the right window looked into the side yard.


Now for our bedroom. I loved having those moody curtains up, but they did throw off the light, so these photos are on the red side. If you were to walk through the door in the living room that was to the left of our desks, this is where you'd be standing. Jonas bought me the Indian wall hangings as a gift when I had Ishmael. Our bed and bedspread, rug, and bookshelf are all from Ikea. The dresser is probably vintage, another thing that I lug around with me when I move, but it needs to be refinished. The mirror leaning against the window at my "vanity table" takes the cake for moving around with me, though. It's this beautiful speckled glass mirror that I found in a junk yard in China when I was probably 12, and I've been packing it around ever since. I also end up painting at least one wall blue in almost every place I live.


Again, this is pretty much the same part of the room, but you can see the door to the bathroom and the other bookcase (the bottom part became Ishmael's fort on most days). You can see our collection of Chinese love knots (the red tassels) hanging up too. To the right of the bookcase was our closet door. The window pictured here looked out on to a fence that we shared with a bank parking lot, and the window to the left (in the photo above) looked into the side yard.


Finally for the bedroom, here's the view from the foot of our bed. I think this wall was sorely lacking in decor, but I wasn't facing it all that often. I build a bed canopy out of PVC pipes which was totally what the room needed, but the dimensions weren't quite right, and I never got around to fixing it and putting it back up. The ceilings were too high for me to hang stuff from by myself, and I inevitably got around to decorating when I was home alone. My bedside table NEVER looked that good in every day life. The door pictured led into the living room.


Some extra details from our bedroom: The second shelf on the bookcase was our "love shrine", which was memorabilia from our relationship. I try and make something like it wherever we go. On top of the dresser was our framed wedding vows, which worked well to hold necklaces, too. And you can see this in the other photos, but I kept my fancier shoes under the dresser, an open invitation for Ishmael to kick them over or play dress up.


Standing in our bedroom, this was the view of the bathroom. More blue walls, and toilet to the left of the window (which looked out on the bank fence). The door you can see leads to Ishmael's room.


Pretty much the only other thing in the bathroom was the bath tub - I took my time in finding a shower curtain I really liked, but finally hit upon this one from Urban Outfitters. Why are shower curtains so expensive?!


Last but not least, is Ishmael's room. This is what you would see if you came in the door attached to the living room. The door at the back of the room led to the bathroom. I loved the green ceiling in here (the color was called "chopped chives", though I was going for a jungle theme) and the sun lamp from Ikea was cool, except that it made everything in the room look yellower, which I was not a fan of. The larger rice hat on the wall was one I picked up on a missions trip in southern China.


Ishmael slept in the vintage blue crib before he moved into the toddler bed, and Ira wasn't old enough to be in the crib before we moved away. We kept most of our jackets in this closet since Ishmael's hung clothes didn't take up much room, and it was one of the only storage spaces in the house (compared to upstairs, which was nothing but storage space!). The "trust" banner was another souvenir from southern China, and finally, the angled door led back into the living room. 


Pretty sweet digs, right? When we left, I felt so sad and worried that I'd never find another place as charming as this one, but I started noticing how many old homes still exist in different pockets of cities I visit, and that made me feel a little bit better. God knows how we'll ever afford to live in an old home in a decent neighborhood, but I'm just not going to worry about it for now. Some of my favorite things or memories about our home was cooking with Jonas and having friends over (eating with my gold-tone flatware from ebay, of course! ;)), my collection of indoor tropical pants, the difference hanging curtains made, the community grapefruit tree, buying a vintage couch I loved (even if I paid more than I should have, gulp!), our love shrine, the palm trees in the bank parking lot that brushed up against our windows and made it look a little bit like we lived in paradise, the vine-engulfed wall in front of our house that made that view less ghetto, fresh cut flowers from the wild plants in our "cul de sac" or from farmer's market runs, having "big girl soap" (foaming, nice smelling) at the sinks, and planting a thriving garden in the side yard next to the mini koi pond that Jonas built. And of course, I can't forget Ishmael learning to walk up and down the front porch steps and all of the other milestones in this house.

We will miss you, 415 S. Broadway, Apt. C!
Thanks for taking the tour. :)
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