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.

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. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Look With Your Eyes: Makoto Fujimura

Things have been quiet on the blog lately, if you haven't noticed. I go through phases of feeling that there's a lot I want to say and share, and then phases where I have 113 post drafts, but don't feel inspired to finish any of them. More basically than that, I've been barely hanging on trying to manage my school-load on top of the rest of my life. I just finished my class though, so hopefully I can get back into the blogging saddle for a bit. I actually started this art series as easy filler posts between posts that take me longer to compose, and yet I still don't get these out very much. Anyway, here's one for you, and hopefully I get to share more often in November!

My friend Kevin saw an old painting of mine that I instagrammed recently and then suggested I ;ook up this artist, Makoto Fujimura. I like his style a lot (so much gold!) and he even has a series based around the greek word "charis", which is the root of my name! I'd love to get back to making abstract paintings.

His work reminds me of a painting I saw in a textbook once, but for the life of me, I can not track down the name of the painting or the artist! All I remember was that it was a large scale painting (my favorite) that was entirely blue. Sometimes I'm tempted to think, "I could paint that" of that type of work, but the thing I loved about this particular blue painting was the artist's explanation of its meaning. He said it was a representation of God's robes, His glory filling the temple, which was so profound to me. I got this image of incredible blue, flowing robes, and the "frame" of the painting (as in, the "frame" of a photo, not a wooden picture frame) was the robe billowing over your field of vision for a moment, so immense it filled everything. I'm so taken by those moments in which I can visualize an aspect of God that I've never imagined before.

It's funny to look back on the progression of my artistic taste. I had a Russian Ballet coloring book when I was 10 or so, and I insisted on coloring the costumes in no more than 2 colors on the entire page, and they had to be analogous colors. I also had no appreciation for abstract art or modern art. Nowadays, there's no such thing as too many colors on one canvas for me, and abstract art is my favorite, especially when it plays with texture as well.

How have your preferences in art changed since you were younger?
Have you ever seen an abstract painting that made you feel something powerful? 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chamoy Granola

Breakfast is the hardest meal for me to get behind because I'm not a fan of most breakfast staples, such as eggs, cereal, most yogurt, milk, wet bread, oatmeal, etc. When I add my no-dairy diet on top of that, most of the things I can tolerate for breakfast are out too! No cheese on anything, no butter (though I break that rule), no coffee with creamer, no baked goods with butter or dairy (I brake that one too). So what's a girl to eat? Granola with coconut milk, that's what.

I only call this chamoy granola because chilied mango is an unusual ingredient to add to granola, but it's optional. I like the interest that a bit of chili adds to my breakfast, but regular sweet dried mango is delicious too. I like Trader Joe's bagged fruits and nuts - any combination of the items in that section would be great in this recipe.

I hope you enjoy it!

Time: ~1h 10m

What You'll Need:
Dry Ingredients -
5 cups of rolled oats
5 cups dried fruits and nuts of your choosing, chopped. For this batch, I used coconut strips, sweet shredded coconut, dried cranberries, chili (chamoy) mango, pecans, and cashews
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients -
2 egg whites
3 ripe bananas
8 tbsp of honey, maple syrup, or a combination of the two
6 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Mix dry ingredients in a LARGE mixing bowl. (Here's a visual of the dried
chili mango!)

3. Lightly whisk egg whites and set aside.

4. Mix remainder of wet ingredients together, mashing bananas into a paste with the back of a fork.

5. Pour egg whites into wet ingredients, and then add to dry ingredients, mixing gently. It will be kind of "glistening", but not particularly clumpy.

6. Divide between two cookie sheets and bake for 40 minutes (or until golden brown), turning with a wooden spoon at least once.

Friday, October 10, 2014

September 2014

Oh September, you really dragged me through the dirt. It felt like there were a lot of days where I just wanted that day to be over whether it was because Ishmael was being extra testy or we were in the middle of moving. But I think we're coming out on the other side finally, thus my late month-end post.

Heard: I am loving Jessie Ware. I hope the few singles she's released recently mean a new album is on the way. I love that background echo-y(?) guitar.

Read: A great list of business-growing tactics for introverts. I'm in the middle of like 10 actual books (and have been for a long time...), so one of these days I'll have an real book to report on.

Watched: I'm really enjoying the show, "The Mind of a Chef" (PBS) on Netflix. It's been following David Chang of Momofuku as he learns about different fermented foods, introduces people to the many types of ramen, and shares his recipes for gnocchi made from instant ramen (!) and the ssam burrito, which I started making at home and love! I really love how willing to learn Chang is, and in turn how innovative he is. He doesn't have a big head from being such a successful chef. // I also started watching the new show "Forever" with my welsh-crush Ioan Gruffed starring, but it remains to be seen whether it's actually a good show.

Tasted: Other the ssam burrito, I think the only thing of note that I made was this gumbo and my sister-in-law Gina's pasta salad, but you're gonna have to wait for my someday-cookbook for that recipe. ;)

Clouds from space; doesn't get prettier than this.

A subscription goodie box for your period! What a lovely idea.

In other awesome girl news, Rejected Princesses - badass ladies from history who are too edgy to be Disney-famous. Both Boudica and Hypatia were recently featured. If you don't know who those ladies are, educate yourself!

Introverted cat lady forever. Check it. (p.s. I want this bag)

I'm rooting for my beloved HK these days. These are some beautiful vintage photos from my favorite city.


  • My first neice, Bree, was born on the 18th! Love, love, love. 
  • I  took Ira to a Dr.s appointment in LA to get his hernia checked out. Turns out he probably doesn't have one (yah!) so I got to enjoy some time with sister Annelise in LA. We meandered through a Korean market, laughed our butts off about funny habits our fiancee/husbands have, and all around had a great time. Every time I'm in LA, I fall a little more in love. 

Boys: Ishmael got to go to Disneyland with our friends the Youngbloods, and loved it (yah!)! He knows a ton of words (new ones every day) and even asks "what's this" for the ones he doesn't know. He says "go!" when he wants you to get out of his space, but is generally very, very polite. He loves to play "ping pong" with any ball and any two remotely oblong objects (plastic banana, anyone? Or plastic horseshoe, perhaps?) and drums on everything. He spent a lot of time this month testing all boundaries and throwing tantrums (I'm sure the craziness of us moving hasn't helped his little world), but generally he knows who's boss and does a good job listening. // Ira has no hernia (hooray!), says "goo" and smiles his little dimples off any time someone gets close to his face. He's sleeping through the night more often than not now, and half the time cries bitterly when you put him down after holding him. // Links: 1. Definitely feeling some hive-pride about this hilarious tumblr started by a woman in a mom FB group I'm a part of. 2. A beautiful poem about motherhood by Billy Collins. 3. Major cryfest over these pictures of births. 4. I liked these guidelines for talking about sex with your kids. Number 3 seemed particularly novel - don't encourage daughters to hide their crushes or feel ashamed of what is natural by all the "daddy with a shotgun" talk. 5. A great reminder that American parenting isn't as effortless as French parenting can appear to be. Can you believe that the U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that doesn't guarantee some kind of maternity leave?! That puts us on par with Swaziland, for God's sake (no offense, Swaziland). I expect this to change ASAP, and I hope I get to be a part of it.

Loved: Brunch with my best friend and a thoughtful gift for Ira from another friend at church. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fall-Hating, 5th Ed.

Unfortunately, it is now officially Fall. I don't think anyone who reads this blog or knows me is unaware of my disdain for kale, pumpkin spice, or the season of Fall. This is my 5th annual post about fall-hatred, and this year I'm back to highlighting the few (or simply alternative) things I can muster appreciation for in this foul time of year. I know you've all been waiting with baited breath, so let's do this thing...

But wait. First, I must get a little bit of hatin' off my chest. I found this deplorable "fall bucket list", which only reminded me more of why I hate fall. Even the color scheme is yucky, yucky, yucky. Besides "drink fancy coffee" and "go on two dates" (let's be real here, those things have nothing to do with fall) and perhaps "apple picking" (because: food), everything on this list could be replaced with "slit your wrists" in my book.

Here are some less wrist-slitty things though.

I'm so proud of myself for liking these things. I can only explain my draw to the first image being some combo of old-world and gold. As for the second, nuts and berries are a level of fall that I can handle. {images: 1, 2}

As for these, again, food. But I actually think these are both thoughtful fall color pallets. Don't you agree? And don't they feel so much more fresh and alive than "the Starbucks pallet"? {images: 1, 2}

I'm not in to flower crowns or knits either (humbug!) but I manage to find this first image charming. I think it's the colors. And I do really like flowers. Also, I love me a statement coat, especially in my favorite color. If you're smitten for this color like I am, check out this beautiful lip stain. {images: 1, 2} P.S. In our ongoing pillow-talk questions game, Jonas recently asked me "if you could be the patron saint of anything, what would it be"? One of my answers was the patron saint of black pointy-toe heels. Swoon.

If I'm being honest, one of the things I like least about Fall is the mass hysteria over it. I feel like everyone falls (no pun intended) for what I call "the Starbucks pallet" or cozy warm colors and hot chocolate and pumpkin raviolis and apple pie. Not that those things aren't wonderful - it's just that for some reason, this season in particular seems to be represented by a very narrow set of images and the lack of creativity in it all makes me insane.

One craft I saw in Martha Stewart magazine that I did think was adorable are these candy corn on the cobs. My mom used to make popcorn-candy cakes for our birthdays - they're so delicious because it's slightly salty, the perfect amount of chewy, and you can customize what candy you want in it. I never thought to shape them into corn cobs and wrap them in brown paper though, which is probably why I'm not a millionaire yet.

I would slink off in a bad mood to hibernate until December 1st, but the thing is, California doesn't even have a Fall season! Which is awesome for me. And yet... people (ahem, women of facebook) feel the urge to remind everyone that it's fall somewhere in the world. L.A., I'll always love you. So far, global warming is working in my favor making California a bit warmer, but I might have to break up with it (global warming, that is) if it every brings real fall to L.A.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Two's A Lot of Company

You know how motivational speakers are always bagging on people for answer inauthentically to the question, "how are you?". Granted, it is kind of lame when people say, "fine", because we all know that usually means "not fine", but seriously, most of us are not up for spilling our emotional guts to every person who asks, "how are you", which happens to be most people you run in to. My go-to answer to that question, in an effort to sound like I'm really responding to the question, but without burdening the person with my real problems is "tired". It's almost always true in one sense, and it's a totally acceptable mom answer. I just may not divulge that "tired" might mean "I'm really, really damn tired of trying to make my toddler eat one bite of regular food" or "I'm tired of being stressed out by working three jobs and still not making enough money to pay my bills" or sometimes just "so physically tired that my eyesockets curse the day they were incorporated into my body. They're so sore from tiredness".

But recently, "tired" isn't even cutting it. Now, I respond with a peppy (inwardly rueful), "surviving"! And that sounds like a generous statement sometimes. Some days, parenting makes the fact that there's still air circulating in your lungs at the end of the day a miracle. It's one of those "I laugh, only to keep from crying" things. Another new favorite response is, "taking it one day at a time," delivered as if that's the most delightful state a person could wish to be in. People usually smile and nod, and back away slowly. I don't blame them, I smell like fermented milk.

The kicker is that both my boys are great kids. It's just that there's two of them.
If one of them is even remotely troublesome, things get cray, 'cause you have to deal with the one, yet there's another one, just waiting in the wings to start crying or choking or sticking their fingers in electric sockets since you clearly don't love them if you're not staring them straight in the eyes.

I've always thought it was sad, maybe even a little lame, when parents act as if two kids is all they can handle and decide not to have more. Ha. Ha. Ha. I'm on my way to do penance at the alter of what-an-ignorant-person-I-was-and-I-owe-all-parents-a-sincere-apology-if-I-ever-made-them-feel-like-they-should-suck-it-up-and-have-more-kids.

I know it's too early to make this decision, but I'm feeling some "all done" vibes. Yet I know that this time will pass and I'll forget how grueling it is, and decide I want more kids, and the whole thing will repeat itself. God was real tricky by making "mom brain" a real thing after you have kids - I think it's a coping mechanism/conspiracy so that we keep the human race alive. If I weren't considerably more scatterbrained and forgetful than I used to be, maybe I would remember the hard moments more vividly and decide that having 4 children (if we decide to try that) will probably kill me. The author of this article in Slate recalls talking to a friend about how difficult her four-month-old was, and the friend responded by telling her that when her child was really giving her a run for her money, she and her husband had a running joke about all the ways they could blow up their genitals so that this would never, ever happen again. Sometimes little kids are the best birth control.

I'm a part of this mom's group on Facebook that I love, not least because it reminds me every single day that other people are also spending a moment here and there ignoring their screaming children in an effort not to strangle themselves with the nearest swaddling wrap. I love the solidarity, but it also makes me wonder, how is it that so many of us are doing this, around the globe, when we all feel like crying and gnashing our teeth over it? I know the answer, but sometimes it's hard to feel it: ultimately, having kids is SO worth it. It just hurts real bad, sometimes.

Another cliche I always rolled my eyes at was that being a stay at home mom was a "real job." Well, I'm here to prostrate myself at the altar of I-used-to-be-a-real-idiot once again, because I'll be darned if being a stay at home mom isn't 30 times harder than any "real job" I've ever had. There is no escaping my maniacal little bosses, and you know that your lunch break is over when someone decides to vomit all over the floor.

I find myself wishing there were tranquilizer darts for children. Not to totally knock them out, because I immediately start missing them when they're not ripping my hair out, but maybe just to take things down a notch, you know? Two problems: totally illegal, and also, it would be so addictive. You'd start out saying, "wow this is most insane they've ever been, probably a good time to reel this in *thwak [that's the sound of a miniature arrow leaving the poison dart gun]", but pretty soon, you'd be telling yourself how every day was the craziest yet (just to get that peace and quiet that came from using the little darts), and you'd either run out of darts and have to readjust to all the crazy, or you'd be able to get some really quality sleep, and we just couldn't let parents be having that sort of thing. It's frightening when you realize that the only difference between you and the crazy people in prison is the grace of God and that last minuscule shred of self restraint that keeps you from acting upon the feelings of occasional rage and utter at-the-end-of-your-rope-ness.

I call this illustration, "LALALA, I can't hear the all-encompassing mayhem that is my life right now!"

I should be so good at this mom thing - my boys think each other are the best (hooray!), for now, and despite a rough first month, Ira has turned out to be a super chill baby. I'll be darned if he's not actually a HAPPY baby. So. much. smiling. (Adorbs). And Ishmael is doing great listening and is so darn tootin' cute and funny. It's just that his energy levels are through the roof. I probably say "no" 100 times a day, and that's when I'm in lazy mode about keeping his limbs from breaking. Just now, I didn't even tell him to stop licking the mirror and then rubbing his fingers in the residual slime. Oh, and now he's licking my feet. He's not even being bad most of the time, he's just being, you know... two years old. I somehow expect him to be this refined miniature adult who would enjoy sitting cross-legged next to me on the couch and sipping cocktails while reading the New Yorker. I don't really begrudge the fact that he'd rather straddle the back of the couch and ask me for juice no less than 72 times, I just don't know why it continues to make me feel inconvenienced. You think I'd be over feeling put out by the requests of my children (I mean, it's so selfish! But I'm being real here), but sometimes I just feel an urge to drink alcohol in the morning. Which must be a cultural reflex, because alcohol doesn't make me feel relaxed or dull to real life or anything like that. Maybe I just realize that it's something I can't share with children, and therefore it sounds like nirvana.

It's not that I don't adore my kids and think they're great. I think it's more that I don't feel like a great parent a lot of the time, and it's a drag to be daily reminded of how human and petty and impatient I am.

Another thing that's difficult about having two kids is that the guilt level goes up. I'm trying to keep them both (and the husband, and the house) in a tolerable state of existence, but I end up feeling like I can't give anything as much attention as it craves or deserves because I'm spread a wee bit thinner than before. If you're the parent of two or more, I think you will find this apology letter to the second child worth a read (it's funny and sweet at the same time). "Dearest second child, I'm sorry I don't know any facts about you..."

Sometimes it feels humiliating to be so defeated by such tiny people. Ishmael naps for about an hour in the mornings, and sometimes I spend that whole time calming down from the before-nap period. Most of you have probably heard me grumbling about how infancy is not my favorite stage. I feel kind of guilty, because Ishmael is at an age where I daily have a heart-crushing pang of love for how sweet and funny he is, and I want those moments to never end. I don't get those moments with babies (even the ones I enjoy, I'm okay when they're gone). Except when I feel the exact opposite. Now that Ira is all coos and big smiles, I want more of that and less of Ishmael's telling me he needs to use the toilet AFTER pooping in his pants. We almost made it the other day, but instead, a big ol' poop log landed on the floor in between the diaper and the toilet. And then I stepped in it.

If we don't have more kids, I know I'm going to regret not having more later down the road. But if we do have more kids, well then... we have more kids to deal with. The question becomes, have them all in close succession now and grit through the terrors of it (and probably be completely frazzled and unable to give any one of them enough attention) or wait until the first two are older and then start all over again when we have even less energy than we have now.

When I do open up and tell people how frustrated or exhausted I am with my lack of supermom skills, they say, "why don't you just ask for help?!" Girl, I AM! The other day, I got to the point where I was like, "okay, today, I need help with these kids, it's been a while since I've called in reinforcements." Then I realized it had only been two days since I'd had someone take at least one of them for a large part of the day. Come to think of it, I'm never completely alone with both of them from the moment we wake up to the moment they go to bed. If Jonas isn't home, 80% of the time a friend comes by for a few hours or we go visit the Grandparents, or the Grandparents take one or both kids for the afternoon (or even overnight, as the case was a few weeks ago when Jonas and I were both super sick!). I seriously have a village of support and STILL feel like I'm losing my mind 60% of the time of the 20% of time I spend alone with them. That makes me feel kind of pathetic, and makes me want to do this on my own a little bit more (but oh dear God, not really). Why is it that children always act way better around other people anyway, leading everyone to think you're complaining about parenting the two sweetest angels that were ever deposited on this planet? I'm not lying, people, sometimes they really get wild.

Well, I'm off to continue wrangling my two tiny mammals to the best of my ability. Ishmael just woke up from his nap, and I'll be darned if a little bit of good sleep doesn't cover a multitude of sins. Maybe Zen Mother of my dreams is only a few nights of good sleep away after all... 

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Where once a solitary sphere
Twisted through star-studded storms

There comes a foreign halo

Suddenly, irrevocably
Magnetized to my core

A softly dimpled, barren canvas

In orbit around its aqua emerald mama

You'll dance with me in revolving arcs

Until someday,

A shooting star will pull you out

to sea, to see 

And you'll soar away in the arms

Of a shimmering, glimmering captor

There, meteors will gravitate 

Into the rotation of your new home planet
Precious unidentified objects
Waiting to be known 

Written 4/3/13 & 9/18/14 {image: John Byam Liston Shaw for The Garden of Kama,1914}
I first started writing this when I was nursing Ishmael, and we were constantly tied to each other in a 2 to 3 hour radius. It's both beautiful and exhausting. Especially as the mother of sons, I know (rather, hope and pray) that someday they hear the siren call of the woman of their dreams, and each will leave my orbit as they are pulled in to hers forever (though I can't help qualifying this by saying they'll still always be mine in a sense!). And then they'll have their own children orbiting around them, and I can't wait... 

Fingerprint Words

This article is so interesting! I love it when I read about something that I didn't realize was a "thing" until I read about it, though I had realized it in my own life before, if not as concretely as it is explained here.

Like the author of the article did, I asked my husband what words I say all the time, and it took him less than a second to say, "essentially." Haha! Which is essentially true...
You should try it! Ask your significant other if there's any words that you over use, and let me know what they are, so we can all laugh at each other.

I know I have more than I can think of at the moment, but the other words that came to mind that I use a lot are "seriously" (I try so hard never to use "literally" incorrectly by the original definition) and "incidentally." I know my signature words shift, too, and I always get a kick out of imagining what I'll be unwittingly saying too much a year from now.

I would argue that families can have fingerprint words too. Probably because everyone lives in close proximity, or was heavily imprinted by the conversation in their houses growing up. It's not like we're unaware of this, but I've never heard anyone outside my family use the exclamation "Sam Hill!" Actually, pretty much just my mom says it now, but at one point, more of us were prone to saying it. It's from a scene in To Kill A Mockingbird where Scout is indignant about how much syrup is poured on a stack of pancakes, and she says, "what in sam hill are you doing?!" Does your family have any signature phrases? Made-up stuff doesn't count.

I think it's pretty interesting what the Slate article had to say about adopting other people's words too. We have this friend Jaren who used to say "dog" all the time, as in, "dog, that is so cool!" (kind of like "dude", I guess?). We use to make good-natured fun of him for it all the time, but at some point, I internalized it from saying it so much in jest, and now it's a signature exclamation of mine that people comment on. I don't know if Jaren even uses it anymore.

The same thing happens when I'm engrossed in a book or TV series - I find myself adopting the tone of the writing, and sometimes it totally (that's another word I use all the time, ahhh!) irritates (that one too) me to realize that I'm doing it, but not be able to stop it.

Although not quite the same, most of you will also appreciate that I realize how often I start a sentence with, "I once heard a podcast about...". Right?!

In an entirely different sense of the fingerprint words, how crazy is this condition called dermatographia? The caption to this photo says, "I have dermatographia, a condition in which one’s immune system releases excessive amounts of histamine, causing capillaries to dilate and welts to appear (lasting about thirty minutes) when the hypersensitive skin’s surface is lightly scratched. This allows me to painlessly draw on my skin with just enough time to photograph the results." Kind of scary, kind of totally (there it is again!!!) awesome. 

Do you have a fingerprint word, or words? Please do share! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Brand Matters

After a somewhat trying evening of raising my tiny mammals - one tearing around the house dancing on every possible surface, the other crying inconsolably unless you hold him on your knee and look him directly in the face AT ALL TIMES - I was looking forward to getting on to my laptop to veg out, accompanied by some microwaved popcorn. I'm that classy. 

I certainly didn't grow up with microwave popcorn, but my husband recently introduced me to it, and it's kind of delicious. We quickly ate all the bags he'd bought, so I bought another box when I went grocery shopping, but got the store brand instead of the nicer brand because - duh - it's cheaper. And it's not like microwave popcorn is some gourmet treat that requires expert crafting. Or so I thought... 

The off brand microwave popcorn I bought is SO salty that the corners of my mouth hurt after having eaten the whole bag (I couldn't let it go to waste....). It doesn't have that little bit of sweetness that the nicer brand has, which makes all the difference. Anyway, lesson learned - brand matters when it comes to microwave popcorn! Most of the time, I head straight for the cheapest version of what I need, but there a few things that I get picky about. Here's my list! 

Handwashing soap - I'm not the biggest fan of Bath and Body Works in general, but I must have their foaming hand soaps in my bathroom. I love the way the scent really lingers on your hand, and the foam soaps last so much longer than regular liquid soap, and don't get slimy like bar soap. They're cheap too! B&BW has a sale about every other day, and you can usually snap a bottle of soap for $3, which lasts almost a year in our house (I'm the only one who uses soap, apparently). 

Shampoo and Conditioner - I never used to believe all those commercials about what such-and-such a product did for your hair or how some women swear by one particular brand. But at some point, I switched from Herbal Essence shampoos to Pantene, the ones that come in enormous pump bottles from Costco. I really like the smell and my hair was noticeably silkier after using it. Bonus points that my husband likes it too, so we can share our hair product and keep the bath less cluttered. 

Yogurt - I am very picky about my yogurt. I don't like it lumpy, I don't like it watery, I don't like it tart. What I do like is Yoplait - it's irresistibly smooth and sweet. I also love the brand El Mexicano, which is a line of drinkable yogurts. Those are the only two I will eat, unless it's plain yogurt for cooking with, in which case I go with the cheapest option. 

Diapers - Those Luvs commercials are kind of funny, but they also make me a little bit mad because I think Luvs is the worst brand I have ever used. I can't remember what I didn't like about them, I've blocked it from memory. Instead, I use Parent's Choice from Walmart, which are the cheapest available diapers that I know of, but they happen to be better than Luvs, in my opinion. I did notice that a box of Target diapers I got as a gift worked better than Parent's Choice, but in general, I'm perfectly happy with Parent's Choice. 

Gum - This is a matter of preference, but my favorite gum is Eclipse Polar Ice. I love the icy spicyness of it. It makes your mouth feel truly cold for a bit. (and pink grapefruit tic tacs, none can compare!)

Sippy Cups - Most of them are bogus, and leak everywhere. But not these ones. I'm indebted to their inventor forever.

Toothpaste - Again, matter of taste, but I finally found one I really like, and Jonas likes it too, so it's here to stay. Crest Regular Paste, opaque light blue paste with some sort of minty flavor. It may mean I'm becoming set in my ways, but you know you're making it when you settle on the perfect toothpaste in life.  

Mascara - I imagine there's something fancier and nicer than what I use, but for now, I always get Maybelline Volum' Express The Falsies in blackest black, not waterproof. The waterproof works well, but a little too well for someone who doesn't take their make up off other than by showering (so then I end up with constantly stiff eyelashes that tend to break off more when I rub my eyes). A new bottle can go on a bit wet, so I try not to sneeze or blink too much, but it soon thickens to a nice consistency to apply, and it makes a noticeable difference on my eyelashes. 

Liquid Eyeliner - Kat Von D's Ink Liner (black) all the way! You ladies know there are a million ways to do a cat eye, and none of them are easy (for me, at least). I like this brand because it is liquid, which gives the line a sharper look, but the tip is a very firm brush (not felt and not an easily flexable brush). My one complaint is that if you make a mistake and try and go back over the line once it has dried, the new coat will remove the first layer and you have to start all over. It also needs to be reapplied every few hours, though I am not one to avoid touching my eyes when I have make-up on. 

Cake Mix - Most of them are decent, but Duncan Heinz (especially the Devil's Food Cake) can't be beat. I don't know why, because it's been too long since I tried any other brand. However, I do know that DH mixes are dairy free, which is doubly awesome if you have to be off lactose when you're nursing or for some other reason. 

Dishwasher soap and toilet paper - I don't have a favorite brand for either item, but I steer clear of the cheapest option; you may as well hand wash all your dishes and wipe your bum with tissue paper. 

Perfume - I don't know if it's the actual quality of Escada, or just the way it chemically reacts with my skin, but most of their perfumes stick to me and remain fragrant (and revitalized when exposed to heat) significantly longer than any other perfume I've ever used. You know what I'm talking about if you've found your signature scent. 

Swaddling blankets - You can not beat the softness, flexibility, and size of Aiden and Anais blankets. They're almost a cheesecloth fabric, which makes them breath well and double as nursing cover ups and car seat drapes. They're finally coming out with cuter patterns too. 

As I get older, I end up with more opportunities to try truly nice things, even if they're hand me downs. Sometimes it's truly amazing to see how much better the best quality products are, especially when it comes to clothing, shoes, and make-up (thus far in my experience). I can't afford to buy the best of everything right now, nor is it a priority of mine to save up for them at this point, but I now know that if I someday have the means to buy great quality products, there are some things that really are worth what you pay for them. 

What products do you buy a very specific brand of, and why? 

And P.S., the better brand of microwave popcorn is Act II, in case you were wondering. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

August 2014

So much amazing stuff happened this month, but it's also been a hard month as we adjust to life with an infant again, gear up for returning to school and work, and start packing for a move. This month has flown by, and yet I'm still looking forward to a time when I'm not exhausted or trying to hold tears of frustration in. It's kind of a cruel dichotomy to not love the challenges of having an infant, yet know that once this time is gone, I will miss the good parts and never be able to relive them. // I have so many links to share this month, I'm going to add them to the end of each category instead of all in one category.

Heard: Crushing hard on Paul Simon's rendition of "Surfer Girl", perfect for the end of summer. Also loving Imogen Heap's new album (duh), particularly "Entanglement" and "Telemiscommunications" (previously released).

Tasted: Not as much as I wanted due to my dairy-free diet. SAD FACE. But there were still good times - we tried Raku Ramen in SLO which was worth going back to, especially for the curry gyoza. We had a mediocre brunch at Marisol at the Cliffs (though I always thing their salmon is great) and I decided I'd rather just have orange juice than a mimosa, haha. We also had decent (if overpriced) sandwiches at Woodstone Marketplace in Avila, which we didn't even know existed previously - they had some fun cheeses and ice creams that I wanted to try. We got to have dinner with the Gees twice this month, including an amazing spread that Michelle made for my birthday. // How to pick a watermelon by smell. // Finally, the internet is working on helping restaurants and stores waste less food, and dumpster divers take fewer showers. // Kale sucks. "Kale tastes like scorned exes feel and ya'll be making green smoothies with it. NO MA’AMS AND SIRS! Keep your radioactive juice. I’m on to you."

I missed Burning Man once again, and these photos are only making me want to go more.

The Phantom of the Opera is only partly fictional, say whaaat?!

16 of the world's most beautiful trees, which is your favorite?

Beautiful remains of "old Shanghai".

Psychedelic planetary soap bubbles.

And this cool website let's you choose which stores you like and then emails you promo codes for them. The only one I tried so far (Forever 21) didn't work (I tried in store and the coupon was for online), but the site and concept seem legit and I'm willing to try a few more times.

Experienced: SO MUCH went down this month.
  • I got to attend the wedding of my sweet friend Amber, which I'm so grateful for. Wishing her and her new husband John many years of joy and growth together. 
  • On the same day, my sister Annelise got engaged to my future-brother Andrew, and I couldn't be happier for them. I'm really excited for their life together, and that I get to be in on the wedding planning. 
  • Two days later, I had my second son, no big deal. He's a very smiley baby, which is so sweet. 
  • My mama threw me a baby shower with many of my dear gal-pals in attendance, a boba tea bar, and a private sushi chef (who taught me some skills) - I loved it! 
  • My husband started back to school after 3 years off, to finish his AA in art so he can move on to finishing his BA. Very, very proud of him! 
  • I got to celebrate with my friend Bri at her lemon-themed bridal shower, can't wait for her wedding in October! 
  • My youngest brother Jonathan moved away to San Diego to start his studies in Kinesiology at SD State. Proud of him, but we really miss him around here. 
  • And last but not least, I turned 23 years old. And drank some booze, CAUSE I'M FINALLY NOT PREGNANT! 
Boys: Ishmael got his first big-boy haircut, and manages to be even cuter (and less annoying?!?) than before. He's figured out how to unscrew lids and lock doors (oh my stars...) and likes to give "squeezies", which are extra tight hugs. He loves to play catch, especially if he can do it laying on his back in bed. His vocabularly continues to sky rocket, but I've noticed that his articulation is quite sloppy recently. Hopefully just a phase... // Ira was born, so that's good! Many of my recent posts have been about him, so I'll sum things up here by saying I still feel like I barely know him, but he's generally a good (often smiley!) baby, though he seems to have a sensitive tummy which makes him grunt a lot, and I'm attempting not to eat dairy to keep him from vomiting so much. He's a sweet little guy, and my biggest challenge, really, is just adjusting to having 2 kids instead of 1. // I love this day-in-life in pictures of an actress I like, Jemima Kirke, especially her thoughts on not being part of a mommy group (cause it's how I feel too!). // I also like this mom's ideas on not patrolling her kids' activity online, though I imagine it will be really hard for me (extra points for her blog name)! // The Huffington Post collects their favorite tweets from parents each week, some of which are pure gold. One of my favorites, "I'm such a badass dad that I just glare at the crust on bread and it comes off by itself and gets in the trash."

Loved: Fresh flowers, summer fruits, the worship at church recently, and summer . Summer, you are my favorite, and I'll be missing you until next year. 
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