Monday, February 8, 2016

Stuck ON


Yes. I realize I'm a little bit late to the game here. I remember countless Serial references popping up all over Instagram for the better part of last summer but was slow to investigate what it was everyone was actually so entranced by. I suppose I heard the jest of the podcast involved scorned teen lovers and an "unsolved" murder. Right off the bat, not what I would consider my cup of tea. But then again I said pretty much the same thing when a good friend of mine described the basis of Friday Night Lights being centered around high school football stars in a small town with no one I had ever heard of in cast. Ridiculous seeing now how much I came to love and praise that show. I mean I really really loved hard on that show.

Then last week while boredom crept into the long Tuesday hour where I wait alone in a parking lot for my boys to finish up their music lessons I discovered: lo and behold, the podcast option on my phone! Where I was shocked to find that Serial (and so many others) had been there at my fingertips all along. So I plugged in, settled into the first episode of season one, grateful for a new way of distraction that didn't involve any scrolling on my phone, and became instantly hooked. Mainly by the narration of the case. For me Sarah Koenig IS the show. Her tone, pacing, style, personality, brains, and wit carry us along and make us care because she herself seems so clearly conflicted by it. Plus, she's funny. And quickly likable. I have to say, even with all the hype "Making of a Murderer" is getting (I delved into both at the same time) I and was way more into Serial because of Sarah serving as narrator behind it.

In the end I swept through 12 episodes in seven days. Listening as I folded laundry, washed dishes, prepared dinner, and scrubbed the tub. I tuned in while stuck in traffic, and at the end of a long night mid week during the rainstorm where I stayed up far too long in desperate attempt to wrap up the series and find some kind of conclusion I could rest my head on. Because I wanted answers. I needed answers. But like any Serial fans comes to find, it isn't a gift you can ever fully count on. Slowly I'm still coming to terms with that. Though catching wind of the trial being reopened and picking up with Koenig again on call for the recaps, certainly helps ease pain.

Later, through text convos with my friend Lauren (whom I can always count on for things such as this) where I was already mourning the end of the series that had become the highlight of my late night hours, she informed me that there were in fact so many others I could love just the same. A topic she so kindly offered up to share on a post over on The Ma Books today - which turned out a fabulous guide to lean on. Especially for us newbies. So head over, check it out and let us know what you think and what you're listening to.

And if you haven't yet already, get yourself through Serial, let me know where you stand and if you're not left wishing you could share dinner and a glass of wine with Sarah K too.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lunch Lady Magazine

"I feel  like, since I became a parent, my flaws, shortcomings and weaknesses are laid out in front of me pretty much every day." - work / life / balance 

"There's an old wives tale that the first born always look like their dad to stop the father from fleeing from the house in horror shortly after the babies arrive." - Parent Opinion Piece 2

"There's one way to get kids to eat stuff that's good for them: make it resemble a burger and fry it." - Tips on snack tricks

"Minimalism isn't about getting rid of all your stuff and living with barely anything... minimalism is really a conversation about what's important." - Conversation about minimalism with father of six Leo Babauta

"Seeing your children grow up is the best part. I've always thought from the start that good parenting involves a huge amount of letting go." - work / life / balance 

The above blurbs I randomly pulled from the first Volume of Hello Lunch Lady Magazine the new labor of love from the creators of Frankie Magazine, which I was kindly sent a couple months back then mindlessly stuffed inside of a rarely used leather tote hanging in my closet hoping to read on a car trip we never ended up taking. But then stumbled across it yesterday while searching for another lost token (seemingly a daily routine for me these days) and was instantly enchanted again by it's bold, artful appearance.

So I spent much of this bright Sunday morning today in bed soaking up a quiet house and reading through it thoroughly, front to back, and can honestly say it reads like a singing gem. Aesthetically speaking the kind of zine I live for. Chalk full of grainy home-based family photos, scattered with quirky curated art shots, food pics, kid drawings, picnic stuff! convos on parenting struggles, ect. Cute, unique, humble, and real. Lunch Lady is the kind of space that feels really good to fall into. Crammed with articles that revolve mainly around exciting recipes and cool tips to help incorporate healthful eating habits in the home and in school lunches - which is where the basis of this mag was born when the creator saw her 9 year old daughter being bullied for having off kilter lunch box creations she was preparing for her. But also touches on the aspects of motherhood I always find most appealing when reading up on the matter in general: maintaining creativity in light of having kids. Everyday stories from everyday folks, honest admissions. In other words: real life talk about how damn hard it is at times to keep everything together and feel good about the things we're creating and the children that we're raising.

For instance one essay opens up the topic of having four kids with the question of "Why the hell would anyone want four kids?" Which gave me a good laugh. And another father writes about his issue with embracing a kid that didn't resemble him AT ALL and the reality of feeling such discord as a result of something so superficial. Which I really loved. And then there's an interview with Erika Olsen Gross, founder of Mini Pomme where the topic of creativity being comprised as mother trying to remain "fully present with your children when you are feeling creative" is raised, which she explains: "I struggled with this much more when I was painting. I didn't mind the pressure of trying to make my best work under the galleries or museum before I had kids; in actuality I thrived on that stress. But once I had kids it just wasn't sustainable for me. Also, my studio was in my house, and it was always a challenge to keep little fingers off my crisp white paper. Now I have a little studio attached to my garage. My kids visit me and even work with me sometimes, but they know it's ultimately my space. I have also come to realize that my kids don't need my constant attention. Also, I'm not a very happy person when I don't have time to be creative, so for every one's sake its good for me to take time to do my work."

I could go on, detailing every nook and cranny I fell in love with reading through it - and man would I love to if I had the time. But fact is my sunny morning bed lounging widow-frame is steadily shrinking by the minute. On top of a mess of laundry I've still got to sort through, and walls to repaint, I just caught news of a spontaneous Super Bowl party I hope to make it to in time to enjoy the only two things I really care about on such an occasion: hot wings and Beyonce at half time.

So please, take my word and buy the magazine. Page for page I'm almost positive you'll only grow happier and happier that you did.

L. L Blog and Info HERE

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

On Shared Rooms

One funny thing people tend to remark whenever we've announced news of another pregnancy is whether we're going to have to "move" as a result of adding another child to the family. As if it calls for sudden, drastic expansions for additional room & space. Seemingly absurd if you consider the house we currently live isn't exactly a shoe box, but pushing 2,600 sq ft - which, by my personal preference, is about 600 sq ft too much house for my liking anyway. Four kids and all. I just prefer smaller houses. Even in the futile stages of a new house hunt I'm mainly seeking out single stories with a little less floorspace. But that could be due to my mopping of the wood flooring here serving as the bane of my existence for the past decade or so. Regardless, for some reason plenty of people seem to think that kids sharing rooms in general is a sacrifice in itself. Which I'm usually up to debate.

Especially considering my own childhood as an example. Where I can still vividly recall being splayed out on the living room sofa on a lazy Saturday afternoon settled into the thin slice of a sun split curtain "warm spot" watching reruns of the Brady Bunch as a kid, thinking how great it was to see a trio of tween aged kids working through their differences side by side, scheming up new plans and brainstorming solutions in that small blue (or pink floral if we're talking Jan, Cindy and Marsha's) room together. Because bunk beds were where it was at, and because I couldn't help but assume it must be pretty hard to ever get too lonely in a space so sweet.

You see, after I was seven and we moved down a few blocks to the house on Grand Blvd I was granted my own room. I choose the one closest to my mother's (for justified fear of ghosts and burglars) and my younger sister snagged the master suite down the hall (which all of my friends would call into question throughout the entire length of my teenage years upon their initial home tour, noting how much smaller my room was from hers.) With that said, I never actually wanted a room to myself. In fact I was downright terrified of the dark back then and utterly scared to sleep alone, so all the years I spent curdled up in the spare trundle bunk beneath my sisters white iron bed, at the old house on Park, was entirely fine by me. But I understood my own space was supposed to make me happy, so I took note & played along. Even when it saw me loosing consistent sleep because of being wide eyed and worried through the night, watching eerie shadows from the wind in the trees stretch and curl themselves out along my walls.

The irony now is having three of my own children holed up one small space where I see much of the same hesitancy's in Arlo as I remember in myself around his age. Where, at ten, you are expected to bargain and complain for your own room. And he does. Sometimes, just like I use to, but I know he doesn't actually mean it. Not yet anyway. Just like I never did. Because more times than not when I come in to turn out the last of their dim lit night lights its common to find him curled up beside to his younger on the edge of a much smaller bed frame to ward off whatever frightful visions must have been tugging at the edges of his dreams capes that hour. No matter what he pretends to wish for, Arlo doesn't want to sleep in a room alone. And although we don't talk about that, it's a fact known by us all.

Aside from plain fear though there is a whole other dynamic that unfolds in shared rooms. Where at the end of a long day, no matter the quarrels or resentments that may have blighted the majority of their daylight hours together, when it comes time to finally file into bed I tend to pause down the hall to hear them sweetly reconnecting, sometimes in recounts of various dramas that unfolded on the playground. Sharing highlights and low points. Elementary gossip complete with words and actions replayed. Philosophizing about the imagined powers of super hero's, wild bears, zombies, whatever. Discussing exotic planets they see glowing from the pages of beside science books, pondering the far out promises of life in other galaxies. Even politics and religion arise too. Like the other night when I overheard Rex telling Leon he would be voting for "Nobama" because he had the better hair cut of the bunch to which Leon confessed he was in fact voting the opposite end - for Trump because he's "funny" and all presidents should be "more funny." A familiar chatter reminding me of their long time penchant for heavy debate in way of big life issues since they were toddlers. Like the preschool years when the nightly topic revolved around what really killed Jesus. Leon, dutifully rehashing bullet points from the bible verses learned at school. Endlessly irritated by Rex's insistence's that he was wrong about it all and that poor Jesus was run over by a motorcycle or, on a theory he would come to decide on in later months, actually struck by a speeding bus.

Fact remaining: being forced to bunk together in my opinion helps foster early connections. Growing a bond in siblings that roots deeper as a result. Considering the conversations that might otherwise not find the time or momentum to fire up and fully bloom in separate spaces. Because in that little room, lined with three beds and crammed with common toys, I see the better half of new promises built daily, and stubborn apologies fall out. I hear deals being made and jokes being told. Secrets unlatched. In a room where the rest of the world and all the worries it entails tends to fizzle out and retire at the end of each day. Arguments, frustrations, joy and laughter mingled in those short hours before they are all three fast asleep. Where whatever petty resentments they've clung to trail off and dissolve. Where three kids learn to get along every day because they have to. Because there's no where else to go.

People say it will change as they get older and you know maybe they're right. But I also recall big families coming from generations before us who successfully raised multiple children with similar sets ups, in limited space & room sharing. So as of now, no one's asking. And here on this side, I can assure you no one's pushing either.

On The Ma Books

I have a handful of women who, know matter how many I may be "following" at the moment on Instagram, remain a steady source of daily inspiration for me. Lissa Snapp is one of them. I first came across her years ago after stumbling upon her blog and was immediately charmed by how sharp and creative, humble, and refreshingly understated she comes off in her writing, her photos, her craft, and overall lifestyle. All of the attributes I find most attractive in womenfolk in general, so it's no surprise I felt an easy, immediate connection to to her online persona which radiates a real sense of authenticity and ease.

Needless to say I am thrilled to have her over on The Ma Books today. Answering with great care, the 20 questions I posed in hopes of learning a little more about her.  Hope you enjoy it just the same.

Interview Here

Monday, February 1, 2016

Stuck ON

So I was never one to jump on board with the whole "I DIE" phrase. "Bananas" maybe. But even at the hype of the Rachel Zoe hour I held back. But in the case of this little gem I most definitely do, DIE. Running across the image of kid sized land rover vintage series version I literally felt my heart skip. Or stop. Due to obscene cuteness. And painful want.

Now thanks to the evil of Pinterest I feel like my life isn't complete unless we own one. Which unfortunately that isn't easy to do seeing how they are made in Europe and are fairly hard to ship overseas at a reasonable cost. Word is they come kit style and it takes approx. 60 hours to complete but once you do they're basically a motored car that is built to last ages and can cart around an entire family at 12 mph through streams, mud, and from the photos I see online, with great ease around the grassy English countrysides.

The little yellow colored one with the spare tire and matching metal cart that looks identical to our full sized one though, DEAD.

Website and info HERE

Scenes From a Weekend

Santa Barbara, Ca.

Saturday morning to pick up the new addition Mike bought from Kate and Ellen a few months ago that he had dropped off on the drive back down from pick up near Mendocino, for a professional polishing job with a guy he came across on Instagram.

We decided - last minute - to make a family day of it instead of a quick turn around with the two of us like we had originally intended. Starting off late morning at the skatepark on the boardwalk, wandering around a sparse and windy beach with Hayes and Leon while Rex and Arlo stuck behind to bike and skate.

On the sand we spent a good hour collecting treasures to take home: rocks,* sea glass, shells and salt rotted wood planks. Leon and I filled a whole basket to the brim before returning up the hill to watch Arlo slicing around the bowl and Rex riding recklessly back and forth on a new bike around the main strip before heading out out in search of clam chowder. But not before we caught Hayes trying to sip salsa from a plastic container ** he pulled from inside a discarded lunch bag when I went to gather our things. And I'm nothing close to a germaphobe, but cringe worthy indeed.

We picked the least crowded place on the boardwalk decked out with a giant whale on the front of it, settled into the back booth and had lunch overlooking the ocean on the lucky $60 dollars I found folded neatly deep down low in my dress pocket ***

The hour after, at Kidsworld / Castle Park**** happened only by chance. When we drove by and were instantly charmed by what we could see from our seats, wood beamed peaks and laddered attachments a plenty. Not to mention, life sized shark and whale sculptures that Hayes spent most of his time kindly feeding. Anyway, it's an amazing park and now a definite must go whenever we're back in the area. Yet hard to believe I've never seen (or heard) of it prior to this visit.

This was also the first time I saw the airstream in person. Tucked away with a fresh shine in a dirt lot in Ventura. It was even prettier that in photos. Mike says there were only 500 Bambi Airstreams ever made and this one, apparently, is number 173. Which for some reason feels a little extra special knowing the history of it's mark & lineage. Like I said before, I'm not quite sure how he's going to carve out the time it takes to properly restore the two airstreams and two buses we've got on our hands now, but I know I also won't be entirely shocked when (however) he finally does. All I want is to pick out some curtains. On any one of the four. 

Car ride home was long and brutal. Plagued by two major accidents on the freeway in combo with a back seat full of exhausted boys, patience wearing thin in the dead freeze of a clogged highway. We made it back and collapsed on the couch to finish up our show. Vowing to wake early enough for him to start the stripping of the interior walls and me to pull our sandy treasures from the van and wash them in water to dry out on the back porch to make the sea themed mobiles I promised Leon we would.

Both of which, I'm happy to report we did in fact succeed in.

Post Footnotes:

* Why are SB rocks better than all the rest? Seriously so good I started to wonder if some of them were fake or painted.

** Stil not a s bad as the day at the park where he was caught drinking a vanilla bean frapacinno left on a park bench. It was still cold, so at least there was that . . .?

*** Also, I'm not entirely sure if all Ace & Jig is meant to be worn as reversible or not but I do and it defiantly has me wondering why more companies don't hop on the trend. I mean, can you imagine if all of our clothing had dual capabilities?

**** Pleas go here and thank me later. Be sure you see the puppet man on the deck and treat yourself to some curbside corn. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Around Here

Curls Trimmed

A Spilt Picnic

Tinfoil Crown

Grandma's Cake

Baby Barrista

Santa Barbara Beach Basket Treasures

Makeshift Wood Frame Pocket

Rainy Day Emails

Sunday Morning: 12:00 / after Bagels & Before Naps

Thursday, January 28, 2016

On The Eve of Six (an unplanned birth story)

It's always on the eve of each next birthday that my heart settles into a low dull ache. Over time. And how fast it falls away. With a decade now watching a string of my cherub faced babies stretch into long limbed versions of the tiny souls I brought home in what feels like yesterday. Unveiling new corners of their being everyday. Getting to know the lessons of the land and the rhythm of their home better and better all the time.

Mine, third born on the night of a big blue moon the papers would note the morning after on the 29th of January, where I had - in this, and only this pregnancy - wholeheartedly been set (and intuitively expecting) our first baby girl. Cravings told me it was so. Intuition helped back it up.

Finding out the sex of our babies was never pressing enough for me to ever really want to budge with any other than my first. So this time, against Mike's wishes, we didn't.

When labor set in after I had just finished cleaning the entire house after getting word from by my Dr. that morning that I was dilated and "significantly" effaced. I waited alone through the morning in familiar anticipation, for the first signs of something big telling me things were in fact moving forward and picking up. Which they did. Quite quickly thereafter so in the last slip of a 5:00 hour I was being admitted, undressed, gowned, and prepped for labor.

And I know it's a popular thing here, in recounting these grand experiences that have come to be known as quintessential "birth stories" - to unwind in long detail the medical steps taken and drugs administered and all the technical aspects of labor that women either come to fully embrace or regret in their post birth recounts on such forums like this, but all I know is that I came in like a flash and fell in love with a handful of kind hearted nurses who calmed me and tended to me like I was their sister or daughter,  in a mediocre hospital where I willingly took a long needle in my spine that made an already easy labor a little "easier" so I smiled and laughed through the peaks of those last remaining contractions. Where I was deliriously happy and in that glee welcomed in a small team of understudy nurses to view the birth, along with my friend on training duty, my mom, my sister, and my mother in law who had all been there for the two previous births.

I pushed when they told me and the baby came just as quick as his brothers before him. Except bigger. And blonder. 8lbs, stocky, white haired and wide eyed. A third boy. Who looked nothing like anyone else. Big nosed and homely. With a face that looked too old for a person so new, but equipped with he kind of features I knew instinctively grow into the best looking men we know. I couldn't help but laugh. At that strange fat little face and news of his sex wrecking all I had imagined in those last few months leading up to this hour. No, there wouldn't be doll houses or tea parties to tend to. Dress-up trunks or silver crowns to count on. But within three minutes of him asleep on my chest none of it even mattered. Miraculous wonder of new love blissfully eclipsing all the rest. A baby born is a baby to love.

Six years later he's what I consider our "live wire." Sharp, stubborn, creative, confident, natural born rebel set to beat against the tide. Whichever way it turns. The wild card that keeps a household on it's toes. Sometimes the bully, sometimes the brat. Many times the best big brother a baby boy could ever have dreamed of. Blessed with the gift of song so that even in his most shameful circumstances he comes forth with a way to sing his way out. Where you can't help but think, in the midst of dissolving frustrations, man am I glad he's mine.

Farewell to five, my sweet son.
May all the rest be just as swell.

Monday, January 25, 2016

On The Road With First Aid Kit

Sometimes when I get sad about not having a daughter I browse through teenage girls on Instagram and feel instantly better.

Watching these two though offers me the exact opposite effect.
Aren't they the best?

Scenes From a Weekend

Where most of our time was spent with Hayes while his brothers were at their grandparents.

Strange how odd it feels to have just one when you're so use to them as a "unit." And not particularly any easier for me either. In fact I think I realize when it's just the two of us how much I depend on his brothers to entertain and care for him throughout the day. From the time he wakes till the time he goes down they are there to keep him company. Only in their absence am I reminded of how hard it is to keep up with a 19 month old. All on my own.

But we did. Spent a slow morning in his room showing him the toys he sometimes forgets he owns. And took him out for a late afternoon coffee run in the bus then over to the field by our house to let him run his tonka truck through the dirt before nap-time.

I'm not sure we were as much fun as he's use to, but I think he knows we tried.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stuck ON

Hutte Hut 
Deemed "a modernist retreat." Inspired by boat and coach building techniques.

"Hütte Hut evolves the teardrop silhouette through architectural details that embrace both artisanal craftsmanship and computerized precision."

All I know is the fantasy it evokes over Saturday morning coffee + early morning Pintrest delves. You know, If 64k (and four kids) wasn't such an issue. 

In the meantime, guess we'll stick to those beat up old buses. 

Friday, January 22, 2016


Obsessing over Mark Cohen's street life photography. Raw and intrusive, finely described as "fragmented keyhole perspectives depicting the streetlife of his hometown Wilkes Barre, PA. Taken in the 1970s." Here he shares 14 lessons to getting the shots. And Here his Book Retrospective.

Soaking black beans for our soup dinner tonight. The one thing I can be sure everyone in this house loves and devours with equal enthusiasm.

Fantasizing about this robe. And what coffee might feel like in this robe. Because I think by now it's apparent how much a fan I am of "Bathrobe Chic."

Needing THIS big bad planner badly. I never find the small ones practical and I downright refuse to use a digital calendar on my phone because I need handwritten notes. And I need to see them, big as possible. Every day.

Waiting on the delivery of this little salt rock nightlight. But I haven't decided if it's for me or the boys yet.

Considering a get away trip away for our ten year anniversary next September. Thinking Tulum Mexico? Because it's affordable. And gorgeous. But am open and appreciative of any suggestions!

Deciding on a new show (for myself, because mine and Mike's tastes vary so much when it comes to television) to watch during the late night closet decluttering I've got going on this week while the kids are all in bed. Netflix / Amazon friendly suggestions welcome.

Worrying about how many car projects Mike's taken on already in this, the first start of a new year. Especially considering how much he's been working at his real job. These "side jobs" demand such a fine balance. Otherwise he could spend every extra waking hour working, fixing, refinishing, or trading something for something else. We tried the other day to count how many automobiles we currently have and I swear to you the boys and I really aren't sure anymore. All I know is we need some of them to move along. The new pop-up bus though he scored last weekend for a killer deal, that can stay awhile. At least what I'm hoping will be a couple spring-time camping romps.

Reading up on the benefits of bone broth as part of a regular diet. An intrigue that was sparked when I was taking photos of my friend the other day who just became certified in Holistic healing and offered up all kinds of wild bone broth based concoctions she includes as part of her daily intake that I'm now enthralled with.

Working on what I hope to be a few new in shop staples. Including three new pieces I've been wanting to add for a couple years and finally got Mike on board. Plus, a new print I'm working on designed with my  my own home (and style) in mind that I hope a few others might appreciate as well.

Preparing our house for a full home tour on another blog in a few weeks. Which is great motivation because otherwise I tend to put things off another day, which we know turns into another week, and then before I know it months later I'm still walking around swearing on all these stupid "need to's" with a list that only grows longer in the meantime.

Scheming up a day trip to visit Arcosanti one weekend next month. What a dream, right? I didn't realize how much closer it is than I thought. And, I really want a bell from their shop.

Looking forward to a birthday dinner in the desert under the stars Saturday night with friends.

What are you up to this weekend?