Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Small Saturday

The back story

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About three years ago I had interviewed for a couple waitressing jobs. Rex was nearly a year old and it seemed fair time for me to seek out some kind of supplementary income to help ease the burden of supporting a growing family sitting squarely on Mike's shoulders. Three years before that, I had dropped out of the credential program at Fullerton State college, setting aside my plans to teach english to high school aged kids, after finding out I was pregnant with Arlo. I was scared, and excited and I just knew I couldn't work full time with a new baby on the way, as much of a "surprise" as he was, I understood working a full time job was not what I wanted at that point in my life. We didn't have any kind of backup plan. I worked at Starbucks for a bit in addition to juggling a couple teaching assistant jobs, before finally leaving that aside too, and settling in as a full time stay at home mom. A role that quickly filled itself by having three boys born within four years of one another. A whirwhind that required more of me than I could possibly fathom. But worth every mad, chaotic second of it.

The return to waiting tables was a last resort. I have pages and pages of stories and ugly tales about the serving world and all it's unsaid injustices. It's pretty awful on the whole. The way people treat people when they're out to eat. I would say it literally threatened to wreck my overall faith in humanity at a certain point there. I remember I use to hide in the bathroom to regain composure when things got too bad. I had a hard time biting my tongue when customers were snarky and mean. I couldn't handle "rude" very well. And, I was downright disturbed at how damn neurotic people are when it comes to their food. In short: I was not a good waitress. But, the benefits were there. Working mostly nights, while the kids are sleeping. I figured it was my best bet. Quick money and shorter shifts. I was willing to suck it up and go back because it seemed the only viable option allowing my days to be spent at home and still bring in enough money to help out with our monthly expenses.

When I didn't get the last job. We decided on a whim, the following day, to set up an Etsy shop. We had a few pieces of reclaimed furniture lying around and one teepee Mike had made months prior, for a family photo shoot, that seemed to generate more interest than our actual family in the photos we shared with friends and family. We figured if we could sell even four or five of them a month, we could put money towards utilities. Our goal was 500 bucks a month. If we were lucky.

Fast forward to now: House Inhabit teepees has evolved into a full fledged, thriving "side" business. Orders coming in steadily, month to month since the shop first went up at the end of 2011. Right now I'm sitting in a dinning room lined wall to wall with tall brown boxes, stacked and awaiting shipment. "Santa" gifts that will greet hundreds of bright eyed Children around the country come Christmas morning. It's a great feeling. And an exciting time for those who still adhere to hand crafted quality in products purchased. The fact that we can lean on a well made, simple product, with absolutely no business plan in tow, but that we fully believe in - something we would buy and appreciate for our own children - with a quality that sells itself, when there are now 100+ teepees out there crowding the market, is downright humbling. There is an underlying loyalty that comes with where you put your purchase. One of the things I love most about small business.

We are grateful every day for the support we've experienced in this community. For the ability to work from home, in our own driveway, at the dinning room table during nap time. And continue to make a conscious effort at putting some of our own hard earned dollars towards other small businesses. Be it local brick and mortar, or online, hand made here in the states. Products not built by steel machinery in a giant factory overseas, but in well loved studios, homes and shops around the states. It's made me much more conscious of where and what I buy. And this post is here to kindly remind you to do the same this season when you can.


I will be back later today with a few of my favorite Etsy shops to share for the holidays. Until then, many thanks to those of you who have purchased from us. Please know you are much appreciated.


And please feel free to pass on word of a small business sale happening in shop, today only. 15% OFF ALL TEEPEES by entering the discount code: asmallsaturday at checkout. 


With love and gratitude,
M & J








Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In Thanks


"
 We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase

 Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
   As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
   A grand Thanksgiving chorus. "

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox




Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Style Like:

Hilary Walsh. 

A ca. based photographer I fell in love with based on the feature Here

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Everything from the boots she customized herself to the old denim shirt she hung onto from high school, I found immediately appealing about Mrs. Walsh. In the video on site she shares some real and refreshing takes on the fashion world, is honest about the fear of aging in such an industry, and comes across altogether charming in her overall attitudes about her profession, motherhood and her love of craftsmanship over the actual image in product. 

She also admits to wearing the same outfits on a weekly basis for years. I too am guilty of this as well, so I thought it was nice to see someone else take pride in loving what is comfortable and suited to YOU, even when it might stand a bit outside of the currents trends. 

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As for me, I'm hoping this stomach bug that invaded our house over the weekend and sent me to bed for the day, clears up soon so I can share some of the posts I had originally intended for this week that involve sharing the excitement in entering the second trimester (16 weeks and counting!) in addition to a couple pieces I've been working on in support of Small Business Saturday

If I can kick this thing, I look forward to sharing them with you. 


For now, hope your Mondays are off to a much more productive start than mine.
J

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rainy Day Treats

Seems this post was posted somehow last night, before I even finished writing it.
How embarrassing. I suppose that's what happens when you're trying to do ten things at once, right before bed.



I'll start again, much briefer this time. . .


With the rain yesterday we welcomed the chance to break in our new winter coats, and treat ourselves to some special sweets left by friends in addition to testing out one last home made cocoa recipe before giving up and buying some swiss miss packets at the grocery store to enjoy during this nice little cold spell they say will last through the weekend. We've tried a handful so far, and they were nothing spectacular.

The Red Hill brownies were incredible. My friend Whitney recently pulled gluten out of her diet and knew Leon was GF too, so she passed this bag along for us all to try. They were a big hit. Even Mike said they were some of the best brownies he's ever had.

The stump town coffee, a gift from Kate, and just what I needed mid morning, sights set on wrapping the first of their Christmas gifts so they aren't laying around in danger of being exposed. I figure if I can keep this up - wrapping as I go - I should have them all done well before Christmas. A huge relief seeing that I've never been good about that kind of thing.

The hot chocolate is merely a recipe I pulled off good old Pioneer Woman's site because it was super simple and I already had all the stuff on hand. It turned out delicious. We were all impressed. Especially with a splash of vanilla, topped with whip cream. Rich but perfectly suited to the season. Try it out and let me know. If in fact you haven't already.



Hot Cocoa: 2 cups of milk + 2 cups of half & half / heated + 1 cup of semi sweet milk chocolate chips & a splash of vanilla extract = the best cup of cocoa we've had this season yet. 



Back to enjoying another gray morning. Coat on.
Coffee in hand.

Happy Friday.
J

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thrift Picks

For the most part my recent thrift romps have been a bust.
Except for earlier this week when I scored:

-  one beautiful wood salad bowl set (which I've been needing desperately)
-  2 white dinner plates to add to what we have already + that little pot for one of my many lone plants
-  an old leather brief case from an estate sale over the weekend, which I adore.
-  plaid scarf
-  and the prefect wooden nightstand. I planned on painting it for the boy's room, but scratched that idea 
   when I saw how nicely it paired with an otherwise all white bathroom. And, can't beat 3$!

As for today, I'll be busy wrapping what few presents I do have here. We've got sneaky eyes and curious hands roaming these corners, so I need to get them covered before they discover anything else. Rex already asked about the batman mask I thought I had in a decent hiding spot last night when I tucked him in.
Fail. 





Monday, November 18, 2013

Said Louisa May Alcott

“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.” 


― Louisa May Alcott




On A Monday:

Bedside seagull feather
            +
A clean bathroom and a long nap.

Currently



Enjoying:pulling out the Christmas records. I just ordered A Charlie Brown Christmas. Our holiday collection is pretty slim, so I figure the classics are a good place to start. Next on the list, Willie Nelson's Pretty Paper. 

Embracing: this, the calmer month of the season. October really took us for a spin, and December will surely kick into full gear and throw our life (and schedule) into a whirlwind. Leon will be performing in his preschool's Christmas play this year. By far one of the events I am most looking forward to next month. Arlo at the same age played a little drummer boy. It was adorable. The whole production itself is just darling. 

Wanting: A nice new robe. Mine has seen it's better days but I can't seem to find a decent quality replacement. As always, recommendations are welcomed. Thinking maybe I need to make a Christmas list of my own. 

Resenting:A newly defunct microwave - which means reheating my coffee every morning by kettle. A small connivence I did not realize I would miss until it was gone. 

Loving:This little piece on Amanda Jasnowski, a beloved photographer / artist on IG that I was happy to learn more about. Especially her back ground and overall work ethic. 

Missing:Wine in the evening. Mostly when it's cold out. And the house is dark and quiet. For now, hot coco has proven a decent replacement. 

Watching: Pretty Little Liars, via netflix. A couple "friends" practically forced it on me and even though I resisted all the way through a big chunk of season one, it finally got me hooked. Now well into season two, I would say I feel about 13 years old watching it. But. It makes a pretty good laundry companion, for the time being ~ shaking head in shame ~

Considering: The Echo Park Craft Fair the second weekend in December. Anyone else?

Dead Set: On making a version of these little guys, with the boys as tree ornaments. Perhaps another holiday kiddie craft party might just be in order after all. 


Saturday, November 16, 2013

kids & technology



This is a topic of conversation that seems to be popping up more frequently around my circle of friends. Due to the fact that a few of us now have school aged kids, where the allure of the ipod / ipad first starts to really take hold.

In the past, we haven't had any video games in our house, other than a wii box used solely for Netflix streaming purposes. Mike was never into games, I never played them, so it was never on our radar as parents seeing that it wasn't in our interests as kids. The ipod, however has been. Arlo was given an old phone a friend of mine passed along that he plays games on (mine craft in specific) and can even text (us and a handful of friends and family we have programmed for him) as well as a private Instagram account to share photos with us too. So far, it's been ok - as long as we monitor his time (and downloads) on it.  That's not to say we haven't hit a few bumps in the road. When it comes to these types of things I would say we are fairly lax, figuring - like their time with television - "everything in moderation." However if I start to see that the first thing he runs to after getting home from school, is the phone, I know there's a problem. We've had a couple bouts where it appeared  he was getting a little too "hooked" for our liking and had to crack down on it by simply putting it away or reinstalling stricter guidelines in regards to game time. Luckily his after school interests were quick to return to the regular: skateboard, and the neighbor kids out front. Handball, baseball, bikes and kicking around the curb until dark. After homework and before baths he is allowed some time to play the games and mess around on the phone. And on the weekend, he has much more control over his time with it but we still remind him to leave it home or in the car during dinner out, visits with friends and so on.

With the younger boys, it's been much more difficult. We recently bought an iPad and it has proven an all together BAD idea. The source of non stop fights and constant frustrations. They sneak it into bed and leave it carelessly around the house, outside, all over the place. It's gotten to the point that I now have to put it away, up high, out of sights, and only bring it out as a treat. To watch a movie or play their favorite game. (Right now all three of them really enjoy the Tocca Mini app, so they each get to design a doll, snap a photo and package it before passing it over to the next one in line) Again, at this age, it usually winds up too much of a headache for me than anything else. Except for a couple weeks ago when I decided last minute to drag them along to an early morning dr. apt and we ended up being stuck in office for close to two hours. That day, it was the iPad, and the iPad alone that saved us from a couple major (public) breakdowns.

So, yes, it does have it's benifits, its just a matter of deciding when and where to allow for them. Whether we have their interests in mind or ours. Sometimes handing over a phone to distract them so we can finish up something else can be all too tempting on certain days, during specific hours. So far, we're figuring it out as we go. Pulling back when needed, doing our best to instill a healthy balance between the whimsical aspects of early childhood that involve lots of innate, imaginary playtime indoors and out, while still allowing a little room to grow into the kinds of modern "conveniences" this generation is no doubt surrounded by in their households these days.


How 'bout you guys? Any advice / tips / insights in regards to kids and technology? Would love to hear from you on the issue. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Picnic That Wasn't

We had planned our whole morning around an afternoon picnic at the nature center across town.

I finished up most of the laundry, dishes, emails and some shop orders. They waited patiently, building little wooden houses that turned into towns, engulfed in an all morning debate comparing batman's powers to anything/one they could think of (Well . . .  Rex anyway. Leon, for the most part is kind enough to simply appease his brother's enthusiasm for these kinds of conversations. Even though he could honestly care less about super heroes in general, let alone their super strengths, or capabilities)

Sometime after 11 we finally packed up a small lunch, a blanket and their bug catchers.
Prepared for a short hike after the picnic to wear them out for a late afternoon nap. A nap I had counted on to allow me to finish up everything I else I needed to get done before the weekend -- By Friday, we're all typically pretty exhausted. So the "break" that their nap offers, is secretly welcomed by all of us.  Though luck would have it, by the time I reached the dirt parking lot, they had fallen fast asleep. Solid, heavy slumber which I briefly considered waking them from but ultimately decided against it seeing that because they have drifted off and been out for over 20 minutes now, there was no chance for a longer nap later on. This. Was it.

And then the storm clouds moved in. And it got cold.
I sat for an hour in a parked car, windows down, eating a turkey sandwich while thumbing though an old catalogue I found stuffed in the backseat, regretting the failed picnic, that our day had started later than it should have knowing with weekday adventures, earlier is always better.

... I noted one single squirrel in that one long hour I was there ....


When we got home the two of them were wide eyed and confused, waking up back in the drive way. I explained what happened. They had fallen asleep and we would be back when there to visit when they were nice and rested. They didn't seem the least bit upset. Which surprised me.

The rest of the day proved just as trying as I had imagined it might be. Fights, some fits and overall boredom that comes with being stuck in the house when you had been promised something else. Too cold for bike rides. And the neighbor kids all gone one place or another.

The house is quiet now, half way clean too. The three of them in bed. Again, later than I would have liked.  But asleep. Except Rex. I can still hear him rattling on about robin and batman. But this time no one is answering back. Soon enough he will give it up. Close his eyes and be out for the night.
I'll be in, to pull that shinny blue cape off his neck, turn out the last light.



Tomorrow, we'll start earlier.






Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fourth Time Around

Our Fifth pregnancy, actually . . .
And longest stretch between babies
Our first spring time due date . . . As we've only known new babies in the fall and winter months.

Lots of excitement and plenty of questions coming from three curious boys.

"Who put that baby in your tummy and how's it coming out?" Leon wondered, first thing the morning  after getting news of another baby on the way.

"I thought you were just getting fat" was Arlo's very direct response. He seemed relived there was a reason behind this expanding belly.

"Push it out right now. Just do it. I wanna see IT!!!" Was Rex's contribution after hearing a very brief and simple explanation of how the baby comes out "with pushes."  He still thinks waiting another few months is downright ridiculous.



All I am sure of, is there is plenty of love brewing in the roots of their anticipation.
Every one of them showing new joy in welcoming another baby.


Soon enough boys.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

August Revisited

My good friend Denise Bovee has opened up shop again, with her blog back up and running after a long absence this year. I missed her dearly around these corners. Happy to see that she's back at it and sharing her work with us all once more.


Our family photos taken at the end of summer, are over there now. 
Our last camp date of the season. 


I miss it already.


* In other fun news, Leon Thomas snagged first place in the American Apparel Halloween costume contest via Instagram. He picked out a few things with his reward gift card this weekend and is feeling quite proud of himself. That kid could make a career out of winning costume contests, I swear. 
Good job kid.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Notes on A New Year


 “That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.” 

 Joan Didion


No, not 28 this year. 
But defiantly relating to these insights remembered by Joan.  
That every move, every mistake we make counts for something. 

New Life lessons rooted every step of the way. 



This year was mellow. Breakfast and coffee in bed. Flowers and a newly remodeled bathroom. A project we let sit on the back burner for too many years and finally completed on this, my birthday weekend. Per my request. As busy as we are these days, home projects seem to take a back seat or fall away from our priorities completely. So seeing it all come together in two days - the way I imagined - proved such  a relief. The space feels like us now. I'll have to share a few photos once it's all put back together. It's been a long while since I've shared any of our home endeavors.

And then of course dinner, with my oldest friend. At our old stand by, Pete's, downtown. A long walk to find some proper L.A graffiti (per Arlo's request) and a little shopping before heading back home for a late night movie and a cup of our favorite gas station hot chocolate.

It was a nice and relaxing way to welcome a new age.
I haven't made any specific plans for what this particular year should entail.
But I have a feeling it just might already be off to an interesting start.

Stuck ON:



F. Apple's: Hot Knife.

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"he makes my heart a cinemascope screen
showing the dancing bird of paradise.

He excites me
Must be like a genesis of rhythm
I get feisty
Whenever I'm with him"


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If only because I probably (realistically) never fully recovered from the Paul Thomas Anderson / Fiona break up.

The fact that they found a way to collaborate creatively again after all these years on her latest video proves a treat for us all. I've watched this more times than I care to count. Not sure if it's the song, the actual visual of the video, or simply the idea of the two of them holed up for days in a studio working this whole thing through.

Like I said, they were always a favorite of mine.
And, you know, a girl can dream.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Home Video // The Outtakes

I spent all morning, and I mean ALL of my morning and most of my afternoon, going through and organizing this past year's photos on my laptop. I put together a few photo books that I'll be eagerly awaiting in the mail next week, as well as cleared out lots of video and photos that were either just bad shots, or scores of multiples.
With digital, we take so many photos . . .

It was quite an exhausting feat.
And I'm not even close to being finished.
A lesson in what happens when you let that kind of stuff pile up through the year, neglecting all editing and so forth.



Below is just a funny little video I threw together with some of the "outtakes" taken through the year, choppy video clips most of which served as old vine contributions or miscellaneous iphone recordings. The video itself is all over the place. But amusing in that you still get a good sense of the boy's and their  rather bold personalities, brief as it is. No particular order, no particular theme. Other than endlessly rambunctious boys and their endlessly mischievous antics. 

hope you enjoy.


the outtakes '13 from Mrs. Habit on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mom Stays in the Picture

Recently a good friend of mine sent a sweet text saying how much she had enjoyed seeing my fall photos on facebook recently but mentioned what a shame it was that I was not actually in any single one of them. When I browsed through my library to check this out as a whole I realized she was indeed right. It made me immediately kind of sad that I hadn't realized it had stopped occurring to me to include myself in much of anything we do these days. That I was missing in nearly all our fun-filled weekends and school fields trips, or holiday events we had experienced as a family. An invisible force behind the ever loving lens of documentation. Without so much as a single shot of me making the brownies they devoured at those school festivals, the sewing (or, let's be honest, glue gunning construction) of all those costumes that won them awards, the school projects and class parties I helped oversee. The crafts I prepared and the books I read them. In other words, zero proof of the everyday contributions I put in to in regards to all they will hopefully cherish down the line from this point in their childhood. And it was in fact a real "shame"to admit. 

Unfortunately, I know this to be the plight of so many other mothers (Or fathers depending on who wears the role as designated family photographer) In most cases it's one or the other, right? The complaints are common: "they won't even know they had a mother on vacation with them!" or "you'd think they were raised by a crafty single father" - all of which I never paid much mind to until I realized this had become our very situation. The less effort I put into including myself, the less they will likely remember about little aspects of my time with them during these years. Silly things like the way I dressed, or the things I failed at and some others that made them proud. Which is why from now on I vow to put in more of an effort to make myself a priority. To force myself to count just as much as everybody else. To remember to ask Mike, or Arlo, or a stranger on the beach for that matter to snap a photo of me, with them . . .  of us all. 

Because when it all comes down to it, they boys deserve to remember their mother just as much as I do them, and these fleeting times together as a loving, growing family of five. 







Photos above taken by my talented friend, Denise Bovee. 

Pulling off sandy wet pants for him to venture into an endless ocean in his brother's underwear, just as the sun was falling away and the surf was picking up. 

- san onofre st beach, august, 2013


Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween






Parties, and costumes, events and parties. We definitely made the most of our Halloween this year. And now that's it's finally over, I'm downright exhausted. We all are. But it's a year I (and hopefully they) won't soon forget.

Looking back, I'll remember:

Rex waking me up before the sun, standing at my bedside in his beloved blue cape asking "so do you Lub it?" 
Leon being mobbed by a group of excited teenagers enthralled by his uncanny resemblance to Jack Black, or - Nacho - as Leon only knows him.
Arlo, refusing my frustrated requests to have him stand still for a single photo while insisting on his own zombie skate pose that funnily enough, became one of my all time favorite pictures. 

So many parties, so many cute kids in creative get ups. And all those sweetly constructed preschool decorations coming from four of my favorite little hands. The older boys chasing poor Rex around the house all hours of the day in various masks and wardrobe, squealing wildly as he screamed and ran for mommy. Growing disappointed when he finally started to kind of like it.

Throwing together a "haunted bus" in less than two hours on the hectic Friday night of the elementary school's annual trunk r' treat. Working like crazy to stuff flanneled clad monsters and web the windows, pouring dry ice into buckets of water, and still managing to snag first place for "spookiest trunk" in spite of our all of frenzied last minute creations.
We're good that way. It's a trait I've come to take pride in instead of wishing we could be more prepared - or "organized." Which we'll never be.

Mike and I arguing over the art of mummy wrapping. His take being tidy and tautly wrapped. Mine, loose, knotted and totally ragged. Every time Arlo got dressed, his costume took on a whole new working. None of which we ever came to fully agree on.

And my sweet Leon worrying that the kids in his class might laugh at his hand painted mustache. Then growing nautically confident seeing their appreciation for it upon his arrival.



It was a full and festive month indeed. But I'm ready for a little rest before the string of Holidays to follow. Doing my best to soak up the quiet days in between. As we all know, the next couple of months won't see too many.




Hope you all had a happy Halloween and give yourself a nice break this weekend.
J