Year in Review | 2013 |

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's the last day of 2013! I know I sound like a broken record but the last part of this year just flew by. With that I am actually welcoming the close of it and a new year to begin, though it was a pretty good one, I really have a good feeling about 2014. I don't have any official new years resolutions because I am, by nature, a self-sabotaging commitment-phobe and I break any resolution immediately for fear of breaking it later, you know after I have actually tried. I tend to keep my goals more quietly to myself and this seems a better approach for me. And I do have a few goals for this year, which I usually determine by going over some of my highs and lows in the closing year. 

I'll start with the low being as (luckily) there were a lot less of those. The biggest one is that I took a little hit with my business that kind of left me feeling a bit down for a good portion of the middle of this year. But truth be told I got really lucky when I started my business, I simply made something, put it out there and it took off quickly - so this little hit probably felt bigger than it actually was. These things happen, but because I was so lucky to start I guess, even though I kept telling myself this would likely happen eventually, I wasn't totally emotionally prepared to have a little bump in the road. And because things were so easy at first I really had to work hard at learning having a business as I was in full mode of having one. So there are a lot of things I still need to catch up on; I am still learning and sometimes you need hard lessons to truly grow. With that having this "low" gave me the pause I needed to look at things from a few steps back and I even saw some real positives to it. So while I am still calling this a low, it's one that has a silver lining and gave me a lot of goals to shoot for in the next year, ones that I might not have gotten around to in my little comfort zone. 

More lows: the death of the 40/60w incandescent lightbulb, my children broke my iphone screen which i have yet to replace (priorities), Luca's dental surgery, my grandfathers passing.  

One of the highs this year was going gluten-free after finding out that my little Luca has celiac and food allergies (he's the only one that was officially diagnose because of this). Going gluten-free has changed our lives so much for the better. He is such a happier kid and both M+L have grown so much this year - you know now that they are actually absorbing nutrients. And I have felt my body heal over the course of this year too. There are so many ailments that have gone away, like the plugged ear I had for about 3 years, migraines and tons of joint pain. And this year we have been less sick than in anytime I can ever remember. So that was a definite high point. 

More highs: a dog! a credenza! a new car! new camera! the driest year in portland since the 1980's! (see i have been telling everyone for years it wasn't this rainy when i was a kid.). first christmas morning at my house! the beach! the mountains! the rivers! it snowed! having another glorious year being able to spend so much time with my kids. i read a lot more this year than last year (but reading more still, is still a goal for 2014). spending so much time with my grandfather before he passed away and then finding out the book i was reading (and read aloud to him unbeknownst to me at the time) was written by one of his friends who was kind enough to reply to my over-zealous email and other kismet occurrences during this time that let me know he's still very much around. And lastly with all this down time this last week I finally I learned how to do rollover images (kind of). and did i mention all the sun we have had? Pretty good year, but I am ready for an even better 2014.

How was your 2013? I hope you all have a very happy and safe new year! See you in 2014!

Photo Diary | Holiday Recap |

Friday, December 27, 2013

I thought I might have a couple posts for recapping the holidays but I think this will be it. For starters while I love, love, love Christmas, I equally love, love, love when it's over. I am so tired. The holidays come and go so quickly and I hold out, I hold on, and then I remember just how brutally exhausted I am every 26th of December. Beyond that, while I am excellent at taking way more photos than necessary all the other days of the year I neglect every year to take photos on the actual holiday themselves. With the exception of my phone camera and a blurry shot or two, I just don't want to be behind my camera capturing the moments, I want to be in the moments.

But on to the recap . . . our holidays were pretty good. Christmas eve started out much like any other day, except for a few things like making cookies to leave out for Santa before bed. But somehow I was so on top of everything this year that I even found myself looking for things to do. But that part didn't last long. Later that evening we went out for Fisher's birthday dinner. He gets a lot of sympathy for having a Christmas eve birthday, but the truth is he really likes it. I had Fisher at home, so his birth time was according to my alarm clock, for a long time I wished I would have said it was 5 minutes fast(er) so his birthday could be on the 23rd (and maybe it was - his birthday could technically be the 23rd, but I don't think so - I already subtracted 5 minutes from the 12:09 that was declared at the time; though exhausted from a very, very long multi-day labor I screamed out "my clock is 5 minutes fast!") But he is glad I didn't  subtract the extra 5 minutes because he thinks it's better to have a Christmas eve birthday rather than if it were one day earlier and we were still in the throes of preparing for Christmas stages. Plus people go out of their way to make sure he has a good birthday because it's "on Christmas," though it really isn't (he is also really grateful he wasn't born on the 25th). And I am glad too because the fact that it isn't on Christmas day allows us to have some time and options to celebrate just him. His best friend was even able to join us. We came home after and played games and ate left overs and then settled in to some Christmas eve traditions like reading The Night Before Christmas and watching both A Christmas Carol and A Christmas Story. After everyone was in bed I helped Santa put out all the presents under the tree.

The next morning my mom and sister came over. This was my very first Christmas morning at my house, ever. Ever in my whole life. It's been something I have been wanting for so long and finally happened. Which made me realize all the restless sleeping I do on Christmas eve might not be so much child-like excitement as much as the inability to fall asleep at my moms house. I was still the first person up because, well, I do get pretty excited for the opening of presents. M+L got bikes from Santa, though, unfortunately we were all suppose to get helmets and none of us did so they only got to ride them around the house for a few minutes. But wouldn't you know when I asked them what their favorite gifts were they said "the zombies," which were a last minute 2 for $5 stocking stuffer I bought at the grocery store while getting Christmas breakfast supplies. It's the little things, it is not? And we have been having tons of fun with this and this, I guess it's been awhile since we had new toys around here and I think I might be more excited for some new stuff to play with than even they are. 

Every year I buy Fisher stuff he loves. We have really similar taste so it's way too easy and he ends up with the biggest pile of all every year. But I also buy him one completely projected gift - one I like and I think he "should" like too. This is often a flop (and i know it might be so i always include a gift receipt which he promptly uses to return the "projected gift"). This year it was a suitcase record player and I am happy to report that it was not returned. I also gave him a stack of old records I had from when I was his age and I raided various family members old record collections. He even stopped opening presents to plug it in and play one of my old Christmas albums. I think the memory of finishing our present opening with that record spinning in the background is going into "one of my favorite memories" memory bank. 

Not that it's all about present but some years you do pretty good and this was a good one for me too. I got a photography light studio set up and lots of books. I guess my interests are not unknown to my family. And my mom bought me all matching bath towels! I finally feel like a grown up (or a little closer to one). I have wanted to have all matching bath towels for years but there's just always something that seems much more fun to buy. We had intentions of going to the movies, which we have made a tradition over the last few years, but we decided to stay home and enjoy our first "at home" Christmas before heading to my moms for Christmas dinner. Last night the festivities continued with a second wave of family who came over for more presents and games. Can it be spring now? How were your holidays? 

Oh and, yes, those are underwear on Milo's head. They were very excited about their new lego star wars undies and proceeded to put them on over their clothes, and, well, on their heads obviously. Now if you can just remind me next year that my children love underwear and 2 dollar toys maybe I can treat us all to dinner and drinks with all the money I save :) P.S. I will be taking a little extra break and see you all back here tuesday! 

Photo Diary | Christmas Eve Baby |

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's my little barely-christmas-eve baby's birthday (he was born at 12:04 am on the 24th). As this is published he is officially 16 years 3 hours and 4 minutes old and I officially think that sounds redonkulous. And I have officially used the word redonkulous on my blog because it's that crazy. And in case you are wondering redunkulous is officially spelled with an "e" rather than an "i" - i looked it up. Yesterday we went downtown to see Santa Claus and the tree in Pioneer square, as always this tradition doesn't disappoint. I'll have more photos to share after Christmas, as much as I am  ready to move on from the holiday posts, I will have to at least have a recap, or maybe two

For now I just want to say Happy Birthday to my boy! 15 is over, woo hoo! You made it. I might have neglected to mention last year at this time that 15 is, well, 15 (sorry!). And if you have ever been 15 you know what I mean. It seems to be at the apex of growing pains - rhyme and/or reason apparently not necessary for this phenomenon. But maybe it's because 15 is a bit of an ending of one phase, which is always difficult even when it's positive. And if that is true I think 16 is a little like a beginning. I feel pretty far away from being 15 myself, but I still feel (maybe a little too) close to my 16 year old self. It was a really good year for me and I hope it's an even better one for you. Happy Birthday my friend.  

And happy holidays to you all!! I hope you have a wonderful and magical couple days ahead. Cheers! xo

That last photo is of fisher when he was about 4, we took the train all the way across the US, one stop was in North Dakota, it was snowing and he was so excited. This trip the two of us took together all by our little lonesomes (which wasn't lonesome at all) is one my most treasured memories - except for the part when we were on our way home, both crying from our 9th whole entire day (and night) spent on a train and he spit applesauce in my face. Actually, I take it back, I even treasure that bit of the story too. 

Happy Winter. Happy Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Christmas week. The weekend was a good one, though it went by too quickly and was spent doing boring things like cleaning and preparing for the whirlwind that is going to be the next few days. But I am sure I will thank myself for it later. Or maybe I won't. It very well might fall into that area of where you think why did I do all that? now I just need to do it all againSunday morning I woke up early to wrap presents and I listened to this 1939 radio broadcast of A Christmas Carol produced by Orson Welles. It is one of those things I like to do as my own little quiet tradition when I can find a quiet hour amidst the hustle and bustle. I didn't find out until I was older that my paternal grandfather, the one that passed away recently, loved the exact same version of A Christmas Carol that is my favorite and he always listened to this same radio broadcast (The latter really shouldn't have surprised me as he was the one that introduced me to old-timey radio), which just warmed my heart. You can listen to it in full below, it is truly so very much worth the 54 minutes.

Tomorrow is one of my very most favorite days of the year. It always has been but the fact that my oldest, Fisher, was also born on this day really sealed the deal for me. I love the calm and ease of the day before Christmas. I love the snuggling in and the setting out of milk and cookies and presents. The fact that I still sleep as restlessly as I did as when I was a kid in anticipation for Christmas morning (well, I don't love the restless sleeping but i do love that i haven't lost the child-like excitement). But for today we will be taking a visit to Santa and making cookies and tomorrow we will be going out for a delicious German dinner for Fisher's geburtstag (that's birthday in german! i googled it.) which may be well on its way to becoming a tradition around here. After that we will curl up with a couple presents and hot cocoa and the movies we saved for this night and of course the the telling of The Night Before Christmas. I will be back tomorrow to say happy birthday to my boy and after that I see you on the flip side of the holiday week. xo

Images 1 | 2 | 3 (print by stephanie moon) | 4 |

Brown Paper Packages

Friday, December 20, 2013

Maybe it's the song but I have alway loved the simplicity of brown paper and a little string. To dress it up this year I used the tags I made recently (click here if you want some too.), some herbs and greenery, washi tape and some "instafamily" photos I have picked up here and there at little shops and estate sales. (The photos are kind of a fun way to stop and enjoy the moments of unwrapping and usually evoke some giggles. I like the weird ones as much as the pretty ones.) Then I took a lot of photos of a few of my packages. These are the first ones I wrapped of course, because after about 10 the aesthetics of it all start to feel less and less important and they just become wads of paper and tape. 

Every year I am surprised by myself at the holidays because you might not know this but I have a pretty strong cynical side, but every year I am like a crazy-christmas-sweater-wearin'-popcorn-ball-makin'-carol-singin' little elf. I can't help but be over-cometh with holiday cheer. I know that the holidays aren't an easy time for everybody. I know that the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year for many. I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas and truth be told Christmas is in no way religiously aligned for me. To me it's all about letting go of normal routines and relishing in the act of tradition, and  generally just being in a state of mind of giving and enjoying life. It seems everywhere you turn at this time of year there is something pretty to look at - like the (other) song goes "even the streetlights blink a bright red and green." It's a state of mind of being jolly and maybe because of the cynic in me I just have to be all in.

I've been meh about Christmas plenty of times. I have lamented about how other holidays are marginalized by this predominately "christian" one and how those of us who don't celebrate the religious aspect are all sheep with blinders on being herded towards idolizing consumerism - money being the one and true almighty. But as I got older, really after my grandparents passed away and I had kids of my own, I realized so many of my happiest memories were of this time of year. So I now I just put my critical thinking cap on the shelf, next to my elf, at this time of year.

When I was little I waited all the first half of the school year for Christmas break and I'd hightail it over to my (maternal) grandparents and we'd flit and flitter from one holiday tradition to the next. We'd go to buy presents, we'd cut down a tree, we'd trim the tree, we'd bake pies and make ginger bread houses, we'd get hot chocolates and drive around looking at christmas lights, and we'd wrap lots of presents with string and ribbon. They'd curl up with me on the sofa (or recliner chair), their excitement of turning the television on to the Rudolf or Frosty the Snowman special waiting to see my eyes light up and here me squeal. I mean even then I knew they found joy in my joy. They genuinely loved to see me happy. Christmas eve I always got a pair of pajamas and one other little present and I would get tucked into bed and my grandpa would turn the heat up real high so that it made clanking noises in the ceiling and tell me "oh, i think i hear santa's reindeer on the roof. you better go to sleep. quick close your eyes!" and I knew it was just the heater but I played along because the thought of him knowing I knew it was just the heater was enough to make my heart break. I never wanted to spoil a moment they gave me because each one was crafted with the purest of love, and even so young I could spot that anticipation in their eyes, waiting for my reaction. Christmas morning I'd wake to guess jeans and esprit bags and roller skates and boom boxes that would help me squeak by the rest of the school year not feeling totally an outsider in my 'regular' life. 

So now that they are gone, now that my little M+L are here and have never had the good fortune to know them or be tucked in by them or wake to them on Christmas morning I simply channel them. I find joy in my children's joy because there is truly nothing more joyful when you are a parent. I totally get that now. We flit and flitter through the month of December and I crank up the heater on Christmas eve and ask them if they can hear santa's reindeer on the roof. It's taken me along time to admit this openly, but I frickin' love Christmas. And it's almost here! (and it's almost over too, which is also kind of nice.). Do you have any favorite Christmas memories and traditions? Or those of you who aren't celebrating Christmas, do you have any non-"christmas" traditions at this time of year?

Have a happy weekend! 

Photo Diary | Outings + Doings |

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I know I am a little late today, well, I am only late because so many of you are on the east coast - here in the west, it's still pretty early. The last two days have been rough around here. But I've been dealing with them and things are good so I suppose that makes it the best time to deal with something that needs attention and love and nurturing. I wish I could talk about it all here right now, but I can't, because while it is about me, it really isn't about me so much at all. But I feel hopeful for the situation and that we'll get through it. We are getting through it right now. But any kind thoughts won't be turned away. 

I can't believe it's only the 19th of December and I feel like the it's the end of the month. One last weekend before the big day is here. And I am totally ready and so not ready because I just want to stay a little longer in the time of sparkle lights and coziness. But for those of you that are so over seeing another christmas tree post, it's almost over, I swear. These are photos I have just taken randomly over the last few weeks on some of our outings and our doings. Excuse the nose-picker tree decorating photo, but that's literally the best shot I got in the bunch. Sometimes that happens. But I think I have made up for it with that adorable santa-hat-marla picture.  xo

Keeping It Simple

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I love the simple decorations here. Those lights and the little tree are just enough and it's a good reminder to me, right now, that simple can be the very best. So with that I am also trying to keep it simple today, this month, this coming year that's just around the corner. Like so many of you, and as you have heard me say plenty of times now, the fall kind of kicked my you-know-what and I feel things speeding up again and so I want to take the day to slow down and deal with what is at hand. Because sometimes things need my full attention. Sometimes I just need to be able to get to "full attention" to see where things are, or where I am going, or maybe where I have been. I think now is one of those times because I have really enjoyed the meandering that I have been doing lately and slow pace of things. I am hoping I can keep up with that, by not trying to keep with too much of anything at all.

Images Via

The Gift of Giving | Do The Kind Thing |

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Last week I was contacted by Kristin from Kind snacks. She had an idea for my the gift of giving series. She let me know her company was stepping with their Do The Kind Thing program to support a cause and wondered if I thought my readers might be interested in hearing about it. So I followed the links and read the story. I immediately had to get up for tissue about one paragraph into 'Nicks moms' story and I knew I would be more than happy to pass all this along to you.

I am going to give you links so you can follow the same little path I did that got me writing this today but I am also going to give you a little info myself. First aren't these t-shirts amazing? They are sold by Paper Clouds Apparel and designed by people with special needs; you can see and buy them here and see more about the artist of these ones here. All the proceeds from Paper Clouds go to supporting causes, like the one about Nick and Jeremy that I am going to talk about. This months sales are going Nick, but they were going to go to Jeremy - this is where it gets a little confusing and a lot beautiful. Nick and Jeremy are friends and they both have cancer. Jeremy was all set to be apart of the Paper Cloud Apparel campaign to help fund his cancer treatment but he recently found out that he is in remission and he wants to surprise his friend by having all of the proceeds to go to Nick. His friend Nick is planning to surprise Jeremy by running a 5k in hopes to raise funds to go to Jeremy's treatment.

In my gift of giving series I usually post about larger organizations. Not intentionally but it's easier to find out about those ones, so I was really excited when Kristin told me about Nick and Jeremy. First of all you can see their faces and you know what you are doing by buying a t-shirt, literally helping save a life and a remarkable friendship. These boys are obviously fighters and they are selfless and kind and compassionate. I also have a teenage son, and well, I just can't imagine. I also had a best friend at that age who I literally don't know what I would have done without her in my life. I know I would never be the same person I am today and I am lucky enough to still call her my best friend. The story of their friendship was so moving to me. It's really just beauty in its truest form.

I am not good at soliciting for myself or asking people to do for me, or for others really. Mostly my comfort lies in planting seeds, and few and far between at that. If people like something or feel moved by something they will act, but it's not in place to try to convince or cajole, maybe beyond saying "i like this maybe you will too," or "i did this here it is." In fact that's one of the hardest parts of blogging, finding that balance of putting yourself out there, putting other things out there and not feeling like you are promoting yourself or others all the time. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just not my personal comfort zone. So I hope when I say this next bit you know that's true to me and who I am - but I am totally soliciting you to buy one of these shirts. I am. How could you not, look at how awesome they are?! And KIND is also pledging to purchase 150 shirts for their staff, so you know, if we all, or some, or a few us a chip in . . . maybe it will make a difference. A really, really big difference. Just so you know they don't ship until the campaign is over, but I thought if you wanted to give it as a christmas gift you could print out the story and stick it in a card. I am buying two because I there is no way I can choose between the slombie and the uni. Nick and Jeremy won't find out about all of this until it's over either but Kristin is going to keep me posted and pass this blog post on to them when it's over, so I will keep you all posted too. xo

Christmas Came Early

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Monday! How was everyones weekend? Ours was pretty good, in fact Christmas came a little early for us over the weekend (here is one of the super gifts that I got. so excited. but i will post more about that later in the week after I get it all prettified). 

Right now I am going to talk about this adorable new fishy friend we have, named muffin cake poopy pants by M+L, and his new home which was gifted to us by UncommonGoods. We didn't want Marla to be the only non-human in the house so we were pretty excited to get the AquaFarm and give her a little friend (we're not really letting marla anywhere near muffin cake poopy pants, that would indeed be a bad idea). Anyway everyone pretty much loves the aquafarm more than the actual fish that lives in it, sometimes we are staring at it and the fish swims by and we're are like "oh yeah we have a fish too!" It's a pretty cool little set up and I, personally, love the design, as soon as I opened the box I was immediately excited by the packaging alone. And the fact that you can grow plants on top is pretty great too; its it's own little ecosystem which is pretty for me and a learning experience for the little ones. That is if my, whatever the opposite of green thumb is, won't hinder the plants living, but I think the fish is in charge of the plant life so hopefully I can just focus on keeping the fish alive. Unfortunately I didn't open the box entirely or read through the instructions all the way before hand or I would have realized it comes with everything you need to set it up, minus the fish of course (actually it does comes with a free fish coupon too - which I also didn't see in time). So I ended up with a surplus of of aquarium supplies and fish food. I also had to start over setying up I placed the rocks that go in the flower pots in the fish bowl, oops. But all is well now, M+L loved it and fish is happy (ie alive).  And I think if one actually read through the directions beforehand it's really quite easy. 

And in case you are haven't been to or heard of UncommonGoods, it's a pretty great independently owned online shop. I find I pin a lot of little gift ideas from their site to my secret pin boards for future gift giving (especially for people I feel stumped with what to get for them), there are a ton of fun things. And now that I found out over the weekend that my guitar playing cousin is coming to christmas dinner I am adding this little dodad to my shopping list. And this maybe for this his little girly. But what I really like abut them beyond just their awesome goods is, for starters, half of what they sale is made by hand, most of their goods are made in the USA, and about one-third of their items are made with recycled materials. But what I love most, and this falls in line with my gift of giving series, is that they are a company that gives back! One dollar from every purchase is given to a charity of your choice (among their selected charities - all of which I love) in the last 12 years they have donated over 700,000 dollars, which is awesome. 

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