Halloween 2014

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With children ages two and four, the Halloween celebration cannot get much better. This morning the kids sang adorable Halloween songs at their preschool and each had a party with goodie bags (to them, there’s nothing better than a goodie bag!). We’ll trick or treat tonight as Anna, Elsa, and Batman. Now that we live in the coolest neighborhood ever, I am excited to see the camaraderie in the streets as the kids gather their candy hauls.

There is a chill in the air today, and it feels like the seasons are turning. We’re headed into deep fall, which means sweaters, leaf raking, and holiday preparation. I’m hard at work finishing my last (I hope) editing project of the year and after November 10 or so should be free to enjoy these last weeks of the year. I could not be more excited to spend time with family and savor the season.

Happy Halloween!

We Have Everything We Need

Like many parents I know, planning for the Christmas season is already high on the list of things to do (I know, I know, it’s not even Halloween!). While in the old days our parents were responsible for the magic of the season, Steve and I are now charged with curating a holiday experience that will meet the expectations of our children and ourselves. And with this new role comes planning, budgeting, and executing.

Last night Steve and I had our first real Christmas discussion of the year. We’ve been thinking of it, of course, having saved our Amazon credit card points for gifts and started to book some activities for December. We’ve orchestrated family visits for Thanksgiving and Christmas from our West Coast contingency and have planned a pre-Thanksgiving jaunt to New York City for some festive family time as well. However, we have yet to discuss our expectations for this holiday season.

Our conversation began initially with the usual ideas–the Christmas card, the advent calendar, the kids’ gift lists, and ideas for family and friends. However, the discussion morphed into something entirely different as we continued talking. The theme that began to resonate with me during our chat was this: we have everything we need.

Now, let me translate this epiphany into real-life terms. It’s not that I don’t want a beautifully decorated, fun-packed, hand-crafted, and gift-filled holiday season. What I realized in the course of our planning session was that we are so lucky. We have our health. We have beautiful children. We live in our dream home. We enjoy our day-to-day lives. We love each other.

While the stress of everyday life augments as the calendar approaches December, I hope I can capture this feeling of contentment and carry it through the holiday season and beyond. If I can embrace this sentiment and adjust my expectations accordingly, then these next few months can be truly magical.

What a good way to begin this upcoming season of thanks.

 

Nora’s Elsa Costume

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My sweet daughter wanted to be Elsa for Halloween (and requested that I dress up as Anna). To avoid the Disney juggernaut, I decided to try my hand at making her costume, which I did following this pattern (found via Pinterest). I sewed it in August and am pretty glad I decided to do it ahead of time because I would have given up on sewing the stretchy knit and chiffon had I been in a time crunch. My sewing machine ate the fabric constantly, and I ended up hand sewing the chiffon cape and silver rickrack to the costume. The rickrack saved my unsavory seams on the stretchy knit.

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Nonetheless, this Elsa-inspired dress looks adorable on my four-year-old, and we added a blue leotard for warmth and some fun handmade barrettes and a headband to complete the look. I would consider four to be an ultimate princess year for a kid at Halloween, and I am really pleased with how this look came together. Nora was adorable dancing with all of the other princesses (another Elsa included!) at a Halloween party on Saturday night. This age really can’t get much cuter!

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Oh, and as an added bonus, it is versatile enough for the playground!

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New House: Attic Guest Room

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After painting the walls of our attic playroom a deep blue last week, I finished the facelift of the third floor by painting our guest room a cheerful and vibrant sky blue. The color gives the room life and goes really well with the Amy Butler bedding and travel art from a 2003 calendar.

Operation make the attic more comfy and cozy complete! Now it’s time to host some guests!

Mommy and Daughter Crafternoons

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Well, it’s no shock to those who know me that I love some craft time. Nora seems to be taking after me, and now that she’s four, we can really get busy!

Carson has a pretty consistent two-hour nap every afternoon, and we need to fill time at home while he rests. This week we enjoyed the refreshed attic space to get our craft on–and Nora surprised me with her desire to learn some new crafting skills.

Our first project involved making some hair accessories for fall. Nora will be dressing up as Elsa for Halloween in a costume that I made. To make the costume even more fun, I wanted to add some bling to go with her outfit. We made a beautiful rhinestone headband (wrapping an old headband in blue ribbon and hot gluing jewels of different shapes and sizes to it) and some barrettes and bows.

After we finished the project, I started working on an embroidery project and Nora was eager to try it herself. After setting her up with an embroidery hoop and some floss, she got busy next to me on the couch. She wanted to do it the next day as well, and she’s pretty amazed at her new skill set (as am I). I am not fully prepared to have a preschool embroiderer on my hands, so I highly recommend this tutorial on maya*made if you want to get your kids started. I’d like to purchase some burlap and yarn needles for Nora so she can take the project with her where she goes (I do not feel comfortable giving her a sharp needle to take around the house so it’s a with-Mommy project only at the moment).

I’ll keep you updated on what other projects we tackle in the coming months.

New House: Attic Happenings

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With the weather turning cooler (the exception being this weirdly warm week!) and company arriving for the holidays in just a short while, Steve and I are determined to finish upgrading our attic into a cozier space. When we bought our new house, the finished attic was a major selling point, providing us with room for toys, crafts, and guests. However, the space needed improvements.

The previous owners finished the attic themselves some years ago, but when we purchased the house this spring, upgrading the space was an immediate priority. The attic needed carpet, new light fixtures, and some general TLC. Within the first month in our house, we had replaced the carpet and lights. We also purchased a bed for the guest room and set up the larger bonus space as a playroom and craft room.

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However, the room still lacked a cozy feeling. Figuring that the cold and dark months ahead will encourage us to use the attic often, we wanted to add some elements that would cheer up the room. Enter paint! Thanks to a can of dark blue paint (Hotel St. Francis Spirit Blue) from Lowes and painting some accent walls, the space is already feeling more homey and comfortable. I also purchased a color for the guest room, so I’ll add the full attic reveal soon.

Rejuvenating Weekend

Well, I didn’t spend the weekend at the spa, but it was truly rejuvenating. While it was full, it was not spent entirely in front of a computer screen so I could catch up on work. Now, I have a GIGANTIC project that will be on my doorstep today, but I don’t have the number of projects that I’ve had to balance in the last few months.

What did I do instead of work?

  • Went to a vow renewal of close friends.
  • Cooked (Moosewood’s Cauliflower Cheese Soup!).
  • Crafted. (Currently knitting really cute scarves for my little ones for Christmas.)
  • Taught Sunday School.
  • Painted our attic.
  • Watched the Eagles rout the Giants.

Today is Columbus Day, so Nora’s school is closed. We’re heading to a fun kid activity center and then we’ll put the attic back together. It’s a nice, low-key day, complete with Trader Joe’s pumpkin cinnamon rolls. What more could one want?

Refrigerator Tableau

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This is what the side of my fridge looks like these days. What a beautiful sight! In case you can’t tell, the kids are working on fall, Fire Prevention Week, and the color red at preschool. Honestly, when I signed up for this parenting adventure, my first thoughts were of snapshots like this. Eager young minds applying all of their developmental skills to creating art. We’ve navigated through the baby spit-up, nursing, all-night marathons, diaper blowouts, first foods, etc. Now we get the good stuff! (Though my kids are not as cuddly and do not smell as good as they did back in the day!)

 

#TBT: Frankfurt Book Fair

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Here I am in Frankfurt in October 2007. For four (or five?) years I attended the Frankfurt Book Fair, selling rights to the books published with my small independent press. Though I had traveled often as a kid and spent three weeks in Europe following high school, going to the Fair each year was a real test for me. The company I worked for sent me with a companion a few times, but I often spent time alone in Frankfurt and was fortunate enough to link up with other young professionals there. Steve never made it to Frankfurt with me because of football season, of course. This photo was snapped by a best friend and mentor when we traveled together after an epic year at work.

I look so young in this picture (pre-kid days!). As a professional in my mid-twenties at Frankfurt, I had to play “dress up” wearing pretty conservative suits and heels to look older and get more respect from the international publishing community. I often felt awe-struck in Hall 8 surrounded by huge publishers making blockbuster rights deals. The food was generally awesome there, especially for someone who loves cheese, bread, ice cream, and beer.

It would be an awesome opportunity to go back to the Fair. As I continue my career in publishing, I can only hope that I’ll ramp it up when my children are older and have a chance to be a player in the industry again (one of many pipe dreams!).

Other thoughts:

  • A friend asked me to accompany her to The Hundred-Foot Journey. We went to a 4:30 show (on a Wednesday!) yesterday while Steve cared for the kids. It was a treat to be in a movie theater and watch such a sweet (and succulent!) movie. I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
  • I am brainstorming a Christmas craft project. So exciting to be thinking of the holidays!
  • Oh, and I am still obsessed with Jamberry nails. I’m wearing an orchid floral print this week and have developed the expectation that I’ll always have my nails done now. After spending a lifetime agonizing over my crappy nails, there is finally something out there for me!

 

Trying Something New

Last week, WordPress informed me that my blog is six years old. I’m amazed at the changes I’ve experienced while blogging–trying to make sense of my twenties, becoming a mother, quitting my career, finding a new home, and now balancing a life at home with children and freelance work. Lately, I have been feeling less motivated to post here, and it makes me a bit sad. This has always been my outlet to share my life with others (and figure things out for myself!), but it feels a bit like a burden sometimes. While I don’t want to stop writing, I need to find a muse for this space again.

My children are growing and are truly people now, which means that I don’t feel it is appropriate to share all about their lives. My life as a mom is getting a bit easier in the day-to-day because of their maturity as well. I am spending more and more time in front of a computer screen for freelance work, and I’m not biding time at my salaried office job, which was a boon for this blog!

So, where am I right now? I am about to hit another birthday in my thirties. I have two preschoolers. I work as a freelance editor, trying to find time for about ten to twenty hours of work a week. I try to be a good household manager (with my hubby, of course!) by keeping up with fun recipes, staying on budget, keeping things clean, and helping my children stay active through a variety of activities. I am really involved at my church right now. I am part of a few playgroups for my kids. I have wonderful friends who I try to see at least once a month. I have been reading the same book (Wicked) for the last few months because of my intense workload–this is really bothering me! I am psyched for the upcoming holidays (possibly a muse!) and hosting lots of family. I am loving campfires, fall beers, and football (when I get a chance to watch it).

I’ve selected this new blog look to keep things simple here. There’s so much rattling in my head that I want things to look and feel straightforward in this virtual space. I need this to be a space that’s more about me, so I’ll have to work harder to think about that difficult subject. I promise, however, that I’ll keep my Instagram feed filled with cute kid faces!