Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy 2012 Mid-Holiday Hangover Slump Weekend

An almost Pinterest-worthy snap of our stockings hung on Mom's perfectly styled fireplace.  Evie's stocking absolutely refused to cooperate with this photo, but considering she's 2 1/2, I guess that's pretty much spot-on representation.

Hey, there, friends.  Hello from Missouri, outside of St. Louis, in a pretty little community on a hill where snow is just beginning to accumulate outside of cookie-cutter house windows still twinkling with Christmas lights, where I am sitting in my parents' lovely living room in front of a perfect gas-lit fireplace, next to a gorgeous red-and-white ribboned Christmas tree.  Yeah, it is just that good.  And I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a little holiday hangover in spite of it all.  What day is it?  When do we fly back?  Does school start up again next week?  No?  Should I wake the baby from her nap, soon?  What time zone is this?  Is it time to stop drinking coffee and start drinking wine again?  Has anyone seen a glass of water?

Christmas was gorgeous, and nearly perfect.  We had my entire family under one roof for the first time in four years, or maybe more.  My nieces had never even met Evie, and that oversight was just getting ridiculously out of hand, so I'm thrilled we all got to reconnect again, even for just a few short days.  Family really shouldn't be apart for so long.  My nieces are growing up regardless of how often we see them, so, yeah.  Wow.  It was good to see them.

On the other hand, I am a little concerned that my children are in real danger of being permanently ruined by first-world excess, and I'm not sure how to stop it without restricting all family members on both sides to one five-dollar gift each, or college fund donations only, or requiring the girls to donate one old toy for every new toy and no wire coat hangers!  But instead I just gave up and let Lena and Eve (and their very generous family members) enjoy the experience.  One day the girls will tell their grandkids about Grandma Rose's house at Christmas, with the catalog-caliber Christmas tree and the homemade fudge and the china plates at Christmas dinner next to the miniature snow-covered Christmas village with working street lights and tiny flickering bonfire.  And I let them sit in front of the fireplace with hot chocolate and old-fashioned peppermint sticks in Christmas mugs at 11am today because if they ask me one day why they don't remember the Christmas we spent at our own home in 2011 I'll be forced to say, "Because Mama somehow managed to ruin those cinnamon buns that came out of a refrigerated can, and even though your father and I meant to make a lovely sit-down family Christmas dinner, we sort of, you know, forgot, and then finally we all just passed out from sugar or bourbon comas, although even Mama doesn't remember that part so well..."

So, yeah.  I'm letting them Norman Rockwell this Christmas up as much as possible.  It's okay.  I'll sign them up for a Peace Corps Tots Camp over the summer, and it will all net out eventually.

This is all coming out wrong.  I am happy.  I've loved this Christmas.  I just can't believe it's already winding down.  Our flight on Sunday is looming too large.  And blargh, ugh, SUITCASES.  I can't even think about it.  Somebody rewind the week, please?

And another thing:  I've had a lot of time today to catch up on all my favorite blogs, and I'm feeling a little bit like I've let you down this holiday season.  I had a Christmas wishlist post all lined up, but that never happened.  I disappeared right before the day and didn't manage a nice lovey Merry Christmas post for you, either.  My Christmas morning photos turned out blurry, as always, and I haven't been out to photograph the gorgeous bare-limbed winter landscape here, either.  And now, when I should be giving you a perky rundown of my best posts of 2012, the best music of 2012, the most incredible photos, the most important news, the funniest memes, the cutest kittens, the worst hairstyles, the most interesting nail clipping collections, I've got nothing.  I mean, maybe, I guess I've got a couple more days to get my blogging butt in gear, but mostly I'm just lounging around the house in a pajama-clad fog, hoping for another piece of fudge, another mug of soynog, another evening with my family, another morning where my mom and dad handle the girls while Jimmy and I enjoy a magical extra hour of SLEEEP.

Yeah.  Pin that on your Pinterest board.  But I will bet you a dollar that this is how most bloggers REALLY spend their holidays.  Did I buy the materials to make my own Mason Jar winter landscape snowglobe?  I did.  Did I make it?  I don't know, did you make all of your Christmas tree ornaments out of last year's Christmas cards and homemade glitter?  Hmm?  Go ahead and send me a pin of your successful holiday crafting, and I will totally let you win Blogging Christmas while I toast you with one of Mom's chocolate-covered cherry cookies and absently wonder if I will ever remember how to put on shoes again.  Cheers.

Oh, you know I love you.

So here's what I do have for you:  a post-Christmas pre-New Year's wish for a relaxing, quiet, happy winter weekend.  No shopping, no baking, no wrapping, no traveling necessary (I hope).  If you are still with your family, be quiet and cozy up with them, enjoy a little more time to tell them in person that you love them.  If you are away from your family, relax, enjoy the peace, send them a text to tell them how good it was/would be to see them.  Try to remember what was good about the last year.  Try to think of something good to come in the next.  Eat anything, because nothing counts anyway until Tuesday.  Or really Wednesday.  Pick up a bottle of something bubbly for Monday night.  Breathe deep.  Get some sleep.  Go easy on yourself.

I'm sure you've earned it.  I will say you've earned it.  In fact, that is my Christmas gift to you this year:  YOU EARNED IT.



Monday, December 17, 2012

with us

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel,
(which means, God with us).
Matthew 1:23

Like so many others I'm having a difficult time processing the events of last Friday.  As I kissed my sleeping babies that night, I could only think of the parents who couldn't do the same, and my heart broke for the hundredth time, just as it did again this morning when I hugged my babies goodbye and sent them off to school.  My arms ache for my own children, and they ache for the mothers and fathers who lost theirs.  How can there be any comfort for this?

There can't.  Can there be?  I don't know.  I don't know, but I am trying.  And I can't presume to know what could comfort a grieving parent, but I know for myself that I am trying to find comfort in three words:  God with us.  The essence of Christmas:  God with us.  An incomprehensible fact:  God with us.

God with us.

God with us.

God with us.

(God, be with us.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

I had planned...

I think it was Christmas two years ago that I drew a picture of my family's old house for my parents, made prints for myself and my brothers, then wrapped them all up and stuck them under the tree.  The house was just a suburban tract home, I suppose, but it never once felt that way when I was growing up there.  Mom and Dad bought it before it was built, made all of the style and layout choices, then proceeded to have three children and raise them there until each of us moved out.  They lived there for forty years before finally moving to a nicer community further out from the city just, what?  Three years ago?  Four years ago?  I'm already losing track.

It was time for them to move on, but it was painful to say goodbye to the old house.  I studied art and set design in college, so I put my drafting and sketching skills to work to draw a picture of it because I was trying to say goodbye.  And then I really was surprised at what that picture seemed to mean to them

Since then I've thought off and on about opening an online shop so I could do the same for other people.  Mom and Dad always call when someone they know has seen their picture and asked if I would draw a picture of other homes, so I assumed there was a least a little bit of polite interest.  Then a couple of weeks ago it seemed like I had extra time on my hands, and with Christmas on the horizon I thought, why not?  I logged on to Etsy to see how easy it would be to set up a shop.  (It is super easy.)  I uploaded a picture of my parents' house drawing, set a limit on sales for Christmas, and posted the link here and on facebook.  Then I hid under blanket for a few days.

And orders came in.  Enough orders that I've reached my limit for Christmas delivery.  Then Evie was sick for a week, I found out I'd misread Lena's school schedule and she's on minimum days all this week and next, and suddenly I was swamped.

I wanted to be writing here much more these past couple of weeks.  I have SO missed being in this space.  There is a file on my desktop of photos for the Christmas Wishlist post I wanted to make, and a tab open on my browser for the book recommendation I'm dying to give to you.  I wanted to spend as much time as possible with the Christmas tree lit, drinking hot coffee, listening to holiday music, and writing.

Impossible.  I'm sorry it hasn't happened, and a little disappointed.  On the other hand, I am so pleased.  I can't believe how lucky I've been to be spending my time lost in drawing again.  I'm tired, a bit stressed, and a somewhat physically sore, but mentally, creatively, and emotionally I feel so refreshed.  While I work I pray that my customers will be satisfied with their finished pieces, because I am enjoying this so very much.  I feel genuinely happy.

I don't know how much I'll be around this space over the next couple of weeks.  Absolutely I will be here again to wish you a merry Christmas.  But I did want to stop by to say I miss you very much, and I will definitely be back on a regular basis again in January.

And thank you, ever so much, for all of your support.



Friday, December 7, 2012

now that I can concentrate again

Eve came home from preschool on Monday with a fever that rose to over 103' and wouldn't break.  We kept her home on Tuesday, thinking it was a regular cold, and then late Tuesday afternoon she began to complain of pain on the lower right side of her belly.  Now, I really don't like to panic over a two-year-old's fever and runny nose, but when a kid that little is that specific about an acute physical pain, I have to take it seriously.  Especially when I couldn't talk her out of the idea.  Are you sure it doesn't hurt over here, baby?  What about here?  Does your knee hurt?  Your elbow?  Nope, she would not be deterred - her belly hurt just there, on the lower right, and then she got up off of the sofa and doubled over in tears.  Half an hour later I had her and Lena in the emergency room so my baby could be checked for appendicitis.  I had even thrown my glasses and contact case in my bag along with a phone charger just in case we had to stay overnight.

Six hours later we left with the diagnosis ear infection and a prescription for antibiotics.  Turns out her pain was, well, I don't want her to read this in high school and be horribly embarrassed, so let's just say it was a bellyache.  I won't mention the fact that I've never taken Lena to the emergency room, but this is the second time my youngest has gone in for...digestive-related issues.   Kid, you are the cutest, cuddliest package of trouble I have ever laid eyes on.  And you are totally eating kale and prunes every day for the rest of your childhood.  Mama doesn't think she can survive another trip to Cedars without running down the emergency room parking attendant who only sauntered over after I flagged him down, then shrugged and said, "Well, the lot is full.  Why?  Where are you going?  Huh.  I guess you'll have to park across the street."

I don't regret going, and she did have at least one wicked ear infection happening, so it's possible we would have wound up in the ER in the middle of the night anyway.  Poor baby.  Too much poking and prodding and that damn fever that would not go away even after she began antibiotics.  We had to keep her home through yesterday, too, and she ran that fever the whole time, even managing to peak over 104' on several occasions.  I know this isn't the most insightful or unusual thing I've ever written, but I hate, HATE, to see my baby sick.  Just a common childhood cold, a fever for a few days, a run-of-the-mill ear infection - I know.  And still I couldn't concentrate on anything else, always feeling out of sorts by the gnawing feeling that my family wasn't okay.  Maybe it's silly.  But last night after the girls were in bed and Jimmy went out to the office to work some more, I sat alone in the living room and worked on our Christmas letter, feeling that nagging off-kilter presence, until suddenly it disappeared.  It disappeared, and I thought, "Her fever broke!"  And darn-straight it had.  It was a physical relief to touch her skin and find it cool after four days of feeling like it just came out of the oven.

There must be nothing worse in the world than having a child be really, truly ill.

So.  She's better, now.  Back to preschool for her, and back to my mile-long Christmas to-do list for me.  Part of me is so frustrated to have lost the week this way, but for the most part, I'm just happy to see my girl happy, running her little Muppet run, and giggling at her big sister.  And oh, is she ever going to love having cauliflower and Brussels sprouts for dinner.  Welcome back to Christmastime, baby!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

hear this (Christmas edition)

So, I have more than enough Christmas music, as my husband will readily tell you, but I bought the She & Him Christmas album (A Very She & Him Christmas) a couple of weeks ago, and it's just so good that I wanted to share with you.  It was released last year, so this isn't exactly cutting edge news, but you love me anyway, right?

(I just going to assume that's true.)

My favorite track, The Christmas Waltz:

Lena's favorite track (which has me a little worried), Baby, It's Cold Outside:

And the song I usually dislike, but I actually like this version, Sleigh Ride:

Yeah, I know - the album is cute enough that I wanted to cut my bangs, too.  (Thankfully I still have photographic evidence of the last time that happened.)

Happy Wednesday!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

it's December

a little ladybug came to say hello to Lena at the Christmas tree lot on Sunday

Oh, wow, December is here already, did you notice?  I know, how could you not notice.  December is here, and it feels like we're already in full-swing Christmas rush.  We spent our weekend putting up our tree and wrestling twinkle lights and baking gingerbread.  We've been ordering gifts and have already been to one Christmas party, I have Etsy orders to fill (yay!), and there is a box of Christmas cards on the shelf which need to be stuffed into envelopes, addressed, return-addressed, stamped, and sealed, but not until our Christmas letter has been written, printed, folded, and, know how it goes.

It's only the 4th, and maybe like you, I'm already feeling panicked over everything that needs to be done.  Of course I'm also, as usual, behind on email and photo editing.  And to top it off, I've got a little bit of a cold today as well as a temporary crown - a gift from the end-of-the-year leftover dental insurance gods - for the next two weeks, and Evie came home yesterday with just enough of a fever to stay home today with me and watch the same kids' Christmas movie for the fourteenth fifteenth and sixteenth times, all while peppering me with nonstop questions about anything and everything and anything again.

(About a week ago she began acting like a three-year-old all of a sudden, so here's how we've spent the last several days with her:

"Mommy, is it waining?"
Yes, baby, it's raining.
"Why it waining?"
It just is.  Sometimes it rains.
"Oh.  It no wook wike it waining."
Okay, okay, baby!  But it IS raining!
"Oh.  It waining?"
"Oh.  Why it waining, Mommy?"

 She's still cute, though, right?  And I haven't even locked her in a closet, yet!  I win Best Mommy of the Year!)

Christmas tree shopping/puddle jumping in her church shoes.  And yes, now she has a cold.  I GET IT.

But I love this season.  I love the music and the twinkle lights and even the Christmas movies.  I love hot chocolate and hot toddies and spoiling the girls with chocolate advent calendars.  Lena is just old enough now to begin understanding what the holiday is all about, and Evie is just old enough now to get excited about it all.  And my cold isn't so bad.  Just like it isn't so bad sitting here and writing this with a cuddly little girl next to me and our pretty Christmas tree all lit up in the corner.  Yes, it's hard to concentrate with her questions and her squirming and the noise of overly-festive cartoons

What was I saying?

It's like that.  It's like that, but I am determined to enjoy it.  I mean, I'm determined to chill out and relax a bit.  I mean, (deep breath), Hi.  Hello there.  Is it December already?  It is!  It's December already.  And guess what?  We have three whole weeks before Christmas.  And twinkle lights are so pretty.  And my baby is cuddly today.  And I think it's time for some hot chocolate.

Don't you agree?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Etsy shop news

Now that Black Friday (& Thursday), Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and whatever we've taken to calling last Saturday and Sunday are all over with, you may be wondering what to give those last few people on your shopping list, and LUCKY FOR YOU, I am here to help!

No, I don't have winning Powerball numbers.

But I DO still have a few spots open for custom home drawings from my Etsy shop.  They really make great gifts for grandparents, parents, newlyweds, husbands, wives, or anyone who has loved a house.  I've had some inquiries regarding whether or not I will do drawings of other places, or other custom drawings, and my answer is YES.  Please, just ask me what you'd like to have, and I'll let you know what I can do for you.

Orders MUST be placed by December 10th in order to be delivered in time for Christmas.  Don't forget to use the coupon code HOLIDAYFRIEND for 50% off your order - a special thanks just this year to celebrate the shop's opening!  Also, if you live in the Los Angeles or St. Louis areas, please contact me for shipping discounts.

And finally, there is now a link to my shop in that there sidebar over there.  No, on your right.  Yes, there.  Easy peasy!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving photo recap 2012

I can't believe Thanksgiving is over, but here it is Cyber Monday (ugh - did I really type that?) and we are home, unpacked, girls back in school, laundry done.  Our holiday in Sacramento with Jimmy's family was really, truly, so good.  We hated to leave.  One of these days, we'll convince every member of our families that moving to Los Angeles is easy and affordable, but until then, we'll just keep on traveling and taking lots of photos.  Lots and lots and lots of photos.

On to Christmas!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

So much

Today I'm writing from just outside of Sacramento where we're spending the long weekend with Jimmy's family.  His three nieces are our girls' most favorite friends, and few things make me so happy as watching all those cousins get together and tumble around the big house for days on end.  Add in the excellent grown-up family members, the food, the vacation days, and this view, and there just isn't anything to complain about.

Let me rephrase that:  there is so much to be thankful for.

So much.  And I have always had so much to be thankful for.  Pretty soon I'll have 35 years worth of blessings upon blessings in my life, and saying thanks one day a year really will never be enough.

But it's a start.

The list of things I'm grateful for is too long, too personal to include here, but I do want to say that I'm thankful for you, for coming here, for reading.  The encouragement I receive from you is overwhelming.  I hope you have the best day, today, and that you feel loved.  Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever.     Psalm 107:43

Monday, November 19, 2012

equals four.

We spent the weekend pulling off our first yard sale, an event I really should have photographed, but didn't, partly because I was just too busy, and partly because I don't really want to remember it.

Our little garage which was so full that a person could barely walk through it now appears nearly empty by comparison.  All the old baby toys and high chairs, the Pack 'n Play and the crib mattress, the diaper pail and training potty, and so many baby clothes, they are all gone, now.  Some went to good homes, some were donated, and most were bought by yard sale pros who will pack everything into the back of a truck and resell at a considerable profit in Mexico City.  I am trying not to think too much about that.

We made a nice profit, ourselves, and it is a pretty fantastic feeling to be free of all that stuff crowding our already cramped space.  And I realize that it's not as though I had my tubes tied over the weekend.  But, well, each day that goes by already feels like another step away from having another baby, and that is hard on its own.  Getting rid of all the baby gear just feels like a rubber stamp on the decision.  And I did not like saying goodbye to items which seem to be soaked through in memories of what we've had.  Because they were ours - they were bought with dreams and used with love and packed away with sadness tempered with hope.  This has been a year of saying goodbye to babyhood, and I know it comes as no surprise, but I really, really, really loved having little babies.

with Lena, photo credit:  the amazing Gia Canali

with Eve, photo credit, again:  Gia Canali

I can't predict the future.  We haven't exactly shut any doors behind us.  But we do walk further and further away every day.  Which, for now, is okay.  Possibly for forever it will be okay, too.  Really okay.  Because now I have this:

and it's hard to imagine any room for improvement.

Friday, November 16, 2012

new shop now open!

Here it is, the much-anticipated (by me!) Like A Radio Etsy shop!  The picture above is an illustration of the home I grew up in, something I made for my parents when they moved out of it after almost forty years of living, growing, and raising a family in it.  I knew it meant a lot to me, but I was surprised at how much it seemed to mean to them to have a memento of this place to keep with them in their new home.

I have ten spots open for custom drawings of homes that YOU love.  Visit my Etsy shop, make sure you have a good photo of your home that I can work from, and place your order by December 10th at latest.  I am really excited about this, and looking forward to paying some love and attention to a place that means something special to you.

Visit my shop here!



Thursday, November 15, 2012

from nursery to bunk beds

Back in September I wrote a sentimental post about how our office-turned-nursery was about to change again into a room for two little girls.  Honestly, making the decision to sell our crib and toddler bed so we could replace them with bunk beds was incredibly difficult for me.  Selling the crib was hard enough, and then I just couldn't figure out how bunk beds would fit into their tiny room at all.  But I have to say that now that we're on the other side of the transition, I feel very good about it.  I even think the room works better for the girls this way, even though floor space is much more limited, now.  Here - you can see for yourself!

First I want to show you the original nursery layout, way back in 2007 when we were still waiting for Lena to arrive:

(And I thought I had limited space then!  Ha!)

In 2010 when Evie was born, we had to juggle the furniture in order to accomodate a toddler bed for Lena and clothes and toys for two children.  We bought the Oeuf crib on Craigslist for an almost criminally low price after Lena's crib had been recalled, and that's the crib we managed to sell just a few weeks ago without any violent sobbing on my part.  It was a gorgeous crib, but was nearly obscured in our cramped little nursery:

(I don't really recommend hanging pictures over a bed in Southern California. Even though Jimmy is earthquake-proof-crazy, I still worried constantly that they would fall on Lena. This is why we used wall decals over the crib in the first place.)

We've been giving the girls a piece of artwork on each birthday, and I've loved that, but I think we're going to have to begin a different tradition soon. There just isn't much wall space left.  Jimmy never liked my idea of buying them one of a set of crystal glasses on each birthday, and Lena has been asking for a charm bracelet.  Any other good ideas?

(The two little prints in the middle are April and October from Sarah Jane Studios, and I adore them.)

It was a good nursery.  Not perfect, but I loved it, and I loved having little babies live in it.  So long, nursery.  I know it makes me the biggest sap in the whole world, but I'll never forget you.

Anyway, now on to our fabulous little girls' room.  Hello, bunk beds!  Come on in:

The bunk beds were bought from a local dealer, and I can't say enough good things about them.  They were custom made and built extremely well, and although they cost much more than the other option we were considering - buying the cheapest bunk beds available from Ikea - they were still less expensive than buying similar products from some of the major children's furniture retailers, and my hope is that these will last us all the way through college and beyond.  They even separate into lovely twin beds, on the off chance that we ever live in a place with three whole bedrooms.   I know, right?  Dream on, Melanie!

The dresser, nightstand, and PAX closet (below, left, with the mirrored door) are all from Ikea.  But you probably know that already, because I'll bet you have the same furniture in your home.  Don't you?

This is the only bit of layout I don't like - this passage is so narrow. But the girls haven't complained, and one day when that chair moves on it won't be quite so bad. For now, we're still reading the girls bedtime stories and giving them cuddles in that chair, and I'll give up floor space for those things any day of the week.

I really, really wanted to keep the fairy branch wall decal in view, and am so happy this layout worked out.  I'm still not tired of them.

(Yes, that is a pale pink lampshade with rickrack detail.  It is very clean, I promise.)

Admittedly, the Amelie poster is mine, (a gift from Jimmy), but it looks so good in the girls' room that I can't help myself.

New art wall for the girls!   I think I can fit one or two more up there...  Let's see if I can identify these prints for you, though.  The gorgeous bird prints are from Gennine D. Zlatkis.  The sweet Rapunzel and Princess & the Pea prints are limited editions from Heather Ross.  The Paris photograph in the center is from Eye Poetry Photography, and I'm so sorry you can't see it better here because I love it, so I linked directly to that one.  The fantastic square prints - the princess and the narwal, are from Rebecca Artemisa.  The dreamy elephant with balloons piece is from Coco de Paris, and the perfect Amy Butler butterfly cutout is from Ish and Chi.  If you have any questions about any of these, just message me.

I labored over choosing the girls' bedding, but I'm very happy with this.  The lavender quilt is from Target and was very affordable, also as a bonus it doesn't make my head spin (as so many options for kids bedding do).  The star sheets are from Garnet Hill, so I know they're comfortable and will last.  And since I waited to buy them on sale, they didn't even break the bank.  Bedding success!

Evie's shelf, for the most part.  The baby photo is mine, the doll was mine when I was little, and the pottery was made by a good friend of ours for Lena, but the cup, block, figurine and thimble are all Eve's.

Lena's shelf.  Again, the photo is of me and my dad, but the rest is hers.  The yellow mug was a gift from my mom and dad, delivered to me at my old office with white and yellow daisies in it the day after we'd told them we were expecting our first baby.

My Grandma Shannon made this quilt, and I love having it in my daughters' room. She would have loved those girls so much.

Jacket storage behind the bedroom door. Sadly, that wonderful Giant Robot print is about to be replaced with a Tinker Bell poster.  It's a crime, really.  The seafoam is made out of bunnies!  But it's their room and the Tinker Bell poster is cute, too, so I think we can deal.  And I'll keep that Giant Robot print in hopes that one day the girls will grow out of Tinker Bell and learn to love ironic tributes to famous Japanese woodblock prints as much as I do...

Fairy decals.  I still adore these.

So that's it!  A room for two sisters.  As for Lena and Eve, they love their new room, especially the bunk beds.  I'd love to hear from you, though.  What do you think?

bunk beds - Kids Bedrooms USA
rug - Pottery Barn Kids
wall decals - Apple Pie Design
Hemnes dresser, Hemnes nightstand, Pax closet, and Billy bookcase - IKEA
chair - Tiny World
bedspreads and lamp - Target
star sheets - Garnet Hill