Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays, Darlings!

From our family to yours, wishing you peace, health, and happiness in 2015.

Much love,

Sonja and Chris

Photo from the amazingly talented and wonderful Bronwen Houck.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Benisms vol 537

I’m trying on a new shirt. Preening in front of the mirror. Ben walks in.

“Whoa, Mama. Are you having another baby?! You have a baby belly!!”


For the record: NO. Not having another baby.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Emma’s Nursery

In case you missed our post from yesterday about the original uses of this room, scroll down to read that article first and then catch this one. 

I never did post the final pictures of Emma’s little nursery. Last time we checked in I was puzzling over what to do about the weird large wall.

But first, a layout to help you visualize the space:

What you can’t see in this photo is that the closets are built into the eves of the room, meaning that the entire wall is sloped. If Chris changes Emma on the dresser, he has to be careful not to bang his head on the ceiling. Gotta love these old houses. 

Here is the finished product:

Emma’s little crib area.

Eventually we’ll swap out her crib for Ben’s little grey toddler bed. We’ll also move the rocking chair down to the library (but probably not for a few more years).

I know the black camera is ugly but I wasn’t willing to take it down just for the photos. It’s an essential part of my parenting existence.

This is looking towards the far corner. The closets inhabit the area behind the dresser. My favorite piece of the room is that storage bench that I made from a media shelf. The tutorial can be found here. Right now it’s holding assorted toys and a few books.

And here is how the big blank wall. Previously I was mulling over the idea of doing a collage or two big B&W prints. In the end, I couldn’t commit to either one.  I bought four picture frame shelves from Ikea and screwed them into the studs. They’re quite sturdy. The lower shelves will be used for books (she can reach the bottom one currently) and the upper ones can serve as spaces for pictures and knickknacks.

And I can always swap out the pictures when I get tired of them.

I love that dress. I purchased it from etsy seller Finnoisland Fusion. It’s linen so it’s definitely a special occasion garment but it was too cheery to resist.

 The bird print is from etsy seller Corvidae Curiosities (although it looks like she doesn’t have anything listed currently). I made the teapot in a pottery class several years ago and Chris bought the statue for his grandfather back in high school (and then came back to us when he passed). The lantern is a garage sale find that has been yellowfied.

Makin’ new words up like crazy today!

The table belonged to my grandmother as did the silver teapot (missing its handle now, thanks to my son). I made the little blue pot for the jade plant. Of course, we’d had to move the whole tray now that Emma is crawling and pulling herself up. No longer an immobile little babe!

The gorilla (whose name is Monkey, just to make things extra confusing) is from when I was a baby. I made the little pink blanket a few months ago (Fabric: Shimmer Reflection in Peach [Brambleberry Ridge Collection] and the dark coral is Wee Wander by Sarah Jane/Nature Walk in Coral (both by Michael Miller). 

The mobile was really fun to assemble. It’s just a few bits of wire and a lot of paper strips. I used kitchen skewers for the triangle frame.

Here’s a close-up of the wall. I used pink and gold washi tape on the shelf fronts, just to make it a bit less white. It’s one of those ideas that’s good in theory but not in practice. Emma has already started removing it from the lower units. 

She a nimble-fingered baby. 

That’s me, hiking with my mama.

Most of the pictures were found online in museum archives (or at Feed Your Soul/The Free Art Project), downloaded and printed, glued onto foam board, and then edged in gold washi tape. Total cost: about $12.

One of my favorite books growing up: Miss Rumphius. Seriously, it’s a wonderful read. [What will I do to make the world a better place? I haven’t yet decided.]

Emma’s One Month photo album and a few other gems.

That luna moth was a gift from a favorite supervisor at the Pacific Science Center, the artwork is a book cover (Flamingos on the Roof, poems by Calef Brown. NPR review here), and a link for the bunny tutorial can be found here.

And that, my dears, is little Em’s nursery. 



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Emma’s Nursery: In a former life

We’re getting ready to post pictures of Emma’s nursery but first I thought I’d include a few pictures of the space, back when it was as guest room and then, later, Ben’s nursery.

Here was guest room layout:

This was right after we moved into the house. It was actually my favorite room as it had nice cheery yellow walls and plenty of light.

Ick. Poor choice of curtains. The pea green isn’t really working. But it was the first time I’d ever dyed anything and I was determined to use it, despite hating the end result.

The bed was located in the space currently inhabited by the crib and chair.

And the new dresser lives where the old dresser used to live. We also had these gorgeous wood floors that we sadly covered in carpet because they were so beat up and squeaky. But the good news is that they’re still there so if the next owners want wood floors, all they have to do is peel back the carpet.

Randomly, both of these pieces are in Emma’s new room today. Except the plant bit the dust (aka I accidentally killed it) so I had to buy a new one.

Here’s the layout for Ben’s nursery. Emma’s is exactly the same.

The bench is different. Ben was loathe to give this one up so it followed him into his current room. Different curtains and bunting, too.

Same dresser. Some of the same artwork.

And this is what we did with the big wall. It looks completely different today. (That decal never would have lasted with Emma). Wait till you see it tomorrow.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Benisms Vol 456 and other tales from the family

Today our neighborhood learned that skunks do, indeed, live in seattle. The entire block reeks. Bailey is thrilled. The rest of us would like a pass on the olfactory assault. 

Emma is a stair-climbing machine. She is delighted with her new trick. Her parents are not. 

A few nights ago I blew a fuse in the kitchen and was enveloped in complete darkness. Before I could even think about  searching for a light source, Ben raced into the kitchen wielding his trusty flashlight and shouting: "Superman TO THE RESCUE!!!!!" It made his night. He's pretty handy to have around. I think I'll keep him. 

A few days ago he came into my room and said: "Hey Mom. You know that window in the living room that I cracked?"

"Uh huh"

"Well, GREAT NEWS! I fixed it for you!"

And then, as an afterthought: "Mom, can you say 'thank you' to me for fixing it?"

Like I said, he's a handy little fellow. Never underestimate the power of tape. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Planes, Trains, and Shower Demo

How was our weekend?

Pretty darn good. 

We went on the Santa Train, saw some friends, and demolished our shower. 

Randomly, Chris and I also flew down to Sacramento for a day to check out truck campers. We're going to be road tripping warriors next summer. 

Can we come visit you? ;)



Thursday, December 04, 2014

And That’s [not] A Wrap!

Our mini holiday photo-shoot?

It went well. Got some real winners.

Why do you ask?

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Holiday Gifts for Toddlers

[Note: I was going to title this post Holiday Gifts for Toddler Boys but then I realized that I love (and loved) many of these items as a kid and I am not of the male persuasion. A kid at heart? Yes. I’ll wear that badge proudly]. 

So, without further ado: Holiday Gifts for Toddlers (and the adults that would like to re-live their childhoods)

I always hesitate a bit when writing these gift posts. The primary reason is that we’re trying hard to have the focus of the holiday not be centered around getting piles and piles of (admittedly wonderful) new things.

So there are perhaps one or two toys from the below lists that our son is actually receiving.  Of course, in ferreting out the things we’re going to purchase, we discovered lots of other great gadgets. But sadly those lovely items will have to entertain another child as they won’t be coming down our chimney come Christmas Eve.

First, let’s talk about what Ben’s list looks like.

It can be summed up simply as: duplos.

I know this because he has me rewrite his Christmas list on a daily basis. There is never anything besides duplos; but he’s worked himself into a tizzy deciding which sets he really, truly needs.

He tells me, most sincerely, that he has to have them all. I try not to roll my eyes within his view but I find myself exiting both the conversation and the room several times an hour. It’s going to be a long time until Christmas, let me tell you.

The kid goes through obsessions like he changes clothes (frequently). But at least he stays true to his toy genre for the duration of the crush.

Here is today’s list. Tomorrow’s will, I’m sure, be different.

Duplo Garbage Truck
Duplo Jake and the Neverland Pirates Hideout
Duplo Big Farm
Duplo Town Treasure Attack

Is your child not duple obsessed? Here are a few other items that caught our eye:

Learning Resources Pretend and Play Doctor Set $34 What kid doesn’t love giving his mom an injection? It’ll only hurt for a little while, Mommy! Plus, I like games that let me lay on the ground and pretend to be dead. Weirdly enough, it’s relaxing.
Whoopee Cushion $4 This one never gets old. Ever.
Learning Resources Science Kit $26 Mini evil scientists unite! I was a big fan of ‘potions’ when I was a kid. Mostly it involved mixing the shampoo, conditioner, and body soap all together in a big puddle on the shower floor.
Peaceable Kingdom Funny Faces Sticker Fun $10 [for another option see below] Pirates with mascara and hair bows? YES.
Magnatiles 32 pc Set $52 Parents rave about these magnetic toys. Personally, I like that they’re lovely jewel tones, not the god-awful primary colors that most toys sport these days.
Ikea Fundera Building Blocks $10* We like towers in our house. Because you can knock ‘em down. Destruction is a winning theme ‘round here.
Builder Color and Activity Book $4 Great for road and plane trips. We have another one by the same author and it’s fantastic. Comes in several themes.
Duplo Royal Castle $90. He’s been begging and begging for this one. But $90(!) for a few pieces of colored plastic. I’m not sure I can drink that kool aid.

*Speaking of Ikea: One thing that didn’t make our list is a tent or teepee. Ben has one and has little campouts in his room every night. His own personal reading nook. Ikea has a pretty nifty version here.

Here are a few things that are quite popular around our house:
Preschool Sticker Activity Book $6 We love this thing, as evidenced by the fact that it’s looking pretty sorry these days. The pages are drawn-upon, the stickers have been stuck, and we’re ready for a new version.
Tape Player. Price varies. So admittedly this one is only good if you have tapes. My in-laws gifted Ben a tape player and about 20 tapes that were leftover from my husband’s early years. Ben adores this thing and it goes to bed with him every single night. All the goodies are obtainable: Peter and the Wold, Sesame Street, Joe Scruggs. Plus it’s (knock on wood) indestructible. Our best recommendation: Seek out the temple of Ebay.
Melissa and Doug Make-a-Face Sticker Pad $5 Ok so we don’t actually have this one but I think we may spring for it in the near (cough Christmas cough) future. Comes in the typical variety: crazies, animals, and princesses.
Mind Ware Marble Run $34 It’s hard not to buy all the awesome toys from my childhood. This one was (and continues to be) a winner in our house. Just don’t let the baby vacuum up the marbles with her mouth.
Melissa and Doug Reusable Sticker Pad $5 Another road trip winner. This one comes in a ton of versions: Habitats, City, Princess! Does a cheetah live underwater? It does in Ben-Land.

Lest you be concerned that Ben only has a one-track mind, feast your eyes upon his little side obsession: Pirates.

My mom has the book Tough Boris by Mem Fox, who happens to be one of our favorite authors. Tough Boris is a gem: it has pirates (argh!!), beautiful illustrations, and is a good lesson in compassion and empathy. It’s Ben’s #1 book choice over at her casa.

He also recently sold a bunch of old toys and obtained for himself a mighty pirate ship, courtesy of (you guessed it), Duplo. He loves the fact that it has a cannon that fires a plastic projectile. I hate the fact that it has a cannon that fires a plastic projectile.

Tough Boris by Mem Fox
Duplo Jake’s Pirate Ship Bucky $32
Pirates Match Up Game & Puzzle $9
Melissa and Doug Pirate Finery $24
Melissa and Doug Puffy Pirate Stickers $5

We have a book list coming tomorrow night.

Anything we missed, darlings? What is your kiddo jonesing for these days?



Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Day of Thanks

“For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything thy goodness sends. I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Thanksgiving, Darlings!

May you have a day filled with good food, dear friends, and loving family. And if your family is more prone to squabbles than to hugging, I hope the wine is plentiful. :)

Much love, 
Sonja, Chris, Ben & Emma

Photo from the Library of Congress, under the Creative Commons License agreement. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Benisms vol 38

Ben thought all his Christmases had come at once this morning when a fire truck pulled into the parking lot at preschool.

"HELLOOOO FIREMEN!” he yelled, holding up his duplo fire jeep in solidarity.

Fire folk and garbage collectors must be used to the adoration bestowed by the under-six set.

It wasn’t until five minutes later as he was proudly leading the men down the stairs to the building that he turned around to ask them where the fire was located.

They solemnly informed him that it was just an inspection; otherwise "we’d probably be moving a wee bit faster”.


On the way to preschool, Ben noticed that they’d put up lights in the trees on Lake City Way in preparation for the holiday season.

“Mom, look!”, pointing to a group of homeless folks hanging out in the city park, "those guys are having a CHRISTMAS PARTY!!”

Given that one of the guys was twirling a shovel like he was a baton-thrower in the Macy’s Day Parade, I declined Ben’s idea of joining the festive celebrations.


In other news, Chris and I spent the weekend working on our laundry room. Here’s what we’re going for:

Dirty laundry comes out of the ceiling chute on the upper left and falls onto the counter where it’s loaded into the washer and dryer. Clean clothes can be folded on the lower counter and delicate items can be washed in the sink.

The goal is to also have a mini fridge (to the left of the sink) for when we begin our kitchen remodel. The microwave will also be temporarily relocated down here.

Here is where we’re at:

Cabinets frames have been installed.

Emma is on the quality control team; her speciality is checking products for durability.

The cabinet counters are installed, the sink hole is cut, and the machines are in place.

I solemnly swear never to make fun of Chris’ long gorilla arms ever again. Thanks to his extra long appendages, the dryer venting is now connected.

Next up: counters over the washer and dryer. But not until after Thanksgiving. We’re ready for a break.

Have a great, hopefully short, work week!