Monday, October 20, 2014

House Projects: Basement and Deck

I haven’t posted many pictures of the basement yet, mostly because I’m still plugging away at the little finishing details. I swear, the last 10% takes foreeeeevveeer. 

One of the things I like about my parent’s house and in-law’s house is that they have mudrooms and spaces for wet coats and muddy boots. It’s practically a requirement here in the soggy Pacific Northwest. 

Actually it’s not but it should be. Case in point: We don’t have a mudroom. But! We do have lots of space in the big room that’s right off the garage and is our main entry way into the house. 

 So last weekend I scrounged around for some extra trim pieces and made myself a little soggy coat storage rack.

Two levels: for the talls and the smalls. 

I also installed some shelving for shoes and other misc. items in our adjacent utility closet but those aren’t as pretty so you don’t get to see those. 

Eventually we’ll add a bench under the window with storage bins for gloves and hats but that requires a trip down to Ikea and that’s an undertaking I have to work up to. 

 And I put in shelving in the guest room closet. Viola! And we even have curtains! They’re not the world’s prettiest curtains but they’re blackout shades and that’s a requirement. We want our guests to be cosy in their subterranean dungeon concrete box.

 PS: Yes, that is a real fur coat and no, it’s not mine. Actually, I guess it is mine now. It belonged to my nana and I have no idea what to do with it. Dress up for the kiddies? There’s no way I could wear it out and about town. It seems like such a shame to not put it to some sort of use.

 In other news, we removed the big utility pole that was looming over the deck for the past five years:

This small change was a long time coming: we have to move three phone lines, one cable line, and one electrical line onto a new mast.

[Also, please don’t mind the messy deck furniture, I was trying, unsuccessfully,  to dry out the cushions]

This looks like a project for the trusty hack saw!

Now, if only I could get the power company to move that telephone pole that’s obstructing my view of the lake.

Actually, I asked them to and they said it would be $20k to move 500 feet of line and bury it underground. So that’s not gonna happen.

And can you tell that it’s raining in this photo? Welcome to Fall (Winter, and Spring) in Seattle!



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Emma - 9 Months

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you're two, Turn around and you're four,
Turn around and you're a young girl going out of the door.

Dearest Emma,

Welcome to nine months, sweet girl.

I say this with each new milestone, but oh how the time flies. For the blink of an eye you were our own wee newborn, curled up in our arms, and now you are a crawling, eating, whirlwind of chubby baby.

Dearest Em, you are a baby on the GO. You are a mover. After I put you down for bed at night, I walk downstairs and turn on the camera to see if you’ve decided to sleep. Never. You’re up, you’re standing, you’re practicing taking small steps, holding onto the crib rail for dear life. When I come into your room in the morning, you gleefully show off your new skills.

With Ben we’d put him in the living room and he’d head straight for the door, down the stairs, and out into the yard. He was a one-man disappearing act.

You, are the other hand, look for people. You quietly make your way down the hall to my office and peer around the corner. You pause, scoping out the situation. Once you’ve located your intended target, you make a mad dash across the floor, under the desk, grab the victim’s legs, and then pull yourself up. You might do a little gnaw on the knees to say ‘hey! I’m here! Pick me up, yo!’. You won’t rest until you are happily ensconced into someone’s lap. You are a baby that likes her people.

You have your first cold this week and the stuffed nose and wheezy cough have been tough for you. You’re not a fussy babe; instead you like to take extra time during nursings and snuggle in close for hugs.  I’m going to miss these moments when you’re too busy with life and haven’t got the time for cuddles.

After crawling, your second love is eating. Come dinner time, you’re the first one to the table and the last one still munching away. When you’re really hungry, you bang your hands on the table ala Khrushchev and yell: “Mamamamamama!!!”. We hop to.

We’ve noticed that you very attached to your stuff. You’re never without something clasped firmly in one paw. The item doesn’t hold much significance: it can be a toy, a hat, or Ben’s spoon. You drag it around and then pause to give an occasional chew.  Extracting stuff from your mouth has become one of our main occupations. A few things have gone through, like the inch long bug I discovered in your diaper a few weeks ago. Ew.

With your brother, we were like most first-time parents: in a low-level state of constant anxiety due to the monumental task of caring for a new little person. There were multitudes of questions to which we didn’t have answers. Why isn’t he nursing correctly? Is that amount of spit-up expected? Dear god, why oh why isn’t he sleeping!? Is that cough normal? Why hasn’t he crawled yet?

The second time around we’re much more relaxed. It’s deliciously freeing. We’re slowing down to enjoy and revel in these infant stages, Emma.  That isn’t to say we’re perfect parents (far from it!) or that we’re not finding two children to be a (big) challenge; just that we are taking life one day at a time, and loving your little baby self. Hiccups along the way are now simply part of our family journey.

In particular, I enjoy our time alone in the mornings when Ben is away at preschool. We have a leisurely breakfast and play in your room. If given the opportunity, you make a beeline for Ben’s bedroom as it is forbidden territory when he’s in residence. Like the nosy little sister you are, you gleefully riffle through his stuff and burrow into his bed. Thus far he hasn’t noticed that his toys have acquired a few chew marks or that they’re scattered about the room. It’s our little secret.

I love you, darling. Your parents and brother are in constant awe of your determination, your hilarious belly laugh, and your serene demeanor. You are a joy to have in our family, dearest Em.

Much love,


“A mother's body remembers her babies-the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against her nose. Each child has it's own entreaties to body and soul.”

-Barbara Kingsolver

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hikes: Moss Lake Natural Area

Today we decided to venture off on a new hike in the Moss Lake Natural Area, which is managed by the King County Department of Natural Resources. It’s ideal for children as it’s an easy three mile loop with minimal elevation gain. Frogs were calling as we ambled out of the parking lot and the first (and only) peek of Moss Lake is not to be missed. 

The trail is wide and well-maintained and provides a nice variety of habitats. Bring some good mud-stomping boots or be prepared for soggy feet. The autumn leaves are falling right now and it makes for a colorful stroll. We read that it can be buggy in early spring but for our Sunday outing it was delightfully pleasant and insect-free.

The one glaring detractor of this hike is the lack of signage. We neglected to properly read the trail description in the guidebook (besides knowing it was a loop hike), thus, when we arrived at a point with three possible route directions, we were stumped.

Additionally, we were already late for a birthday party and reluctant to head back in the direction that we’d previously traveled as it was well past the half-way mark of the three mile loop.

Chris set down his pack and jogged down the trail that we’d decided was most likely to lead us home. The troops were feeling a bit peckish so I broke out a few tasty morsels to cheer them up.

My dears, have you tried the This Bar Saves Lives from Whole Foods? The dark chocolate, cherry, and sea salt version is heavenly.

And it’s not just for cranky toddlers (and their mothers): for each bar purchased, food is delivered to starving children around the world. Last quarter the company sent 101,000 packets abroad to children in Africa, India, and Haiti. Definitely a cause worth supporting by chowing down on scrumptious bars.

 Chris found our trail home and we booked it back to the car and off to the birthday party.

Thinking of taking a walk yourself out at Moss Lake? Be not like us, my dears, and take a good long look at the map! Here is an excellent one for reference.



Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Halloween: Baby Flamingo Costume Tutorial

First we had the bird watcher, now we have the bird! May I present, our mini flamingo:

I sewed this on from scratch and it was a really fun project. You could also make any sort of other bird from the basic template: owl, kingfisher, eagle etc. 



Scroll down for the full tutorial.

Halloween: Kids Jungle Explorer Costume

I tried to sell Ben on a bird watcher costume (to go with Emma’s flamingo get-up) but that wasn’t exotic enough for our little guy. But the idea of trekking through far-away lands in search of wild and elusive species appealed to his sense adventure and fondness for extravagant playing. 

Same costume, different name. 

Necessary gear for bird watchers jungle explorers: 

A satchel
Bird book

A waterproof field notebook (necessary both for field scientists and toddlers):

And pencil:

Binoculars and a pith helmet:

Rookie mistake: not learning how to use your fancy gear until after you’ve arrived at your exotic destination.

Taking notes: I think I’ll have mac and cheese for lunch. 

Is that the elusive, adorably exotic GREATER FLAMINGO?! By golly, I believe it is!!

Supplies List

[Many costume accessories came from our collection at home; similar items are linked, below]

Pith Helmet (with a glued-in foam ring to make it fit my kid)
Binoculars. (Or this one if you really want to channel your retro british explorer look).
Birding Vest, the more pockets the better.
Bird Book