Archive for January, 2015

I think I started this loop scarf in…2012?  Is that possible?  Anyhow, bottom line is, it took me dang near forever to get this one finished, but I bound off the last stitches last week and love how it turned out.  Soft, good drape, just the right amount of color.  And done in time for these last couple (or few?…ugh…) months of winter.

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Pattern found here.

Miss Juliette hit the sixteen-month mark on Wednesday – at some point in the past few weeks I stopped referring to her as a baby and started calling her a toddler.  She’s increasingly curious, increasingly communicative, increasingly funny and sweet and, let’s be honest, increasingly maddening as she has recently perfected the arched-back, rigid-as-a-board, screaming-bloody-murder temper tantrum.  But we’ll save my tantrum woes for another day, because there really is so much good stuff to report:

She’s added a host of new words to her vocabulary – there’s a bit of translation required, but she’s slowly making herself understood.  Favorite words are wa-wa (water), nana (banana), UPUPUPPP?! (put me up on the bed or couch, please), shucks (socks), and sheeeeesh (shoes), often muttered as I hear the crackle of velcro being undone in the backseat.  No matter how short our car ride, I always find her barefoot by the time we arrive at our destination.

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Favorite toys are her wooden puzzles, anything with a lid that can be snapped or screwed on and off, and her ever-trusty Mega-Bloks.  She’s put together some pretty impressive towers – they’re not necessarily structurally sound, but gosh, they’re tall!

We still while away the evenings with a stack of books…

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And when the rain puts a damper on our park plans, we dance! I will watch this video each time she has one of those afore-mentioned tantrums and I need a reminder of what a joy she really is.

Dress-up is a new fun pastime – she loves to rummage around in our entryway baskets and pull out my scarves and hats.

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Oven mitts are another favorite accessory.

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Blue steel?

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Other hobbies include pulling every single bottle and tube and q-tip out of the bathroom drawers, turning the TV on and off and on and off, and lifting up her dad’s shirt and sticking her finger in his belly button as hard as she can.

We also started swim lessons a couple of weeks ago and spend our Thursday mornings doing laps at the nearby pool.  Juliette likes the water, but it was a little unfortunate to pull out the 18-24 month swimsuit I had picked up in the fall and find that she had already outgrown it – she was like a sausage, stuffed into that thing!

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The 2T tankini I bought as a replacement was hardly much better.  That belly!  Good for buoyancy, though, right?

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And can we talk about her hair for a minute?  Oy vey.

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If you had told me two years ago that I’d have a little girl with red-golden curls, this isn’t quite what I would have had in mind.  She often looks like a hobbit when we pull her out of bed in the morning, bare-footed and mop-topped.

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But we’re rolling with it.  It goes so well with her happy-go-lucky demeanor!

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We call this her Pantene audition video…

Happy sixteen months, giggle-pants.  You’re a regular laugh a minute.

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Good Lord, are we already two weeks into January?  Feels like a couple of nights ago we were raising our glasses to the dawn of 2015 with Jack and La Verne at our first babies/parents sleepover!

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(photo by La Verne)

Maybe it’s a bit late to be getting my resolutions down on paper screen (resolve to be more punctual?  nah…), but here goes:

Get out of the house SANS BABY with Shane at least once a month.  Sadly, I can count on one hand the number of times we got out for a grownup date in 2014.  Shane and I have always been homebodies, but now it seems it takes extra effort to hit the town, what with finding a sitter and having to dig so deeply in our energy reserves to stay out past 8 pm.  But it’s time – time to sit across from each other and share a meal without being interrupted every 25 seconds to retrieve whatever utensil Juliette has thrown on the floor.  Time to make each other more of a priority.  Time to put away my toddler-chasing boots, pull out my insensible heels, and sip a proper cocktail!

Make art with Juliette.  Get out the paints or the markers or the glitter and glue, at least once a week.  It will be messy.  She may end up ingesting all kinds of art supplies that aren’t meant to be eaten.  But I can’t wait to see what comes of this one.

Learn how to make the best use my camera.  I take a lot of pictures, almost all of them in auto mode.  Some of them turn out ok.  Many others turn out blurry or grainy or too dark or too bright.  I took a picture of Juliette at Christmas – she had just opened a gift and was looking down into the box with utter delight.  Her expression was priceless.  But the photo is junk – totally blurry and way too bright.  I had fiddled with the settings on my camera a few minutes prior, but something was clearly off and I’m bummed to have missed out on capturing that moment the way I wanted to.  So finally, this is the year I figure out what a freaking f/stop is.

Be physically active.  Having a mileage goal kept my butt in gear last year, but I’m aiming for more variety in my fitness regime this year and am going to focus on something different each quarter, with the hope that I’ll eventually find a way to incorporate all four of these activities into my regular schedule.  Quarter 1: Just keep running.  Train for and complete my first (and possibly last) half-marathon (on the books for March 22nd!).  Quarter 2: Renew my online Barre3 subscription and do 2-3 workouts/week.  Quarter 3: Enjoy the sun and go hiking, at least twice a month.  Is this crazy, knowing we’ll have an almost-two year old?  Probably so.  Quarter 4: Swim?  I haven’t done laps since I was pregnant with Juliette, but swimming has always been one of my favorite workouts.  I’m still figuring out how/when/where to make it to the pool on my own, but I’m going to give it a shot.

End the year with less stuff in our house than there is right now.  This one will be a little hard to accurately gauge, but I did snap photos of our closets as a day-1 record and hope to spend the next 12 months purging, organizing, and, most importantly, limiting the number of new things that come through our front door.   I think there’s a minimalist buried deep inside me, trying to burrow her way out of the over-stuffed sock drawer.  I’m hoping to give her a little space to breathe.


Jules and I getting a head start on resolution #2 on New Year’s Day – she was a natural with that paintbrush!

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And then all hell broke loose…

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Cheers to a year of livin’ large (and simply).

La Verne sent me a link to this pattern a couple of months ago with the message “wouldn’t this be the cutest on Jules?”.  Yes, La Verne, actually it would!

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I had some chunky blue yarn I was going to use for a hat, but I opted for this instead – it knitted up super-fast and only required one quick YouTube refresher course to finish off the ears.  Shane thinks she looks like a Teletubby, but I don’t care – she’s wearing this thing for as long as I can get it over her head!

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Pattern available for purchase on Ravelry.

I know, we’re 8 days in 2015; it’s time to get on board with the new year and close the books on 2014, but I can’t just yet.  It was such a good year.  There were downs, for sure, but the highs were so beautifully high.  I want to memorialize that goodness one last time before setting my feet firmly in 2015, so I’m borrowing a theme from La Verne and jotting down my own 2014 time capsule.

Favorite movie:  I only made it to the movies a handful of times but I’m glad I was able to experience Wild on the big screen.

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I read the book, a true-story chronicle of Cheryl Strayed’s solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, a couple of years ago and loved it. And I think I loved the on-screen version even more.  I spent a good half of the movie either holding my breath or holding back tears – Reese Witherspoon nailed it.


Favorite TV show:  Homeland was killer last season, Parenthood had me in tears a few times, but girls, girls, Girls!

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Wow, Lena Dunham/Hannah Horvath is brilliant – funny and articulate and creative and original.  Not the kind of show you want to watch with your parents, but it was just the thing I needed to counteract my Sunday night blues.  Award for most-transformed television character goes to Hannah’s boyfriend, Adam.


Favorite song:  Jules and I listen to more Taylor Swift than I’d like to admit, but when I’m at work or in the car alone and put on my “latest faves” Spotify playlist, Ledges by Noah Gundersen is the first song that plays.

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I saw him perform three or four years ago and have been a fan ever since – I’m not sure if it’s the husky voice or the accompaniment of his sister’s violin or the emotionally-charged lyrics, but I can’t get enough.


Favorite new accessory:  Shane bought me a black leather cross-body Kate Spade purse for Christmas, and I’m still kind of swooning over it.

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Perfectly sized, the leather drapes beautifully when the bag isn’t full, the lining and stitching and buckles all have that extra-refined high-quality touch – this is first really nice purse I’ve owned and…I’m afraid Kohl’s just lost a customer.


Favorite purchase:  At the risk of sounding unbelievably un-thrilling, its our Dyson cordless vacuum.


This was our one Black Friday purchase, and it’s a total game changer.  Super-portable, which is key for our three-level townhouse, particularly since we’ve added a cereal-spiller to our family.  We vacuum three times more often than we used to because it’s so easy to pull this thing out of the closet and run it for a few minutes. Honorable mention in the “favorite purchase” category goes to to the Bob running stroller we scored on Craigslist.


Favorite professional moment:  Standing at the top my project’s atrium, two and a half years after I sat down with the team to develop the first rough massing studies.

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I know, it’s still got a ways to go, but my heart fluttered a little when I visited the jobsite last month and experienced the real-life proportions of the building I’ve seen only on paper (and screen) for so long – I’ve pored over the details of that atrium, and I’m feeling affirmed once all the scaffolding is out of there, the glass guardrails are in, and the cantilevered conference pods receive their wood cladding, it’s going to be amazing.


Favorite personal pastime:  “Me-time” was a little hard to come by in 2014, but when I did manage a break from work or baby, I…looked at pictures of baby.

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It’s been a lot of fun though, chronicling Juliette’s life via blog and baby book.  I’m already forgetting what she looked like a few months ago, how old she was when she took her first swing ride or started crawling, so I’m glad I have a record of it.  And I’m glad she’ll have this record as well – today we pulled out her photo album and I told her stories about her early life (since she’s so old now!).  We looked at pictures from the time Grandma and Aunt Tiff came to visit and talked about our summer park outings with our buddies.  She seemed into it – I’m glad she’s starting to understand that I’m constantly shoving a camera in her face for good purpose!


On that note, favorite picture of Juliette (Lord knows there were so many!):  This one because it so perfectly captures that goofy, unbridled joy that made my heart fit to burst time and again.  Plus, I’m a sucker for that thigh roll.

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And this one, because man, the number of times I have looked over at her sitting in her high chair, witnessed a new facial expression, and laughed out loud:

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Ok, this one too (I knew I couldn’t pick just one!), because yikes!  That hair and those cheeks:

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Favorite moments:

Probably this:


And this – the woods across the street from us have never looked more beautiful.  And our house has never felt cozier than it did after that walk, when we curled up on the couch with Jules and her favorite books:

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But also this – oh, to feel the sun on my shoulders and the sand between my toes again:

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And damn, this was good:

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Alright, 2015.  I’m ready for ya now.  Top that.

I got off to a slow start in 2014 but breezed through a lot of fun reads the last couple of months, bringing my reading tally to 20 books.  Last year’s bookshelf contains my usual eclectic mix – a lot of memoirs, a couple of self-help books, a little poetry, some teen fiction…  The year in review:

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The Sleepeasy Solution by Jennifer Waldburger

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Le Divorce by Diane Johnson

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Best books of 2014:  I just finished Operating Instructions and have once again been wowed by Anne Lamott’s ability to speak to my soul – this journal of her first year of motherhood in all its ups and downs was so poignant and so familiar.  One moment her son is the light of her life, the sweetest, most beautiful creature ever to exist, the next moment he is the devil incarnate (love you, Jules!).  Honorable mention to Bossypants for being hilarious and engaging and exactly the kind of thing I was wanting to read on rainy December afternoons.  I should also give a shout-out to The Sleepeasy Solution for saving us from those late-night marathon baby-bouncing sessions as we “trained” the baby to get to sleep on her own (seriously, I love you, Jules!).

Worst book of 2014:  There are a few duds up there, but particularly wish I hadn’t wasted my time on Le Divorce.  I picked this one up because it’s set in Paris and the review I read promised the perfect mix of tragedy and comedy, but even the Parisian scenery wasn’t enough to get me on board.  Unbelievable, slooooow, and without a single likable character.

On the docket for 2015:  Last year was a little light on classics – going to make up for it this year by tackling The Brothers Karamazov and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  I’d like to delve deeper into poetry as well, maybe pick up Wendell Berry or Maya Angelou.  And for balance, I’ll probably throw in a little Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling, to stay well-rounded, of course…

Happy New Year!  The Christmas tree has been put out at the curb, the house is refreshingly decluttered after a January 1st organizing binge (another new tradition?), and I’m looking forward, thinking about my hopes and goals for 2015.  But first, a look back at how I did on last year’s resolutions:

Read to Juliette every day.  Check.  One of the easiest resolutions I’ve ever kept, as reading has become one of our favorite time-passers and an integral part of our nighttime routine.  Juliette loves when I throw the pillows on the floor and ask her to curl up next to me with I Want My Hat Back or Gossie.  She’s recently really taken to reading by herself as well – we did a little rearranging yesterday to set up a reading corner in our living room, and Juliette quickly grabbed a couple of books and claimed this chair as her own.

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Limit all non-essential purchases to things that I truly love.  Gah!  Damn you, GAP sales!  I continue to be a total sucker for a that little kick of adrenaline that comes with a good deal or a new outfit, so my closet is filled with sweaters and jeans that I don’t need, but kinda like.  On the other hand, we’ve done well on the toy front and have made good use of gifts and borrowed items, only buying a few special books and blocks and puzzles for Juliette.  House purchases have been kept to a minimum as well – I picked up a couple of baskets to clean up our entryway and we invested in a totally-worth-it Dyson vacuum, but other than that, I steered clear of West Elm and Crate and Barrel.  The clothes, though, the clothes!  How quickly my resolve shatters when I see those brightly colored signs promising 50% off…

Limit my time on Facebook.  I’ve done alright on this one – there are still days when I fall down the Facebook vortex and find myself scrolling and scrolling and scrolling through status updates, wanting to be sure that I catch every new photo and linked article and clever blurb, but generally I’m finding that I care less and less about what I might be “missing” if I ease up on social media.  This means I’m reading more books, being more productive, and even getting a bit more sleep, since I’ve removed Facebook perusal from my bedtime routine.  Feels good.

Get back into a regular exercise rhythm (walk/run at least 365 miles this year).  Success!  I wanted to run at least half of these miles and squeaked by with a running tally of 185 miles and a walking tally of 187 miles, totaling 372 miles in 2014.  This resolution definitely got me back into the running groove, motivating me to get out there more often and for longer distances (although I still cut it dang close at the end – my goal-meeting run took place on New Years Eve!).  A special shout-out to Juliette, who embarked on at least three-quarters of these miles with me – I gave her a sweaty hug and a cookie when we finished Wednesday’s loop around Jefferson Park.  We did it, baby!

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Two gold stars, one silver, and a bronze (or maybe copper?  I mean, I shopped those holiday sales hard).  Not too shabby, but plenty of room to grow.  Onward to 2015!