Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Month With Less

So we have less than a week left in our month with less. If you are just joining me then let me catch you up. My family has spent the last three weeks and two days without buying anything new! Obviously we aren't homesteaders so we have purchased food, medicine, hygiene products (toilet paper!). I also have a confession of sorts, I accidentally purchased glasses. I piked out my new glasses without realizing that they were over the cost of my insurance covered glasses, so we did pay the difference.

Since I am going to live with these glasses for a loooooong time I didn't feel very guilty about it. 

Cordelia is happy to support my decision.

Anyway, when the last week has ended I will share with you just how transformative this experience has been, and it has been pretty amazing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Dug Trenches

Two hours and forty-five minutes of sleep is how I started Saturday morning. Eric wasn't faring much better. We tag teamed it over the night as Cordelia awoke thinking maybe she was sick, she wasn't really sick. Elise was up and down as a result of the wake-up wails of Cordelia and it was all over before 5am. It was one of those days that Eric and I looked at each other, bleary eyed, across the breakfast table and wondered how many hours it would be until bed time. We had a long day ahead of us, with some really fun activities planned so we just did our best to pull ourselves together and soon enough, thanks to the power of parenthood, we were functioning in a mostly normal manner.

We got the girls dressed and ready, took the dogs to my parents' home and then headed back into town for a symphony for kids. Our good friend is the director of the symphony and we love to support her work and even more so when it gives us the opportunity to share music with the girls! We settled into our seats and enjoyed the show. There was great music, lots of laughs for the kids. Although Elise was annoyed when the music stopped for skits, at one point she shouted, "STOP TALKING." Then when the music resumed she leaned back on me, transfixed. Cordelia enjoyed the whole thing!

After the symphony we rushed home and had a quick lunch before hitting the road. We drove to Buffalo for the opening of Eric's show, a selection of works from his series We Dug Trenches, a photographic study of our life in the West. He showed his photography at The Crazy Woman Fine Art Gallery in Buffalo. If you haven't been to Buffalo, Wyoming then let me tell you it is a mighty small town with a lot of charm and character. The community is very art friendly, but we didn't really know if anyone would show for the opening. Thankfully we were pleasantly surprised as locals as well as friends from our community showed up to see his work. The event was really a lot of fun. The girls were on their best behavior and everything went smoothly.

You can see the full We Dug Trenches show here. Purchase prints here.

Elise walked around charming everyone



Cordelia was working it for Eric, telling everyone that her dad had taken all of the photos

Eric and gallery owner/artist Jenny Wuerker



After the reception we decided to return home ahead of a storm that had the potential to keep us from returning the next day. Initially we had planned to stay at The Historic Occidental Hotel, but we will have to save that for another time. We made it home in the early evening, talking along the drive to keep weariness at bay. We fed our children...not quality food I will admit...and we were all sound asleep before it was even totally dark outside.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad

 Dad and Betty

Yesterday was my father's birthday! He had to work, since he is a pastor he can't really take Sundays off. So he had a partial work day, but then he had BIG PLANS for the afternoon. He wanted to watch sports (and golf) on TV and relax. My father is always on the go, out in public, and you might not know it to meet him, but he is an introvert. So this is just what the birthday doctor ordered for him.

Dad and I

We all descended upon the house later in the day, after giving him some down time. He forced me to watch a little golf with him while he explained the rules. You can't tell in this photo, but I was fast asleep. I am kidding.

Laura and Elise

Grandma and Elise


We had a wonderful afternoon. There was a lot of laughter and Tom Foolery. Laura (we borrow her as a family member, she has a fantastic family of her own, but they live in a different town so we borrow her) was there and so was my brother Sam. I am sorry I didn't get a picture of Sam (I know a certain Arizonian would appreciate a picture of him, so I will snap one soon) , but he spent much of his time helping Elise to fly.


We had dinner and cupcakes baked into ice cream cones and we laughed until we cried.

We played Wii bowling and just a nice family night. I think that was the perfect kind of birthday for my father as he is all about family. My dad is seriously an amazing father/husband/friend/musician/everything. Every person who is fortunate enough to become part of his life learns that he is so smart, so weirdly funny and such a genuinely good human. I cannot express to you enough just how important it has been and continues to be for my family to just have the influence of a truly good man. I love my father and I am so honored that I get to be his daughter, one of the greatest blessings in my life.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Quote: All Things Good

Believe there is a great power silently working for all things good, behave yourself and nevermind the rest.
~Beatrix Potter

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Magical Ordinary


Friday, April 11, 2014

Twenty-One Months

Yesterday marked 21 months for Elise! She has had a big month. Our little lady has weaned, begun potty training, started sleeping (some of the night) in a toddler bed, her vocabulary has exploded. This month she has gone from one and two words at a time to full sentences. She can clearly communicate most any need. Oh, and I wish I could share how sweetly she mispronounces words. For example, water is pronounced wah-yay. She will say, "Need drink wah-yay please." My heart melts.

She is bright an independent and imaginative. She is loving and affectionate and happy. She is also super quirky. For instance, yesterday she requested that I rub her nostrils and then, almost instantly, fell asleep! She also does not want the food on her plate to touch, for real! As I am writing this she is sitting on the dog bed with a bucket on her head. Life is beautiful at 21 months!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Making a Spectacle of Myself

Yesterday, promptly at nap time, the girls and I picked Eric up from work and headed to the optometrist. Eric was in need of his regular check up, he'd put it off for a couple of years and had been wearing the same contact lenses since 1993 (not really). My eyes have been feeling a bit tired for the past year or so. Initially I had assumed that it was due to the fact that I almost never sleep (thanks kids), but even with a few decent nights of sleep under my belt my eyes still feel weird. So it was time to check them out. I hadn't been to see an eye doctor since 2000!

I know this isn't fair to the optometrists out there, please forgive me, but I always suspect their methods. They flip lenses back and forth and ask which is better or worse and I always feel like they are pulling a fast one on me. Are they the same? Also, my knowledge of the human eye is limited to what I learned in my science classes in high school and college and much of what they say sounds like something a Vegas magician would say, "Keep your eye on this dot (flashing lights and quick movements)," then the bikini clad assistant disappears...wait that doesn't happen at your eye doctor appointments? Your loss.

Anyway we arrived family style at nap time at the optometrists. Eric went back for his appointment. I tried to fill out our paperwork and the girls normally should have been content to play. Not yesterday. Cordelia cried when the ipad (optometrist had ipads for kids to use!?!) wouldn't respond to her frantic button pushing. Elise played screaming rag doll. Brochures were tossed about willy nilly. A book was chucked across the room. It was just one of those days. When it was my turn to go back for the check up Eric decided to cruise around with the girls restrained safely in their car seats while they listened to the Frozen soundtrack for the 20 billionth time. He later reported little improvement in their behaviors, we all have our off days I guess.

I went through my appointment, assuming that I'd be given eye exercises or told to stand farther away from my paintings, but nope...I need glasses. He said that I would probably feel better if I wear them always, but that it is safe for me to go without. So at least I can ease my way into this world of eye glass wearing.

I called Eric when it was time to pick out the glasses, hoping for a little help. Mostly because the kindly gentleman was trying to pick out glasses for me. Normally this is not the kind of help I prefer. Of course I am polite and I try to listen to suggestions, but ultimately I assume that I know what's best for me. The older gentleman looked at my face and suggested a pair of vintage-y cat eye frames that felt pretty good and looked pretty good as well, but I had difficulty accepting his expertise. I mean what could he know about the needs of a 32 11/12 year old?  Eric and I proceeded to rule out many other selections before settling on the pair that the older gentleman had suggested with the very first try! He's good. Thank goodness too, because the girls had lost their minds and were pretty much just running around like adorable psychos, rolling and jumping and screaming. So we left and the girls almost immediately acted normally... my glasses will arrive some time next week.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

And it is so Worth the Wait

**No photos in this post are from yesterday as it is still brown outside, there is green to be found if you squint, but these pics really capture the mood.

Last night was wonderful, heck all day yesterday was pretty spectacular. The weather was perfect. We drove around with the windows rolled down, breeze in our hair. We opened doors and windows. I think probably a thick yellow fog of winter air (dog farts and diapers) dispersed into the atmosphere. Fresh cool air filled up our home. The dogs lounged in the yard, lazily woofing at the occasional squirrel (something I fully support) and looking for gross yard stuff to eat, because they are dogs. The girls were angels, no crazy meltdowns or bizarre behavior to mess with the mood of the day. It was fantastic.

spring buds 6

Sometime around 3 I loaded up the girls into the stroller. I leashed up the dogs, one in each hand as I pushed the heavily laden stroller. Seriously folks it is quite a thing to watch, people will stop their cars to stare as I make my way through the neighborhood, one person leading four others with only the power of my alpha-ness to control the whole shebang. We took at least an hour, meandering through the labyrinth of our neighborhood. Cordelia and I played I-spy. Playing that game with a four year old goes something like this...Cordelia looks at a red house and says, "I see something that is red." Or she stares at a cloud and says, "I see something white in the sky." So, it's pretty easy to keep up. Elise is happy to just look around and chillax, a major shift from the baby who would howl for an entire walk for the last two summers. The dogs were happy to plod along at their basset-y pace, stopping to smell stuff and pee on the sidewalk. There is this obnoxious standard poodle named Noodles near our house and he barks incessantly at us, Bumblebee always stops to relieve herself by his fence, it's kind of funny---if you're into that kind of humor.


Later we worked in the back yard. This year the winter clean up is extra special thanks to the major, limb breaking, storms that hit over the winter. There were thousands of tiny broken branches and leaves to be dealt with, in the aftermath of the storms we were focused primarily on cleaning up large branches and now we face the insane task of cleaning up everything else. It's happening and it feels so good to get out there and do some manual labor, to feel the dirt and the air, and to smell the decay of leaves and to see the new plants poking up through the brown grass of last year. Oh it is so close. We stayed outside for ages today and the girls got so dirty. I saw them grinding soil into their hair and eating dirt. I didn't really try to stop them as it seemed to make sense after such a very long winter.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


 I am big on individuality. Growing up I always found it deeply insulting when friends or acquaintances would copy my style. Obviously I didn't live in a bubble and I was getting my style ideas from somewhere, but I was certainly annoyed when my (copied) style was repeated. I knew the age old saying, imitation it the sincerest form of flattery, but it still irked me. I recall a time in the 90s when I started wearing Mary Jane shoes, this was when they were beginning their zillionth incarnation as an en vogue shoe and several girls in my crowd were wearing them at the time. Anyway, some girls from a different crowd made fun of my Mary Jane shoes, calling them witchy. I didn't mind at all...until they started wearing the same shoes a few months later! Argh that really upset my sense of style and I immediately dropped my shoes off at the thrift store. Such drama teenagers have! I mean, in retrospect I get it, teens are trying to find their way and there are very few things over which they have control, makes sense I guess.Thankfully I moved past that phase by the time I was in my late teens, who cared? I have maintained the who cares stance to present day, because really, it doesn't matter.

Then, I had two daughters. I think it is really important that they develop as individuals. I have put a lot of thought into how best to help them to feel like they are standing on their own and creating their own light. So when Cordelia started asking to dress in the same clothes as her sister I was hesitant to agree. Why did she want them to dress alike? I am not really sure what I was thinking. I finally decided to acquiesce. Both girls are ecstatic to dress the same on occasion. They have a few outfits that are identical (thanks to my mother) and when they have the same clothes on it's like something changes, as though they are team members. I have no idea why they want to do this, but it sure is sweet. So, their individuality shines through in other ways, there's really no holding that back anyway.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Pre-School Performance

Yesterday Cordelia had a pre-school performance. She has been practicing the songs and their accompanying hand jives for weeks (a welcome break from the still relentless singing of Let It Go), Elise even knows much of the music and motions from careful study of her big sister. The whole family (minus Ben and Sara who insist on living a bazillion miles away---some nonsense about a PhD in bioinformatics, kidding) was there to watch the show.

Cordelia had gone to bed quietly the night before because she needed to "rest up" and "be ready" for the big show. When she woke up yesterday morning she was ready and raring to go. She wolfed down her leftover pancakes, pausing occasionally to practice her songs. She picked an outfit that had a match in her sister's size, so that everyone would know that she and Elise are sisters (so sweet). Then she chose "the hat with the jewel," a hat that once belong to her great great grandmother Rose. She wears the hat regularly and feels quite special when she sports that classic beauty...and she should as it garners a LOT of attention and many compliments from people we know and even passers-by who are just too charmed by the little girl in the big hat.

Cordelia loves to put on a show (#futuretheatermajor #helpus), but she kind of froze up during the performance. She mostly did her thing, but with a lot less of the unbridled enthusiasm that we see at home. When she talked about it later she mentioned that she was a bit nervous in front of so many people, and there were a LOT of people there to watch the kids. She dramatically pulled her hat over her face at the end of one performance, sort of a diva move on her part, ten points for style. She nervously yawned. She stared and stared into the audience. She waved sweetly. She smiled. Her nose was picked. I didn't mind the nose picking so much as the girl behind  hiked up her own ensemble and scratched her bare bum nonchalantly as she sang. Ahh parenthood. I looked around at the audience of parents and grandparents, all of us with silly grins pasted on our faces as we joyfully watched our little children do their thing.

My mom and Elise


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sunday Quote: Be Joyful

Be joyful because it is humanly possible.
-Wendell Berry

Awesome Parenting 101: Box Slide

My dad is great at making things fun for kids, anything. He has this ability to bring the fun and adventure to everything. When we visit him at work the rolling coat rack becomes a boat and he steers the girls around. He gives them rides in the wheelchair that they keep there (I may have gotten a ride on the wheelchair as well). I love that about my dad and I try to emulate that technique to make the mundane a little more fun. Enter the box slide. I know this is an age old tradition, but this was our first time and it was a hit.

First I used a big old box that we were waiting to drop at recycling. I flattened it out and let the girls play on it for a little while.
box slide

Next I put it onto the stairs and set the girls up top.
box slide

Instant fun
box slide

box slide

This morning, after some pancakes, it was time for a final run. Eric stood up top to hold the cardboard in place and I stayed on the bottom and handed the girls back up the stairs to him, this worked well.

box slide

box slide

box slide

When we retired the slide it became a bird's nest, a canvas, a tunnel...boxes are versatile I tell you.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Month with Less: $20 Thrift Store Challenge

Since the family is doing a month of not making any new purchases (with the exception of food, personal items, meds if needed) I thought it would be a great time to show what you can find at a thrift store if you put your mind to it!

I usually go thrifting with some ground rules:
1. Don't buy it unless you are sure you will use it.
2. Set a budget. I rarely spend more than $10 when thrifting, most of the time is spent hunting.
3. Have a long term list of items you are hunting for, perhaps it will take a while to find them, but someday you probably will and the victory is sweet my friends.

I went to the local Goodwill this week and set a limit of $20 for myself and just wanted to see what I could find off of my "thrift store list," the list in my head. I spent about 30 minutes looking around and managed to score quite a haul.

thrifted fondu pot

First I found this orange fondue set, a complete and totally perfect set. I have been browsing Esty for an orange fondue set for about six months, but couldn't bring myself to pay $30 + shipping for a set, so I put it on my thrift list. I was pretty jazzed to find it in an awesome orange color too!

 thrifted lamp
I found this sweet mid-century lamp, it had an absolutely hideous shade on. I will begin hunting for a cool replacement shade now. Not from this thrift adventure, but previous ones, the chair, mid-century speaker (one of two), and records are all thrifted.

I didn't photograph these as they are in the wash (always wash thrifted clothes before wearing), but I got Elise a pair of jeans and Cordelia a red polka-dot skirt.

flower vase
I wanted an earthy vintage vase for outdoor use this spring and I found this handmade beauty there. The artist has signed the bottom so we can research that on a rainy day. Also, I would like to note that the flowers were purchased before we started our experiment...they are two weeks old and still hanging on!

All items were things that I have had on my mind, not impulse purchases, very important in thrifting!

So here is a run down and total.

Vintage Handmade  Vase $2
Fondue Set $5.75
Pants for Elise $1.35 (who makes up the prices?)
Skirt for Cordelia $3
Mid Century Lamp $6
           Grand Total $18.10

What have you thrifted lately?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Project: Earth Friendly Seedlings


I started my first round of seedlings a few weeks ago. I planted them in my little plastic seedling tray that I have used and re-used many times. Once the seeds started to grow it was clear that the little hands helping me plant had been very generous with their seeds and that a little thinning was due. If you aren't into seedling lingo, thinning is the simple process of removing a few plants in order to let the healthiest grow. Otherwise they compete for nutrients and choke each other, then all of them die.

I couldn't buy another tray and I hate to just throw away little plants that are growing. I am such a weirdo that I can't even throw out plants. I know as a vegan I am like a major plant killer, but I really like to let those little babies reach their full potential. Yeah, it's OK to sigh in annoyance at that, I annoy my own self with that business.I decided to do some transplanting instead of tossing seedlings into the trash like some kind of monster. I created a little DIY seedling tray that is a great way to recycle with things you probably already have laying around the house. Also, it is a super kid friendly project as long as you are cool with a little mess.


You will need:
leftover toilet paper rolls I also used a few old soy yogurt cups that I had cleaned
a large plastic container, or several smaller ones. I used a container that had originally housed some store bought lettuce.
seeds or seedlings

1. Cut your toilet paper rolls in half and then set them upright ( I also included some yogurt cups) into my salad tray.
2. Fill all of them with soil. Little hands love this messy job.
3. Transplant seedlings or just plant some seeds.
4. Water them and put them into a sunny room, but if you are planting seeds keep them in a dimly lit room until they sprout.


Now if only it would stop snowing...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Without Words: Elise

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