big boy bed


Hey, wait a second!  When did my little boy become such a big boy, and a big brother at that?  It’s a fascinating thing having a baby ’round these parts, and the effect his tiny-ness has on my perspective of Orlis.  Who seems so huge.

A few months ago, as my nesting phase went on longer than expected, I did what any semi-insane pregnant woman would do — I made a quilt.  While making baby quilts — for gifts — has become a symbol of my very existence, I had never ventured past the 3X3 foot terrain into larger, truer, longer-lasting bed quilts.  Seeing my [now older] child grow inches on the wall, and make his way s.l.o.w.l.y out of the family bed, I figured it was time he get a bonafide, mama-made quilt of his own with which to grow into late-toddler, little boy, (gulp) older boyhood.


For many years, I’ve had my eye on the simple, fresh design of the sunny-tied quilt from the Purl Bee.  I decided it would be the perfect design for my color-loving boy in his bright orange bedroom.  I had a great time picking out lights and mediums and darks and patterned fabrics to accentuate his two-toned bedroom, and got to work immediately, cutting them into scraps and piecing it all together.  Without much deliberating, I also decided that doing that many yarn ties (as the tutorial dictates) to hold it all together would exacerbate my pregnant crabbiness and poke a hole in my thumb, so I sent it out to be quilted instead.  As soon as this sweet thing got back, I tacked on the binding and threw it on his bed.


And, oh glory, isn’t it adorable!  I love the way the few subtle blues pop out, drawing attention to the mis-match lineup of the two sides, and I love the way the oranges and whites bring to life the birds I stenciled on the walls.  Mostly I love how much he loves his cozy quilt — making a burrito of himself during a sweaty nap, and burrowing deep for the long nights.  He’s learning how to comfortably be alone, and I’m learning, too, how to help him do it.  As he is warmed by his own homemade blanket, my own heart is warmed knowing that, in good company my little Blackbird dreams.  ”I want “mama cuddles” he calls the quilt already, as we settle him in for slumber.  And I think to myself, “oh, baby.  You can have Mama Cuddles.  Do take them to college too, won’t you?  But not for a good, long while.”



good, old birthday




As the days and weeks tick by and we draw ever nearer to the actual birth day of our 2nd babe coming up so soon, I’ll admit, we have needed to remind ourselves to remain focused on the other hundreds of things going on.  (when I say “we,” I really mean, ME.)  Last week, someone around this house turned another year older and despite the strange combination of my elephant-size body and mouse-size energy, we did our best to ensure the birthday man was duly celebrated.

Our ways of feting him weren’t anything particularly new or different, but rather some familiar and beloved rituals handpicked from our birthday basket of tricks — a basket of tricks that, I’ve noticed, is becoming more and more fun for the little man whose birthday it wasn’t. (though you might not have been able to tell that with your naked eye.)  We put up our birthday banner, and quickly balloons were scattered all around the house.  We had loads of fun choosing charms for our wooden birthday wheel, and conjured up multiple occasions to light even more candles and sing “Happy Birthday” one more time.  We had, at the birthday boy’s request this salmon and this pea/prosciutto risotto, some roasted asparagus and this cheesecake.  I received the rare gift of getting to cook in my kitchen for a whole hour All By Myself…without a toddler underfoot while Rob and Orlis were out visiting the neighborhood bees.  With that kind of set-up, everything turned out delicious.

And then came the time for some gifties.  We made sure to shower the birthday boy with lots of admiration and appreciation, and then I broke out the big non-surprise –a set of floor pillows I had been hand-stitching entirely in his presence for the last 3 weeks.  Ever since I saw this pattern for the Purl Bee Hawaiian Style Felt Floor Pillows I have been salivating at the opportunity to make a set.  I thought Rob’s music studio needed a little warming…so to speak, what with all that hard gear in there.  I was thinking these large pillows would do the trick of setting a tone that said, “come, sit, stay awhile, play an instrument.”  



The pattern for the pillows was time-consuming, but not hard.  I had a great time stenciling and cutting out this design…and an even better time doing all the hand-stitching.  I thought I loathed hand-sewing, but in fact, I’m learning to love it.  Perhaps it’s my current state that desires hours sitting on a couch, or maybe I’m just an old dog.  Regardless, I had a great time and after watching me do it for hours, now Orlis is totally excited to learn how to sew too.  (oh, a man after my own heart.)




Here they are, these sweet mirror-image pillows — larger at 36 X 36 inches than my body is, currently, if that’s possible.  And once I tied the final knot I snuck them down to Rob’s studio to see how they looked and snapped a few photos.  Not bad, next to the organ, wouldn’t you say?

Of course, immediately upon receiving the pillows, Rob wanted to test them out in the studio too — to see how they might work, and quickly he started having all kinds of ideas.  ”oh!  You could sit on the floor and play a little slide guitar…and then then you are done, they make a nice soft guitar stand.”


Yes, my dear.  They do.  They do make a nice guitar stand.



Candles out, another birthday, another year gone by.  Life seems sweet and soft and cushy.

P.S. Portlanders — this Wednesday the Elimination Communication group meets again at Alma Education Space from 9:30 – 11:00.  Join us!  We’ve been having lots of fun together and the group is growing!  More info here.  And, next Wednesday (April 10th) I’m leading another workshop about Elimination Communication at the same space. It’s one hour and chock full of great info to get you started on this terrific practice.  Do come.


playspace: before, before, and after

This old house of ours has a few sweet nooks and crannies.  One of the big selling points for me was the little porch-turned-sunroom just off the kitchen with a door to the backyard.  It was a big selling point, though the space is not big at all — just shy of 7 feet by 9 feet.  The previous owner used it as an additional eating area (the two photos to follow are of my initial walk-thru of the house), which is a sweet idea, but when I saw it, I immediately thought, “what a fun little playroom this could be.”

Before Playroom 1

Before Playroom 2

When we moved in, this room was painted a very light shady of buttery yellow, and, it being a small doable space, it was the first room we painted our own shade of sunshine — a much stronger, orangey yellow — Benjamin Moore’s aptly titled color, “American Cheese.”

We moved Orlis’ toys in there, along with some other furniture,  and the room became a bit hodge podge.  For some reason, I was reluctant to let go of a few old pieces of furniture — a dish cupboard and a vintage table with chairs, which made the room, in theory, multi-functional, but in reality, not really functional at all.  This embarrassing photo, for example, shows how inaccessible all of the art supplies were to little Orlis.

The 2nd Before, Playroom

The 2nd Before, Playroom

I needed to be honest with myself and do the hard work of letting go.  Enter: the wonderful online  Playful Learning class I’ve been taking this summer that I blogged about a few weeks ago in reference to our new living room  Science Station.   The genius of this class is that, in regards to setting up useful play spaces for children, where there’s a “problem” the teacher helps you see possibility.  And boy does the class help you appreciate small spaces.  With the exception of purchasing a few little Ikea shelving pieces, most of what I used to transform this room I already had laying around the house.  I learned that all I really needed to do was group things together, label them, and get them down at eye level.  That is, 2-foot eye level.  I started to see that once I paired things down, got simple materials organized together, and made them accessible to Orlis, he would be able to play more independently.  

A bit of shelving, a few hooks, hammer, and nails, several unmatched baskets, and an hour or two of pulling it all together, and here it is.

After! Playroom

So, a little tour:  The garland I made a few years ago at a Craft Night.   There’s a very easy tutorial on the Purl Bee.  The little brown shelving area houses many of Orlis’ non-art toys — dolls, little gadgets, a tool set, and some stackers.  I envision rotating these quite a bit and really appreciate the size allotted.  It’s a perfect amount of toys.

On the other side of the room, I was excited to create another space where we could easily rotate child artwork for display and wanted something different than what we have in our entryway.    I revisited the same article that gave me the framing idea and found this somewhat-intimidating-but-actually-easy-to-install cable system.   It sits just above a 4-compartment shelving unit that fit all of our large art supplies: paper, paint supplies, collage materials, and the most beloved clay.

I used some old jars, coffee mugs, small metal kitchen prep bowls, and a wooden caddy I had to organize all of the small stuff — beads, pipe cleaners, different kinds of crayons, cotton balls and wooden sticks, chalk, and markers.  Orlis is still too young to have open access to scissors and glue, but we’ll be able to fit those things in here too when I’m feeling confident and ready for more mess.

Most of the baskets I found around the house, and once I let go of needing them to look uniform, it was easy as pie to fill in the gaps from what I saw at garage sales and Ikea.  I can’t remember where I saw the adorable idea to use old paint chips as labels, but I have enough paint chips to fill a paint chip display counter, and thus decided to use it.  (My apologies for lacking an appropriate link and credit here.)


The play kitchen was here from the get-go, but now gets more use as the room feels more inviting and child-centered.

As soon as I finished the room, I let my little monkey loose in there and it was as if he knew exactly where to go — as if he’d been in this room before and knew it well.  He went straight for the shelving unit, and discovered the basket of clay and started pulling things out.

Then he indicated where I should sit down.

And so we play.  Just as we always have, but somehow, in this little room that fits us so well right now, playing feels a little more magical — almost like entering a different time zone, or maybe it’s a different mindset.  In this space, there is only one thing to do: get down to the important business of playing, and the space not only reflects that, but invites it too.

As much as I love the colors and as much as the organization appeals to me aesthetically, what is profound to me about the changes is how effective they are in making play more, well, playful — easier, more accessible, and more creative.  Now, with little prompting, Orlis puts things back in their baskets when he’s done playing with them.  He knows what his options are, and he’s innovative in combining toys and making his own games.  It’s just amazing the effect that a space has.