Feels Like Spring

I know it’s only January and in other parts of the United States it’s snowing and freezing but lately, we’ve had beautiful weather and it’s feeling an awful lot like spring is here.


We’ve taken lots of walks partly because of this lovely weather and partly because we have a baby who is refusing to nap in or on anything but a carrier.

only naps in here

But this week has also been full of lots of outdoor time, open back doors, picnic lunches in the sun, beach visits, enjoying some good reads and a little bit of spring time inspired embroidery too.

open door policy

sprawled out


the wall o art

good reads



happy girlAll of this warm weather is making me think of planting and summer gardens and easter bunnies and flowers in the house and making sun tea. I’m excited for the year to unfold… but I know I really need to slow down …and take it season by season.


A Sensory Play Mat

In my preschool/ childcare days, I worked with infants for about three years out of the ten plus I was  in early education. I learned a lot about the needs of babies. Sensory exploration is a very large part of being a baby and I wanted to make a special soft, sensory place for the babies in my care to explore and crawl and lay on. I put together a rather shoddy play mat that at the time I thought was a work of genius. It has however, lasted through three years of babies in my care and then moved with me to a toddler room and a preschool room where it stayed for almost five years as a reading corner mat. When I left my job to stay home with my baby, that mat was one of the few things I took with me. I wanted  to give my baby girl a chance to lay and crawl and enjoy my efforts and sure enough she is doing just that. For this sentimental gal, I get pretty happy seeing my own baby playing on a mat that I made and that already has so many memories for me.

sensory mat

mat 2

ellie plays

ellie likes vinyl

ellie explores

I had collected bits and pieces of different types of fabric- sheepskin, flannel, micro-fleece, cotton, velvet , chenille and even vinyl. I sewed them all together to create the top. I took a large piece of thick fleece, sewed front sides together and turned the whole thing inside out and voila! I had myself a sensory mat. Ellie seems to really be enjoying the different textures. She prefers scratching at the vinyl the best. I love how well its held up. I can throw it in the wash on hot and it comes out just as soft and cuddly as ever. I’m tempted to make another. Some of the fabric is worn and loved on this one and I think I could make a much nicer one now. But this little mat will always have a place in my heart and now even more so with new memories of my own baby girl enjoying the sensory exploration, this very important work that babies do.

ellie mat

ellie boo

Just Write: The Barrier to Entrance

The barrier to entrance. A phrase lingering in the air today. It was in reference to not moving that close to one’s parents or in-laws so that they give you that needed space that all of us crave sometimes.  I thought about this phrase and the comment after it, the one about my parents visiting quite often since the baby was born. I thought about how I felt about them visiting so often and I discussed it with my husband and I thought about it some more later on, on my own.

And truth be told, I love them visiting so often.

If that barrier to entrance has been broken, I’d rather not mend it, because it’s been a joy having them over. They’re grandparents now. I’ve gotten to see them in this new light and it becomes them. My dad wanting to always hold the baby, my mom cooing into her face and telling me stories of how I was just like her when I was little. They are happy and always smiling when they are here with her. I’m hearing songs sung I haven’t heard since I was a child. I’m excited for the future and what it will hold for them as grandparents. I wonder about the relationships they will build with my daughter and smile thinking of the fun times they will have when she’s older. I see my mother teaching her to sew. I see my father playing the guitar as she sings along.

So, no, there is no barrier to entrance anymore. I want my parents to be around as often as possible, experiencing every little moment that my husband and I get to experience with the baby. I feel their presence in her life is incredibly important and I want them to know, and her to know, of its importance… I am already cherishing these moments that they get to have with each other. It’s funny how seeing your baby with your parents can bring you back to your own childhood. You can catch a glimpse of years long ago. I catch those small glimpses of how they must have been those thirty some years ago with me, when I was a tiny baby, their first. Now here they are seasoned parents turned first time grandparents and I don’t want them to miss anything.The barrier to entrance may have been up when my husband and I were too cool for parents, too young and hip and settling into our own married routine. But it’s different now. We moved closer to be closer. And anyway, that barrier to entrance crumbled six months ago when my mother walked into that hospital room, tears streaming down her face as she got to hold her grand baby for the first time…

gpa and ellie

gma and ellie

Joining Heather for Just Write .


cookies for lauren

wet ground


dog in the rain

diaper laundry

rain drops

foggy morning

colorful market

farmers market jan

live music

gramma at the cafe


foggy beach walk

foggy surfer


antique market jan

first feet in the sand

big clouds

ellie likes marina park

baby love

For such a low-key weekend it was certainly a busy one. It was rainy and wet off and on throughout the weekend so we were inside for a good part of it.  Cloth diaper laundry was done, cookies were made for a cousin on bed rest and we got out for the occasional wet dog walk too. When it wasn’t raining it was foggy. There was a foggy but colorful trip to the farmers market and we went to lunch with the grandparents at a local spot with some nice live music and rice milk chai latte’s (yay!). We took a chilly and foggy beach walk before the rain came in again for the night. Sunday was wet in the morning but perfect weather for a visit to the antique market and a beautiful walk through Marina Park. We got our compost bin up and running too this weekend. Our worm bin was a fail last year on the balcony in Orange County, so we shall see how the compost bin goes. The wet weather is supposed to return this week. I know I’m being very Californian in saying this, but I’m ready for spring. What did you do this weekend?

*linking up with Habit this weekend

Portrait Project



eloise: this week you’re experimenting with sounds. we’ve heard lalala, dada, and mamama and it’s just so fun to hear you’re beautiful voice. 


*loving this che and fidel  52 project. What fun it is to see all these amazing, beautiful photos of other peoples babies and families every week. You must check it out!


The Trouble With High Needs Dogs: Part 2

Home cooking dog food has been quite the adventure. We read several books, researched online and eventually worked with a holistic vet to come up with a proper diet for our dogs. Well, the trouble with high needs dogs is they never seem to be okay for long on anything. While we lived in Orange County, Linus was doing very well on a diet of potatoes, beef and cooked veggies. (Charlotte we have discovered seems to be just fine with any sort of home cooked meal- of course- the French Bulldog with no skin allergies). When we moved to our current home in Ventura County, Linus had a terrible allergic reaction to something, broke out in itchy hives and doggy diarrhea (sorry if that was TMI) and has not recovered since. So now we are back to square one.  It could be environmental but our new vet thinks it also could be diet. We’ve tried switching him back to kibble which just made everything worse. Now we are working on a home cooked, no grain diet. (We had been switching back and forth between the cheaper, oats and beef and potatoes and beef).

potatoes galore

potato peels

cut up potatoes

dog food

We are using this book as a guide and now make both dogs potatoes and turkey. Here is our grain free/limited ingredient recipe:

10 lbs potatoes (washed, peeled and cut up into bite size pieces)

3 lbs ground turkey

bone meal powder

vitamin powder

extra virgin olive oil

bake the potatoes and cook the turkey and mix together. Add Bone meal and vitamin powder and mix together with 2 tblspoons of olive oil. Should last for about five days depending on the size and number of dogs. This recipe is for two dogs (one medium size and one large dog).

Anyone out there have high needs dogs? Dogs with allergies? What dog food have you had luck with?

The Trouble With High Needs Dogs: Part 1

high needs dogs

We have high needs dogs. Yes, you know how Dr. Sears talks about the high needs baby? We have dogs that fit that description to a tee. When my husband and I decided to get our first dog we put in a lot of research. We read all of the popular training books, Cesar Milan‘s show was tivoed every time it aired and the best leashes and beds and collars were purchased in anticipation.

prepping for char

We decided after meeting several and reading up on them that we would get a French Bulldog. We knew we may be in for some vet bills later on with this type of purebred but the pros outweighed the cons (French bulldogs are notorious for skin allergies and respiratory issues). When we found our little baby frenchie we were over the moon in love with her.


She became our baby. Our Charlotte. We still tried very hard to impart all the wisdom we had learned from Cesar and the books we had read. But, as things go in life, plans and preparations tend to fall by the way side when you have the real thing.

chars first night

hanging with jeff

cute char

plans fall by the waist side

I could literally write a novel on our funny, crazy, rascal Frenchie Charlotte, but that’s not quite what this post is about. So I will continue on and save the rest of her story for some time later. Our other dog, Linus came almost a year after we got Charlotte.

linus first night

We loved our purebred Frenchie dearly but were feeling guilty with the fact that we could have rescued instead. So that’s just what we did this time around. Linus was a scraggly puppy we got from a local rescue organization.

puppy boy

all grown up

We had seen all sorts of rescue dogs from all sorts of agencies and when we saw Linus (originally named Goofy) we just knew we had to have him. We thought we would have no trouble with skin issues or allergies with our mutt. Everyone told us how healthy their rescued mix breeds were and we were excited not to be spending a fortune at the vet like we already had been doing with Charlotte (pnemonia and mites being the big money contenders in the first year we had her). Well, we were totally wrong. Linus has been far worse medically than Charlotte. He has gotten injured several times, sores on his paw, an incident of ripping the pad skin right off his poor paw and the biggest issue has been allergies. This dog has crazy allergies! With allergies comes expensive dog food. But even with the expensive dog food, the allergies seemed to persist, the dogs seemed to get sick very often and they would often refuse to eat the kibble all together!  We read up on diet and decided to approach the allergies and gastrointestinal issues a little differently. We decided we would home cook their food.

linus and charlotte

When I tell people we home cook their meals, most people look at me like I’m nuts but it’s helped allergies and overall health immensly and it has cut our vet bills down as well.  We also feel better about knowing what exactly is going into their bodies, even if they’re just dogs.

*Since this post is VERY long, I will break this up into another post. Tomorrow I will talk about our home cooked routine and the problems we are now encountering with our wonderful, high needs dogs.

Just Write: I Read To Her

I read to her every night now. I’m so excited we’ve added that into the night-time routine. An avid reader myself and a lover of children’s literature, I delight in the quiet evenings in the rocking chair, a baby hugged close to my chest, a board book in one hand. Her wide eyes take notice of the pages, the way I turn them. She touches each page and I allow her fingers to linger on the pages, feel the smooth paper, get to know the book in the only way she knows how. I read about the old lady saying ‘hush’, the bears in their chairs, the mittens and those rascal kittens. I’ve read this book a hundred times before to children of all ages. In story times and one on one but always with other people’s children. Now here I am with my own child. I’m at the very beginning with her. I get one chance to impress her with these things called books. I want her to fall in love with them, to know the stories. I want her to love them so much that I fantasize finding her years from now, in her bedroom late at night under the covers, flashlight in hand, finishing a classic like Burnett’s Secret Garden or Rawl’s Where The Red Fern Grows. Maybe she will enjoy the wonderful Edward Eager Half Magic series or go for something vintage like Nancy Drew. I can’t wait to read chapter books aloud to her; Alice In Wonderland, Caddie Woodlawn, The Little Prince, even Harry Potter. And then she’ll push me away and want to read her own books. Reading aloud will be for the babies and she’ll want to retreat to her room and finish the latest book in what ever series will be popular at the time. Books I may know nothing about. She will grow some more and with that growth her reading will wax and wane. She will go through periods where she reads only school books and there will be times when she wants to devour book after book after book of her own choosing.  She will grow some more and she will form a love for certain subjects, a certain type of book. She may like science fiction, romance, thrillers, maybe a little bit of everything? She will connect with books, with the characters and the stories and start discussing this with friends. She may even share with me. She may want to read the same book I’m reading and discuss it with me. Share in the magic that so many stories bring. Steinbeck, Austen, Lamott, Moore. Authors that she will turn to again and again for words of wisdom, stories to inspire and escape into. She will get older and seek out book stores for those books that make her nostalgic for her childhood and reread them. Or maybe she won’t and save the rereading for when she has a daughter to read to. I so hope the magic of books captures her. I want so much to instill this love for the written word.

I sit in this chair and finish my story… ‘Goodnight noises everywhere.’ I close the book. “The End”.  She looks up at me and smiles. I put down the book and get her into bed and smile when I think, I am just at the beginning with books and I am so excited this journey with her has finally begun.

reading magic

* joining Heather for Just Write.

** Yes, I know – this is technically a picture of my mom reading to Ellie, but no one has taken my picture reading to her yet. It’s happening though. Every night we read bedtime stories. Oh what a lovely thing.